In February, The Cut published an article asking, “Who Killed Tulum?” And while dismissing the beautiful, coastal town in Mexico as no longer being worthwhile (despite the many people who, y’know, actually live there) may not have been the intention of the author, that’s what came across. The article is filled with gossip and scandals from a town that developed into a tourist destination at an exceedingly rapid pace. Complaints about the endless parties, the young crowd, and the morals (or lack of thereof) of said partiers dominated the piece. It ended up feeling like travel-imperialism — with an American outlet commenting on the “right” way for a non-American city to evolve without truly representing the reasons why Tulum is still such a special place.
Those of us who know and love Tulum know there’s a reason why people started traveling from all over the world to experience its magic. With strong ties to its Indigenous roots, epic landscapes that stretch from beach to jungle, and an unmistakably charged atmosphere of humming creativity, the city is intimately connected to the rhythms of the earth. The Cut may not see it, but I still do.
Yes, Tulum developed very fast — too quickly to create the infrastructure that was needed to support its growth. And yes, there were (and are) visitors who disrespect to the place and the people who reside in this once-cozy beach hamlet. But the allure of Tulum, and the Yucatan Peninsula in general, goes much deeper than any clickable headline. Tulum is also Mexico’s first sustainable tourism zone and home to the Yucatan’s first community-driven arts and ecoculture festival, Art With Me — which kicked off today and runs until April 29th.
Art With Me tells the story of a Tulum worth fighting for (but only in a way that is consistent with what locals want). Uproxx sent writers Erin Granat and Courtney Scott to the festival last year and I’m on site this time around. With programming focused on workshops, Indigenous ceremonies, interactive experiences, and, yes, pulsing music, Art With Me makes you believe in the collective power of change. When The Cut article came out, attendees of the festival shared stories of Tulum on Facebook and Instagram that reflected a city that’s changing, sure, but very much alive.