No matter how boring or amazing a location is, your experience can always be affected one way or another by the company you keep. In the case of Tulum, Mexico, a beautiful landscape + awesome people = an unforgettable time.
When visiting Tulum, you have a few options as to where you stay. First, there is the city proper. The city is centrally located in between the Tulum ruins, Coba ruins, Muyil ruins, all the cenotes, and the beach. Staying in the city is great because of the number of shops, stores, restaurants, and services available to you. However, you will likely need to pay for transportation to the various sights as it is quite the walk. The ‘hotel zone’ on the beach is another option, but it is generally much more expensive if you are looking for Budget Getaways.
As most people spend much of their time at the incredible beaches, many places (including hostels) have bicycles for rent to make your 5km (3 miles) trek from town much easier/faster. Should you decide to take a taxi, the cabbies generally quote you around $40-50 pesos but we got several rides for $30 pesos. Weather permitting, the walk is quite enjoyable- just lengthy. Should you make the trek on a sweltering summer day like we did, the frequent shade structures are an ideal resting spot. Additionally, the shade structures have bicycle pumps to keep your tires aired up.
If you can pull yourself away from the some of the best beaches in the Yucatan, a visit to the ruins should be at the top of your list. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean, these ruins are unlike most of the remnants of the ancient world. The ruins are slightly closer to town than the beach so you can walk, bike, take a taxi, or take a collectivo from town for $13 pesos.
When you arrive at the ruins, you may want to scour the parking lot for tour buses. As a common stop for cruises, multiple buses from the same company is a good indicator that you want to visit another day. The ruins are quite small and will not be nearly as enjoyable if you are wading through people. Also around the parking lot area is a multitude of shops, booths, and restaurants that makes it rather disorienting. To get to the entrance of the ruins (where you buy your ticket for $51 pesos), just follow the road. There is a shuttle that will take you from the parking lot to the entrance but it only takes a few minutes to walk and will save you a couple bucks.
While the ruins can be thoroughly viewed in an hour or two, you can easily get lost in the views for considerably longer. The vivid, contrasting colors of the white sands; dark cliffs; turquoise water; and greenery will make you want to set up an easel. For me, another amazing sight was the thousands of iguanas inhabiting the ruins. Being used to people, they let you get very close to them and don’t mind posing for pictures. Some of the tour guides even carry what look like hibiscus flowers in their pockets to feed them, as it seems to be a favorite snack. Once you’ve had your fill of the sights, there is also access to small beach at the end of the ruins to reward you for your patronage.
Another highlight of Tulum are the crystalline cenotes. We were planning on doing a snorkeling excursion or two, but ran out of time. Now, having heard experiences from friends and seen cenotes elsewhere, we are really upset that we didn’t make more time in Tulum. With so many phenomenal things to do, don’t make the same mistake as us and miss out.
Fighting the rain (and losing power a few times), we spent a couple nights hanging out with our hostel-mates talking and playing some crazy games of Uno. With our own special house rules, we mixed the standard Uno rules with some of those from the Israeli game; Taki. With the new abilities to cause everyone to trade hands and put down multiple cards of the same color in a single turn, our normally competitive game got even more out of hand.
We’ve been so fortunate to have met, stayed with, and traveled with some of the most incredible people- and we’re only 2 months in. We just want to thank everyone who has contributed to our journey thus far and look forward to all of the future adventures and rendezvous.