TULUM, Mexico – In the realm of Mexican travel destinations, Tulum is experiencing a transformative surge in popularity, particularly among Black American tourists. Often overshadowed by traditional favorites like Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, this picturesque town in Quintana Roo is now at the forefront of a burgeoning movement. Spearheaded by “Black in Tulum,” a visionary collective offering exclusive events and tailored experiences for Black travelers, Tulum has become a haven for those seeking a unique blend of cultural richness and natural beauty.
Founded in July 2020 by Nubia Younge, Black in Tulum emerged against the backdrop of growing political turmoil and civil unrest in the United States. Younge’s vision was clear: to create a serene and inclusive space for Black individuals to revel in the breathtaking landscapes of the Caribbean Sea, the Mayan Jungle, and the captivating locales of Quintana Roo.
One remarkable testament to the transformative power of Tulum is the story of Jesus “Scrappy” Venson. Almost three years ago, Venson, an African American from Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington D.C., learned of professional opportunities in the Quintana Roo area through friends. Seizing the chance, he abruptly quit his managerial job and moved to Playa del Carmen, eventually settling in Tulum in March 2021. Notably, Venson had never set foot in Mexico before this life-altering move.
In Tulum, Venson found purpose and connection with Black in Tulum, assuming roles as social media and marketing manager, event coordinator, photographer, and videographer. “When Black people come to Tulum, we are positioned to set up everything for them,” Venson explains. From accommodations to restaurant reservations, private yacht trips, and unique tours, Black in Tulum orchestrates seamless and unforgettable experiences.
Addressing safety concerns, Venson emphasizes Tulum’s security, noting that, in his three years there, he has not heard of any person of color being targeted or facing harm. He speaks glowingly about the wealth of opportunities for exploration, the affordability, and the culinary delights that contribute to the allure of Tulum.
Zavi-LaRue Mandela, a resident of Metro Detroit, echoes this sentiment, praising the richness of experiences in Tulum and its surroundings. “I have never felt threatened by anything or anybody while in Tulum or Playa del Carmen or traveling to and from the airport in Cancun,” Mandela attests.
While Tulum embraces a growing population of Black Americans, Playa del Carmen emerges as a preferred residence for most Black expats in the Quintana Roo region. Venson notes its city vibe, businesses, schools, and upscale stores, likening certain streets to the vibrant Black communities of Chicago or Detroit.
The impending opening of the Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport in December 2023 is poised to revolutionize Tulum’s tourism. Delta’s recent announcement of daily non-stop flights from Atlanta, with other U.S. airlines expected to follow suit, underscores Tulum’s evolving status as a premium leisure destination.
Joe Esposito, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Network Planning, acknowledges the strategic importance of this move. “We know Tulum-bound customers will enjoy the elevated experience now without the two-hour drive from Cancun,” he states.
For Younge and Venson, the new airport represents a game-changer, enhancing accessibility to Black in Tulum and further solidifying Tulum as an enchanting destination for all ages. As the region anticipates a tourism boost, Black in Tulum remains committed to crafting novel and exciting experiences for Black tourists against the backdrop of Tulum’s pristine white sand beaches.
In essence, Tulum is not merely a destination; it’s a transformative experience waiting to be explored. The rise of Black tourism in Tulum signifies a shift in the traditional narrative of Mexican getaways, offering a cultural richness that goes beyond the postcard-perfect beaches and ancient ruins. The unique synergy between Black in Tulum and the town itself creates an atmosphere where travelers can immerse themselves in a vibrant tapestry of experiences, leaving an indelible mark on their journey.
As the Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport prepares to welcome travelers from around the world, Tulum stands poised at the precipice of a new era—one where inclusivity, cultural exchange, and natural beauty converge to redefine the quintessential Mexican escape. For Black travelers seeking more than just a vacation, Tulum beckons—an invitation to discover, connect, and revel in the extraordinary.