Retire To Tulum, Mexico

“My husband and I have just returned from Tulum, Mexico. This was our third trip since November 2010, when we finalized our purchase of a lot at a development there.

“While I know you can’t promote every fabulous location on the planet, Tulum might be a place your readers would enjoy knowing about. While Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, offers a southern California, a la Newport Beach lifestyle, Tulum is more like, I’d say, old-style Santa Barbara casual. Not so much in terms of Spanish colonial architecture but definitely in terms of laid-back natural beauty, eco-consciousness, and boutique-y hotels.

“The beaches of Tulum are stunning and were nearly empty even on the weekend. The many restaurants and beach clubs along the beach road mean you don’t have to pack a lunch. Buy a meal or a drink at one of them and enjoy their lounge chairs under the beach umbrellas. We started with breakfast at Zama’s cove toward the south end, then moved to Vite e Bella along the northern end for lunch.

“On a previous visit, we spent a day exploring the Miyul ruins and floating down an ancient Mayan-made canal through the mangroves in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site. The Sian Ka’an covers 1.3 million acres, encompassing one-third of the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Within the reserve live over 300 species of birds and 100 types of mammals. There are sea turtle nesting sites as well as 23 archeological sites (so far) with artifacts up to 2,300 years old.

“The Tulum ruins at the north end of the pueblo of Tulum have been turned into a well-managed, manicured, grass-filled park, where Frisbee-tossing kids wouldn’t be out of place. While surprised by the contemporary setting for the ancient ruins, I found that I enjoyed the difference between these ruins and those elsewhere in Mexico and Central America that have been cleared and left in a more natural state.

“The municipality of Tulum has put into place stringent building codes to ensure that the kind of over-development seen in Playa del Carmen and Cancun to the north does not ruin the natural environment in Tulum. Still, the amount of potential development is impressive. To the west of town, along the road to Coba, many acres of jungle forest are being carved up into eco-subdivisions.

“Even the small stores are improving their interiors. The little juice and gelato bar Flor de Michoacan across from the ADO bus station has cleaned up its back patio, adding more white cast iron-like tables and chairs and more flowers and is installing pretty tile counters in the front. Healthy, freshly made juices cost US$2.

“We spent one Sunday evening in the garden patio of Azafran, run by Michaela, a German woman, enjoying bratwurst, potatoes with tzatziki, and German beer while listening to a fantastic local band that had everyone, including us, on our feet dancing to the Carib-Cuban-Latin beat. Azafran serves great breakfasts, too, for about US$5.

“Lots of folks speak some English, though, of course, Spanish is the primary language. However, Mayan is also a dominant tongue. We spoke with many 20- 30-year-olds who grew up speaking Mayan at home and whose parents still speak only Mayan. Tulum has a private bi-lingual school -Mayan and Spanish.

“Besides snorkeling, fishing, and diving along the reef that sits just offshore, Tulum offers golf at the resorts and swimming, snorkeling, and diving in the clear cenotes (water-filled pits or sinkholes connected to the underground river systems in the area). It also offers abundant fresh fruits and vegetables, excellent fresh fish and there’s even a Chedurai (a Costco-type of store) in Tulum now where you can find better cheeses, wines, and other foods not available in the local markets.

“One more attractive aspect of Tulum is its location just a 90-minute drive from the Cancun airport. While we waited for our American Airlines flight to Dallas, we watched folks board planes for non-stop flights to New York, Denver, Boston, Chicago, Houston, and Miami. With family spread out around the U.S., we appreciate the proximity of a major international airport.

“After visiting Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, and Belize during the past three years, seeking both real estate investments and a place to call home, we think Tulum might be it. Perhaps some of your other readers would find it appealing too.”

–Gail W., United States

We agree. This part of Mexico has a great deal to offer, which is why we’ll be featuring it, along with Puerto Vallarta, in our Mexico presentations during our Retire Overseas Conference taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the end of this month.

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