Part turtle sanctuary, part permaculture farm, part luxury resort, and 100% off grid, Playa Viva is not just thinking about the well being of their guests but that of future generations. We found out about this forward-thinking eco-lodge while researching the “Conservation” chapter of our glamping book, Comfortably Wild, and recently had the chance to spend a few nights in their incredible treehouse along the Costa Grande of Guerrero, Mexico. We fell deeper in love with Playa Viva and know you will too. Watch this video from our stay and read this Comfortably Wild excerpt to discover one of the most enchanting and sustainable glamping retreats in the world.
Playa Viva Fast Facts
LOCATION: Juluchuca, Mexico
LODGING: Cabanas, suites, studios, and a treehouse (with six more opening fall 2021!)
WHEN TO GO: Open Oct–July. The landscape is particularly lush at the beginning of the season; the turtle sanctuary is most active Oct–Dec.
GETTING THERE: Fly into Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport (ZIH) and look for a driver with a “Playa Viva” sign for your 35-minute ride south (free with a three-night stay).
GPS: 17.4497° N, 101.2472° W
PRICING: Lodging, meals, daily yoga, on-site activities; starting at $157 per person (based on double occupancy)
CONTACT: (800) 397-6093; PlayaViva.com
NICE TOUCH: Field guides are in each room to help you identify flora and fauna out your window.
MISC: Handicap accessible, kid-friendly, pet-friendly, and wifi in the lounge.
The Heart and Soul of Playa Viva
A 200-acre stretch of Pacific coastline, backed by estuaries, mangroves, lakes, and mango trees, came up for sale in 2006. This undeveloped beach north of Acapulco was prime for a resort, but to develop such a wild ecosystem required kid gloves. David Leventhal and Sandra Kahn, a couple that grew up in Mexico and worked in the social impact field, bought the land but didn’t want to build just another eco-resort. They wanted to restore the area to the paradise it had once been—and a place the locals dreamt it to be. They sent out experts, including biologists and anthropologists, and interviewed the Juluchuca community members. Then they distilled the data into seven core principles to guide the property’s restorative development.
“When we first envisioned Playa Viva, we were so excited about the possibilities,” said Sandra. “We talked of driving our veggie biodiesel van to pick up guests and making our own soap from the glycerin byproduct.” Over a decade later, they successfully use 100% solar power, greywater and blackwater treatment, and organic and local products; they have even achieved that seemingly impossible soap. As green as a property can be, “Locals are what create the path to change,” said David. Empowering the community through education, healthcare, economic development, and a pride for their region’s natural beauty, Playa Viva and the village are in this together, and they hope you can join in.
Pack supplies for the elementary school, help release baby turtles at the sanctuary, and dine on fare from their local network of organic farmers. You never know, giving back could feel as good as Playa Viva’s yoga classes and spa treatments.
“First, thank you for such a lovely place to sit, breathe, and grow. Second, I wanted to share that I went over to the local school to play some music for the kids. It was the highlight of my time here. If there is ever a way I can continue to help, please let me know.”
—Molly, a Playa Viva guest
The Glamping Experience
ACCOMMODATIONS: The 12 eco-luxe units with private bathrooms are raised off the ground and enjoy sea views. The freestanding EcoCasitas have sliding walls, while the private casita, deluxe suites, and studios boast a breezy palapa-style construction. Choose from secluded rooms or adjoining accommodations sleeping up to 12 people. For the ultimate Instagrammable pad, snag the tubular treehouse nestled in the palms, made of hundreds of bamboo poles and featuring an in-floor hammock.
DINING: Mexican cuisine with an international and health-conscious twist is made with farm-fresh ingredients four times a day (of course you need breakfast before and after yoga). Meals are served family style; for more privacy, just request a table in the beach observatory. Get to know the kitchen crew; they’ll be happy to give you a snack or an impromptu cooking class.
ACTIVITIES: Yoga, spa, horseback riding, archaeology museum, ATVing, fishing, scuba, snorkeling, surfing, farm tours, and volunteering opportunities.
HONEYTREK TIP: Save a little space in your luggage so you can “Pack for a Purpose.” See Playa Viva’s latest supply list for the local school, health clinic, and community yoga program.
Deepen your yoga practice with a multiday workshop. Choose from more than 20 retreats throughout the year, combining yoga with everything from massage to Ayurveda, aerial arts, meditation, Qigong, and living with gratitude. Open-air classes are interspersed with walks on the beach, relaxation, and healthy meals. Check PlayaViva.com/retreats for the timing and teaching that speaks to you.
SHARE A SKILL
Are you a singer, chiropractor, teacher, soccer player, or lover of community? Then coordinate with Playa Viva’s social and environmental impact manager to share your talent with the Juluchuca village. If nothing else, see the incredible work the long-term volunteers are doing at the clinic, school, salt cooperative, and organic farms—it will likely inspire you to lend a helping hand.
ATV TO A LOCAL FARM
Ride an 4×4 into the mountains to visit a traditional family farm. After a 1.5-hour off-roading adventure, you’ll reach the Gutiérrez’s home for a field-to-food tour of coffee, cacao, bananas, sugar cane, and more. Admire their incredible self-sufficiency as they prepare a meal, fresh from the garden. Gather around the table for this unique chance to break bread.
HELP A TURTLE
Join the turtle sanctuary team in gathering freshly laid leatherback and green turtle eggs for their incubation, or help release the adorable newborns into the sea. There is some turtle activity throughout the year (we went in the “off season” and released 140+ newborns!), so no matter when you arrive, you should visit the sanctuary, learn about Playa Viva’s fantastic conservation efforts, and see how you can lend a hand.
SEE MORE PLAYA VIVA PHOTOS
This article is an excerpt from our Falcon Guides book Comfortably Wild (ISBN:9781493037797). For dozens more sustainable glamping destinations in North America, our best tips on planning an outdoor getaway, and everything you wanted to know about this trending travel style, check out: www.HoneyTrek.com/ComfortablyWild.