Being stranded on a desert island has been a fantasy of mine since childhood: empty beaches, palm trees, endless stretches of water dazzling in the sun, perhaps even pirates – but never in a million years did I think such a place actually existed.
Other than the pirates, who sadly never did materialise, every part of this dream came true in the spectacular seclusion of Mukan Resort, located south of Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Photo: Beach, Mukan Resort
The journey there is the first suggestion that you’re being taken somewhere entirely off the beaten track: it starts with a bumpy, dusty ride in a 4×4 into the Sian Ka’an biosphere, followed by a boat that departs from civilisation and enters nature’s paradise. As we worked our way through bottle-green, mangrove-filled lagoon waters, we spotted crocodiles, dolphins and exotic birds. It felt like another world, and this was only the beginning.
An exhilarating hour later, you’ll be met at Mukan’s private dock with cold towels and fresh juice, before crossing over to the resort complex. If you can call it a resort, that is: Mukan comprises just five rooms in the main villa plus four individual bungalow huts perched on the white sand of the beach, with the Caribbean Sea just a stone’s throw away. Inside, four poster beds, mosaic bathtubs and fridges stocked with coconut water and exotic fruits await. I could happily be marooned here for quite some time.
The real draw, though, isn’t the accommodations, but the abundance of unspoilt nature that surrounds Mukan Resort. Step outside to your private terrace and you’ll hear nothing but birds chirping, palm trees blowing, and waves lapping on the shore ahead.
Photo: Beach Restaurant, Mukan Resort
The best spot to appreciate this extraordinary location is from the roof terrace, which boasts 360-degree views of the dazzling blue sea to one side and the bottle-green lagoon to the other. Guests can quite literally soak it in by jumping into the rooftop jacuzzi, or join a morning meditation class to embrace the calm of this secluded space.
If the rooftop views leave you wanting deeper immersion in these sources of natural beauty, kayaks and paddleboards await your return to the beach for a paddle in the Caribbean Sea. There’s also the option to partake in a fly fishing excursion to experience more of the wildlife in the Sian Ka’an saltwater lagoon, as well as diving in cenotes – underwater caves that connect Mexico’s network of underground rivers.
Alternatively, you may wish to continue channelling the calm of your morning meditation with a yoga class on the lagoon deck. You’d be hard pushed to find a location more serene than the expanse of lagoon water that stretches all the way to the horizon, even if it does leave you with no fixed point of focus for your tree pose.
Photo: Beachfront Bungalow, Mukan Resort
As night falls, the lagoon puts on yet another stunning display at sunset. This is a performance not to be missed: pull up a deck chair, get the champagne on ice, and prepare to be entertained by one of mother nature’s most staggering feats. Alas, there was no Robinson Crusoe on this island to sweep me away, but for those who are more fortunate, this scene would certainly make for one of the most romantic proposals imaginable.
And it doesn’t end there: back on the beach, prolong the magic by dining ‘jungle-style’ under the stars, savouring exceptionally fresh dishes that focus on local and sustainable ingredients. A spot of post-dinner stargazing is also essential: with almost no light pollution, the night sky is spectacular, and while it would be tempting to stay out for hours in the blissful seclusion of it all, the four poster beds that await inside are a welcome luxury for those of us who aren’t quite ready to immerse ourselves in the desert island experience unreservedly.
Breakfast is a similarly sandy affair, with tables set up in whichever shady beach nook takes your fancy. If you could imagine a feast that reflects the beauty of this natural environment, this would be it: home-made fruit preserves that burst with flavour are a particular highlight, along with spectacularly fresh eggs and creamy avocado.
Leaving a beautiful resort is usually an experience accompanied with a heavy heart, but it’s made less lamentable when the magic lingers that little bit longer with such a special boat journey back. In my case, seeing a family of manatees swimming close by and poking their noses up for air was the icing on the cake: the final precious memory of the few days of secluded bliss that made up my desert island sojourn.
Photo: Lobby, Mukan Resort
Rooms at Mukan Resort start at $336 per night + tax.
After graduating from Cambridge University with a triple First, Rosie decided to pursue a career in the fitness industry rather than follow the traditional path of her peers in investment banking. Unable to shake off the fast-paced routine she developed in her City job, she achieves balance by winding down in yoga sessions, escaping on fitness retreats, and going for extended brunches that somehow seem to wind up in a hidden gem of a cocktail bar.