Imagine this, you are staying under the shade of a palm outside Tulum’s Nomade, the midday Mexican sun beating is down on you through the leaves Solomun’s Kreatur der Nacht blares through a nearby Funktion One speaker. You’re hot and look around for a chance to cool off in the water, but the sea is covered with its daily seaweed infestation and the beach showers are currently being occupied by some overly tattooed techno-hipster undergoing his monthly shower.
You sigh, half frustrated and half resigned to the fact that you’re stuck between this South of the Border club-promoter inferno for at least another week. After all, there’s no where else to go…you can’t go back to Europe (they shut your local WeWork weeks ago and now there’s no where to sit around drinking bad coffee and pretending to run a start up) and you can’t go to New York (everyone left and everything is closed). All your friends say you’re so lucky to be here, for a second you think, “maybe they’re right? Am I just being too negative?” then the collective sound of a Martinez Brothers-led gong meditation, vacuous conversations walking past you and a whiff of the neighbouring hotel’s sewage snaps you back to reality: you have to get out of this place.
Time to reassess, paradise found is clearly not here, and surely not with these people – you need to relocate. Fortunately Maria, the local waitress at Ziggy’s (who despite her name is actually Swedish), sees the empty glaze of disillusionment in your eyes as you sip on a coconut smoothie and takes pity on you.
She recommends a solution to your conundrum that does not involve staying nor returning to the dreaded lockdowns of the outside world; a trip through Mexico’s varied coastline. What an amazing idea you think; but where to go? Luckily you have DDW to navigate those uncharted waters.
Take a look through our trusty Mexican alternative beach guide to avoid the Tulum’s and Cancun’s of the world and experience the Peninsula’s true natural beauty, free of tech-house and douche-baggery, the way the Mayan’s (and Maria) intended:
Although Tulum might be the club fiend to Cancun’s fratbro, it wasn’t always so. Believe it or not this beautiful enclave was once a quiet and lush forest-covered fisherman’s village that attracted alternative tourism due to its very secluded and quiet environs. Although it may be too late for Tulum, Isla Holbox still holds this charm.
The island (Isla) is part of the Yum Balam, Mexico’s largest jungle and beach ecological reserve, guaranteeing that despite its growing reputation as “the next Tulum” amongst the ‘Burning Man’ crowd, it will remain untouched by the ecologically disastrous construction that plagued other Mexican beachfronts.
Appropriately, Holbox means “black hole” in Mayan and one can only hope it stays that way, a secluded space for quiet luxury far away from pill-popping techno tourists. For now it remains the place to kick back and enjoy barefoot luxury amongst stunning nature reserves and relaxed Mexican fare. There are no cars on the island so you’ll have to rely on a golf carts to take you to Punta Caliza, the area’s newest chic-yet-simple hotel.
Leo would feel at home here, it’s like The Beach only smaller and will better surf. Zicatela Beach is famous for those looking to hang ten across from a dreamy sandy patch emerging from the jungle. Best of all, you are now in the “Mexican’s Mexico” so the prices to eat lunch on the beach will no longer make you weep into your ceviche.
‘Going native’ need not mean forgoing all worldly comforts, stay at the Hotel Escondido for a boho-chic treat, you’ll meet likeminded tech-moguls-cum-surfers and be able to chill in their spa.
A hidden gem that is calling out for you to explore, this lagoon-side resort town on the border with Belize has held magical powers since the Mayan’s roamed the Peninsula. Known as the Lagoon of Seven Colours due to its blue and turquoise hues, it delivers outstanding natural beauty and full immersion into local culture.
Dust off your Duolingo App and learn some key phrases as few locals are fluent in English and make sure to check out the Oxtankah Mayan ruins, the Museum of Mayan Culture and the many (non-motorised) water sports available. Hotel Carolina Bacalar delivers Maldivian chic style bungalows and stilts above the turquoise waters. Dreamy.