Good times on the Mayan Riviera
On a paddle trip to Cancun last December after being tipped off by a friend from Brazil via Facebook we stumbled across Playas Del Carmen. A picture perfect little town situated just an hour south of Cancun. Famous for its perfect beaches, delicious food, beautiful people and now infamous BPM music festival – a world class 10 day electronic music festival on the beaches of Playas Del Carmen and Tulum held at the beginning of January every year. We could never do the full 10 days but opted for opening weekend and to paddle all the places we missed the year before due lack of time and the worst storm in a decade that never let up during our short stay. We came prepared this year with paddle boards and lots of rest ready to soak up all Playas and the surrounding area of Tulum had to offer!
BPM Opening Weekend under Rainy Windy Skies
BPM, an acronym for Beats Per Minute, kicked off with a bang and unfortunately coincided with a large dose of poor weather making paddling conditions not so good. BPM offers up hundreds of the best names in the underground electronic DJ world from every corner of the globe flocking to Playas to drop the latest tracks under the swaying palms and endless clubs and restaurants along the waterfront. It just doesn’t get any better for a place to throw one of the world’s biggest parties and this event seems to only get bigger and bigger every year. After several days of rage and poor weather the skies finally parted and the crystal blue glassy waters of the sunny Caribbean Sea returned. It was a sight for sore eyes, and I’m talking really sore eyes. The warm clear weather and the opportunity to paddle was a definite welcome relief from all the party chaos.
Paddling the Beaches of Playas Del Carmen
Central Playas consists of a large white sand beach with 2 beach clubs, several resorts, and thousands of beach goers enjoying the sun. Our friends at Dani Sailing are posted up in a kiosk right on the beach in the thick of it all. They rent sailboats and paddle boards and are a super cool crew we befriended on our last trip and def worth a stop in if you make it to Playas and need some sups or catamarans to rent.
They are at ground zero as I like to call it and see all the daily action go down among the chaos of the beach. Every employee has a smile from ear to ear and a golden tan and if i ever have to change occupations I may hit up Dani for a job. We said our hellos to the Dani Sail crew and jumped in blue sea sampling the small glassy peelers of the main beach and making our way south around the corner to a picturesque little bay with a small rolling left peeling around the corner. Usually the surf in this part of the Caribbean is dead flat so to have any swell at all was a blessing especially with weather this nice and made for an afternoon of fun in the sun buzzing the drone around and trading little rollers into the bay dodging swimming tourists. After a full day’s sun and paddle we retreated back to the hotel and made our game plan to paddle the Tulum Ruins at sunrise.
Exploring the Tulum Ruins – One of My favorite Paddles of All Time
The Tulum Ruins consist of several Mayan Pyramids and buildings located on cliffs overlooking the sea and mark the last constructed Mayan settlement before the Spanish arrived and wiped them out mostly by disease sometime around 1500 AD. Tulum is located just an hour south from Playas Del Carmen on the coast and is a not to be missed attraction if you are visiting the area. Its one of the busiest tourist sites in all of Mexico and for good reason so it gets extremely crowded and the only way to reach the pyramids unless you do the paid walking tour is by boat since they are tucked away and protected by steep natural rocky cliffs on both sides with no access from the surrounding beaches.
We wanted to get a chance to shoot some pics and paddle along the ruins so we opted to take the boat. It turned out to be one of the most memorable paddles of my life and it was hard to image a fully functioning city of several thousand Mayan natives in this pristine setting right on the water. As I paddled by the structures I felt like I was on a ride at Disneyland but it was actually real.
Until Next Time (tear)
After several days of perfect weather and paddling it was finally time to say goodbye and with the BPM music festival now kicking into full gear it was almost impossible to leave but all good things must come to an end. We will be back next year and the cenotes of Tulum are high on our list to paddle. These are supersize underground caves filled with crystal clear water and we didn’t get a chance to catch them. Until Next Time!