Ever since the Papaya Playa Project graced the palm-kissed shores of Tulum, Mexico in December 2011 as a pop-up with a long-term plan, I’ve been plotting my visit.
As a glamping-obsessed adventurer with a penchant for design, I couldn’t ignore the location’s raw beauty and the architecture’s thatched-roof abodes. Plus, the lure of living like a beach bohemian without a hairdryer, plush hotel slippers, or the pressure to strut around in resort wear was a welcome departure from the Riviera Maya’s jet-set hotels.
Stretching over a 900 meter ribbon of private oceanfront just a mile North of Tulum’s never-ending beach, Papaya Playa’s 80 bungalows dot the shoreline of the multi-acre property.
Beyond the beach, pounded dirt pathways plying through the jungle thicket connect the glamp-ground’s casitas to its hub: A palm-shaded, amphitheatre-style restaurant that quadruples as a music venue, a place to chill with a cervesa when lounging at the Beach Club, and a space for the property’s once-monthly full moon parties. (If your stay coincides with a full moon party and you don’t want to dance until 3 a.m., bring ear plugs.)
Each abode’s union of artisan furniture, beds adorned with cascading mosquito nets, basket lights, string-secured wooden towel holders, and custom-designed textiles is enough to make you say “Viva Mexico,” but it’s the eco angle that makes you pine after your perch; every building from casita to casa to the spa’s temazcal (Mesoamerican sweat lodge) is built using local materials.
When I stepped into my circular beach-view abode complete with a 10-step pathway down to the shore, I immediately opened the sliding glass doors to let the wind and waves “soundtrack” invite me deeper into paradise. Settling into the wooden-slat chair on my deck, I realized how easy it would be to become a hermit—why would I leave such an idyllic perch? Yet, the lure of the property’s other spaces, think: the spa, juice shack, restaurant, bar, and beach palapas called me outward.
While I loved my minimalist casita (with an air-conditioning upgrade), its designated four-post beach palapa became the object of my Papaya Playa desires. Topped with palm fronds from the property, a teal beach mattress lay underneath propped up by a handmade headboard. Not surprisingly, this is where I spent the majority of my time alternating between catnaps and Caribbean Sea cool-downs.
As the sun retreated at the end of my easy-breezy beach days, looking back, I realize I was in no rush to wash off the salt and sand, and move on to guacamole and margaritas. With sustenance a short stroll away, and the sky splashed in tangerine and fuchsia hues, I was content to be—be in my bathing suit, be barefoot, be in the moment. That’s what beachfront glamping does to your soul.
Know this: Rates include bottled water, palm-covered palapas, beach towels and parking. Complimentary WiFi is available in public areas, though it runs off a satellite so the signal may take the occasional siesta. If you sleep well in cool conditions, book a bungalow with air conditioning. Mosquito repellant is recommended for any off-beach activity. Adrenaline junkies: There’s a kiteboarding and surf school onsite.
One Reply to “Papaya Playa Project”
hate to break it to you but none of the beaches in tulum are private. they are owned by the federal government!