Tulum, Mexico...a tropical, unspoilt, Eco-friendly paradise. Instagram is regularly littered with the tanned long limbs and salty beach hair of the IT girls and Instagram's finest influencer's. It looks like the dream destination, somewhere with the perfect combination of boutique, non-commercialised feel and chic Pinterest worthy hotels, beaches and delicious fresh seafood and it was but Tulum has a secret. A secret that we were kindly let in on, on our second day in paradise. A secret that tore through our holiday casting doubt and a little fear across our trip. I wanted to share Tulum's secret not to put you off visiting but to make you aware. Had I known upfront I don't think I would have freaked out as much.

I booked the trip for my boyfriend's 30th birthday. I researched hotels, flights, restaurants, weather, what to wear etc. for months, spending a small fortune to make this the trip of a lifetime. After an 11 hour flight and 2 hour taxi drive ending up on a remote jungle road we made it to our hotel Coco Limited, it was late and very dark but our room, right on the beautiful white sand was a whitewash heaven. After a quick bite to eat we went to bed excited for the unspoilt beaches and clear blue sea in the morning. On our first full day in Tulum we were laid out on the beach sleeping off the jet lag when a member of staff approached us visibly panicked. He told us and everyone else on the beach to 'very quickly' go back to our rooms and lock the door. This instantly made my hairs stand up, he wouldn't tell us anything else and as we made our way to our room we could see all of the staff running around looking worried. We were on the balcony of our room trying to get an idea of what was going on when another staff member saw us and said we had 2 minutes to pack everything and get out of the hotel; 'leave nothing behind!' A minute later someone was at our door hurrying us along and carrying our bags to the front of the hotel. At this point we were very confused, no one would tell us anything and unfortunately with all of the horrendous attacks happening around the world our thoughts immediately went to the worst possible outcome. We were sent to 'camp out' at Coco Limited's sister hotel Coco Tulum. Here the staff were fantastic, they got us a new room and settled us in the bar; again they wouldn't give us too much information but they did the say the government are corrupt and cause problems. This was enough information for detective Lizzie and within 10 minutes and a little help of Google I found out what was happening...

Tulum only became popular in the last ten or so years, rich investors visited from New York, Paris, London and very quickly decided they wanted a piece of this beautiful coast line with many hotels popping up along the jungle path. The government, realising the potential of this area, began their reign of corruption. In short; they hire militia, send them in to hotels where they rip everything out, mattresses, air con, even the generator were thrown in a pile on the street, they steal anything that hasn't been removed. Hotel guests who weren't warned like us as they weren't at the hotel had their belongings stolen, one couple we spoke to had all of their jewellery and money stolen from the safe. They then charge the hotel owners A LOT of money to get their hotel back, if they don't pay, they take control of the hotel shutting it down and shutting it off from the street. Whilst our hotel was being raided the one next door was also facing the same fate. The next day our hotel was back up and running as though nothing had happened. The hotel next door was still taped off with men with machetes guarding it. To date this has happened to fourteen hotels in Tulum however it had never happened to Coco Tulum before. We spoke to a guy who was on his fifth trip to Tulum, he had heard of this issue but had never been then when it happened. This was our first trip and our first full day...I realise we simply got very, very unlucky!

Whilst the hotel assured us we were safe and everything was now fine at Coco Limited, having not been given any information and only knowing what I managed to find on the Internet we had a very uneasy feeling. In the end we got a refund and moved to a new resort. I was really upset as I had dreamt of visiting Mexico and in particular Tulum for years, it was like meeting your favourite famous person and them turning out to be a complete ass, would I go back? I think due to the cost and flight time I wouldn't, I would rather spend that time and money on visiting somewhere new. I will say however Tulum truly is beautiful with a really relaxed vibe and I know of many, many people who have been and had the most amazing time unfortunately it simply wasn't the week for us. In nine years and quite a few holidays this was our first 'disaster trip' so I suppose we're not doing too badly. Hopefully if you do visit this post will help you be prepared if this does happen whilst you are there. Below are some more of my top tips for if you do plan a trip to Tulum!

  1. If you live up north you can get a direct flight to Cancun from Manchester with Thomson. Book in advance and you can get a really reasonable price on their dreamliner, our flight was just £425 return! If you live down south, fly direct from Gatwick with Virgin airlines.
  2. Pre-book a taxi from the airport, our it shouldn't cost more than $100 return.
  3. Coco Tulum is a great hotel with an iconic bar fitted with white swing seats and lightening doesn't strike twice right? If you are a little squeamish when it comes to bugs just be prepared as they do find their way into the rooms; be sure to book a second floor room to limit this. 
  4. March/April are some the best months to visit, there's very little rain and the weather is just right, not too hot but never cold. 
  5. Whilst the currency is Mexican Pesos most places actually charge in US dollars so you can take either. One thing to note; the exchange rate on pesos is much better than the pound to dollar. We took pesos!
  6. The vibe is very chilled but people definitely make an effort with their outfits. Think modern hippy chic. 
  7. Heels are 100% not required!
  8. Don't waste space and precious kilos on makeup, I guarantee you'll wear the bare minimum.
  9. The hotels are all Eco friendly which means very limited electricity, very poor WiFi and no hair dryers. If you can't stand a week or two air drying your hair make sure to pack your own hair dryer. 
  10. Rent a bike to cycle down the jungle round. It is quite long and, of course you can walk, but cycling is quicker and much more fun. 
  11. The food was surprisingly tasty, granted we only got a eat at a handful from my thoroughly researched list but definitely visit; Hartwood, Coco Banana, Casa Jaguar and Juanita Diavolo do the best pizzas!
If you have any other questions  about Tulum, leave them below or ask me on Instagram or Twitter !

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