Tulum Thoughts: Beach Backpackers to Man Buns & Instagram Yogis
I'm conflicted about our time in Tulum. I loved parts of it just as much as I did when we were there in 2014, but I also can't shake the bummed out, slightly betrayed feeling I have about the major ways it's changed since then.
Its like that really cool friend you used to build forts with who became a douche once he got muscles and a Beamer. Or that fun girl who used to kill a pizza with you until she got into vegan cheese and micro-greens. The good memories and qualities are still there, but Tulum has just gotten 'too cool' for me. This little known slice of historic and spiritual beachside heaven has been totally overrun by befeathered man buns, gangs of Instagram-yogis on bikes, and tourist busses.
Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Tulum. It was still a super fun vacation, but I'm not sure I'd go back again. And for someone who stalked the real estate there for a solid year after our 2014 trip, that's saying something.
For one, there are a ba-jillion more people. The road we sauntered carelessly down before is now a deathtrap of taxis, water trucks, tourists, bicycles and pedestrians vying for 10 feet of space. The locally owned shops are mostly gone and replaced by poshy boutiques offering crocheted bras for $60 USD and three ounces of 'Mayan elixer" (ie: cocout oil) for a slim $24 USD. There are ladies hawking massages, bachelorette parties, and menu prices that rival those in the US. And our room that cost a whopping $35 per night in 2014 is now $200 per night... You read that right, $35 to $200 in two years! And we don't live fancy. It's literally a bungalow, no breakfast, no restaurant, just a well kept, well maintained, clean room on the beach for $200 bucks.
Despite all this though, there is still a lot to love about Tulum. The cerulean water, the powdery sand, the gorgeous sunrises and fresh Mexican food are still awe-inspiring and very present. Thankfully, some of our favorite places have weathered the facelift and don't seem to be going anywhere either. The bomb-ass taco shop, Mateo's, while slightly pricier than before, is still in business and just as delicious. Our favorite Indian food place, Shiva, is thriving and especially wonderful for a quiet dinner with great ambiance and service. The pizza joint and wine shop are still open and thankfully they both offer takeout options for dinner on your $200 patio.
And to be fair, Tulum definitely has NOT turned into Cancun or Cabo just yet. There are no booty shaking contests, no party horns, and no obese Mecixan men in sombreros pouring tequila down your throat. So there's that. It's just officially been compromised and is no longer the hidden hangout of yore with deserted beaches and $1 drinks that it once was. Tulum has officially realized its hot and is embracing it, for better or worse. And that's OK, it's just important to know before you go.
We had this picture-perfect memory in our heads of what it was going to be like it was very different. So I guess that's actually the lesson isn't it? When revisiting a place, especially if you loved it, you have to go back with a completely open mind, with a beginner's mind as the yogis say. Because things always change, and the expectations, I think, are what killed it for us. Had we gone with clear eyes and an open heart like we did in 2014 maybe our experience would have been different. Who knows.
(Getting off my soapbox now.)
What are your thoughts on Tulum? How'd you feel revisiting a place you once loved? Share in the comments below while I work on another post with reccomendations in case I didn't totally turn you off ;)