flying and swimming at cenote Azul in Bacalar, Mexico

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naturist swimming 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Cenote Azul is nothing less than an amazing body of water – azure, clear water that goes immediately into abyss, right off the edge of its shore.

lake view 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We’ve already described quite a few cenotes in the vicinity of Tulum and Merida, Yucatan. Each cenote is different, but this one is very special. For once, it’s really huge, for a sinkhole, which it essentially is, and it’s right next the world famous resort at the lake Bacalar.

So, I was very skeptical of a possibility to enjoy this nature’s wonder au naturel, but luckily I had my local CouchSurfing host George to show me around – and he knew where to go. Most of the shore is covered  in vegetation, and there is a “hidden” access across from the tourist area with a restaurant.

lake view 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

They wouldn’t see what you wear not wear under water anyway

naturist underwater 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

– or above water for that matter either 😉

naturist tree 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And is this how fish see us from below?

naturist underwater 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Not such a pretty picture, unless they are into impressionist art…

We, however, could see the fish very well in that clear water, and plenty of it:

lake fish 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

some swimming freely, and others attached to the underwater tree trunks.

lake fish 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

So were we – soaring above the blue abyss,

naturist swimming 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

with occasional rest at the underwater trees…

naturist underwater 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Nowhere else did swimming feel so much like flying, with the boundary between air and water seemingly imaginary…

naturist swimming 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We felt like birds! … or bats?

naturist tree 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As we climbed the trees, we actually awakened some bats, quite a lot of them!

bats 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We would never have noticed them sleeping on the trunks otherwise.

bats 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And they were quite an inspiration:

naturist diving 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

we took off the tree branches

naturist swimming 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

and flew back into the blue abyss!

lake view 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As you can tell by this story, Cenote Azul felt magical.

naturist swimming 0006 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

It’s impossible to really express it with words and photography, but perhaps this video will do a better job.

Raja Ampat archipelago in the Indonesian Papua: paradise above and under water

bahasa Indonesia

naturist 0002 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Who wouldn’t like a full week spent at a tropical, green archipelago surrounded by pristine waters? Writing this makes me want to throw myself back to those worry-free 7 days (almost a year ago) of a sailing trip at one of the natural marine wonders of our planet.

clown fish coral reef 0001 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

This post comes all the way from the magnificent marine park of Raja Ampat in Papua.

islands view 0011 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Raja Ampat is an archipelago on the northern tip of the Bird’s Peninsula on the island of New Guinea or Papua, as it’s locally called. It belongs to Indonesian territory and is one of the easternmost provinces in the archipelago. Raja Ampat is a local language for Four Kings. In terms of history, Raja Ampat Archipelago in the 15th century was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Moluccas Islands. The Sultanate of Tidore appointed 4 local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool, which are the four largest islands to this day. The term 4 Kings who rule the islands became the root of the name Raja Ampat.

We spent the whole week in Raja Ampat. We were a group of 6, sailing on a wooden boat to explore the archipelago. This is the best way to explore the area: since it is an archipelago, you need to spend most of your days on or in the water to get the best experience of Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat is claimed to boast the richest marine biodiversity in the world.

clown fish coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Right from the moment I arrived in the islands, I couldn’t stop my admiration of the beautiful surroundings – its breathtaking landscape and waters just blew my mind away.

naturist 0001 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Many locals claimed these islands to be a paradise on Earth, and I must agree with that statement!

islands view 0004 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

We started from the central islands of the archipelago.

islands view 0003 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

We were presented with a wide array of beautiful corals from the first days.

coral reef 0008 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

They were very colorful and in good shape

coral reef 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

– encouraging to see that in the age when many coral reefs suffer from bleaching due to pollution.

coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

The fish too were no less colorful, as if they were competing to win the best outfit.

coral reef 0002 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Merely by snorkeling, you can see the best of Raja Ampat.

naturist 0005 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Yes, you need very minimal 😉 gear to enjoy all that extraordinary underwater world!

naturist 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

The next days were spent venturing northbound

islands view 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

to get to Wayag –

islands view 0010 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

the jungle covered islets, that often appear in the internet as a classic example of ‘tropical paradise’.

islands view 0006 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, fishing, are among the things you could enjoy in the sailing trips… In Raja Ampat, you can even feed sharks and swim with them too!

shark coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Well, they weren’t that huge, but at first it was scary and made me nervous… Soon enough though, I found myself mingle with those sharks at ease, which was quite fascinating.

