Paradise Unspoiled

Mukan Resort feels like a world unto itself—because it is.

By  Gina Christman

Photography courtesy of Mukan Resort


IN A WORLD WHERE IT CAN FEEL INCREASINGLY hard to escape and go off the grid, Mukan Resort, south of Tulum, is where the search ends. Tucked securely into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mukan is a small, luxurious-but-natural resort on a narrow strip of land surrounded by untouched forests to the north and south and bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the San Felipe Lagoon to the west. The Sian Ka’an property, covering 1.6 million acres, supports terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems but also provides a dazzling display of rich flora and fauna for Mukan guests to observe and relish whether they’re settled into a beach chair or on a guided excursion.    

Perhaps the hallmark of a true vacation destination is its capacity to transport you—body and mind—to somewhere totally different. At Mukan, stow your shoes in the closet and put the watch away. It’s an eat-when-you’re-hungry, sleep-when-you’re-sleepy kind of place. Laid-back living is an understatement here—there’s no one to rush you—ever.

The resort is private, personal and exclusive—there are only five rooms in the main villa, three beachfront bungalows, and one premium bungalow with a private garden. Despite the small number of guests present at any given time, there are a whopping 24 people on staff, which suggests the high level of pampering you can expect.

Each room in the main villa is slightly different, but all have high ceilings, island-style décor with rich woods and natural stone. The beach bungalows are spacious and dreamy—think super-plush king-size beds, draped with enchanting sheer fabric canopies. Bathrooms have both deep tile bathtubs and spacious showers with luxurious Molton Brown bath products, soft robes and flip flops.

Although Mukan is THE place to unplug, the resort still offers complimentary wi-fi, air conditioning and large flat screen Smart TV in every room. A mini-refrigerator is stocked everyday with snacks and sodas.

Starting a day at Mukan is like nowhere else. Rise at your leisure to the gentle sound of the waves, perhaps take a swim, snorkel or walk on the beach, or engage in beach yoga or meditation. When you return to your room or bungalow, a tray with hot coffee awaits, along with a young coconut, fresh off a tree, with a straw for sipping the refreshing nectar inside.

After a nutritious breakfast featuring a menu of fresh fruits and Mexican specialties such as Chilaquiles and Eggs al Gusto, hop in a kayak or on a paddleboard, grab a bike, snorkel or dive the coral reef, or take a dip in the plunge pool off the open-air lobby. Then perhaps a “panga” boat tour out to sea to scout for sea turtles, dolphins and rays. Pangas also navigate the meandering mangrove channels on the lagoon side, where the bird-watching is spectacular. Fly fishing is also a major sport in the Sian Ka’an, if that’s your pleasure.

Lunch can be enjoyed by the pool by the beach, under a palm tree or in your room. Fresh ceviches, along with other local dishes, are always accompanied by a basket of tortilla chips, several styles of pico de gallo from mild to hot to “uh oh,” and the best guacamole you’ll ever have. Try the “green drink”—a non-alcoholic combination of fresh fruits and herbs—or opt for an ice cold beer or a refreshing glass of Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc from the Guadalupe Valley in Baja.

The beach at Mukan is expansive. Beach cabanas, perfect for reading or napping, and comfy beach chaises are spaced far apart to provide ample privacy for the small number of guests. Background noise is a combination of lapping waves and sea birds (there are more than 300 bird species in the Biosphere) instead of someone else’s annoying playlist. Nowhere else in the world, unless you are Richard Branson living on a private island, can you find such peaceful, quiet solitude.

Continue your Zen with afternoon yoga, or one of several massages offered by spiritually guided therapists. Choose from Deep Tissue, Thai, Janzu, Myofascial Release or a Relaxing Massage. Finish off with a soak in The Rooftop spa tub. From here, you can see the crystal blue Caribbean to the east and watch the sun setting over the Lagoon to the west...both at the same time.

Dinner, most often set up on the beach or under the palm trees, includes a delicious soup, a choice of fresh fish, seafood or meat entree, and light dessert. The chef and his team match meals to the tastes of their guests, but with a nod to Mayan culture and culinary traditions. The portions are generous, but manageable.

By all means, enjoy the (very non-american) practice of lingering over your evening meal, under the stars, before heading back to what might be the highlight of the day—sea breezes and soft waves lulling you to sleep.

From the Cancun airport (car and boat), transfers to Tulum are available. Boat transfers from El Ultimo Maya dock in Tulum are $200 one-way for two.