Part Amusement park, part archaeological site. This attraction is built around mayan ruins and includes recreations of Maya times, animals and water attractions. A good time but definitely overpriced for what it offers.Related to:
- Family Travel
Tulum is a small post classical Mayan port city established around 1200 AD. Its known for its scenic seaside location, and had up to 1,600 inhabitants at its peak. Tulum is the most convenient Mayan site along the coast to visit and therefore will get very crowded in the afternoon, visit early for the best views.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Travel agency in Tulum
If you like natural and sustainable stuffs I can recommand you an agency. It is called Mexico Kan Tours and they can pick you at your hotel and take you in some quiet and interesting places. I did Sian Kaan Muyil tour and it was great. Guides are really good ! Send them an email !
Kiss and enjoy!!Related to:
- Water Sports
- Arts and Culture
Xel Ha is an eco tourist snorkel park. This was a great place to take the kids when visiting the Quintana Roo Region. Many resorts/cruises offer half day excursions but this is really a full day park so get there early.
When you get there immediately rent your snorkel gear and take the train up to the head of the river. Get a locker close to where you rent the gear. There you can float down the river until it opens up to the lagoon. The water is crystal clear and there are lots of fish. If you are expecting coral reefs with a wide diversity of fish you will be disappointed. This is not the great barrier reef. However, I did see jacks, grunts, sea turtles, grouper, permit/pompano and other fish. The geology is quite interesting with cut out rocks and caves to explore in. There are cliff jumping areas as well as rope swings and trails throughout the whole park. It is a great place to explore.
There are signs that say one must wear a snorkeling flotation device when swimming. Apparantly this is a guideline as most gringos were ignoring the sign. This is good because if one cannot swim underwater the park would not be the same.
For extra money they have the dolphin swim, snuba, and sea trek.Related to:
- Theme Park Trips
- Diving and Snorkeling
Kohunlich Mayan Ruin
The Kohunlich Mayan Ruin are in Quintana Roo in a secluded jungle near the Belize border. Here you can see Mayan ruins housing the Temple of the Large Masks, the Plaza of the Acropolis, and the Plaza of the Estelas. Many areas are still unexcavated so more discoveries may be found in the future.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Study Abroad
- Road Trip
Car and passenger ferries depart Punta Sam for Isla Mujeres. The car ferry takes about 45 minutes to cross and is apparently more stable than the passenger ferries!
The ferries leave Punta Sam at 8am, 11am, 2:45pm, 5:30pm & 8:15pm
From Isla Mujeres 6:30am, 9:30am, 12:45pm, 4:15pm & 7:15pm.
In 1999 tickets for the ferry were US$1.50 for a passenger & between US$6 to US$8.
If you are taking your car you need to be there 1 hour before sailing and buy your ticket early. We were the only tourists using the ferry. The rest of the passengers seemed to be cab drivers, with whole families crammed into their cars!Related to:
- Road Trip
Sian Ka'an Reserva de la Biosfera
Sian Ka'an "where the sky begins" - 5000sq km of tropical jungle, marsh, mangrove and islands that the Mexican government has sectioned as a huge bioshpere reserve. In 1987 the UN appointed the entire area as a World Hertiage Site and described it as "an irreplaceable natural treasure.
It is possible to visit Sian Ka'an; non-touristy trips with small groups (there were 6 of us) are organised from their office in Cancun but pick-up is 8:30am in Tulum.
It is possible to see a variety of flora, thousands of butterlies, howler monkeys, foxes, ocelots, pumas, vultures, caimans, eagles, raccoons, giant land crabs & jaguars. But don't count on it! We saw many butterflies, a few fish, an eagle and a pelican. My husband did, however, find a little, white frog which got the ecologist VERY excited... what with nobody having ever seen a frog in any part of the reserve before!!!
The reserve is beautiful and we were given a lot of information about it from our tour guide, who was an ecologist. We were also taken to a learning centre which, running the risk of sounding like an ignorant, was a nice break from the sun!
Lunch was included on the trip which we are on a small boat which took us around the mangroves to the only place in the world where the rainforest meets the swamp which meets the mangroves (see picture).
