The next Tulum?

The Costalegre is a stretch of Mexican coastline that runs along Mexico’s Pacific coast from Careyes to Punta Dorada, between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.
The Costalegre is a stretch of Mexican coastline that runs along Mexico’s Pacific coast from Careyes to Punta Dorada, between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. Photo Credit: Flickr/Samuel Globus
Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

It’s safe to say that the Tulum we once knew is no more. A sleepy hideaway tucked in the shadows of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Tulum was a haven for artists, bohemians and tree-huggers alike looking for a slice of laid-back paradise far from the megaresorts of towns to the north.

But like so many “off the beaten path” destinations before it, Tulum’s secret is out, as is bound to happen with secret destinations, especially when said spot is named the No. 1 one destination on the rise by TripAdvisor. Now tourists flock from far and wide to see what is so “secretly” special about Tulum, thus undoing its reputation in the process. Which begs the question, what’s next? What remains for the hippies, artists and boho chic? According to Journey Mexico’s Zachary Rabinor, Costa Careyes on the Costalegre is a solid bet.

“I’ll put my money on Costa Careyes,” says Journey Mexico’s Zachary Rabinor. Costa Careyes is located on the Costalegre, which runs along Mexico’s Pacific coast Highway 200 from Careyes to Punta Dorada (between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo). It is a stretch of Mexican coastline that is a far cry from the crowded bars or massive chain hotels you’d expect to find in more popularized Mexican resort towns. Small, boutique, ecotourism hotels thrive here alongside luxury villas and smaller properties.

“Once the highway and airport are done, Costalegre will receive international flights,” Rabinor pointed out. Currently the best way to access Mexico’s Costalegre is to fly into Manzanillo, rent a car and head north. But a new Costalegre airport is in the works, which will make it much easier to access the destination. The new airport is optimistically slated for completion within the next two years, and simultaneously the local government will be working on widening the highway in both directions.

Within Costa Careyes is the Costa Careyes Resort (, an exclusive, luxury, private resort that consists of ocean castles, villas, casitas and bungalows on the south coast of Jalisco. The complex, popular among Europeans and the jet set elite, was built in 1968 with obvious Mediterranean undertones, giving a slice of Med life to Mexico’s Pacific coast. The ultrachic will opt for the Ocean Castles, each of which is perched on small, pedestal-like cliffs with 360-degree views. Each of the three castles is fully staffed with a live-in butler, chef and maids.

Though more modest than the Ocean Castles, the Private Villas in Costa Careyes are no less impressive. Each has its own infinity pool, rooftop terrace and access to the sea via foot or funicular. The villas are also staffed with butlers, chefs and maids.

And then there are the three private bungalows in Playa Rosa, the smallest beach resort hotel in Jalisco. Each of the fuchsia-colored bungalows sits directly on the sand overlooking Careyes Bay, just behind the Playa Rosa Beach Club. It operates as a hotel, unlike the Ocean Castles and Villas.

Besides the relatively pristine vistas and privacy, Careyes calls lovers of nature and is a hotbed of activity for water sports like diving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and windsurfing. Golfers can visit the golf course in El Tamarindo, 45 minutes away. There is also a chic Polo Club in Careyes that opens its doors on weekends. Take a trip to beaches like Tenacatita, Chamela and Perula, where the only activity you’ll want to do is kick back in a beach chair and tuck into freshly caught fish.

It remains to be seen if Costa Careyes will fall to the same fate as Tulum. The addition of an airport will certainly bring the tourists, but due to government controls on gentrification and advertising campaigns, 150 miles of beaches between Manzanillo, Colima and Puerto Vallarta (including the Costalegre) remain hidden and untapped. For now, at least, the secret is still safe. 

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