Travel Tuesdays: East Yucatan Peninsula (Tulum)

By dusanabotswana On May 10th, 2011

!Hola! ¿Qué tal tu día?

Ok don’t worry, I’m not actually going to write in Spanish, because I know a lot of you wouldn’t understand but mostly because I’m too lazy! Yes, I can write perfectly (mostly) in Spanish, but writing in your non-native language always takes a bit longer, unless you’re especially awesome of course.

Sorry about all the Yucatan Peninsula posts. Don’t want to overkill it, although I probably am already with three posts now on it (first and second here) but it’s a large region in Mexico and the longest consecutive trip we’ve gone on since our Tour de España (as I like to call it) in the summer of 2007. I’ll probably post a bit about some of my favorite places in Spain later on, but I still have a lot of places in Mexico to post about first.

Cutest kittens ever at the hostel in Tulum.
Anyway, our next destination got off to a really crazy start. We had already bought bus tickets and decided to leave from Merida to Tulum at 5am since it was a long ride. We had originally planned on leaving at midnight and, since we knew we’d be in desperate need of a shower, had paid a small fee to keep our room key until midnight. Instead, we packed up everything, folded money into a note ready to slide under the hostel owner’s door, and proceeded to sleep a few hours.

Cenotes we swam in. Just imagine there were a tiny entrance in that back corner for an example of the passageways we snorkeled through!  (Sorry about the strange lighting, really need a new camera!)

Lucky we had everything ready because guess what? Our alarm didn’t go off! Jonny thinks he woke up from the flashing light on his phone, and it was just in time to throw on some clothes and run, actually sprint, to the bus station. The hostel owner woke up when we were leaving and we shoved the money into his hands as we ran away. I can only imagine how confused he must have been.

Fortunately we made it to the bus on time and despite all the excitement were still drowsy enough to sleep most of the ride. It’s always a weird feeling traveling and waking up at stops every so often. I always feel like I’m in some strange dream world.

Silly, embarrassing picture we paid too much for. How could I leave without an underwater picture though?


We arrived in Tulum, got some lunch, and decided to do a snorkeling tour in the ocean and through a cave. We took awhile weighing the pros and cons of the tour because of the cost since it was a bit pricey (Ok, it wasn’t really pricey for a five hour excursion, we’re just major budget travelers).  In the end we decided that with transportation everywhere, entrance, equipment, and guide fees (guides are required for cave exploration) we wouldn’t spend much less anyway and I’m sure we wouldn’t have been able to see everything we did in just an afternoon if we’d gone alone.

First we headed off to the ocean. This was good practice with the snorkel as neither of us had ever used a snorkel in “real life” (as in not in a pool!). It always looked so easy to me but it really did take a bit getting used to.

Guess what we saw? The turtle who’s picture I posed by with my bike here. Two of them! They were so pretty and I’d never imagine thinking a turtle was so amazing or ever call one majestic, but they were.  They’re certainly more graceful under water. I’m not sure why but I got such a special feeling inside seeing them, I’m just cheesy I guess! Oh, and we also saw some coral reefs.

I’m  sure you thought you’d only ever see us in wetsuits in your dreams (haha oh man I make myself laugh too much).
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Then we headed off in the van to the cenotes, chatting with the Spanish couple who was on the tour as well. They were really nice I realized it can be really fun doing tours like this just to meet new people from different places. It’s cheesy, I know, but words really can’t describe how cool it was to be swimming through the tunnels of a cave. It was incredible to see beyond the swimming holes and shine our lights deep below the water- it’s like a whole other world down there! It really made me wish I had an underwater camera.

Tulum ruins in Tulum, Mexico. A few hours south of Cancun for a point of reference.

One of the best parts about the Tulum ruins (aside from a magnificent view of the ocean) is that you can go cool down in the water and then keep looking some more.

The next day we checked into another hostel that included not only free breakfast but free bike rentals with your stay. Renting a bike alone was about $3 cheaper than a night at the hostel so this was quite a steal. Tulum is definitely a touristy place and I can’t say it’s “off the beaten path,” but it definitely caters to more active tourists with the bike rentals. If you ever go I definitely recommend renting one- it’s hot but it’s so convenient to bike around.

We biked to the Tulum ruins that morning, biked to the grocery store to get lunch, and then biked to the beach in the late afternoon. We bike a lot here but usually never get to on vacation, so it was also a lot of fun- well except the wrong turn coming back from the ruins which led to a a 25 minute detour. Luckily we eventually found a convenience store to rehydrate. It’s funny to think back to though. Especially since we were in the middle of nowhere and then I treated myself to a delightfully unhealthy Frapp (after plenty of water of course)!

Trying to muster up a smile but it sure was hot out.

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Lots of these little guys around.


Ok, hope you enjoyed seeing more of the Yucatan! Thanks for stopping by,



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4 Responses to “Travel Tuesdays: East Yucatan Peninsula (Tulum)”

  1. Marie Says: May 11th, 2011 at 1:30 am

    that under water picture is awesome!! totally worth the money you spent on it! youre trip looks amazing and the photos are incredible. I like your blog, its very interesting.

  2. dusanabotswana Says: May 11th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Thanks Marie, glad you’re enjoying it! Jonny is still mad that the underwater pic doesn’t show any fish. There were lots pretty colored ones but I feel like I’m already forgetting the details.

  3. marie Says: May 11th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I have a horrible memory too. thats one really good thing about your blog, its kinda like your own personal journal, so you can read it and have stronger memories. sometimes i think about starting one, but keeping it to myself just as a way to kinda have a journal online. i think if i made it as a blog and pretended i was writing for people i would use it more often.

  4. dusanabotswana Says: May 11th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Yeah, when I see pictures and read things I can usually remember again. I have lots of pictures from our trip around Spain though that I have no memory of and Jonny can’t comprehend why not.

    So, I wish I would have kept a blog back then! I think it’s great whether it’s private or public, but I definitely write way more often when I know at least a few people are looking : )

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