You can do either place as a half day excursion or both in one day. We did Coba first in the morning. Coba is only suitable for those with reasonable mobility as a long walk through the Forrest and around the ancient Mayan ruins takes it out of you. It's also very humid and hot despite for the best part being in the shade from the trees. You get a coach to Coba that takes about an hour from Port Aventuras. Once you arrive you meet a guide who gives info on the ruins and walks you around the site. Coba is the only site where you can still climb the ruins. The views at the top are great but not for those scared of heights as a steep drop off the sides with no safety fences. It's so steep there's a rope coming down the middle to help people pull themselves up and down it. Some of the ruins are hard to make out what you're looking at but Coba is great to see. Definitely a day out for the adventurous and energetic. One tip, stick to the paths through the Forrest as when we went in September it was rainy season and in between downpours the tarantulas and snakes venture out to dry off.
Tulum is another site that has much better preserved ruins and the buildings are easier to see. The site is beautiful but not much shade and the sun can get very hot, so take hats, cover your shoulders and buy water. There are shops and places to eat at both sites. Tulum has a full market too. Tulum also offers guests a swim and relaxing couple of hours on its secluded, idyllic beach. The wildlife from barracuda in the sea to iguanas on the beach and turtles occasionally gracing you with their presence makes Tulum a beautiful place to visit. Again, you have to walk a fair way around the site but can also get a train/tractor ride from the market area to the site itself. Prices vary as you can go to each place for a whole day or both in one day. Our package was approx £27 per person for the whole day without food or drink included. We stopped off halfway at lunchtime and purchased an all you can eat meal and beer or soft drink included for £6 a person. The restaurant was more of a shack in the middle of nowhere but the food was good.
We rented a Jeep for the day which we negotiated with the Avis agent at Sunscape hotel for a price of $77 for the day, so with gas at around $50.00 for the tank, the total cost for the four of us came to around $200 including $30 tolls each way and $4.50 per person entry fee to the site, which is a lot less than the tours, which not only start at an ungodly hour, but take at least 7 hours by coach to get there and back as they cannot exceed 90 kph.
The fast route to the site is on the Toll highway 180 couta from Cancun to Merida , but there is an alternative route via Tulmin, Coba and Valladolid which is more interesting but slower.
At first glace the site is not that large, as much of it is hidden in the light jungle that surrounds the monuments, so at least 4-5 hours will be needed to see most of the area and even in the winter the temperature is in the mid 30's as there is little shade.
Sadly since a tourist fell to her death in 2006, you can no longer climb the 94 steps up each side of Kukulcan's Pyramid, but even the steps to the Obervatory can be a challenge for some as they are all very steep.
Bike hire at the Catalonia hotel was free. It was years since I had been on a bike. However, it was as they say, “Like riding a bike” and it did not take me long to get back into the saddle. We rode down to Puerto Aventuras where there was a bike park. Had a look at the dolphins then rode back.
We swam with dolphins at Puerto Aventuras. This was a fantastic experience. The dolphins are quite fragile and have to be touched gently. They feel so soft. It lasted about an hour and a half with a video being shown before we went into the water.
I spent a couple of lazy afternoons at my hotel sitting by the pool painting pots. The pots, in the shape of animals and plates were about £10 each unpainted. Little pots of paint were provided and the person that run the stall was very good at painting. After I had painted my parrot, I left it overnight. The next day it had been touched up by the stall person and looked fantastic, very professional. It was so good I went back another afternoon and did another one.
So its called Xpu-Ha (pronounced Ishpu-Ha) you will find it 5 mins South of Puerto Aventuras and 15 minutes North of Xel-Ha snorkel park on the costal side of the road.
You'll find a turning just after Akumal beach resort (if your heading heading South) its signposted with a small wooden sign which reads Xpu-Ha then camp site etc. At the end of the road you'll find a very quaint camp site with trailers, huts and cars all parked up. The cost for a car is a very reasonable 20 Pesos which youll pay to a random guy who will show up at some point (either on the beach, when you park or when you leave but rest assured he will find you)
Come out of the camp site and turn right for a nice bit of piece and quiet. You'll find an abandoned hotel backs onto the northern end of the beach which is badly damaged by hurricane and is deserted. if you ask me this just ads to the mystery and tranquility of the beach.
The only downside is that the beach to the North is uncombed so expect some debris. although as you can see from the pictures you can use it to your advantage to take some cheesy postcard photos!
Make sure that you bring water and supplies as there are no grocery shops however you will find a small gift shop to the south of the beach selling hammocks, hats and sinks!!
The Aventura Spa Palace isnt exactly set on a beach, instead they have lagoon areas, which are brilliant for snorkelling, swimming and generally chilling out.
Yes, they are man made, but the sand is white and the waters are clear and fairly shallow.
People would snorkel, swim and kayak.
The hotel is kind of split into two, the north lobby and the south lobby areas. Both have restaurants, bars and pool areas.
The pool areas are clean, with plenty of sunbeds, swim up bars and snack areas.
This truly was one of the most memorable experiences of my whole life.
You can partake in this any many places in Mexico - including Xel Ha the eco - logical park.
We decided that we would prefer in a more natural environment, and so swam in the harbour at Puerto Aventuras
There are a variety of different options that you can do, from just stroking the dolphin, to a full swim.
The animals are not harmed in ANY way, and you must watch a safety video beforehand - this includes safety for yourself and the dolphins.
It is really expensive if you go the whole hog - Full programme with dolphins including foot push and dorsal tow, then playing games with them, buy the photographs and video, worked out in the region of approx ?400stg!!
(for 2 adults)
It was worth every penny and I would certainly do it again.
We enjoyed this within the grounds of our hotel, The Aventura Spa Palace has lagoons with man made beaches - which is far better than it actually sounds!
After initially nearly choking ourselves with the snorkelling equipment, we enjoyed snorkelling in the lagoons - we saw loads of amazing fish - some big, some small, in a variety of bright colours.
This is offered on various excursions in the area, but we did it at our hotel because it was all inclusive - so did not cost us any extra!
Well staying in a "Spa" Resort, you just had to take advantage of some of the treatments on offer! They had a huge long list of all the different treatments that they did, this was not included in the all inclusive cost, so you did have to pay extra for it - but how relaxing!
They ranged from Marine Scrubs, Back Massage, Manicure etc etc....
If you were lucky, your treatment would be in one of these small air conditioned huts out on the lagoon.............Otherwise you were in a Spa area underneath the lobby (which was however very nice!)
The Aventura Spa Palace resort not only has outdoor pools but an indoor one as well.
Very handy if you get sunstroke like me!!
The pool has sunbeds around it, a bar, 2 jacuzzis (1boiling 1 freezing) and underwater music!
The gardens of the hotel complex are beautiful and well kept......always clean and tidy.
They were fantastic for some shade and walking when you tired of the pool or beach or bar!!!