There are lodges on the bigger islands, and some of them offer full packages, where you can do a lot of water activities. But for me, sailing trip seemed to be the best way to experience Raja Ampat, as it allowed to wander as far as we wanted.

islands view 0012 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

It was also great to have some breaks from being on/in the water, and explore the islands – even hiking naked in the tropical forest!

islands view 0008 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

While the rest of the group were not keen on disrobing, I managed to exercise some naturism, mostly away from the group. I must admit that I am a newbie to naturism, which prevented me from being myself and naked in the whole journey… but I still enjoyed a good portion of it in the buff! I still recall how nice it felt to be naked and let the tropical breeze sweep your skin.

naturist 0010 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

It was definitely hot, but enjoyable. As many have said, the sun is the best treatment.

naturist 0004 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Best part? Of course swimming naked and snorkeling in the most beautiful underwater world!

naturist 0009 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

If you are keen on spending some of the best days of your life in this paradise, I would surely recommend you to visit the islands. The authorities restrict the number of tourists visiting the islands, which is actually nice, as you can enjoy the islands almost all to yourself when you get there, especially, once again, if you take a sailing trip. The crew of the boat might be not too familiar with naturism, if you want to make it a nude sailing trip, but I think they’d be open enough if you could explain it to them.

 

text and imagery by Miko

new cenotes in Yucatan

This will be the final post of the ‘Mexican series’ for now, and I feel that another review of recently discovered cenotes is an appropriate finale. After I found out how beautiful and unique cenotes were – they are a special kind of sinkholes typical to Yucatan peninsula – I wanted to explore more of them. The problem with cenotes, in my opinion, is that being a tourist attraction, many appear overdeveloped to the point when they don’t even look natural anymore (with convenient stairs, decorations, souvenir shops around). So, we set up a goal to find some of the least explored cenotes.

We found a description of Chaak-Tun in a travelog that made us believe it was a kind of untouched natural wonder. But when we arrived there, it became clear it was ready for mass tourism, just waiting for the road built next to it to get asphalted. The price was already quite steep, at 200 pesos (for foreigners, 60 for Mexican citizens). Nevertheless, we enjoyed the visit, and it was not crowded. There were two caves, both with stalactites and stalagmites.

naturist 0000 Chaak Tun cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexicocaves

The second one did not have any natural light, so the mild artificial lighting was justified.

naturist 0001 Chaak Tun cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

While there was no one around, I took a chance for skinny-dipping 🙂

naturist 0002 Chaak Tun cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Another cenote that we visited in Tulum area  was ¿Cementerio de Mascota? (Pet Cemetery). It was discovered recently and has not been fully developed for visitors (yet). I put question marks around the name, because we are actually not sure if what we saw was cenote Cementerio de Mascota or an unnamed cenote in the same area. Tomas only knew that it was supposed to be further down the road that goes to the famous cenote Dos Ojos, and we got directions entering the park, but we never saw any indications to it, so we couldn’t be certain.

naturist 0004 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Once we passed the much-visited cenote Dos Ojos, we decided to continue the walk naked. The forest was green as the rain season was starting, and some trees were blooming.

blooming tree 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexicoblooming tree 0001 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

And some were even fruiting, like this wild papayo (papaya plant).

papaya 0001 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexicopapaya 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I liked those ‘tree-hugging’ epiphyte cactuses too (they reminded me of myself on the coconut palm tree).

