Watch the advice, it matters.
Sustainable tourism and responsible travel
We’re laying it down like it is, the whole local industry pivot around certain people considered to be “influencers” and the solely reason why they held this title is because of their direct contact with the incoming visitors, like you.
Everything seems fine, but these suggestions have one single purpose, to inflate the influencer’s pockets with commissions, that needs to change.
It's no surprise why travelers turn into heavy research projects trying to avoid the so call “expert advice” from any of these corrupted influencers.
On the other hand, you have a massive tidal wave of digital influencers, and although their intentions could be good, truth be told, it’s hard to grasp how a destination flows with a week-long visit, to give advice, one must breath and sweat the place.
This guide is put together to help you decide, to give you awareness of a beautiful, and often, misleading destination as Riviera Maya. Sustainable tourism suggest the direct involvement of local communities with projects that are environmentally conscious and responsible. Unfortunately, most local projects invest in efforts they don’t quite get, and end up been cast away from the big leagues, imagine talking about a blog with a Mayan farmer who have never left home, it’s quite frankly, unnecessary, and very ineffective.
We face a huge responsibility because of this, we merely serve as a channel for them, we spread their message, it’s not a conflict message, we don’t aim to compete with Xcaret or any other empire out there, we want you to know about their lives and projects, so next time you visit, you can choose to visit at least, one of this locally run projects.
1. Enrique's Organic Farm + Nuevo Durango's community.
A 15-minute drive from Punta Laguna's Natural Reserve leads you to Nuevo Durango, an unpaved town located in literally the middle of the jungle. In here, everyone's somehow related to each other, they are all family. Also, they are all organic farmers.
While a backyard in this town may be used for chicken farming, another one will be an organic orchard, and they all buy and trade goods from each other.
Enrique and his family, for instance, is the perfect example of how these modern Mayan communities have recently opened their doors to tourists and visitors: Enrique makes guided visits to his own organic farm, where he introduces you to a ton of different plants he grows with the help of his children. In this quick walk, he explains the different processes used, such as the importance of harvesting on moon cycles or the different timings of every vegetable/fruit.
The experience is followed by a home-made meal, cooked only with goods from his backyard (or their neighbor's). Enrique's wife makes hand-made tortillas and all kinds of salsas at the moment for everyone, his kids serve you fresh Jamaica water and you end up with a table full of local recipes, authentic Mayan dishes, and unbelievable fruit desserts.
Places like this one put everything in perspective, our visit not only benefits Enrique's family and the whole Nuevo Durango's community, it's also great opportunity to have an unforgettable encounter with an amazing Mayan family and their rich culture.
2. Punta Laguna Monkey Reserve: A wild family's ''backyard''.
Are you up for an adventure day? 20 minutes away from Coba's iconic archeological site, there is a small Mayan community that thrives by the lagoon... Yup, also in the middle of the jungle.
As you step out of a small shack in the entrance, a local guide introduces you to a profound jungle walk where you'll most likely find families of wild howler and spider monkeys. The guide knows all of them, their name, age and in what part of the land they live in.
Pretty amazing experience if you count that these are wild monkeys, not caged. In fact, last time we were there, a baby monkey was so curious to interact with new people, he reached out his hand to hold a visitor's arm in a very gentle way... It sort of felt as if he was high-fiving him or saying ''hi'' in a very innocent way. The monkey's parents didn't seem to have a problem with this.
The walk leads you to a big, clear watered lagoon with kayaks on which you will need to row to get to the other side of the lagoon. When you get there, a small trek will take you to a fun zip line ride, returning you to where you left your kayak.
Followed by a 12-meter rappel to the underground, you'll find a cenote full of real human skulls sunk in the bottom. This was a ritualistic place in where their Mayan ancestors used to punish people to death by throwing them in here. Ironically, the spooky story doesn't affect the beauty of this purifying place.
This family too gets a direct benefit for every new visitor they get: From a small new-born baby to the founder of this place, an 80+ shaman.
3. KanLum Lagoon: The local secret.
A small, hand-painted sign in the middle of the road is the entrance to a very special local's secret. Millions of years ago, huge meteorites struck the Earth, to be specific, they crashed where we now know as the Yucatan Peninsula. Most of these massive rocks led to the formations of cenotes, but in KanLum, it left behind a colossal water hole in the middle of a white-sanded lagoon.
The wooden dock on this lagoon is home to thousands of tiny, friendly fish that will rush to swim near you as soon as you enter the water. The soft sand bottom makes it incredibly easy to explore around.
In the middle of the lagoon, a circle of pitch-dark water is surrounded by rustic signalings of ''stop, do not cross from this point''. And although it is kind of dangerous swimming through this profound hole (because its 80-meter deep and there are no lifeguards), a small dip into it is definitely worth it, it will leave you feeling microscopic compared to the unbelievable darkness this huge hole gives.
The place has a big palapa right next to the lagoon in where you can have a small meal before returning home.
Operated by a small Mayan family, this local secret (it really remains as a secret to most locals we've met), is benefited from the visit of ''off the beaten path'' travelers.
4. Soliman Bay: A local fishermen's joint.
Very close to Tulum's city, but still roadside, this is one of our favorite hidden spots. Soliman Bay's fancy beach apartments and rustic boutique properties are the entrance to a secluded, coral-sanded beach. In here, a local fisherman and his family work on their own small, beachside restaurant.
The place is packed with palms, which gives a cool shade to every table, the mixed lobster, shrimp ceviche is absolutely incredible. But the sea view gives this place extra points: Since this is a bay (a mass of water ''separated'' from the sea by its large coral reef barrier), it is very shallow, even if you walk off shore 400m into it. It's a safe home to lots of colorful fishes and its warm, waveless waters are perfect for floating around.
Different to all the other places we previously listed, Soliman Bay isn't a big community surviving on alternative travelers, during the past years, this place has gained a lot of local fame (don't get us wrong, this remains as a secret beach), but it has much more daily flow than the other options. This Mayan fisherman's joint and his family also grow with the help of their visitors.
These locations are proof that stepping out of touristic places can make a big difference in the life of people who benefit from your visit to alternative spots. Support real communities, see the difference.
We'll feature more destinations like these, fortunately, we have access to incredible places and the people and stories behind it, the places worth visitng, the places that step out the spot light, those places are now available to you with us.
If you're looking to visit any of them drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.