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Mixing wellness, spirituality and yoga with a bit of the party scene, life in Tulum suits Chelsea Leyland just fine. She is one of the most respected female DJs in the world right now but balances her hectic night-shifts by keeping in touch with her spiritual side. She raves about matcha as much as mezcal and you’re just as likely to find her in the downward dog position as you are playing dancehall.
Chelsea first came to Tulum seven years ago, before the rest of the world caught wind of this paradise on the Caribbean coast. But as more models and socialites began to grace its shores, Tulum quickly became the hottest destination and then just as quickly became old news.
“I can’t really sit on this high horse and say I haven’t contributed to the change of Tulum – I told a lot of people about it and did travel guides for Vogue. But it is attracting a different type of person now because it has become a party town.”
Despite the change, Chelsea continues to return to Tulum’s quieter side year after year. The nature reserves, the cenotes, and the surrounding jungle serve as a much needed dose of respite, with the temazcales (sweat lodges) and yoga offering a spiritual cleanse. These are the places in Tulum that have kept their original spirit, and keep her coming back:
I hold a party here every year and stay on-site while I’m there. I’m friends with the owner who has really welcomed me into the family. It’s a little eco hotel – very low-key and not pretentious – and it has stayed the same since I first started going there.
In the middle of the jungle, this is a restaurant with no roof which uses all natural materials. It is owned by a friend of mine and I was there the first day it opened. They serve fresh fish and delicious octopus. They burn copal which is a tree resin that looks like clear quartz – it smells amazing and you walk into the restaurant through a big puff of smoke. It has the most magical vibe.
This is a small hotel with huts on the beach. They do a lot of ceremonies there and yoga events, temazcales, music nights and belly dancing. They have a community of people living and camping at the back of the hotel which attracts all these interesting travellers who come with their own skills and crafts.
If you really want to go and soak up the beautiful nature of Tulum then this is the place to go. You can take a little boat through crystal-clear waters and go and see incredible sand dunes as well as pelicans and crocodiles. You do need a good car to drive there but it’s worth it.
This is a vegan restaurant which serves traditional Mexican cuisine like dishes incorporating mole sauce. I’ve never had vegan food which is so rich and satisfying. It’s located in the jungle and the electricity goes out all the time – but that’s all part of the charm.
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