Destinations | Mexico

Mexico: Tulum by land and by sea

26 August 2017

 

– Day 6 – 

 

On Day 6, we woke up in our paradisiac hotel on the Riviera Maya: the incredible Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa. On our schedule for this penultimate day of our Mexican adventure: the ruins of Tulum and a boat excursion with a bit of snorkeling. 

Tulum is the bobo-chic/hipster part of the riviera. We had heard that it was ten times more authentic than Playa del Carmen or Cancùn. That’s the reason why we had decided to go straight there. 

 

The Mayan ruins of Tulum

 

After an hour drive south, we finally reached Tulum and decided to start with the Mayan ruins. It did not start well. The place was packed with tourists and full of souvenirs shops. It looks like Disneyland on a busy day, maybe worse. No authenticity whatsoever. I really felt like giving up and leaving far far away from that place at that point. But we didn’t … 

To access the entrance, one must walk for 5 to 7 minutes from the parking. With the crowd, I felt like an animal in a herd. Quite unpleasant. We finally reached the site, obviously also crowded, and started walking around. It’s quite nice, with beautiful views of the ocean, although not spectacular. 

 

 

 

Tulum by sea

 

At the site exit, we made a left instead of a right and started walking towards Playa Maya, where our boat excursion was leaving from. We walked for a good 20 minutes, first on the road and as soon as we were able to, by the beach. Needless to say that the walk by the ocean, on a white sand beach and with a bit of air was a lot nicer than on the road with no air and an unbearable temperature. 

 

 

The boat excursion itself was just ok. Sure, it was nice to be on the water and yes, it’s nice to see the ruins from another perspective. But honestly, it was not breathtaking and we couldn’t have done without it. On the way back, we stopped near the meso-american reef for a bit of snorkeling. When I say a bit, I mean 10 minutes, no more. And we didn’t get to see much. It was quite disappointing compared to similar experiences we have had in the past.

 

 

The end of the day

 

Tulum was so packed that after the excursion, we decided to head back to Punta Maroma where we had the entire beach almost to ourselves. We went kayaking and we rested a bit before cocktail hour and dinner. It gave me a great opportunity to go back to my book: Le gang des rêves, (review available in French). 

 

On the map

– Day 6 –

 

 

 

Verdict

– Day 6 –

 

Tulum is beautiful, yes, with its white sand beach and clear blue green waters.

Unfortunately, we found Tulum in August not to be such a good idea. It was so packed and touristy that it soon became clear that Day 6, at least the Tulum portion, would be my least favorite day of the whole journey. Maybe the way we felt was due to the rough transition between our relaxing and wonderfully calm hotel to the crowd of a popular beach on the Côte d’Azur in August. 

The ruins themselves are nice because the site overlooks the ocean but after visiting Uxmal, we can’t say that we were impressed. The excursion on the boat was pleasant. It was certainly beautiful to see the ruins from the water and to combining it with a bit of snorkeling. However, the diversity of the fishes we saw on the reef didn’t come even close to the one we had seen in Lembongan (Bali). Except for a barracuda and a sea turtle (pretty cool), the snorkeling portion of the excursion was just ok. Maybe it was already too late in the day. 

 

Practical aspects

– Day 6 –

 

Time spent driving: 2 hours total (plan for traffic jams around Playa del Carmen)

Hotel: Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa – Punta Maroma (north of Playa del Carmen)

Restaurants:

  • Lunch: We skipped it
  • Drinks: On the beach at the Belmond
  • Dinner: El Restaurante (Belmond)

Tips:

  • Avoid going during high season
  • Go super early, with water, a hat and tones of sunscreen
     

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