After lunch we were taken to a waterway where we were instructed to get in - it was possible to float and be carried by the current to the next stop (which was quite a way away) to where out little boat was waiting for us. It was so relaxing. I had my snorkle mask with me but there was nothing to see... save the places along the banks that may have or may not have housed the odd crocodile!
There are plenty of Mayan ruins within the reserve but they tend to be small and generally rather unimpressive.
It was a wonderful day. We were all a little disappointed that we hadn't seen more wildlife but... a great day none the less.
In 1999 it cost US$116 for 2 people.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Coba is located approximately half way between Tulum and Valladolid. The site is located in the town of Coba and the enterance is right by the lake, pretty hard to miss.
The site opens at 7:00am, if you get there at that time you will have the place pretty much to yourself. The site is spread out over quiet a large area but everything is within walking distance. Tour guides arrive at around 8:00am. Bicycles are available for rent (from 8:00am) which I would have prefered to do had I not been there at 7:00am. You can climb a large pyramid and get an excellent view above the tree tops.
El Ray Ruins
El Ray ruins are in Cancun, just follow the main road through the hotel belt and a short distance past the Hilton hotel you will see a sign that says El Ray. There are lizards in the bushes around the ruins, they dont attack people but if you have some bread you can feed them.
Cozumel Island is a divers island, the reefs have taken a bit of a beating from the hurricane but are in remarkably good condition and getting better. Day trips for snorkling or a ride in a submarine can be organised. The nightlife varies a bit there, largly depending on whether the criuse ships are doing a stopover or not. Carlos and Charlies and Senior Frogs can be kicking on and then there is a mass exodus of the crise ship crowd going back to their ship due for next port leaving the place all but empty. There is free entertainment in the town square most evenings, usually music or dance performance, it is a very family orientated event wh seating provided. The French Quater is a bar where a lot of expats go on a thursday night (I think it's Thursdays) to watch the football on cable tv. A passenger ferry runs from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel town from around 4:00am to around 10:00pm most hours. There is also a vehicle ferry which runs from Puerto Morelos.
A little further south of the Tulum ruins is some small ruins going by a couple of names, Muyil and Chanyaxche. There's not much to them but if you're doing a tour taking in lots of ruins throughout Quntana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula then it's worth adding on to a trip to Tulum being so close by.
Xcaret - oh what fun!
I also hesitated a bit before going to Xcaret as it is one of the most expensive attractions on the Riviera Maya and I didn't know if it'd be worth the money - as it turns out, a day wasn't enough to see and do everything Xcaret has to offer and we enjoyed every minute of it! We took the basic package, which didn't include food or snorkeling equipment, and we chose not add special water activities such as swimming with dolphins (that was an extra US$150 per person and we would have run out of time anyways) so it ended up costing us about US$80 each for admission, transportation and food.
The number one attraction at Xcaret is swimming down the underground rivers - it truly was a terrific experience! You don't need snorkeling equipment to do it and if you go down the river that starts on the left, you'll see that the coolest things aren't in the water anyway. We also had a good time walking around the park to locate the different wildlife habitats, the butterfly pavilion and the amazing coral reef aquarium. We also had a great meal in a little pub where we enjoyed an amazing view of the Carribean Sea.
And if you go to Xcaret, you absolutely have to stay for the night show. The short walk up to the amphitheatre will immediately put you in the right mood - Mayan drums can be heard from afar and as you get closer you'll see actors and musicians, all clad in traditional Mayan costumes, showing you the way. The show is divided into two parts - the first part tells the history of the Mayan people, from their customs and games (who knew they played hockey?! Granted they played with a fire ball instead of a puck and with no protection, but it's still the same game!) to their meeting with the Spaniards. The second part of the show is more of a Mexican folk festival, with all the states represented by their different costumes, songs and dances. If you haven't caught a Papantla flyers ceremony during the day, you'll see one during the show. It's really not to be missed!Related to:
- Theme Park Trips
- Water Sports
Snorkeling for beginners at Xel-Ha!
I hesitated about going to Xel-Ha because I had never in my entire life gone snorkeling and had little faith in my ability to swim around with fins. But I had heard so much about snorkeling in Mexico that I really couldn't let this unrational fear stop me from experimenting something new so one morning we ended up jumping in a colectivo that was heading down to Xel-Ha, and I'm so glad we did! Xel-Ha is the perfect spot for beginners - because I didn't have my own snorkeling gear, the best deal was to go with the all-inclusive package at US$59 for the day - that includes your snorkeling equipment (mask, tuba, fins and life jacket), locker, food and drinks.
In case you're wondering, it turns out that I'm really good at swimming with fins and had a blast chasing down colorful fishies all over the lagoon! Not that they're very hard to see - there are so many of them (some of them are gigantic!) and it looks like they're used to having company and don't really care that you're there as you yell "umphuphoo!!" in your tuba every time you stumble upon new, even more colorful fish! My favorite part was snorkeling down the Rio Maya - you can also tube down that river, but it's not as fun. The mangroves and corals are absolutely spectacular! We also got to see a ray and one of our friends saw a sea turtle.
There are some other activities offered besides snorkeling but they're not as fun - if you're really not interested in snorkeling then I suggest you go to Xcaret instead. Also, if you're an experienced snorkeler and have your own equipment, there are other less crowded (and less expensive) spots along the Riviera Maya. But for a first-timer like it me, it was pure bliss! Oh and if you get thirsty, I highly recommend you order a drink appropriately called Xel-Ha - it's made with rum and mint (but different from a mojito), and it's soooo refreshing!Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Water Sports
A day-trip to Playa del Carmen
Not that long ago, Playa del Carmen was only a small village but over the years, it has become the biggest tourist spot on the Riviera Maya and is now quite bigger than it used to be. Mercifully, it has managed to retain some of its old "small place" charm. Some of the side streets along the popular Quinta Avenida possess some of the most beautiful buildings I've seen while in Mexico, and a lazy laid-back atmosphere that is quite pleasing. However, I thought Quinta Avenida was a pain to walk through - there are so many gift shops located on that street and most merchants will stand on the sidewalk, relentlessly entreating you to come inside to have a look at the merchandise. So for avid shoppers, Quinta Avenida is a dream come true; for others just looking for a quiet stroll, it's a nightmare.
So we quickly left Playa del Carmen's 5th Avenue and headed for the beach. It was pretty full, but it was indeed a beautiful beach. There are plenty of restaurants and bars located directly on the beach, where you can drink a few cold beers with your feet buried in the soft, warm sand. In fact, that's where we ended up spending the rest of the day, watching people walk by and trying to guess for how long they had been in Mexico based on their tan (!).
So even if it was a fun day-trip, I don't think I would have liked to stay in Playa del Carmen because it's too busy for me. However, for people looking to have a good time and enjoy the nightlife, it is a great place to go and has a fun atmosphere. Its wide variety of stores also make it a good destination for those looking for souvenirs, but you have to be good at bargaining because the prices are fairly high. But I did get a really nice beach bag for one of my friends!Related to:
- School Holidays
A unique experience - Visit to a Mayan village
On the way back from the ruins of Coba, our bus stopped at the little Mayan village of Coba. We first enjoyed a scrumptious traditional meal prepared with a delicious blend of spices (not too spicy, but "muy rica"!), and then we were invited to visit a few homes. As soon as the children in the village spotted our tour bus they came running towards us as they knew we had some goodies to hand out - our guide had warned us not to give money as they don't want to create a habit of mendicity, but everything else was fine. Some people had brought pens, erasers and note books, while others had brought the products given out at the hotel (soaps, shampoos, cereal boxes, etc.). I have to admit that taking stuff from our fancy resort and giving it to these kids kind of made us feel like modern-day Robin Hoods!
After many smiles and gracias, the adults then invited us to visit their palapas, which are little huts with a roof made of palm tree leaves. Although there are bigger houses in the village, some Mayan families still live in palapas. It was sometimes hard to believe that these palapas were actual houses, but when you spotted the TV in the corner (they seem to be pretty keen on watching "tele-novelas", or soap operas) or the little stereo, it helped you realize that families do live in these rather simple conditions. One abuela had a lot of fun handing out food to her visitors and watching them cough as they swallowed her rather spicy concoction! So needless to say, this short visit was punctuated by many laughs, and both visitors and hosts seemed to have a really good time!Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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