Xcacel Sanctuary, a piece of paradise in Mexico

Xcacel is a stunning turtle sanctuary and also home to an amazing cenote with nothing else nearby just nature.

From Tulum we caught the collectivo that goes in direction to Playa Del Carmen and left in Xcacel (30$ Mexican pesos). To enter and visit the park they ask only for a donation.

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The park is amazingly beautiful and very clean,  and if you go early in the morning is tranquil and very peaceful, away from Playa del Carmen or Tulum’s noise.

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We went first to the cenote (X’cacelito), that is the most popular part of the park while was still empty, and was so so good, we spent hours in the water amazed with it’s beauty.

The Cenote is connected to the beach by a well kept sand road surrounded by jungle.
Later on we went for a walk through the path in the jungle parallel to the beach till the end of the park and walked back thought the beach.

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The north end doesn’t have sand just rocks, and it’s always calmer and good for snorkeling.

We didn’t spend much time on the beach, because there’s little shade, if you can take an umbrella with you 🙂 The sand is white and the water has different shades of blue, but since 2014 Mexico is facing  problems with excessive seaweed (sargassum) washing ashore. For these reason the beach doesn’t have the ‘idilic Caribbean look’.

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The park was full of signs alerting for turtle nests, from April to October, the turtles make their journey to nest along the Xcacel beach, please respect the signs.

Because the turtles lay their eggs down in this beach nobody is allowed to build resorts, hotels, palapas,  restaurants or something like that in this place.

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turtle nests signs

While time passes more people arrives and some tour vans, but it’s still a very quiet place by local standards.

Later in the day we decided to go to the cenote again, but there was a big queue to go in. So try to go as early as possible and straight away to the cenote.

Bring your own beverages and food, be mindful of others, and pick up your trash in the end 🙂 they have some great shaded picnic area next to the beach, enroute to the Cenote.

We returned to Tulum by colectivo.  The park closes at 5pm.

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photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Tulum Private & Public beaches

If you’re backpacking or traveling on a budget it’s probable that you’ll stay in town 3 miles from the beach… What is absolutely fine, first there’s cheaper accommodation in town, lots of shops, restaurantes, bars, supermarkets, markets, banks, pharmacies, etc. so not that bad at all, plus renting a bike is easy and cheap 🙂

Lots of places in town rent bicycles and it’s a great way to move around. Going to the beach it’s quite easy, from town you go always straight through a cycling path, till you reach a roundabout, where  the police station is located. If you head right (north) you have the public beaches plus the ruins at the end.

Bare in mind that most visitors remain on the beaches located right in front of the Tulum Ruins, so move further south and you will find some pristine beaches.

At least from my experience this side has the nicest stretch of beach in all of Tulum, because they are bigger, the water was cristal clean and the sand white, in position of the few public beaches that you can find in between the hotels in the south stretch that are tiny, difficult to find and unlucky were full of seaweed.

If you head left (south) you have 10 miles of private beaches called ‘zona hoteleira‘ (hotel zone) there are a few public beaches in between the private ones, but they are super small. To be true this area is hotel after hotel after hotel, what is actually a bit overwhelming. The beaches are ok but unfortunately there was heaps of seaweed that had just washed in a couple of days ago.

You also have the option of ‘using’ the beach of one of the hotels, some charge a fee in order to access the beach or is mandatory to have  drink or a meal at their restaurant. If you are looking for some extra-confort this ones are definitely the best option, because you can use the sun beds and umbrellas.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha