Tulum / February 2014

atureIMG_3229IMG_2712IMG_3242IMG_3241IMG_3237IMG_0503IMG_3244IMG_3238IMG_3232IMG_3247

Sian Ka’an

WHAT ?

Sian Ka’an is a biosphere reserve. It was established in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Part of the reserve is on land and part is in the Caribbean Sea, including a section of coral reef.

WHERE ?

Sian Ka’an is located in the municipality of Tulum. You can visit the reserve by booking a tour from Playa del Carmen or directly at Tulum town. Usually you leave Playa or Tulum in the morning, it takes around 2 hours to get there by 4×4, then you eat in a basic restaurant, and get on a boat to visit the reserve. Coming back they stopped at the same town so you can eat or buy typical stones, bracelets or collars.

HOW MUCH ?

The cost is around 120 us$ for the entire day, but there is cheaper offers (like if you go there by yourself, by car or by bike.)

Tulum

WHAT ?

Tulum is located on the Caribbean coast of the state, 45min driving from Playa del Carmen. Tulum town is near the site of the archaeological ruins of Tulum. The archaeological site can be accessed from the entrance of Tulum or from the beach.

Tulum was the first Mayan city discovered by the Spanish conquerors in the 16th Century and the only walled Mayan city known to exist on the seashore. Renowned for its millenary frescos and unique buildings, this mysterious city was a major port-of-call along the Mayan maritime trade routes.

You will love Tulum for his archaeological ruins, amazing cenotes, his magical town or beautiful eco-chic hotels along the beach!

In Tulum town you can find grocery stores, boutiques, bicycle rentals, gyms, tour operators, banks, ATMs, internet cafes, and various other commercial stores.

The Hotel zone, 2 kms from Tulum town, is the Tulum part along the beach. Most of hotels there are cabañas built in the traditional Maya style with thatched palm roofs though there are some more high end hotels as well. There are many new restaurants, particularly on the jungle side of the road, some of which have received significant praise in the international press. There are also a few beach clubs and public beaches. Inexpensive cabañas with hammocks are still available, but are rare. Most accommodations remain rustic as electricity in the “hotel zone” is either non-existent or is generated on site.

WHERE ?

Tulum is 45 minutes driving from Playa del Carmen.

You can drive there, or take a collectivo (2us$) that will bring you to Tulum town. From there you can enjoy the beautiful town of Tulum, or take a taxi to get to the Hotel Zone (on the beach side) (5us$).

HOW MUCH ?

The ruins is around 8 us$ per entrance. The collectivo is around 5 us$ round-trip. The taxi fom Tulum town to the beach (hotel zone) is around 10 us$ round-trip.

Airport to Playa del Carmen

You just arrived to Cancun’s airport. But now, how to get to Playa del Carmen?

Between Taxi, Shared Taxi, Bus, Shuttle Bus or Rental Car, you are spoiled for choice!

Personally, i recommend to take the ADO buses.

Let me explain you the different options.

  • Bus ADO ( 180 pesos / 9 us$ ) ( 75 minutes ) : Bus ADO leaves the airport every 30 minutes in high season, every 45 minutes to an hour during low season. Prices are fixed so you don’t have to negotiate.
  • Taxi ( 800 pesos / 40 us$ ) ( 50 minutes ) ( 1 to 3 people ) : There is plenty of taxis waiting for you at the airport. You should negotiate prices before getting into the taxi to avoid them to charge you more than they should.
  • Shared Taxi ( 1400 pesos / 70 us$ ) ( 60 minutes ) ( 4 to 8 people ) : Shared taxis are a great option if you are 3 people with a lot of luggages, or if you are 4 to 8 people. You can also pick this option if you want to pay a little bit less than regular taxi.
  • Rental Car ( from 1000 pesos/day // from 50 us$/day ) : Plenty of choices to rent a car from : Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Thrifty, Goldcar, Europcar, Cancun Car, Cancun Limo, Mex, Tipoa, Ace or Budget.
  • Most All Inclusive Hotels offers free transport from the airport to Playa del Carmen

Bacalar Lagoon

WHAT ?

Bacalar and his seven shades of blue lagoon is just a magic town, perfect to snorkeling, swim or dive. The meaning in Mayan of the name Bacalar is “surrounded by reeds”.

You can leave Playa del Carmen in the morning and come back at the end of the afternoon, or you can spend a night there to enjoy 2 full days there.

Bacalar is the perfect place for families or friends, as you have restaurants, kids playground, kayak renting, 1h30 boat trip to visit the lagoon and others magic places around, the San Felipe Fort and museum is just breathtaking ( 30min visit ), the Bacalar Rapids with his colors from green to turquoise, you should visit Bacalar before it get too touristy!

WHERE ?

Bacalar is located 4 hours south of Playa del Carmen.

To get there you can go by car or take the bus ADO ( 7 to 15 us$ depending on the departure hour ).

HOW MUCH ?

The round-trip with ADO is between 15 and 30 us$ depending on the departure time.

Chichen Itza

WHAT ?

The Maya name Chichen Itza means : at the mouth of the well of the Itza (The Itza are Guatemalan people of Maya affiliation).

The impressive Chichen Itza archaeological site, chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, is without a doubt a must-see of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Clasico Tour is the perfect alternative to get to know this millennial Mayan city in a unique duet of nature and culture with the quality, safety and service our visitors are accustomed to.

While the rest of the world was immersed in the Middles Ages, the Maya built this majestic city, primary political center of the Mayan region. Its icon, “El Castillo“, a pyramid dedicated to the god Kukulcan, is a testimony of this important culture’s impressive mathematical and astronomical precision, which still baffles visitors today.

The 91 steps on each side of “El Castillo” and 1 on the altar add up 365 steps, the number of days in a year. The round structure of the Observatory is a surprising and unusual shape in Mayan architecture.

Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities. The buildings of Chichen Itza are grouped in a series of architectonic sets, the three best known of these complexes are the Great North Platform (which includes the monuments of El Castillo, Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court), The Osario Group (which includes the pyramid of the same name as well as the Temple of Xtoloc) and the Central Group (which includes the Caracol, Las Monjas, and Akab Dzib).

It was one of this touristic site that you HAVE TO visit if you spend your holidays in the Riviera Maya!

WHERE ?

Chichen Itza is located 2,5 hours driving from Playa del Carmen, or you can choose to go with the bus ADO (4 hours to go, same to come back) or by Tours that will stop a few hours at Chichen Itza and then an hour in Valladoid (founded by Francisco de Montejo “The Nephew”, this colonial town is one of the oldest in Latin America. The beautiful face of colonial architecture, in its stately old mansions and plazas is also found the warmth of its people and captivating places worth to visit).

HOW MUCH ?

The ADO is around 30 us$ round-trip, but a lot of tours offers you to visit Chichen Itza, prices varies a lot from one to another (100 us$ & up).

Mahahual

WHAT ?

Mahahual (also called Majahual) is the paradise on earth. You can enjoy the beautiful beach, snorkeling, swim with dolphins, or try the water park (Lost Mayan Kingdom). It is the perfect place to go with your friends or family, far from mass tourism and huge hotels.

WHERE ?

Mahahual is 3h30 driving from Playa del Carmen (286km), and 4h in bus ADO (7us$ one way).

HOW MUCH ?

Mahahual is free to visit, only activities have an extra cost. To get there in ADO you will pay around 15 us$ round-trip.