After reading a few bad reviews on Papaya Playa I was a little worried about staying here, however this was all quickly forgotten as we were shown around the idyllic setting of Papaya Playa. Papaya has a very chilled out, hippy carefree vibe, staff are warm and friendly but there are no airs and graces, very real, very cool and very us. The eco-chic cabin and cottage retreat on Playa Pescadores beach, is just a few minutes from the ancient walled city, ‘a space for like-minded, creative individuals to unwind and connect with self and nature.’ It is peaceful, low fuss with the most amazing beach.
Papaya has a range of cabanas and casitas, but really wanting to fully immerse ourselves in that hippy beach shack living, we opted for an Ocean Front Cabana, with its own little outside area, complete with a hammock, where I happily soaked up the views and thoughts of the day watching the incredible sunsets every evening. The cabana was rustic at its best. A very small, simple room under a thatched roof, with the odd hole, but even a squeamish, scared of anything crawling, person such as me, couldn’t help but love our little abode. Even when there was only torch and candle light at night…..The Margaritas helped!!
The set up of Papaya is what makes it so special. The Papaya Restaurant is the central feature, with a double-decker bar overhanging the beach, with private seating enclaves advancing down towards those turquoise waters, leaving you with no choice but to take that passage to the beach. In the evenings the views were just as stunning as bands played under the stars, people are up and dancing barefoot in the sand on the semi-amphitheatre, under the moon light creating haven for good karma, making you feel as if nowhere else existed…A little more of that Yucatan Magic perhaps!
It is worth noting that even if you are not guests at Papaya, the beach club welcomes you to hire a sun bed and slurp on the best smoothies (my favourite strawberry and coconut) and eat guacamole and totopas to your hearts content.
After having quite a few chilled out days over our trip we felt we were rested enough to venture out and planned a day of Ruins and centotes. We started the day feasting on huevos rancheros and pancakes, at Zamas, just a five minute walk from Papaya. Literally the colours of Mexico on your plate. Crayon coloured , rustic furniture, with views out the water; a happy, happy morning at one of our favourite places in Tulum! The colours of Mexico are understood when you look down at your plate, it all starts with the food. The greenest and richest avocados, anyone from British soil will understand the quest for a good avocado! After savouring the last sup of coffee, just to make the breakfast last as long as we could we jumped in a taxi to the Ruins.
It takes five minutes in a car to the Ruins, but you could always walk or take a bicycle. A little tip, the earlier you go the less people and of course the cooler it is, the sun does get very strong as you are walking around. The Tulum Ruins is the only Mayan City to have been built on a coast and is situated in the East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, certainly a spectacular sight to see. Iguanas laze and sunbathe, as you follow your way around the ruins which date back to 1200-1521 A.D, until you reach the jaw dropping beach. The Mayans knew what they were doing when it came to locations!
You can ask your taxi driver to wait for you, but not wanting to put a time limit on things we decided to just pick one up outside on our way out. There is pretty much always a taxi there or one on its way. From the Tulum Ruins we drove about fifteen minutes to ‘Grand Cenote’ one of the smaller cenotes in Tulum. There are many cenotes, including Cenote Dos Ojos and Ik Kil, all spectacularly beautiful but all offering something very different. As first time ‘Cenoters’ we opted for the less challenging of the three but if you like the idea of climbing down the wooden steps to the 60 metres in diameter and about 40 metres deep cenote, then maybe Ik Kill is the one for you, just do a little research before you go. I was happy with the one that was said to be ideal for kids, which means ideal for me!
Again it may have been more beneficial to have come first thing to really feel the tranquility of the cenotes, but that would have meant missing breakfast at Zamas. There is also something quite nice about joining in everyone else’s fun too. The Mayans believe that the cenotes are sacred and the entrance to their underworld. The water is calm, deep, clean, peaceful albeit a little cold. Lilly pads float with baby turtles and fish of all colours swimming in and out of you, a water babies dream.
We spent a couple of hours snorkeling, floating in the waters, swimming through the caves and dozing in the sun traps, before jumping back in a taxi and finding Burritos and Beers in Tulum Town.
Our last night in Tulum was spent at El Tabano a Mexican and Mediterranean inspired restaurant. The menus are all written on chalk boards and we sat in the rustic, candle lit garden. Indulged in mouthwatering tomato and tamarind meatballs, with black beans and potato chips, washed down with Mexican white wine (very nice by the way). Delicious food, lovely staff and the best way to end our time in Tulum.
We left with heavy hearts after three fun packed days at Papaya, sun kissed, rested and happy, both simultaneously saying “I would definitely come back….. Again!”……Magic!
A Few Tulum Tips.
It is very hot in Tulum and also very windy, we both smothered ourselves continuously in Factor 3o but still managed to get burnt. Vats of high level sunscreen, a sun hat and as much Deet as you can take are essential!
There are enough ATM’s but they are not always reliable. You can always take a trip to Tulum Centre which is 5-10 minutes in a taxi, but as long as you are prepared and take lots of cash. We paid mostly Mexican Pesos but US Dollars are accepted. Some places were cash only, so again just ask beforehand, so nights are spent the right way drinking Modelos and not walking up and down Tulum strip looking for ATM’s.
Casa Viloleta, Ahau Tulum, Coqui Coqui, Papaya Playa
Cocktails and dinner
We flew with Virgin Atlantic and booked our stays with mrandmrssmith.com. Casa Violeta was booked direct through their website.