epiphyte cactus 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

As the air was cooling down (it was late afternoon), more and more birds started singing, but we didn’t see the possessors of this hanging nest.

hanging nest 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Eventually, the road had a steep turn to the left, and there was a sign to cenote Sac-Actun (one of the longest underwater cave systems). We decided not to turn and continued in the same direction, passing through the wooden gates; but almost immediately after that, the road turned right. We were not sure whether it would bring us to Cementerio de Mascota, and decided to follow the road for not more than half an hour. We soon reached a spot with a layer of sand that seemed to have been washed out of somewhere… then we saw the pipe that was probably used for that and followed along it.

naturist 0003 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The trail was going downwards, and the trees were getting bigger and greener – a good sign of proximity of water.

banyan 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

There it was!

cenote0000 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

However, there was something weird about it. It almost looked like a crime scene! Or like people were rushed out, leaving their diving equipment, food, and half-full (or half-empty? :D) glasses of wine!

cenote0001 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Well, what I guess in reality happened was that there were some ‘cleaning’ works on the site, which will eventually transform this cenote into another tourist attraction. To us, it would have actually been more attractive in its virgin state, but at least we could explore it a bit before it was going to be discovered by mass tourism.

naturist 0000 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

We snorkelled, and given the atmosphere of the place (and its name too!), we were happy to have seen nothing but fish in water.

naturist snorkel 0001 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

After we got out of water, we heard some noise in the woods, then we saw the trees shaking! Almost as if someone was trying to fell them with brute force. Soon we figured out what it was: monkeys were jumping from one tree to another. They were actually coming in our direction, so I quickly installed a telephoto lens on my camera. The monkeys got quiet for a moment… and then they reappeared right above us! But they moved so fast in the canopy that we didn’t manage to get any decent shots.

On the way back, we stopped by another small cenote just a bit off the road to/from Dos Ojos.

naturist 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

It made a perfect refreshing skinny-dipping experience before we would get back to the main road to catch ‘camioneta’ (minibus) to Tulum.

naturist 0005 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

A couple of days later we were joined by Miguel, who showed me some less known cenotes previously. This time we wanted to see recently open cenotes in a place that was called, very promisingly, Cenotillo.  Apparently, Cenotillo boasts more than a hundred of cenotes! We had a map that listed just a few of them.

Cenote Usil (Ucil) seemed to be the closest to this little town.

cenote 0003 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

Probably for this reason, there was some rubbish around but surprisingly there was nobody there.

cenote 0002 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

It was the perfect time of day to see solar reflections on the roof of the cenote.

naturist dive 0010 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

The water was quite cold, and it seemed bottomless! Perfect for a skinny dip-dive 🙂

naturist-dive,-cenote-Usil,-Yucatan,-Mexico-(s)

We were up to visit more cenotes, so we left pretty soon.

naturist 0000 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

By the way, cotton trees seemed to dominate the forest around Usil, but I preferred them to keep the cotton for themselves. I don’t mean that just because we didn’t need clothes in that weather, but also because quite a lot of that fibre was accumulated on the water surface of cenote.

cotton tree 0001 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexicocotton tree 0000 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

After that, we went back to the village in hope to ask for directions for other cenotes. Local police happened to be the best at giving advice, and we were even escorted by a policeman to a guide-vigilante Dani who curated some of the cenotes just recently open to public.

