There’s a certain popular image of Tulum as a tranquil town on the Riviera Maya filled with influential young people, where gorgeous waters lap up close to groups doing yoga on the beach before they head to listen to music in the jungle.
Reality can be a touch different, as Diplo recently posted about on TikTok.
All walks of life here in Tulum
The description is short and sweet and touches on everything you need to know about the Tulum crowd these days: “All walks of life here in Tulum.”
Among the characters that Diplo calls out specifically:
- An older couple ”visiting their daughter who refused to leave.”
- A man wearing a Pirates of the Caribbean mask who Diplo dubs “Davy Jones but in Tulum he’s Wavy Jones.”
- A guy in leopard-print pants who looks like Kendall Roy after a bender who is “on a crypto retreat.”
- Two women taking phone photos in the waves who Diplo predicts will post a pic in six months with the caption “take me back.”
- A man bare-knuckle punching a palm tree that Diplo simply captions with “Jesus Christ that’s Jason Borne.”
Diplo isn’t the first to notice a change in a beach town once heralded as idyllic by seemingly everyone with the slightest bit of social capital. In early 2019, writer Reeves Wiedeman wrote a deep dive story titled “Who Killed Tulum? Greed, gringos, diesel, drugs, shamans, seaweed, and a disco ball in the jungle.” Wiedeman noted overt brutalist development, chain businesses, overtourism, drugs, and “too many DJs” as all parts of the problem. And of course the overbearing amount of foul-smelling seaweed crashing onto the shore and onto all of the new development since 2015.
And then there are the recent drug-cartel-fueled beach shootouts that have been happening in Tulum and the surrounding tourist zones with increasing frequency as gangs fill the tourist demand for drugs.
Tulum, in short, is far from the escape it was in years past. It’s been left behind by a subset of the jetset who now head to other wellness-focused destinations in Portugal and elsewhere in the Caribbean that can deliver what Tulum used to.
Of course, Tulum isn’t a monolith. There are still areas where the Tulum travelers of old can get away from the influencers and those who try to take enough vacation photos to be influencers for a moment. Some of the best Tulum getaways are the jungle-inspired hotels that have a tie to the land and feel somewhat like a living art gallery.
Just know that if you go and your experience is anything like Diplo’s, your nature may be interrupted by Wavy Jones.