Posted by Jaques on April 27, 2007 at 17:55:50:
We have just returned from a couple of weeks in the Yucatan. The Costa Maya is undergoing tremendous new development as well as reconstruction from the effects of Wilma and other storms. We were told that a new airport is planned for Tulum which will relieve some of the stress on Cancun. When (or if) this happens, the whole nature of the beach cabana scene in Tulum will change.
We stayed at Cabanas Copal for several days. The weather was pretty good even though the wind blew constantly. In fact, the weather on the beach was much better in Tulum than up in Cancun at the same time. The water in Cancun was too rough for swimming whereas in Tulum, the sea was very pleasant. In April, we did not encounter any bugs at Copal (maybe because of the wind) but there were some thimble jellyfish on the beach which you had to be careful of.
During our stay, we would not describe the resort as being clothing optional. Yes, some people were nude on the beach but only a few each day and never did we see anyone nude around the cabanas or other public areas. The place was at capacity while we were there and the clientle were a mixture of people from many countries and ages from youths to middle aged, mainly couples.
There is a nice beach about a half kilometer in length that starts at Copal and extends to the north. However, you can only be nude right in front of Copal because the next resort prohibits nude use. To the south, the beach ends in rocks and cliffs where the cabanas at Azulik (a sister property to Copal) are located. The guests at Azulik have wooden ladders that extend down to the rocks and then the guests have to walk in front of Copal to swim off the beach. Some of the Azulik guests used the beach in the nude. Almost all nude use was concentrated between the beachside bar and the rocks in front of Aziluk.
My wife Michelle and I enjoyed the beach in the nude each day we were there but would put on suits if we walked the beach to the north beyond Copal. It would have been nice if this was not necessary since hardly anyone was staying at the adjoining resort and the ones beyond that one looked closed. We love beach walking in the nude. While on the beach, we would also cover up if we needed to go to the bar for drinks since no one ever was nude there and the wait staff rarely ventured down to our chairs.
The beach at Copal is private. The only way to get on it is through the resorts. So, there should be no gawkers. But, there are people walking through the place all the time - housekeepers, maintenance, gardners, spa personnel, etc. This may be the reason that no one spent time in the nude (or even topless) around the cabanas except on the beach. Most people seemed to be modest in even keeping their curtains closed most of the time. We kept ours open because otherwise it was very dark inside without any other lighting.
The restaurant at Copal is shared with the guests of Aziluk. Both places were full but on our first night, no one was eating at the restaurant. I had heard good things about the food but we didn't want to be the only ones there. So, we walked down the road to Zahra and had a nice meal. We also ate one night at Zamas which had a much more lively clientle with live music every night. On our last night, we finally ate at Copal. They had a folk/Indian music duo that was pleasant to listen to and the place was more than half full. Both Michelle and I had very good meals that evening. Breakfasts were good too. We never tried lunch.
We liked the beach and ambiance at Copal. The restaurant was good and there are other good eating options within walking distance. No car is needed here. One day we walked to the ruins and took a $4 cab ride back. What we didn't care for much were the cabanas. They are very small and crammed together without much space between them. There is no electicity (which we knew in advance) and this was not a problem but got old after a few nights. The cabanas are hot and stuffy during the day, the furniture is very uncomfortable, and there is little room to do anyting except sleep in the bed. The bathrooms are fine but the water is saline and it's hard to lather up. Plenty of fresh bottled water is provided, but there is no place to rinse off your feet and keeping the floors from getting sandy is difficult. They provide no beach towels so, you have to bring your own, or ask for additional bath towels of which they are rather miserly with since water to wash them is in short supply. They ask that you don't have your sheets changed and these get pretty damp from your sweat during the warm nights. Bugs were not a problem but could be at other times of the year.
To sum it up, we felt that the cabanas were overpriced for what they offered and they are in need of updating. I would assume the cabanas next door at Azulik would be a lot nicer but they are also much more expensive and also don't have electricity. The view of the sea is much more impressive from Azulik's cabanas. So, that would be where we would stay next time, probably in the low season when rates are lower. We didn't get a chance to check out other cabanas further along the road. There are many to choose from but most, I think, do not have c/o beaches.
We also spent a few days in Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Cancun is really spread out and the hotel where we were staying had no topless use. Next door was some topless use but I saw only a few over several days. The surf was very rough and very little swimming was possible and it was very windy. In Playa del Carmen, there was plenty of topless use and the water was like a bay and very calm. Playa has really grown in the past few years and the beach is very crowded. It's like going to Coney Island or Santa Monica in the middle of summer. There are plenty of attractive, young unattached women here and this would be the place to go for single guys looking for action.
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