Deep dive: the struggles inside the tourist wave

I’m in love with Tulum. But I’m not walking around just wearing pink glasses. Honestly, not everything is paradise here. The small fishing village of Tulum turned too quickly into a dream destination. 50 years ago only a few adventurous travelers visited the yet untamed Mayan jungle settlement. Now Tulum deals with over 2 million visitors each year. Plus the according issues.

During the last decades the development of the infrastructure couldn’t keep pace with the growing demand of the arriving tourists. And it seems not be able to do so in the future. Unless the government and we, the locals living here, change something.

Here are just some eye-opening facts: Tulum has no recycling system. The trash gets thrown on a basic dumping site into the jungle. There are only 5 garbage trucks, that run on diesel and are polluting the air, but thus get robbed off its rusty pieces here and then. 8.5 tons of food waste is produced every day of high season. Black water is flowing untreated into the fragile underground fresh water system or the ocean. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of trash washed ashore.

Tulum’s beaches and cenotes seem to be clean. But they are only on the surface. Under the waves and unter the limestone ground there lies a ticking time bomb unseen by the visitors coming to swim in the seemingly crystal clear water. The tide of Sargazo sea weed finally makes the pollution of the ocean visible. And the advice to take a shower after bathing in a cenote, each one of it connected to the groundwater system of the whole area, speaks for itself.

More and more locals are trying their best to keep the environment as healthy and beautiful as it used to be. You can help too. For example by checking if your hotel really is eco-friendly. Unfortunately some are just using this label to attract tourists. Eco-friendly accommodations provide biodegradable shower products, provide water in reusable 20 Liter jars, not in single use plastic bottles and use solar or wind power, but no additional diesel generator.

And of course, you also help by not expecting the same amenities like at home. Tulum still is a beach village – it is a lot hard work to get pieces for construction, professional workers, food and everyday things here.

Probably the easiest way to contribute simply is by reducing trash. Reuse bottles. Refuse straws. Don’t take plastic bags, bring your on bag with you. Eat local. And all of this naturally not only counts for this place in Mexico. Tulum only is a blueprint for many beautiful holiday destinations for – which always are home for many native people.

Thank you for your awareness and exploring with care.