The first time I vacationed in the Cancun area was in 1990 and I had just broken up with a boyfriend. I knew back then I was not a fan of Cancun – not really sure why, as I had not been anywhere interesting at that stage in my life. Then again, it could have been influenced by the break-up – it totally sucked.
Back then, Tulum felt like a VERY long drive away from Cancun and seemed way beyond my reach. I was too chicken to rent a car and drive South on a solo expedition – if only I knew then what I think I know now. Fast forward many, many years and Greg and I pay a visit to Playa Del Carmen.
We thoroughly enjoyed Playa, but in typical Life Bus fashion, we were in search of an adventure. We took off in our rental car and headed South to Tulum to find one of the famous Cenotes to explore and see some ruins. I had nothing with me except my phone camera, a towel and a bathing suit. We drove for a couple of hours without incident and found ourselves in downtown Tulum. I could not for the life of me figure out what was so exciting about this town. I knew there was something else around the corner – I could smell it.
After circling around some back roads of the downtown area and discovering an amazing old cemetery, we found a sign that pointed to ‘la playa’. We took the turn and headed along the coastline. OMG – the experience was night and day. All of the lodging along the Boca Paila Rd. towards Punta Allen consists of small, interesting non-chain bungalows and 98% are located on the beach front. The range included all the way from very basic to the very posh.
We came across an obscure lodging option called the Encantada Beachfront Boutique Hotel, fairly close to the end of the road prior to reaching the Punta Allen State Park. You cannot see anything particularly special from the road, but, the signage for the hotel was lovely and seemed to be very upscale. I convinced Greg to stop and take a tour of one of the open palapa style rooms. It was love at first sight. Next thing I knew, we booked a night at the hotel, ordered up some margaritas and enjoyed a cool beach breeze on our private deck.
The hotel is one of my all-time faves. The details the San Francisco based owners put into this resort are UNBELIEVABLE, all the way from the fresh water jug in the room, to the shower tiles, deck chairs, beach lounge chairs, bedding, and the outdoor lights in the trees around the property. An added bonus provided by Mother Nature is the sand on the beach – white and as fine as powdered sugar. The water temperature and the waves are completely enjoyable and oh so addicting. Any time I feel stressed I imagine my experience in this little oasis – a lot of sunshine, soft sand and pure relaxation.
To top it off, the food at Encantada is de-lish and is served in very large portions – easily shared between 2 people. The room rate comes with a great breakfast of fresh local fruit, pastries and yogurt – the good stuff, not yoplait.
There are a total of 8 rooms with 4 directly on the beach front. I would do my best to secure the beach front rooms as you are nearly guaranteed to have a lovely ocean breeze to keep you cool. Warning: This is an eco-friendly hotel so they do not have A/C. It could be hot and humid in the dead of summer so take that into consideration when booking a room.
Some how I managed to live without a toothbrush and in a wet bathing suit for about 24 hours. It was worth the fuzzy teeth and butt crickets. I absolutely cannot wait to go back and enjoy some tasty food, margs, waves and a fine sand beach.