Mexico - Isla Mujeres and Tulum

Trip Start Jan 03, 2013
Trip End Jul 21, 2013

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Where I stayed
Poc Na, Casa Del Sol

Flag of Mexico  , Quintana Roo,
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our journey started with a stop in Balham to stay with Zoe and we enjoyed her fab hospitality (thanks Sis!). We headed to Gatwick early the morning after for our flight to Mexico. The flight went smoothly although there were a lot of people getting pissed up on the flight (drank the plane dry!) and one Russian man sitting close to us got abusive with his wife and was escorted off the plane when we arrived in Mexico.

The first stop was an island off the coast of Cancun called Isla Mujeres. After driving through the hotels and commercialism of Cancun on the way to the ferry port, we knew we had made the right choice of place to start for a few days relaxing and scuba diving.

We woke up really early the next day, thanks to the jet lag, but used the opportunity to explore some of the nearby beaches. It was beautiful - white sand, turquoise waters and no-one about, so we went for a swim. We hired bikes for the day and cycled round the 8km by 1km island, stopping off at various points including a nice beach bar and Punta Sur, the southern most point of the island were Sean enjoyed a swim. We were pretty tired and had sore bums by the end of the day so had a chilled evening before an early night as we were up early for diving the next day.

We took the boat out to the dive sites with Marco, our dive instructor, for 2 dives. On the first dive, Sean completed most of his skills perfectly and was well on his way to completing his open water PADI course. The second dive was awesome and we saw a hawksbill turtle, a big sting ray, and lots of beautiful reef fish. Sean finished off his skills ok, and effectively completed the course! After cleaning the kit, we went to a local fishermens bar that Marco had recommended. One Sol turned into 5 as we met a nice Aussie couple and chatted to them for the afternoon and went for a sunset drink at a cool beach bar with swings.

The next day there was only the two of us on the diving trip which was great, so we set off with Marco for another 2 dives. We enjoyed 2 more great dives and saw some sting rays, lobster, massive parrot fish and lots of cool disco fish. Sean took the Go Pro camera out and really enjoyed the diving, feeling more confident. After heading back, Sean's PADI certification was sorted and we left the island after a great few days. Isla mujeres is a laid back island with mainstream tourism encroaching on it more and more. The way of life still remains with its beautiful beaches and colourful houses, but we both wondered for how much longer.

Tulum was the next stop, and we made our way there via the ferry and collectivos (shared minibuses). Most of the buzz in Tulum is on the main highway, with the beaches, ruins and cenotes (limestone sinkholes with fresh water in them) about 5km away.

To explore the area, we rented bikes from the hostel for the day, and tried to make our way to the Mayan ruins in Tulum. We took a wrong turn and ended up going a longer way round so only got there at 11am. Unfortunately there were hoards of American tourists as we arrived, but after a 25 minute queue we were in. We soon realised why the ruins are so popular, with well preserved mayan bulidings from when it was an important trade port. Impressive. We then spent an hour on a beautiful local beach and had a typical mexican lunch with a cold sol. Perfect!

We cycled to go and see one of the local cenotes and jumped in to enjoy a swim in the cool blue clear water. There were some small fish in there and also bats. Towards the end of our swim, 3 divers appeared from the depths, with their torches shining, which was cool!

We both woke up the next day feeling a little queasy, probably the street food we had for dinner the night before. We took the 9am bus from Tulum to chichen itza which took 3 hours. As you entered the site, the first thing you saw was the massive iconic el castillo (castle) building, which was really stunning. We spent the day wandering around the green site, in and out of the jungle taking in all the different ruins, including the plaza of a thousand columns, the ball court (yes, they played a game similar to basketball in a big stadium in Mayan times!) and observatory. We then headed back to Tulum for our last night in Mexico. Tomorrow we were up early to go to Belize!

Although we have really enjoyed our time in the Yucutan in Mexico, it is difficult to get the authentic Mexican experience as it is so set up for mass tourism with resorts, hotels and lots of people!! You can see why, because it is beautiful with iconic beaches and fascinating Mayan ruins, but we are looking forward to getting to Belize and starting to see the real Central America.
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Karen aldrin on

Hi looking forward to what you see in Belize. we went there on a cruise and went to the Mayan ruins. Have a funny memory of a mad lone Brazilian woman from our cruise, hanging from the rope posing. We heard of a boat trip to a monkey sanctuary we wanted to do, but didn't have time.

Howellsey on

Looks far, so good anyway! Love the photo of EL Castillo!

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