Tulum, Mexico has been the hotspot du jour for some time now, and for good reason: Whether you're craving a white sandy beach, a tropical climate, outdoor excursions, awe-inspiring scenery, or a landscape filled with ancient history, it truly has it all. That said, all the hype and popularity is making it lose its sparkle these days, not to mention its reign as the ultimate luxury destination. Indeed it seems that more and more travelers are seeking some alternatives to Tulum that offer the same novelty (and beachy appeal) it once had.
The wonder of Tulum that originally attracted wanderlust-filled travelers was that it flew under the radar for so long and was somewhat of an untapped treasure. Its pristine beaches, luxe resorts, and culture-rich backdrop were also key selling points. Luckily, there are plenty of other seaside escapes that have just as much to offer as the stunning Mexican city, including a fresh itinerary. Ahead, experts from CIRE Travel, Be My Travel Muse, and The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real give their recommendations for the best Tulum alternatives around the world.
Whether you're after ancient ruins, adventurous activities, luxurious accommodations, or island vibes, there's a destination that's just as good — if not better — as this trendy spot. Go ahead and book these trips for 2019, and do it quickly, before everyone else does.
Perhaps the flawless beaches and crystal-clear waters are what attracts you to Tulum the most. If that's the case, Esther Klijn, who helps coordinate honeymoon and high-end leisure trips for CIRE, says that Queensland will have everything you're looking for and more. "Visit Heart Reef for the best sightings of the Great Barrier Reef," she advices, adding that "Whitehaven Beach boasts soft white sand and teal blue waters."
She also mentions the Whitsunday Islands National Parks, which include 32 islands where you can camp, fish, snorkel, swim, and sail. Of course, there's an element of history here, too. "The Indigenous groups in Australia are said to be some of the oldest in the world," she says, adding that you can visit ancient sites and see rock art at Hook Island's Nara Inlet and on South Molle Island.
Indonesia: Java & Nusa Penida
Kristin Addis, travel pro and CEO of Be My Travel Muse, says Indonesia is an island getaway with its own share of temples and ruins. First stop? The Borobudur temple. "This is a temple complex on the island of Java that is simply magical," she says. "It’s not anywhere near as popular as the island of Bali, and yet Java is full of incredible beaches, beautiful waterfalls, delicious food, and this temple."
Another locale that's steadily gaining traction is Nusa Penida. "This Island is becoming more popular but is still well under the radar for most tourists in Indonesia," Addis explains. "Think cave temples and cliff temples going straight down into the water. This island is magic and it’s only a 30-minute boat ride away from Bali."
Puerto Rico: Old San Juan & Rincon
Want sun, sand, surf, and historic sites without pulling out your passport? Amy Brueckner, an intrepid world traveler and CIRE’sc hief of staff, says to plan a trip to Puerto Rico. "There are daily direct flights from New York, Boston, Philly, Atlanta and more, and the island is once again ready for tourists after last year’s Hurricane Maria," she says. "In addition to the beautiful beaches, there are the awesome historic Forts of Old San Juan and the charming area of Old San Juan itself."
If a relaxing seaside retreat is what you're after, Brueckner says to head to Rincon on the west coast. "Home of incredible surfing, diving, whale-watching and amazing sunsets, it’s Puerto Rico’s more laid-back side, but still with excellent food (and drink!) options."
Dominican Republic: Punta Cana
Sometimes you need a vacation that allows you to treat yourself to some blissful luxury. If this is the case, scratch Tulum and make your way to Punta Cana, instead. “Punta Cana is the essence of a Caribbean island vacation with a relaxing atmosphere, warm, friendly locals, and year-round perfect weather," says Jaime Piedras, general manager of The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real.
For ultimate relaxation, book a high-end resort with premium amenities; you won't even have to leave the premises if you don't want to. "Those looking for laidback luxury can look no further than our newest resort, The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, which features incredible private swim-up suites, fine dining concepts including Passion by Martin Berasategui (a 10-star Michelin star chef!) and eco-focused activities and experiences available for those looking for a more meaningful vacation experience.”