Tulum Time: Life on A Barefoot Luxury Camp and A Dive to The Great Mayan Reef

Destination: Tulum, Mexico

20.2147° N, 87.4289° W

Here at Knstrct, we’ve adopted a very strict, “say yes to life” policy. So it’s safe to say when we were presented with the opportunity to escape to Tulum for the week, we flipped on our automated ‘out of office’ reply and booked the first flight out. Five hours, one $400 expedited passport, six bikinis, and three bottles of SPF later, we landed in good ol’ Me-hee-co. Cracking open a few cold Victorias, we rolled the windows down, turned the music up, and locked Tulum into the GPS.

Now you may be asking yourself, “Self, where is this Tulum place they speak of?” It turns out Tulum is a supremely magical place waaay off the grid in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, set deep in the heart of mystical Mayan ruins. It was forged at the intersection of land and sea, where lush jungle kisses pristine sand. A sustainable destination tucked away from the tourist traffic of Cancun, Tulum embodies the fusion of nature, leisure, and a full-on yoga-esque namaste-type attitude.

Downward Dogs and Sun Salutations aside, Tulum is a place where business owners play an active role in urban planning and cultural conservation. Which brings us to the Playa Papaya Project – our home for the week. The brainchild of Claus Sendlinger, Playa Papaya was initially conceived as a 6-month Design Hotels pop-up. Incidentally, two years later it’s never actually “popped down.” Host to a diverse crowd of cultural travelers and creative minds, Playa Papaya represents a new form of hospitality, merging local culture and sustainability. Enter: crude, yet beautifully constructed beach shacks perched steps from the shore, built from raw materials and conceived with minimalistic simplicity. We have to tell you, if your idea of Mexico is an all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet, then head to the Hyatt in Cancun. Playa Papaya isn’t your scene.

For us, it was heaven. We endeavored to spend the week barefoot, bikini-clad and as zenned out as humanly possible. We aimed to catch our own dinner, Tulum being home to the second largest Great Barrier Reef in the world and all.

Waking with the sun, we stumbled out of our thatched-roof Casita and came thisclose to stepping on a fat, sunbathing iguana. He was unimpressed. We were thankful to keep all of our toes. Arriving at Playa Pescadores with toes intact, we hopped on a (questionably seaworthy) boat, motored a few kilometers out to sea, and spent the afternoon free diving the Great Mayan Reef, which happens to be just off the coast of one of the most pristinely intact Mayan ruins. The formerly walled city was one of the last to be built and inhabited by the Mayans, and its archaeological site is insanely well preserved. We’re talking the 13th century here, people.

The first one overboard? Melbourne native, Knstrct contributor, expert diver, and resident eye candy, Tommy. (HR, you never heard that). Outfitted with a spear gun, flippers, snorkel, and waterproof Tudors Heritage Black Bay timepiece, Tommy didn’t disappoint. He resurfaced with two silvery grey barracudas. Impressive. We think his diving prowess may have something to do with his Bondi Beach beginnings. It’s only fair to note that he earned a spot on our highly sought-after Apocalypse team as a hunter and gatherer. (Kudos Tommy. We always knew you had it in you.)

After spending the afternoon languorously floating amidst sea turtles, squid, balloon fish, grouper, snapper, and stingrays, we returned to Playa Papaya. Back on dry land we presented Chef Umberto with our catch and watched as he cooked outdoor over an open flame, masterfully turning two weirdly toothy fish into some of the most delectable fish tacos this side of the border.

I think it’s safe to say we made the right call in saying “yes” to this adventure. All in all, not a terrible week. It was actually pretty magical. Until next time, Tulum.

Photography by Kiel Rucker. Underwater photography by Alexis Coram

Follow these adventurers on instagram: @Tudorwatchusa @KNSTRCT @Callieber @KielRucker @Alexiscoram @Tommy_Clune @twomanagement @Papayaplayaproject