|Boaters using the 20 marinas in Quintana Roo and Yucatan will appreciate the huge new airport about to be built near Tulum.
Located 66 nautical miles south of Cancun, the new Tulum airport will become “the gateway to the Riviera Maya,” according to Mexico’s secretary of communications and transportation (SCT). The official name for the Tulum airport has not yet been chosen, and bids for construction are still being sought.
Riviera Maya is a marketing term referring to the 200-mile coast of Quintana Roo along the Yucatan Channel, where beachfront resorts provide a total of 37,000 hotel rooms. The new Tulum airport will cover 5 square miles of land, will have terminals and services for international and domestic airlines and will offer handy car rentals, hotels and tour agencies.
The new airport is planned to open in 2013. The 20-year-old Cancun airport will stay open, for now, but travelers know it has become overcrowded and engulfed by the expanding suburbs of Cancun.
Tulum was the ancient Mayan civilization’s astronomical observatory, built overlooking the ocean to take advantage of clear skies and an unobstructed horizon. No other Mayan sites were built near the ocean. Tulum today has no marina and offers no overnight anchoring inside the coral barrier reef.
The nearest marinas to Tulum are located at Puerto Aventuras, Isla Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, Isla Mujeres and Puerto Juarez in the state of Quintana Roo — providing an estimated 6,000 boat slips combined. The adjacent state of Yucatan has a cluster of marinas in Puerto Yukalpeten, with another 1,000 boat slips.
The SCT estimates the new Tulum airport will be built with an investment of between $150 million and $200 million U.S.
This article first appeared in the September 2010 issue of The Log Newspaper.