Tulum is the destination on everyone’s lips right now, this undeniably charming town is 130km south of Cancun and only 65km from Playa Del Carmen. On the 25th of October we went on a road trip from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum. Renting a car was simple, paying 550 MXN (R380) for a full day. Tulum is a magical little town and is famous for its soft, white sandy beaches and laid-back boho vibe. I fell absolutely in love with it. Tulum’s original Maya name, Zamá means “place of the dawning sun”.
In case you thought that Quintana Roo was all white sand, and beaches… well, it’s not. The ruins of Tulum face the Caribbean Sea and are one of the best preserved coastal Maya sites in Mexico. You can explore the ruins every day of the week from 8am to 5pm. Because parking is only available about 1 km away from the entrance, a folkloric train is available to take you to the entrance and is 20 MXN (R14). The cost of your visit to the Tulum ruins will depend on how you prefer to wander these ancient ruins. We chose to explore the ruins on our own which allowed us to walk around at our own pace. If you also prefer to go on your own with no guide, the cost of entrance is just 65 MXN (R44).
Each Mayan city had a specific purpose, and Tulum was no exception. It was a seaport, trading mainly in turquoise and jade.
El Castillo (the Castle) is Tulum’s main pyramid, and was used as an ancient lighthouse, directing ships through an opening in the reef to safe landing on the beach. It is about 7m tall.
Situated in a picture-perfect location on the Caribbean coastline, the ruins allow visitors a chance to cool off in the ocean during their visit. Swimming under the old ruined fortress, perched on the cliff above you, is a pretty cool experience.
Over the years, Grand Cenote has become popular with tourists and as a result the entrance fee (180 MXN / R 120) is expensive compared to other cenotes near Tulum.
It is very well equipped with facilities. You can rent snorkelling equipment (80 MXN / R 54), lockers (30 MXN / R 20) and a life jacket (50 MXN / R 34). We are travelling with our own snorkelling gear which we’ve used to snorkel in the Caribbean sea and the cenotes we’ve visited. There are bathrooms as well as changing rooms for you to use on the premises.
The colour of the water is so crystal clear that you can see fish swimming without even snorkelling or going in a deep dive. There are lots of fish and turtles in this cenote, and they’re not afraid of people. They swim freely as you enjoy the cooling waters and explore the cave, so they will just swim right on by you, which is such a cool experience.
Grand Cenote is made up of two sinkholes connected by a cave, so you can enter on one side, swim through the cave and exit on the other. I highly recommend adding the Grand Cenote visit to your itinerary when visiting this area, the experience was very unique and exciting.
Cozumel is a large island situated 20km from Playa Del Carmen and offers the most amazing snorkel and diving experiences in the entire Caribbean. We took a 45 minutes long ferry transfer from Playa Del Carmen to tranquil Cozumel at a cost of 290 MXN (R200) pp. The terminal is located downtown near the main square.
Travel Tip: Steer away from the waterfront. Major cruise lines unload at Cozumel’s piers, so try to avoid. If you must shop, head into San Miguel where the souvenirs are cheaper.
Because the island is big, the best ways to explore it is by renting a scooter or a car. We were only in Cozumel for a day so we knew we had to make the most of our time on the island. Prior to arriving, we rented a scooter online for 310 MXN, about (R200) a day.
Cozumel is one of the best destination to snorkel and dive so the possibilities of sea creatures to observe are endless. We were lucky to see a Star Puffer, Yellow Stingray, Giant Barracuda and Angelfish. It is important to remember to not touch anything or stand on the reefs while snorkelling. Marine life and corals are extremely fragile and even a simple touch can damage them.
The currents around Cozumel can be quite strong so it is important that you find out what the conditions are like where you plan to snorkel and go with someone else or a group (especially if you are a newbie).
Fun Facts about Cozumel Island:
- Cozumel is believed to have been first settled by the Mayans. There are 24 ancient ruins on the island.
- The islands geography is fascinating in that it is the oldest Caribbean island and the largest in Mexico.
- The weather is most pleasant from late October to December and March to June.
Have you visited Tulum or Cozumel Island yet? Please share your experiences in the comments section below!
Thank you for reading!