Turning the tide: the independent documentary «The Dark Side of Tulum»

Many travelers are blinded by the beauty of the Riviera Maya. And rightly so, this place is incredible: even for me as a local it is still hard to believe that here white beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, turquoise water, lush green jungle, mangroves, lagoons and crystal clear cenotes come together in an area only one-third the size of Germany. 

And of course, tourists come here to enjoy all this. Most of them worked hard to afford their time off in paradise. Surely, they don’t make holidays to worry themselves. Tulum, for them, is a refuge of the small and bigger troubles in their lives. Especially for people from the United States, with the small luxury of only two weeks of vacations annually, the time in Tulum is a holy resort of perfection.

That’s why I often look into big eyes of disbelief, when I get to topic of what troubles us here when I speak with vacationers. They can’t believe that their sacred place has a dysfunctional dark side. But we can’t afford to close our eyes from it anymore – even, or especially, on holidays in a virgin natural paradises like Tulum. 

An eye opening documentary

It is the time to throw light on the unseen and make people look at it: the upcoming documentary “The Dark Side of Tulum” does exactly that. The film by director Rachel Appel is an independent environmental-solutions documentary, exploring both the beauty and betrayal of Tulum – and what can be done to change it.

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Personally, I am very happy that this educational film finally will let the public know whats going on. I am not for scaring people away from this place, but my wish is to show people which big impact they have. In a negative way, when they stay ignorant. And in a positive way, when they become aware. Because, it is as the initiator of «The Dark Side of Tulum» Appel puts it in an interview with The Beam

“Tulum is a hotspot right now and many of the people profiting from it obviously fail to realize why it is so popular — it’s the environment. […] it’s confusing as to why people who have invested their money there don’t want to sustain it.”

— Director Rachel Appel 


This, of course, is addressed first of all to the government, hotels, investors, locals and at the end of the chain, but surely as well to vacation guests. If all of us don’t do anything to protect Tulum, it will be doomed as many other places alike. Let’s not look away, let’s realize what’s going on and change it together for the better. 

PS: Everyone is happy, when you visit. But please know, that Tulum only started preparing itself to be a tourist hotspot 20 years ago. Because the development of the infrastructure couldn’t keep pace with the demand: 

  •  Tons of trash are thrown barely into the jungle every day.

  •  You can’t drink tap water and can’t use it to brush your teeth.

  •  Sewage leaks directly into the freshwater river system, thus into cenotes and the sea.

  •  Energy is scarce and often provided by diesel generators.

  •  You can’t expect all amenities – a hotel here can’t be equated with one in a city.

  •  The internet connection is poor and often interrupts, especially on rainy days.

  •  You can’t pay with credit card in many places.

  •  There are no bike paths – the only one we have, isn’t lit in the night.

Thank you! Awareness is the first step of change. 


Watch the movie for free now