There's a New Tulum-inspired Beach Club on NYC's Governors Island — With Imported Sand and a Gorgeous Dining Tent

Escape to Tulum, Mexico, without leaving New York City.

Loungers looking at the nyc skyline at GITANO Island
Photo: Courtesy of GITANO Island

Summer is in full swing, so naturally, everyone's dreaming of soaking up the sun on a hot tropical beach with a cold drink in hand. Luckily for New Yorkers and visitors to the city, this dream fully materialized a quick five-minute ferry ride from downtown Manhattan as Gitano Island, a brand-new restaurant and beach club, just opened its doors on Governors Island.

The sprawling waterfront property boasts 27,000 square feet of amenities you'd typically find on a beach in Tulum. Grupo Gitano, the company behind the development and founder James Gardner set out to transform the space into a true tropical beach oasis with hundreds of plants and giant palms, 350 tons of imported sand, and an elegant restaurant, creating a lush Mexican-inspired paradise overlooking New York City's famed skyline.

The entrance at GITANO Island
Courtesy of GITANO Island

"We are inspired by the juxtaposition of the concrete jungle against our tropical jungle from the Yucatán [Peninsula], seeing coconut palms swaying against the Manhattan skyscrapers is always a beautiful sight, and highly Instagrammable at that," Gardner told T+L.

The restaurant will also include a Bedouin dining tent with a 360-degree marble bar — a signature feature of other Gitano beach clubs in Tulum and Miami — as well as dining pergolas, an open-fire kitchen, sunbeds, cabanas, and a members-only lounge centered around a 40-foot water feature. Gitano Island will also be the first and only property with a tented stage that, over the summer, will host various international DJs and live artist performances and where guests can enjoy classic and nu-disco, house music, Afrobeats, and Latin music.

Aerial view and city view from GITANO Island
Courtesy of GITANO Island

While the property is extremely lush, thanks to all the greenery, the design oozes a minimal and very elegant vibe that celebrates authenticity.

Gardner explained that many materials have been imported from the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico.

"The dining pergolas are made of Zapote wood, which is unique to Mexico and Central America and used by the Mayans. It's rare and extremely dense and durable," he added, noting that the wood furniture was also designed and built in Mexico. Guests will spot some signature Gitano décor elements, such as bright neon signs and giant disco balls, as well as a few new ones that elevate the club's comfort level, like the outdoor sectional sofas shaded under bamboo pergolas.

Set tables at the restaurant at GITANO Island
Courtesy of GITANO Island

At the heart of Gitano Island is the restaurant, which focuses on modern Mexican fare prepared on an open fire. The company's executive chef, Puebla-native Antonio Maldonado, has developed a menu that treats patrons to Gitano classics including chorizo con queso, crab tostadas, and branzino in banana leaf, plus mouthwatering new additions such as a Mexican lobster roll, crispy chicken al Recado Rojo, sopes de guisados, and tamales de pipián.

"We are very excited this year to also collaborate with Jose Luis Hinostroza, an incredibly talented chef and the owner of Arca Tulum. He is making a special taco tasting menu for us, including his signature soft shell crab taco, a duck carnitas taco, and even a dessert taco with strawberries and dulce de leche. All ingredients are sourced locally with some specialty items imported from Mexico," Gardner said.

Loungers on the sand around the pool at GITANO Island
Courtesy of GITANO Island

A curated cocktail list and bottle service in the beach cabanas will keep Gitano Island guests in good spirits.

Gitano Island is open daily for brunch and dinner, and you can make a reservation here.

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