For years, Tulum has stolen the highlight because the trendiest place to take an unforgettable trip within the Riviera Maya, because of its shut proximity to sandy seashores and iconic Mayan sights. However, having suffered from overcrowding and unsustainable tourism within the final decade, all eyes at the moment are on Bacalar, a trendier, way more quaint city simply two hours south.
There’s no denying the Mexican Caribbean is America’s favorite vacation spot. Being a brief two to four-hour flight from a number of U.S. cities, and relatively safer than different sunny retreats in different components of the nation, its recognition has saved rising despite the well being disaster and might be reaching a new peak this winter.
The solely draw back to this exceptional success? In some locations, it hardly seems like Mexico anymore, which leads some to query:
Has Overtourism Ruined Tulum?
Overtourism has develop into a critical concern internationally’s high locations, pushing up rental costs amid an inflow of international funding and slowly erasing their id. Serving as a gateway to the Mayan World, Tulum is definitely no exception: as different senior Americans who’ve been touring to Mexico for many years will have the ability to affirm, it was as soon as an off-path village not that many vacationers had been even conscious existed.
In the 90’s, previous to being ‘discovered’, Tulum had a inhabitants of simply over 2,000 inhabitants. These had been principally native fishermen, artisans, and land employees who led a peaceable life, shielded from the hustle and bustle of close by Cancun and its overwhelming internationalization.
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By the yr 2000, they’d already jumped from a two thousand people-strong tight knit neighborhood to 12,000. An irreversible transformation had been set into point out, and within the years that adopted, amid the surge in high-caliber resort improvement and the fading demand for finances journeys, Tulum’s small, Mayan city magic was misplaced.
Others weren’t so ‘lucky’:
Is Bacalar The New Cool?
Located solely a two and a half hour drive south of Tulum, or alternatively, a shorter 23 miles northwest of Chetumal Airport, a Southern Mayan airport that hosted its first-ever direct flights from the U.S. this year, there’s a sleepy, largely neglected city that continues to be one among Mexico’s finest hidden secrets and techniques – a minimum of for now.
A Pueblo Mágico straddling the Lake of the Seven Colors, Bacalar dates again to the colonial interval of Mexico Featuring an 18th century army fort, an enthralling downtown space the place heritage buildings might be discovered, and most significantly, natives reside in to at the present time, it’s the ‘quintessential Mexico’ we thought had been misplaced perpetually.
Visiting Bacalar, Kashlee Kucheran, who’s a journey knowledgeable primarily based in Mexico and CEO of Travel Off Path was quoted saying she felt ‘safer’ strolling in Bacalar, even at night time, than most cities in Quintana Roo. Moreover, she seen locals haven’t been ‘pushed out’ by the accommodations, and the specter of crime, which led Cancun authorities to deploy more patrol units on seashores, is unquestionably ‘low’.
Mrs. Kucheran added that whereas Tulum has numerous ‘magic, charm and intrigue’ – it’s, in any case, an Ancient Mayan port – it’s being ‘spoiled’ by consumerism. Bacalar, alternatively, hasn’t been tarnished by the lots: ‘Bacalar is a breath of recent air for people who find themselves nonetheless in search of nature, neighborhood, and all the wonder that the Yucatán Peninsula has to supply.‘
What Can You Expect Vacationing In Bacalar?
If you’re trying to splurge, get together laborious, and reside your finest ‘Instafluencer’ life, Bacalar isn’t for you: it’s an emergent resort city recovering from a pure phenomenon that turned its well-known lake’s pristine waters brown for a couple of years, and also you definitely received’t discover your ultra-niche eating choices or a Plaza Las Americas right here.
Don’t get us fallacious: whether or not you’re into carne asada otherwise you’re a loyal vegan, you’re definitely spoiled for alternative right here, however then once more, don’t look forward to finding the identical selection of high-end eating places and American model diners you’ll in Northern Quintana Roo. Lots of eating places and outlets within the central district are family-owned, and Spanish continues being a lingua franca on the streets, proving neighborhood comes first, and tourism second within the space.
The identical can’t be mentioned about an more and more internationalized Tulum. Here are some execs and cons of visiting Bacalar as an alternative:
- Bacalar is tidier than Tulum: the latter’s potholes and overflowing rubbish don’t exist right here, and the restricted variety of vacationers helps hold it that manner;
- All yr, low or excessive season, there are fewer guests round and you may get pleasure from a better sense of exclusivity and calmness;
- The locals are those residing and working companies on the lakefront, together with eateries and small pensiónes, in comparison with Tulum’s over-developed resort zone, stuffed with Americanisms and foreign-owned vacationer complexes;
- It is arguably safer and extra family-friendly, missing Tulum’s loopy get together scene and rising crime rates;
- 30 miles lengthy, the warm-water, crystal-clear lagoon is ideal for swimming, practising water sports activities, and boat excursions;
- A luxurious and wellness scene is growing and so they wish to construct a repute and appeal to extra friends, which means costs might be extra enticing.*
*The boutique Casa Hormiga Hotel, one among Bacalar’s five-star presents, has a jungle aesthetic and it’s a true nature oasis, with rooms ranging from solely $236.25 per night.
- It is not a seaside vacation spot;*
- It’s tougher to get to and nonstop flights to Chetumal, the closest airport, are at present solely accessible from Mexico;**
- Bacalar’s nightlife is merely a fraction of Tulum’s, missing main nightclubs and the latter’s common seaside events.
*Nonetheless, it’s residence to a lagoon with the bluest of waters and it’s situated a one-hour drive from Mahahual Beach;
**Flights between the U.S. and Chetumal had been axed final summer time because of low demand
As you’ll be able to see above, until being ON the ocean is non-negotiable, you’re financially ready to pay among the highest taxi fares on the earth, and hallucinogen-ridden raves on the seaside are your vibe, Tulum doesn’t have a lot going for it.
What The Future Holds
Tulum might have develop into a regional capital for luxurious tourism, however some would possibly argue it’s sacrificed its essence within the course of. Luckily, there are a selection of different settlements left across the Yucatán Peninsula which have managed to advertise tourism, all of the whereas retaining the authenticity that made them well-known within the first place. Bacalar is one among them.
When flying to Mexico, the overwhelming majority of worldwide guests have their hearts set on seaside getaways: 25 million of them would usually decide the Cancun-Tulum resort strip over anyplace else, and we completely get it. There are tons of extra flights touchdown in Cancun, the coast – when it’s seaweed-free – is totally beautiful, and resort facilities keep getting better.
The drawback is, as soon as once more, mass tourism.
It has completely altered Tulum in character, turning it right into a soulless resort city stricken by taxi scams, potholes, and densely populated. We don’t know what the long run holds for Bacalar’s as soon as it’s formally ‘outed’, but it surely’s a reality it’s not fairly there but, and it nonetheless makes for a way more enjoyable, extra genuinely Mexican trip.
Tips For Visiting Bacalar
- Fly into Chetumal airport the place you’ll be able to take a 35-minute taxi to Bacalar for 300 pesos ($15 USD) as an alternative of the lengthy automotive trip from Cancun airport.
- Don’t put on sunscreen, bug spray, fragrance or make-up whenever you enter the lagoon, as the fragile pH stability must be preserved to keep up its attractive teal and blue colours.
- Stay in accommodations which are making efforts to reduce their ecological affect, particularly ones which have lagoon entry
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This article initially appeared on TravelOffPath.com