The first one we went was cenote Xoch. Luckily, Dani was absolutely cool with the idea of naturism and didn’t even blink when I got naked while walking through the forest on the way to cenote.

naturist 0003 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

We were truly amazed when we reached the cenote. It was almost as big as the Sacred Cenote at Chichen-Itza. Unfortunately, to my view at least, they’ve already made some basic constructions next to it, but hopefully there won’t be much more than that.

naturist 0000 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

Another disappointment came from the strictly enforced rule of wearing life vests, because “the bottom of cenotes hasn’t been explored yet”.naturist 0001 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

For someone who can swim well, it seems to be an absurd requirement for swimming in absolutely tranquil waters of cenote, but at least Dani didn’t make me wear swim trunks 😀

naturist 0002 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

Then we went to cenote Kaipech.

cows 0001 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

It was next to a cattle farm, but nobody was around; the cows seemed to be intrigued by our appearance.

cows 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

Despite being next to the farm, Kaipech was probably the least developed cenote of this scale that I’ve seen!

cenote 0002 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

There was no ladder, so we had to go down by the rocks (luckily trees and their roots were of great help with that), but this is what made this cenote my favourite one perhaps.

naturist 0001 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

This cenote still felt untouched, although we definitely weren’t the first ones to visit it: a couple of plastic bottles were floating in water. Dani said this cenote was next in their plans for development to bring tourism in the area. But in my opinion, they should not change anything about it, it is just as perfect in its virgin state as it gets. They should only keep it clean…

We cleared the entry point of floating rubbish and went for a swim.

naturist 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

This place seem to be teeming with wildlife. Judging by the constant buzz in the distance, there was a beehive around, so one has to be careful not to come too close to it. I also saw a basilisk, aka Jesus Lizard because of its ability to run on water, but this time it was just sunbathing on a branch above water. The seeds on the photo below are “snakes’ food” according to Dani, but it is hard to believe that, as all snakes are exclusive carnivores, as far as I know. I wouldn’t mind sitting there for a while and observe if any snakes come to eat those berries.

snake berries 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

There was also a nest with one egg that could be easily seen, but I guess the trick was that it was on a palm tree leaf right above water, so any crawling intruders were likely to fall down.

nest 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

As usually near cenotes, there were some blue-crowned motmots, locally known as ‘pajaro toh’. These birds are brightly coloured and have various distinct calls. I can still hear them calling to visit those picturesque and yet mysterious cenotes!

toh bird 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

beaches of Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, natural and naturist?

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,

naturist 0011 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and it leads to this idyllic beach.

naturist 0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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.

naturist  0001 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

When the rain started, we followed advice of the pelicans not to be bothered

pelicans in the rain  0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and ran into the sea.

naturist 0001 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Soon the rain stopped, and we were rewarded with a rainbow.

naturist 0004 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I felt like doing some stretching and a coconut palm tree seemed perfect for practicing ‘bridges’.

naturist 0003 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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.

naturist 0006 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

My first attempt, though, appeared more appropriate for the tree-hugging day 😀

naturist 0005 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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’).

naturist 0007 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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’…

naturist  0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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.

naturist ceviche 0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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.

naturist ceviche 0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Then we diced a tomato,

naturist ceviche 0003 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and added some cilantro too.

naturist ceviche 0005 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Our ceviche turned out just perfect (at lest for our hungry stomachs).

naturist ceviche 0006 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Maybe it’s time to start a new section on this website, something like ‘cooking with active naturists’?

naturist 0013 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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.

naturist 0009 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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.

naturist 0012 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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…

naturist 0008 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

As the sun was rising, it was a good time to get out of the tent

naturist 0010 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and take photos of the shorebirds.

frigatebird 0011 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico.jpg

Frigatebirds and pelicans were the most numerous.

pelican 0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

We saw some successful catches,

pelican 0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

but they also seemed to enjoy the dives.

pelican 0001 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Synchronised diving of pelicans was particularly impressive. Too bad I didn’t manage to get a photo of three of them plunging simultaneously.

pelican 0003 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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).

naturist snorkel 0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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.

naturist 0000 Xcacel-Xcacelito beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

skinny-dipping in cenotes (sinkholes) and hiking in a “naked” forest in Yucatan

Frankly, before going to Mexico, I had never heard the term ‘cenote‘, which refers to a deep natural sinkhole, typical to Yucatan peninsula, but as soon as I heard the description and searched for images, I had no doubt I had to see those! They’re very different in appearance, size, history, accessibility. I’ve seen several cenotes, including the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza, but I was impressed most with two smaller but more secluded ones, that I was able to visit thanks to Miguel (who I got to know thanks to Couchsurfing again – have I mentioned how much I value that site?).

