Tulum, Mexico

[June 2019]

Summer 2019 was full on and it all started with a fantastic trip to Mexico. One of my girlfriends, Kara, now lives in Mexico City so I had been eager to catch up with her.

Itinerary

Turkish Airlines now has direct flights to both Mexico City and Cancun, but they didn’t at the time of my trip, so I flew to Miami and then connected to Mexico City. I arrived in MC very early in the morning, so day 1 was just a lazy day in Condesa together. We left to eat a torta and that was about it. Frankly, with the busy end to my school year and hosting my dad for 7 weeks, I also just needed the day to finalize the details of our trip together.

We spent 3 nights each in Tulum, Holbox, and Oaxaca, with one transfer night in Cancun. We then returned to Mexico City for a few days together before I jumped up to New Orleans for my Orff Jazz course.

Tulum

We stayed at Prana Boutique Hotel for three nights. Unfortunately, we arrived quite late the first night because there were not buses from the Cancun airport to Tulum as often as we had thought. There was a backpacker on our bus who spoke Spanish, I want to say he was Argentinian, and he helped us get a taxi to our hotel.

It wasn’t that far, but it was late. He told us the driver said it would be 200 pesos, if I remember correctly. Maybe 150. But after we left, the driver asked to clarify if our hotel was in town or down by the beach. We told him it was in town so he said that it would only be 50 pesos as there is a set rate for anything in town. We were amazed at his honesty. We certainly didn’t know any better and there wasn’t a meter running. Needless to say, we tipped.

This hotel was the perfect place to begin our adventure in Mexico! The service and hospitality were top notch, the bed was outstanding, and it had a relaxed and eco-friendly atmosphere.

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The lady at the front desk suggested we start our day with the Cenote Santa Cruz. We visited three cenotes on this trip and Santa Cruz was my favorite. We took a taxi over because while the hotel provides bikes they said we couldn’t take their bikes out on the main roadways. This worked out well because we just asked the driver to come back for us in an hour.

Oh, did I love this Cenote. I want to say it was 120 or 150 pesos. It was basically a ring of water around a small island. The water was flawless, it was the perfect way to cool down, and there was hardly anyone there. When people did start to arrive, it was time to meet our driver.

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IMG_3757We hopped over to the Gran Cenote (180 pesos) down the road. The Gran Cenote was very different, more cave-like, complete with bats. It was MUCH more crowded, but exciting to explore.

We had our driver take us towards the ruins next but ultimately decided not to visit them because we already planned on going to Chitzen Itza the next day for my birthday. Our hotel suggested we go down to the beach and take a boat out for the view instead, so we made our way to the water, and the boats were operating, but we decided to just stroll instead. Tulum is famous for its beaches… But you would never guess why these days… The seaweed situation is out of control. Waves and waves of stinky seaweed! I already loved our hotel, but I was glad we didn’t pay more to be by the beach.

When we returned to the hotel, I started investigating dinner options. I had read excellent reviews about the food at the hotel. I suggested we go to a little local joint in town but Kara was like, “Girl. I’m done. Let’s eat here.” So after a day of jumping around, we decided to stay at the hotel for dinner and enjoy the pool. Best. Decision. Ever. The food was amazing, and isn’t it nice to just stay in for a night? So nice we did it twice!

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The next day was my birthday! The big 3-1. We arranged a tour to Chichen Itza with the hotel. It wasn’t our smartest move of the trip. The bus was small, hot, and crowded. I would have preferred renting a car and driving myself. The tour might be more enjoyable on a bigger bus. You’d be with a larger group, but at least if would be more comfortable.

First we stopped at Valladolid for mezcal tasting and a stroll around the center. This is when I started to become a little obsessed with finding a mask to bring home like I did in Sri Lanka. I never ended up buying one, just because I’d have to carry it with me for two weeks, so I have some major regret.

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Next stop was Ik Kil, an underground cenote with hanging vines. Very cool, but very crowded.

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After a lunch buffet stop, it was off to the main show! Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan ruins, was packed. The light in the afternoon was perfect. We didn’t have the most interesting guide, but I really enjoyed walking around the ruins, listening to the acoustics, and learning about the engravings in the stones, like how the winners of battles would be sacrificed because it was an honor!

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We celebrated my birthday that evening at the hotel with guacamole and a crepe by the pool. I sure do love having a summer birthday.

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I would definitely recommend a trip to Tulum. The beaches may not be what they once were but the cenotes are incredible, and there were so many that we missed! If you have time, stay in Tulum longer than I did. I’d say at least four full days. 

After one last night in that magical bed, we made our way back to the bus station where we caught a bus directly to Chiquila and then the ferry over to Isla Holbox.

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