Swimming With Turtles

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Monday, February 13, 2012

Finally, the perfect balance is struck! A nice little town that still feels Mexican yet simply accommodates tourists. There's more going on here than simply tourism, people are just going about their business.

Ironically we were warmly welcomed to Casa del Sol and to Mexico (after 5 months and on our way out?!) by Pablo, a friendly guy of questionable sobriety. Here we made a few insta-buddies- Aaron and Ginger from Oregon, Maria and Tommy from Norway, Lisa and Jason from Minnesota.

This town has a rather unfortunate layout unless of course you're a taxi driver! The nearest beach is about 3.5 km walk from the town centre or a 50 peso taxi ride. The buddies opted for a taxi. Being thrifty and always needing exercising, the Lees opted to hire bikes from the hostel instead. We'll see you guys there, eventually. 

Perhaps a trivial question but where are the bloody brakes on this thing? My first time on a fixed cog bike was rather... erm, challenging. Being a sickly child I only learned to ride a bike as an adult. After a quick lesson with Mr Lee in the backstreets we were finally off to our first stop. "STOP" being the operative word!

The Grand Cenote? I beg to differ! At first glance there's not much grand about it yet. Yes, it's pretty and the water is clear but we'd seen much better ones in Cuzama. If it's your first and only cenote, it's worth doing. And with snorkels this time we could see some of what lies below the surface. But to see what really makes this cenote grand is to dive through the underground river, apparently one of the largest in the world. How cool would that be! Getting a diving licence has moved up the priority list.

Next stop - Playa Paraiso. Paradise by name, paradise by nature. An expensive paradise at 70 pesos for a mojito! Nonetheless it's a great little spot to enjoy the beach. The sea was the perfect temperature and the waves gentle enough to bounce around without getting slam-dunked. A lovely end to the day but first... the long ride back home! Final stop - convenience store for tequila and Squirt, a local grapefruit soda/chaser that always gets a giggle. A game of Asshole, anyone?

For our next day trip we opted for public transport, local style. Collectivos to the rescue! 15 pesos later we were at the ruins. Or were we? After a 15 minute walk along a highway of touts disguised as "free info" or "ticket sales" we finally reached the official ticket office. Or rather the looong queue that leads to the ticket office. It moved steadily though and soon we were ready to enter, but so were a couple hundred others. Busloads from Cancun!
What did we think of the ruins? Meh. It has 3 things going for it. Location. Location. Location. It's right on the beach and in our view that's what really distinguishes it. There's a crazy amount of iguanas everywhere, reincarnated Mayans apparently. Nuf said!

Another 15 pesos on the collectivo got us to Akumal. Be careful not to get overcharged (see aside!). Akumal is a lesser known attraction in these parts recommended to us by our Italian buddies back in Sayulita. And now I'm sharing it with you, so remember you heard it here first:

Highly recommended! Do it! Ignore the offers of boat trips to snorkeling spots! Just take a leisurely swim from the beach to the buoys and voila! You'll see stingrays, loads of colourful fish and many turtles. You'll see them feeding on the seabed, playing around with flat-headed fish that hitch a ride on their backs and if you stay really still, they'll swim right up to you! 
Awesome snorkelling! For free!

We thoroughly enjoyed Tulum but the highlight was not the ruins, in fact, it wasn't even in the town of Tulum. Akumal is where it's at! 
Aside: Good idea - asking for the price before boarding. Bad idea - assuming the price in your question. Easy money as far as the driver's concerned and all he needed to say was "yes".  We realised that the lighter your skin, the more likely you are to be overcharged in Tulum. I guess we always suspected this happens in touristy places but now we had concrete evidence. 30 vs 50 pesos for a quarter grilled chicken! Traveller's tip 1. hand over the exact amount you believe it to be, say "grassy ass" and walk away! 2. if you're not sure what the right amount is, hang back and check what the locals are paying.

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Rebecca Pohl on

Yet another place that must go on my list...swimming with turtles sounds...

A W E S O M E ! ! ! !


thelees on

Happy to oblige! ;) And thanks for reading! x

Aaron on

Hey there! It was so great to meet you folks, we miss you and the warm beaches dearly. Hope our paths cross again, happy travels!

thelees on

Thxxx, Aaron and Ginger, it was a pleasure meeting you guys too! Hasta Portland!

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