My love for Xpu-ha is deep. The beach is pristine with sugary white sand and crystal clear aqua hues. It's home to beautiful reefs, which are wonderful to explore by snorkeling on calm days. It has become more developed over the years, but compared to other beaches in the Riviera Maya it remains fairly remote. Yet, perfectly nestled between all the conveniences of Playa del Carmen and Akumal. It is our slice of heaven. It saddens me to say that this trip is our farewell tour. We knew it was coming, but the closing of Al Cielo in April seals the deal. I was devastated to hear the news. I mean it was bad enough when the nightly rate doubled, but completed leveled? "Ahhh, man. Say it isn't so." Its rustic simplicity is what tugged on my heart strings. But they're going to do away with it, to make way for modern accommodations equipped with televisions. I cringe at the thought. That level of beauty is best enjoyed unplugged.
Closing this chapter will allow us to discover someplace new. I find that exciting. Still, I wished I could scoop that sugary sand into an hour glass. So, I could turn it over and over again, each time having a fresh start...
There are not many choices for accommodations in Xpu-ha so I was thrilled when I found a place on Airbnb. We've walked by its location dozens of times, but past trips nothing really existed past the all inclusive that changed names a few times, currently called Hotel Catalonia Royal Tulum. The listing warned of the neighboring Glamping and Kite Surfing, but we thought we'd take our chances. We arrived prior to check in, we thought we'd hang at the beach club, if possible. It wasn't a problem, but it didn't offer the tranquil vibe we enjoy. Music was thumping, the scent of sun tan lotion filled the air and it was just too much. The snap below was from the next day before the beach club opened.
We drove to Al Cielo and asked to rent a palapa for the day. Fortunately, they do offer a day pass for $70 US per person. A bit steep, but the fee works as a food and beverage credit. The round palapas that were there for ages have been replaced with rectangular huts to unify them with those at Esencia next door. They've also added a magical button that is pressed for service, it alerts the waitstaff via watch and poof! Drinks and snacks are moments away. We made ourselves right at home. Cue the reggae music, cervezas were on their way, and we had no a worry in the world. It was wonderful.
We kept cool with margaritas and once the sun wasn't at its hottest we went for a dip. The wind was still too strong to snorkel, but we had a blast in the waves. The perk of more activity on the beach was the people watching. There was a fun group that drew all sorts of attention. First, they posed individually, then they worked up to build this man fan.
We grew hungry and grabbed lunch at the restaurant. We had a great spread of fish tacos and ceviche. Frank started with a tasty Aztec soup. With our hunger satisfied, we returned to the comfort of our loungers. Drinks were had, cigars smoked. It was the perfect day.
Before we knew it, the sun fell behind the jungle and another day was done. We couldn't drag ourselves away. We retreated to the balcony in the restaurant for one last round of drinks. Eventually the sea breeze was too cold on my sunkissed skin, and it was time to go. But before we left, we reserved our palapa - hasta mañana.
Our Airbnb host was away in Columbia. The unit had beach access only, my favorite. Not! A throwback for any Wayne's World fans. We let ourselves in, after locating the lock box. The unit was quaint, but it had all the necessities. We showered for dinner, which was no small task; The water temperature varied by the second, scolding or ice. It must be par for the course in Xpu-ha, we encountered the same years ago at Al Cielo (when it was even more rustic than it stands today).
Dinner that night was at El Fogon. Because, well, tacos. Do you need more explanation? Al pastor and margaritas is all I need.
I'd like to say we slept well at the Airbnb. The A/C was cool, the bed was small but otherwise comfortable. The trouble was the rooster next door. He was a real asshole. He cockadoodle doo'd way before dawn and never let up. You can't win 'em all.
Needless to say, we had an early start. No time was wasted returning to Al Cielo. We started our day with breakfast at the restaurant. Chilaquiles for me and Huevos Rancheros for him. It hit the spot!
We relaxed all morning. There might have been more margaritas consumed. And later, cervezas.
A storm came thru, but didn't leave more than a drizzle near us. We took advantage of the cloud cover and played in the waves.
Much too quickly, the sun would again set. The time had come to say good-bye. Thanks for the memories, Al Cielo.
Massimo in Puerto Aventuras has been a favorite past trips, so we had to return for pizza and fresh pasta. It was great, as always.
The morning came much too soon, we tried to drown out the rooster, but it was just impossible. We packed up and had one last walk on the beach...
Next up, Akumal and Playa del Carmen.