We were luckily drawn to Mexico to join our friends for their wedding. As Thane had never crossed the Atlantic and with the opportunity presented, we extended our visit into a holiday to see more of Mexico. Our plan was to explore the Yucatan Peninsula (eastern Mexico). So on a late October morning we left a nearly-always grey cold London and headed for mostly-warm Mexico. An easy 10 hour Virgin Atlantic flight and we would land in Cancun. We flew over the coast of Canada, along New York State, Washington and down to the Gulf of Mexico. We flew over some amazing scenery in the US, especially the Cactuclan mountains, but as we approached Mexico the views got even better. We flew over the Holbox Island and the huge jungle of Area de Proteccion de Flora and Fauna Yum Balam. Never have we seen such a endless and thick uninterrupted stretch of green before.
At the Cancun airport all went smoothly. We hopped on a bus to Playa del Carmen (168 pesos each ) and in about an hour we arrived. It got dark at 18:30 and being 5 hours ahead of London, we were tired. We needed dinner and bed ASAP! As soon as we stepped on the street in Playa, a friendly waiter stopped us and led us to a a rooftop restaurant, just opposite from the bus station. Touristy, but friendly staff and good food. The service was excellent – we had beers, fresh guacamole and tacos and even managed a leave with a souvenir bottle of tequila with our picture printed on the front. We hopped on a second bus to Tulum (38 pesos) and by the time we found our hotel we were exhausted… It was a great to finally escape airports and civilization and to feel the presence of the jungle in Tulum.
Our first night sleep wasn’t great as Thane experienced a mild jet lag for the first time. Our first morning was warm and sunny and we enjoyed our breakfast in the tropical climate. The mosquitos we didn’t enjoy as much! We took our time to get going, we rented some bicycles and headed towards the Mayan archeological site by the beach. As we approached the area we saw it was just too busy so we headed for the beach instead. Having visited Tulum a few years earlier, I found many changes; including the small beach bar (by the fishermen’s bungalows) that had been replaced with an eco resort called Villa Pescadores. Still, one of the best places to chill at the beach. Tourism in Tulum has certainly picked up and now offers a wide range of choice for any traveller. We got a large sun bed and jumped in the crystal clear water. Finally, sun and sea! However, as we sat down to enjoy the sun, the wind picked up. This was quickly followed by rain and we had no choice but to sit in the sheltered area. This meant siping Coronas and indulge in local food- still, not so bad. The weather was like that for the first few days, on and off. The rain doesn’t mean you cant enjoy being outside, it’s still 28’C. And our alternative was far worse – being in cold London. We left as the sky got even darker and we peddled up an appetite towards El Capitan ( a restaurant, like most in Mexico, with HUUUGE portions ). That night we were in bed and asleep early.
For our second attempt at the Mayan Ruins we woke up early with intention of beating the crowds and being there at around 8am. Again it started to rain, delaying us a bit. We finally set off in a mild drizzle but it soon started raining so hard that we stopped at the Mi Amor resort to have a coffee and wait for the rain to pass. There’s just something wonderful about riding a squeaky rented bicycle through a tropical rain storm. Perhaps to me, it gives you one of those uniquely holiday feelings.
By the time we got to the ruins ( entry 65 pesos, optional early morning entry 06:30-08:00 is 220 pesos ) there were already plenty people about, mostly American groups. The ruins are set on such an amazing location – the only ancient Mayan ruins on the coast, sitting on a 12 meter high cliff. The city once served as a seaport and was at its peak from the 13-15th century, then abandoned after the arrival of the Spanish. Later in Uxmal we learned that due to regular hurricanes the Mayas built their cities in the jungle instead. Tulum is an exception because of the rocks and reef protecting the beach. It took about an hour to walk around and see everything properly. Well worth it!
The weather cleared around noon and it was a perfect beach day, again we took our spot at the Villa Pescadores. There are not enough words to describe the relaxing beach vibe in Tulum. There is much more to do around Tulum- visit Chichen Itza ruins, swim and dive in the cenotes ( rock pools ), visit adventure parks and the numerous hotels and restaurants, but it wasn’t our goal for Tulum. Our stay was brief and we were happy to relax. By early afternoon we had to cut the beach day short, pack our bags, and head back to Playa del Carmen where we would catch the ferry to the island of Cozumel. Scuba diving here we come!