How to have an eco-friendly vacation in Mexico
Mexico is the most popular international destination for Americans. It could be because of its close proximity, but something tells us this is helped by their spectacular beaches, warm and welcoming culture and delicious food.
Part of the famed Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum has gained a reputation as a laidback eco-friendly destination. Here’s everything you need to do, eat and stay the next time you visit.
The blue cenotes or Yal-Ku Lagoon is a must for most visitors to Tulum. These natural open-air swimming holes make for the perfect Instagram shot, but it’s important to be mindful when visiting. If you decide to snorkel or dive, be extra cautious of stalagmites, stalactites and other natural features. Check the ingredients of your sunblock and insect repellant before taking a dip and ensure it’s eco-friendly - you wouldn’t want to accidentally pollute the water! Finally, don’t leave any rubbish behind.
Sian Ka’an Reserve
This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its remarkable flora and fauna. In fact, the Mesoamerican Reef is home to dolphins, turtles and up to 500 species of fish. And in terms of size, it’s second only to the Great Barrier Reef. When visiting the Sian Ka’an Reserve, book with a reputable low impact eco tour company. It’s good for the environment and the local community, plus you’ll be able to learn more about the reserve too!
Spa Day at Yaan Wellness
It’s not too farfetched to say that Yaan Wellness offers an unrivalled experience. After all, it’s Goop-approved. They offer a variety of treatments ranging from the usual hair removal and tinting to the more eccentric energy and sound healing rituals. In fact, the massage list alone boasts 15 different options. They also use eco-friendly and organic products. For facials, they use Neil Yard’s organic products and for manicures they use EcoCult approved Zoya nail polish.
As one of the most popular restaurants in Tulum, you’ll want to make reservations a month in advance for Hartwood - unless you don’t mind a two hour wait. Their menu changes daily and is based on the catch and harvest of the day. Fish is spear-caught within the Caribbean and produce is locally sourced from Mayan farms. They also compost and cook everything over an open fire using a hand made wood burning oven and grill. And if that wasn’t enough, everything is solar powered too.
Another Tulum favourite is Arca. Perfect for date nights, this candlelit outdoor restaurant is hidden in the jungle and serves up a micro seasonal menu. Think citrus-less prawn ceviche, grilled octopus al pastor and suckling pig roulade with a chicharron and peanut crumble. Ingredients are locally and sustainably sourced and all cooking is done over an open fire. Reservations can be made for 6-7pm, but if you want to come in later it’s first come, first served.
If you ever thought wild parties couldn’t be synonymous with sustainability - think again. PPP is the numero uno electronic music party destination over the high season and a leader in eco-friendly practices. The resort has retained 93% of the original jungle (the norm in the region is 5%) and they work with local Mexican and Mayan artisans to source the resort’s furniture and decor. Wastewater is also treated and used for irrigation. There’s also a cashew nut orchard with 150 banana and coconut trees - and they’re working to expand the plantation to include chickoo, papaya, pineapple, guava, jackfruit, breadfruit, banana, cashew, coconut and watermelon.
Named the 3rd Greatest Hotel in the World by Harpers Bazaar in 2017, Sanara Tulum is both luxurious and eco-friendly. Constructed out of entirely sustainable materials and completely off-the-grid (think solar power, rainwater collection, grey water recycling and microbe-based septic systems), it boasts an on-site restaurant, yoga and wellness studio. The restaurant, Real Coconut uses exclusively locally-grown organic produce and free-range eggs and meat, while the spa and bath products are all-natural and free from parabens and chemicals. They also organise social enterprise tours to visit Melopino and the Mayan Elders.