Well after just an hours bus ride we arrived in Tulum. We took the ADO bus, very efficient and cheap- left on time arrived on time, tickets available on the day and in advance. Comfy seats with air conditioning, TV and toilets. Tulum is a strange place with two parts the town side then a 2km strip of thick jungle then the up market hotels, restaurants, bars and the beach. Andy thinks it feels like a staging post, but it is very laid back and peaceful.
We stayed at The Secret Garden Hotel, which was easy to find from the bus station. It is an eco themed hotel and as it's name suggests it is 14 Cabanas built around a garden of large trees and shrubs. Very restful and relaxing and includes it's own managery of birds, lizards and dogs. The owner Joshua and his assistant were very welcoming, friendly and informative..The rooms are basic and prettily decorated to keep the eco theme going, bed was comfortable, hot and cold water in the en suite bathroom and air conditioning in the room. It is room only basis but includes tea, coffee, water and fruit for free all day.
We found a good bakery so bought croissants and pastries for breakfast. Several of the restaurants are open all day and serve breakfast, they also do an amazing choice of freshly squeezed juices in all fruits and combinations that you can think of., very healthy and cheap called aguas frescas.
We usually had a late lunch cum early tea and then snacked for dinner. We tried to find restaurants that appeared to be frequented by the locals so we could immerse ourselves in the culture and language. We tried various tacos, tortas, quesadillas and chicken with rice and refried beans. My personal favourite was Prawn Tacos with avocado - Yum, Yum.
Andy dived in Grand Ceynote and Calerva Ceynote (21st March). These are fresh water cave systems that have collapsed at points to form open water pools from which the cave systems can be discovered. Andy enjoyed the diving in Grand Ceynote the best as there was more to see, it was very pretty and atmospheric. I enjoyed swimming in this one and you can see from the photos we had time to meet up and watch bats nesting and swallows feeding their young. Calerva Ceynote has a 4metre jump in and is much more rustic and tame in comparison.
We visited several ruins whist her in Tulum. Firstly we went to Coba (22nd March), again taking an ADO bus. Coba was an important Mayan City in the 7th and 8th century AD and is located around two lagoons. A series of elevated stone and plaster roads radiate from the central site to various smaller sites near and far. These are known by the Maya term sacbe or sacred roads. Some of these causeways go east to the Caribbean coast, and the longest runs over 100 kilometres westwards to the site of Yaxuna. The site contains several large temple pyramids, the tallest, in what is known as the Nohoch Mul group of structures, being some 42 metres (138ft) in height, which is called Iglesia and visitors can climb to the top and look over the jungle below. We did this check out the photos. The site is speard over a great distance and difficult to see all the ruins, but there are taxis - a bicycle with a large seat on the front that holds two people driven by a local. We thought we would be engergetic and walk, it was very hot and dusty.
Tulum ruins (24thMarch) is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city serving as a major port for Cobá.The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs, along the east coast overlooking the Caribbean Sea . Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans, it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. It is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites.
One of the best parts for me so far have been the beautiful beaches. We took a local bus called a collectivo to Akumal, (23rd March) about 30 minutes away, this is a luxury resort with up market hotels. It has pristine white sands and offers safe swimming in reasonably shallow water. The main reason we came here was because we had heard that you can virtually paddle with turtles. Beware locals renting out snorkelling equipment and a guide, its very expensive and only for an hour, either do what we did and take your own equipment or go to the dive shops on the beach and hire equipment for much less and for the day. You don't need a guide just follow the groups . We paddled out and then swam for 5 minutes i.e. just out of depth and there were the turtles of varying sizes just swimming and feeding amongst the sea grass. On the way back in we saw Pipe fish and several other species just merrily swimming along minding their own business. Great to see them in their natural habitat and relatively undisturbed by the tourists.
Tulum Beach (23rd March) is also very pretty with vast expanses of white sand that goes as far as the eye can see. It was very quiet when we arrived and this was in the afternoon when you would expect sun worshippers to be around, perhaps because it is so large it never gets crowded. The only disadvantage with this beach is to get to it you have to go through the grounds of the hotels, they can't stop you as it is a public beach but I felt uncomfortable doing this. There is also very little shade, so we caught the sun easily. The sun is very strong and high factor sun cream is recommended.
Next stop Chetumal, this is just a stopping off point to enable us to catch the ferry to Caye Caulker in Belize.