So, imagine yourself in a dry forest, and then you see a hole in the ground like this one.

naturist 0001 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

It’s just slightly bigger then the rabbit’s hole that brought Alice to Wonderland, and it feels like something magic is waiting for you there. It has a simple ladder that invites you to go down.

naturist 0002 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

It looks like it’s got a small exit to a magic garden all the way down in the end of the cave…

naturist 0003 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

But in fact, it’s just a reflection of the entrance, because the water is so clear, you can barely see it from above!

naturist 0004 Dzom-Bacal cenote near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

When we arrived to this cenote, we were lucky to have no one else around, so surely enough I got naked. Skinny-dipping in cenotes, definitely something to remember!

naturist 0010 Dzom-Bacal cenote near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

After a while we heard some people approaching to the cave, but it was the time to go further anyways. This truly marvellous cenote is called Dzom-Bacal and is located in the end of a dirt road in the midst of a deciduous tropical forest south of Merida. Since the road was barely used, we felt comfortable to bare it all and enjoyed our walk in the buff! It felt so right in that warm and dry weather.

naturist 0013 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

As it was just the beginning of spring, which in this part of the world is linked not so much to the warmer weather but to the arrival of rains after dry ‘winter’, most of the trees didn’t have leaves were naked too.

naturist 0005 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Ironically, the most naked tree of all was a cotton tree, easily distinguishable by its fruits with cotton fibres.

cotton tree 0006 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Boneto tree was also full of fruit, but they were not ripe.
tree 0008 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexicotree 0009 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

But besides trees, the forest was full of shrubs, cacti and agaves, so it was practically impenetrable,

naturist 0017 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

except for the parts where barren limestone didn’t let plants to grow over.

naturist 0011 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

So, we didn’t go away from the road much,

naturist 0014 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

just to look at some flowers once in a while.

naturist 0012 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

I used to have a similar species of cactus at home, it was nice to see its wild counterpart in natural habitat in a blooming state.

cactus flowering 0000 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Some trees started blooming too, I bet this forest was going to turn into a beautiful garden as soon as rains would become more frequent.

blooming tree 0007 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

It was so nice to walk there just like that, surrounded by beautiful nature and caressed by the rays of the setting sun.

naturist 0015 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

We found a trail that didn’t seem to be used by cars at all, but unfortunately we didn’t have much time to explore it.

naturist 0016 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

We wanted to see one more cenote in the area, X-batún. This one looked a little more developed and touristy, but probably because we came so late, last visitors were leaving just as we arrived. So, guess what, we were lucky to be able to go skinny dipping in X-batún too!

naturist 0020 X-batun cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

This cenote was more open, so banyan trees hung their long roots graciously from the edge of the upper level all the way down to the water. We let it all hang out too, and enjoyed a bit of splashy splash time on the warm evening.

naturist 0019 X-batun cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Photoexhibition by one of our authors in Sydney: Freedom

Brenton is a prolific blogger and an excellent photographer from Sydney. He contributed to our website a video and a story about his favourite nature retreat in New South Wales, River Island. Naturism and nudity in art are among his recurring themes, and now he has an exhibition of his photo works that combine both aspects, evoking the sensation of comfort in your own body and harmony with nature. He called his exhibition “Freedom” and that is exactly what it feels like.

Here are just a few samples from the Tumblr page of Brenton’s exhibition.

Freedom Exhibition by Brenton Parry

Freedom Exhibition by Brenton Parry

Freedom Exhibition by Brenton Parry

Freedom Exhibition by Brenton Parry