Papaya Playa Project

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.

8 Chillest Glamping Locations in the World

By Sarah Esterman

Glamping (that’s glamorous camping if you haven’t heard of it) is becoming more and more popular. Combining a camping trip with a little extra luxury can make for a relaxing vacation—especially when you find the perfect spot to hang your hammock.

So when you start planning your glamping trip, be sure to look into these locales.

Treehouse Lodge Deep in the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
Each of the treehouse units includes a comfy room with a veranda, fan, private bath, and yes, you guessed it: a hammock. They sit along the edge of the water, deep in jungle, high above the ground supported by stilts (necessary thanks to the flood season). There are plenty of activities to participate in too, including picnics in the jungle, canoeing, tree climbing, alligator spotting and more.


Cabaña Suites, Costa Rica

Unless you stay in the Canopy Honeymoon Suite or one of the Jungle View Rooms, be sure to pack your own hammock—and you’ll definitely want to considering the incredible views here. Be sure to treat yourself to a massage or go on one of the excursions, like a horseback ride or the tropical canyon tour.


Safari Tents at the Turquoise Mediterranean, Southern Turkey

On the hillside of the Baba mountains, when you stay here you’ll have amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea no matter where you stand in your glam tent. Each tent is complete with a bedroom, bathroom, veranda, hot tub, air conditioning, and yes, a hammock, so you can kick back and enjoy the view.


Safari Tents in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa

In the middle of the mountains on the Limpopo Province of South Africa, this glamping location has the option to spend the night in their hammock camps. Hammock camping, stargazing, bird watching—it all adds up to make a great getaway.


Dancing With Trees, Georgia

Treetop camping is awesome. Treetop camping in a suspended canvas hammock? Incredible. And there’s even a continental breakfast up in the trees.


Baja Camp, Mexico

Located on the Island of Espiritu Santo off the coast of Baja California, this glampsite is reachable by a 2=hour boat ride and each visit only includes up to 10 people at a time. Besides the beach, kayaking, fresh fish and spacious tents, you’ll get ultimate relaxation by kicking back in your beachside hammock.


Safari Tents Atop the Ridge, Texas

An outdoor shower, a Japanese-style Ofuru soaking tub and outdoor veranda complete with a fire pit, and, yes, hammocks—this is a gorgeous retreat atop a 300-foot ridge overlooking Lone Man Creek.


Corcovado Lodge, Costa Rica

The largest building in the Corcovado Lodge is the Hammock House. Yes, you read that right: a hammock house. Complete with a bar, a roomy deck and several lounging hammocks you can enjoy your drink and great view in.