Paradise lost: How a Mexican party resort is facing environmental disaster

The Caribbean idyll is becoming a victim of its own success and a hostage to the tourists it is attracting, reports Sarah Bladen in Tulum, Mexico

<p>Tourists in the sea in Tulum, Quintana Roo state, earlier this month</p>

Tourists in the sea in Tulum, Quintana Roo state, earlier this month

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With its Caribbean beaches, Mayan ruins and lush jungles, the Mexican resort of Tulum is lauded as an eco-paradise attracting flamboyant hipsters and Burning Man types who like to party year-round on the Goa-Bali-Ibiza circuit.  

The main beach road is lined with boutiques with kaftans costing £500 and luxurious bamboo-style hotels. Since the border with the US is still open, Tulum is also enticing a new type of visitor – people who are rebelling against the coronavirus restrictions.

“I came to Mexico to get away from the divisive political situation back in the States,” admits 38-year-old Matt Miles, a construction manager from Georgia. “Here it doesn’t feel like Covid really exists – everything is open and the vibe is buzzing. Me and my buddy went out midweek and ended up at an underground reggaeton club. Around 200 of us were dancing in this sweaty joint. We left around 4am and it was still going strong.”

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