Unfortunately, I have to start from bad news: just one month after I posted about eco-resort Papaya Playa and its clothing-optional beach, upon my second visit there I found out it was no longer clothing-optional. There was a warning on the beach that read: ‘Welcome to Papaya Playa. Clothing is mandatory!’ Unfortunately, Papaya Playa also bought neighbouring resort Copal that was known to be clothing-optional. So, now there is no nudist beach in Tulum’s eco-hotel zone to my knowledge. I’ve read about a couple of luxurious nudist hotels in the area – Hidden Beach Resort, Dolce Vita B& B, and Desire Resort, but they seem to be very expensive and do not offer day passes to the beach. However , if you don’t mind staying away from the hotels, you could go to biosphere reserver Sian-Ka’an or Xcacel-Xcacelito for some more secluded beaches where you can sunbathe and swim ‘as nature intended’.
I’d recommend renting a bicycle to move around Tulum, but make sure to find a good one – most of the rented bikes are in terrible, really terrible conditions (you feel like something is about to fall off as soon as you take off). iBike seemed to be the only bike rental that offered mountain bikes. We rented cruiser bikes from them because they were much cheaper and the road seemed to be pretty smooth, but now my advice is to go for their mountain bikes, because they seemed to be in much better state, and not so much because you’ll need suspension, although that helps too, once you leave the asphalted road and enter Sian-Ka’an. The closest open access beach in Sian-Ka’an is about 15-20 min by bike from the hotel zone (about 35min from the town). After you enter Sian-Ka’an through ‘the arch’, continue further and look for mark “3” on the right side. There is a trail opposite of it,
and it leads to this idyllic beach.
Shortly after our arrival, we saw the rain was approaching, but as the sun was still shining, the colour of the sea got only more intense juxtaposed with dark clouds.
When the rain started, we followed advice of the pelicans not to be bothered
and ran into the sea.
Soon the rain stopped, and we were rewarded with a rainbow.
I felt like doing some stretching and a coconut palm tree seemed perfect for practicing ‘bridges’.
That’s when I noticed two ripe coconuts hanging at the top. Maybe it was the influence of videos of Indian pole gymnastics, that I had impressed me so much shortly before the trip, but I decided to climb the coconut tree.
My first attempt, though, appeared more appropriate for the tree-hugging day 😀
I tried to remember techniques for that but mostly had to improvise. Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen this video of free climbing a 100ft coconut palm tree, so my way up wasn’t as efficient, but I did manage to reach the coconuts (granted my tree was much shorter, but on the other hand, I didn’t have any equipment at all, so my climb was truly ‘free’).
I hope my fascination of coconut palm trees can be forgiven, given that they represent an ultimate tropical beach icon and I came there after some chilly New York spring days… But sometimes they also form some interesting structures… this one was somewhat ‘alienesque’…
Next time we came to the same place with my local friend, and we were up for a treat. We made ceviche from freshly
caught bought fish. It would be cool to catch our own fish for lunch, but fishing is understandably forbidden in Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve.
So, we chopped half an onion and squeezed about 10 limes onto the fish filet of about a kilo and left it to marinate for 20min.
Then we diced a tomato,
and added some cilantro too.
Our ceviche turned out just perfect (at lest for our hungry stomachs).
Maybe it’s time to start a new section on this website, something like ‘cooking with active naturists’?
Later in the afternoon we continued cycling further south; we were aiming to reach the point that I saw on the satellite view map where coral reef came closer to the beach. Surprisingly, most of the shore was actually privately owned or on sale – not sure how that works on the territory that is a biosphere reserve – so we had no choice but go until we’d find free access beach. We almost gave up, and Will’s bike got a flat tire, but then there was a sign for a public beach, playa publica. We decided to deal with the tire next day, and settled down on that beautiful beach.
There was just one other group of 3 guys on the beach and someone jogging, so we felt the place was pretty much ours. We found a nice spot under coconut palm trees (of course!) to set up our tent, and there were some pretty bushes with orange flowers.
It’s hard to imagine a better place for beach camping!
When we walked around, we noticed that one of the guys in the other group was skinny-dipping too. We were a good influence 🙂 At night, we went for a walk by the water again in hope to see bioluminescent plankton. There was almost none in the water, but surprisingly we noticed that we had many of those sparkling dots in our hair! Probably the previous beach had more of bioluminescent plankton and it got stuck in our hair. Then we saw two men wearing some kind of military outfit approaching. We just behaved as if our outfit was as natural as theirs (and in fact it was, but you know what I mean), but they didn’t seem to be bemused at all; they just asked where we stayed and where we were from…
As the sun was rising, it was a good time to get out of the tent
and take photos of the shorebirds.
Frigatebirds and pelicans were the most numerous.
We saw some successful catches,
but they also seemed to enjoy the dives.
Synchronised diving of pelicans was particularly impressive. Too bad I didn’t manage to get a photo of three of them plunging simultaneously.
By the way, where you see the waves breaking in the sea in the background goes the barrier reef. It’s not very close to the beach, but we decided to swim towards it. It was a nice long swim (it took us about half an hour one way), but we didn’t see anything particularly interesting at the reef like I did previously at Akumal beach (turtles) or in front of Tulum ruins (squids).
After that, we had a fruit snack, pumped the tube at the nearest ‘rancho’ (looked more like some kind of small boat maintenance place) and headed back to Tulum.
Another beach in vicinity of Tulum is Xcacel-Xcacelito. It’s really pretty and not crowded at all. We figured that at the far left side we could be naked as there was hardly anyone, and we saw some topless women too. That is also where the reef comes close to the beach, but again it wasn’t particularly vivid, as you’d expect from the most prolific type of marine ecosystem.