For my summer break and our (early) one year marriage anniversary celebration, Clay and I decided to go on a trip to Tulum! This was Clay's first time in Mexico and my second time (my first time was a YWAM missions trip to Ensenada with my youth group during high school). During our 8-day trip, we mainly stayed in two Airbnbs in Tulum Pueblo (downtown Tulum), where there were lots of busy streets to walk through, good food to eat (we loved the street tacos, fresh fruit popsicles, & churro stands!), and opportunities to go souvenir shopping. We were also able to spend a good amount of time on the Tulum beachfront during our downtime/evenings, where all the luxury beach hotels, beach bars, fancier restaurants, and (boho-style) boutiques are located. We loved seeing the ocean and sunset on our very first day! [Note for those planning a trip to Tulum: I must say that your experience of Tulum will be very different depending on where you stay. If you like living among the locals and don't mind the daily hustle & bustle of downtown life, find a place in Tulum Pueblo! But be warned the downtown area is pretty poor and somewhat undeveloped still. The streets can be dirty, dusty, and smelly. You will also likely hear noise all day long: cars, construction, stray dogs barking, roosters crowing early in the morning, and people talking/loud music playing late into the night. If you want a more peaceful and restful experience, I would recommend that you stay at a hotel on the beach. It'll probably be expensive, but you would definitely have a more comfortable, relaxing, and "nicer" stay. Overall, just keep in mind that Tulum is a town that revolves around / is sustained by heavy tourism. Don't be too surprised by this when you visit.]
During our trip, Clay and I were very interested in having a culturally immersive experience. We wanted to immerse ourselves in Mayan/Spanish/Mexican history and culture. We also wanted to immerse ourselves in the nature of the Mayan Riviera. So for our day-time activities, we were naturally drawn towards visiting the Mayan ruins and archaeological sites, as well as the cenotes scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are basically giant, naturally-formed sinkholes that you can swim in (Clay and I like to think of them as the swimming holes of Mexico). Anyway, I'm pretty amazed that we managed to check out THREE separate Mayan ruins: the Tulum Ruins, Chichen Itza, and Coba Ruins. (We actually checked out Chichen Itza and the Coba Ruins on the same day...crazy, right?) We also got to visit THREE different cenotes: Cenote Ik Kil, Grand Cenote, and Cenote Dos Ojos. Each cenote was unique in its own way. All were worth visiting in my opinion. Our personal favorite was probably Cenote Dos Ojos, because we got to snorkel through bat caves and super cool stalactite formations (on a guided tour...too dangerous to do by yourself)! [Tip for travelers: Try to visit Tulum when it's not too hot. We visited during one of the hottest months in August...not the best idea because I ended up getting a terrible heat rash the last couple of days. But if you handle heat well and still end up visiting during those hottest months, I would recommend waking up super early to visit the ruins/archaeological sites in the morning when it's less hot and less crowded. Then, in the afternoons you can refresh yourself by swimming in a cenote or staying indoors and taking a nice long nap. And just a heads up, all the cenotes are very tourist-centered. Even though the cenotes themselves are natural, all the major ones have been commercialized. They pretty much have parks built over them, so there will be fees for admission. But they will also have lockers, snorkel and dive gear rentals, showers, hammocks, and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat.]
Another way we were able to experience culture and nature was by spending a day at an adventure park. There are so many to choose from in that area, but we decided to go to Xcaret. Both of us enjoyed floating through their lazy river and catching all of their shows (i.e., ritual ceremony of the Voladores, pre-Hispanic dances, folkloric dances, and horse exhibition). They also have an evening show, called the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular. It's quite long, but Clay and I enjoyed how it captured the history of Mayan culture and the Spanish conquistadors. It tells the story of a beautiful, but painful mixing of cultures that lead to the formation of Mexican culture and the people of Mexico today.
Well, that's my recap of our trip! Feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions about any of the spots that I've mentioned above. If you want a complete list of places to stay, places to eat, and points or interest in/around Tulum, let me know and I'd love to send you one. I'll conclude this post with an awesome video that Clay made of our trip!
Just capturing as I go.