Papaya Playa Project
What We Love
- Close to downtown Tulum, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the seafront ruins
- Live DJ sets at the Beach Club and the monthly full-moon parties
- Locally-sourced Mayan and Mexican food at Papaya Restaurant
- READ MORE: 72 Hours in Tulum
What To Know
- Free WiFi is available at the front desk and at the restaurant, though it’s spotty at best
- You’re practically in the jungle in a beachfront cabana, so expect to get friendly with the local flora and fauna
- This is an eco-resort, so electricity and water are scarce. Bring the provided flashlight for walking through the grounds at night
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Papaya Playa offers new turf for going native in Tulum. Two hours south of the sprawling mega resorts in Cancún, low-key Tulum is the antithesis of its all-inclusive-loving cousin; it has become a haven for eco-conscious travelers and behind-the-scenes fashionistas with a taste for fresh ceviche, a heart for permaculture and a body for Downward Facing Dog. Papaya Playa is about 30 steps to Tulum’s gleaming 3,000-foot-long white sand beach, and serves as a jumping-off point for Tulum’s best sights, either by bike or car.
Bed and Bath
Papaya Playa encompasses 13 acres of jungle warmed by the Caribbean sun and cooled by the ocean breeze. The resort’s 80 cabanas are sprawled along the property’s 800-meter beach, all on the sea. A natural rocky ledge raises the oceanfront cabanas from the sand, offering in dramatic views of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. The beachfront faces directly east allowing incredible views of sunrise each morning and gentle breezes of an evening. Like most of the region’s eco-resorts, Papaya Playa has no-frills accommodation with limited resources, but you won’t miss the modern comforts here, especially when natural breezes substitute for air conditioning, torchlight complements the pathway nightlights, and a local wildlife choir relieves even the faithful iPod from duty.
In the breezy, multipurpose Papaya Club de Playa Beach Club and Restaurant, guests and locals mingle over international fare paired with cold beers and resident DJs. Once every full moon, house DJs and improv artists settle in for an all-night party.
In the Area
Some of the best undeveloped beaches in the region stretch south from Papaya Playa for about 30 miles into the pristine Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Rent a kayak or boat to explore the most remote corners of the coastline. Or head to the area’s mystical cenotes (underground limestone caverns), today used as unique swimming holes. The cliffside Mayan ruins just north of Tulum are gorgeous, but it’s also worth a daytrip inland to other famous ruins, including Chichén Itzá and Cobá. And no trip to Tulum is complete without ceviche at sunset: Follow the sandy roads three miles in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve for fresh ceviche, ziklipak (roasted pumpkin seeds) and sundowners from the kitchen at CESiaK, where the views of the Caribbean to the east and the sunset over the lagoon in the west steal the show.
How to Get There
I was extremely disappointed with my stay at Papaya Playa Project.
From the start, the man at the check in was sarcastic and rude and did not make myself or my husband feel welcome at all. The staff for the entirety of the stay didn't have a great vibe and made us feel uncomfortable.
We booked an "oceanfront cabin" which was so far from the reception that getting to and from the room took approx. ten minutes one way. The lack of signs and lights made this even more difficult, especially at night time.
While it was the quiet season, we found the hotel to be eerily quiet and most of the facilities were shut down. There were a few "bars" in the hotel which were all closed and deserted. It honestly felt like we were staying in a hotel grave yard.
The room itself was dark. There were no mirrors except for the small dark mirror in the bathroom. There were no telephones to contact reception either. And the whatsapp number they give you to message if you need anything goes unanswered.
The food is average and the cocktails also average.
On the last night we attended the Papaya Playa Project weekly party. The party itself was fun however the hotel quite literally stole from us and over chraged us three times per drink using the electronic "wrist band". We were charged $500 for 8 drinks which is absurd.
I would not recommend this hotel to anyone.
I would however recommend the hotel next door Habitas which offers better accommodation, better food, free yoga and a better vibe.
I recently visited PPP looking for a little relaxing recharge from from the hustle and bustle of work. That is exactly what I found! From the moment I arrived, I was taken care of. From my amazing room, to the helpful staff who made great dinner and excursion suggestions. The location is near great shops and restaurants, be sure to take advantage of the all day bike rentals to get around. The property was so quiet while I was there which is exactly what I wanted, but I hear they have some amazing parties on the weekends! Food was excellent, Staff was amazing. Felt like family when I left. Absolutely a must see!
We had a not so stellar Airbnb that we decided to vacate early. We booked a night at the Papaya Playa Project in the hopes of turning our not so pleasant stay in Tulum into more of the relaxing beach stay we had hoped for. There were many ways this lived up to expectations:
1. The breakfast was excellent (the iced horchata is a must).
2. The ambiance was beautiful, surreal even.
3. The amenities where awesome. One pool was completely empty the whole time and looked out over the ocean.
4. The moon dance party was the epic beach party you have always imagined.
As for the negatives:
1. The staff was kind but really disorganized. It took us a while to get checked in, and when we finally did and were relaxed in our room they messaged me to come back all the way to the check-in desk to pay for the full amount of the hotel, even though they had already taken my card for incidentals. Typically, I pay for hotels after my stay. Not before. Just odd.
2. The power went out for a few hours soon after we arrived. So the lights and AC were not working which was really uncomfortable. Their solution was to give us free breakfast which already came with the night stay...
3. The dinner was underwhelming. Below average in general.
All in all not a bad place to stay. We just had higher expectations due to the location and prior reviews.