February 22, 2011

Tulúm: The New Hollywood Hang-Out


It was once a fortress that protected from the pirates of the Caribbean; a great port, which served merchant sailors traveling as far afield as the Philippines. But these days, its ancient walls and sublime beaches are attracting visitors of another kind. Amongst the tourists flocking to Tulúm are the celebrities, who appear to be making it the season's most fashionable holiday destination.

In the Sixties, the Hollywood stampede was towards Puerto Vallarta, lured there by the Gringo Gulch love-nest of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (Puerto Vallarta and Hollywood Royalty). While some big names still hang out there, notably John Travolta, many others appear to have swopped coastlines, from the Pacific to the Caribbean. They are all in Tulúm.

Spotted in Tulúm, over the last couple of months, have been a host of famous faces. Amongst them were: Australia's Natalie Imbruglia; Britain's Jade Jagger, Jude Law, James Penfold, Jaime Winstone and Mel Blatt; America's Drew Barrymore, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, Ryan Phillippe, Amanda Seyfried, Sienna Miller, Savanna, Bridget Marquardt, Amanda Hearst, Serena Merriman and Brooke Geahan; Sweden's Mathias Bergh; and Argentina's supermodel photographer extraordinaire, Paola Kudacki.

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long
Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, on the beach at Tulúm

Even the world's press appear enamoured by the Tulúm clamour. Last month, Vogue Italia declared 'Tulum is the new Goa'; while, just yesterday, the UK's 'Telegraph' ran a travel report from the area: 'Yukatán Peninsula: the best reason for visiting Mexico'. It led on the charms of Tulúm.

So what is all the fuss about? Tulúm is 128km (80m) south of Cancún. It is busy enough to be vibrant, but, without the Cancún crowds to swarm it, it still retains that air of seclusion. It is a town built up around an 800 year old Maya fort.


The ruins themselves are impressive, with its features, like Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Diving God. There is a stele, in the precinct, that was carved a thousand years ago. There are aspects of it, which can be viewed as almost mystical in their practicality. The Temple of Winds was constructed in such a fashion as to emit a loud wailing noise, when the wind, blowing through its corridors, gets too strong. No hurricane ever took the people of Tulúm by surprise.

Outside the gates of the fort is a huge mercado (market). Tourists and locals alike haggle for goods and gifts. There can be some great bargains picked up, as well as authentic souvenirs, unlike those found in more commercialized spots.

But the real jewel, for those who like to see and be seen, are the beaches. Tulúm sits on the edge of the Sian Ka'an biosphere. This is an area of coastline, protected by the government, for its biodiversity, endangered species and magnificent flora and fauna. Sea turtles nest here. There is a coral reef out at sea, as well as submerged art, which acts as a beautiful artifical reef. The sands are white and the seas are distinctly turquoise. For many, this is the true Caribbean - a tropical island, which just happens to be attached to the mainland.

Tulum & Xel-Ha All Inclusive
Tulum & Xel-Ha All Inclusive
Combine Maya history with natural beauty! Tour the Tulúm ruins, then swim in the Xel Ha natural aquarium.

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