- There’s plenty of nice cenotes in the surroundings.
- Staying in Tulum pueblo is cheaper and better only if you have a car.
- It’s very very touristic, hence quite packed and way more expensive.
We slept at the Xunaan Appart Hotel which was great. New furnitures and equipment with kitchen, clean, good location with a swimming pool.
🚲 Getting there
We drove 2h30 from Bacalar on good roads without issues.
We stayed four nights and five days and felt that was good, specially since we did scuba diving.
We didn’t got time to checkout the Tulum Ruins but it looked pretty cool.
Beach day 🏝
On our first day, we wanted to chill, specially after moving around so often, so we went at the beach to drink cocktails and do nothing. We parked our car in front of La Mezzanine, paid 150MXN for the whole day, and went to get some food and drinks.
Post food-coma and a bit tipsy, we went for a bath, and took a walk on the long beach, from Las Palmas up to the Tulum Ruins, passing by Paraiso Beach. The beach were all connected, full of bars, long chairs and Instagram spots, making it the perfect spot to chill. We took the opportunity to take some sun, nap, browse and do beach stuff.
NOTE: If you have a car, don’t take it and use a cab/collectivo to the beach (frequent and cheap). This way you can drink without needing to drive afterwards, wise eh!
Cenote express tour 🚙
Being short in time and cenote-fanatic, we decided to score a DIY express cenote tour before the afternoon scuba-diving session (see below). While there was plenty of those around Tulum, we decided to go to the most famous one at the east of the city for proximity reasons. Overall, they were all fantastic, unique and worth to visit. Sadly they were also way more expensive than in the rest of the country. Here’s what we saw:
- Cenote Car-Wash - 100MXN/person: Wide open and relaxing with blue water and jump platform, ideal for lunch since less crowded than the others.
- Gran Cenote - 200MXN/person: The most expensive and impressive, featuring two holes connected by a canal, turtles and bats. Lockers and gear for rent.
- Cenote Calavera - 100MXN/person: Three small openings, perfect to jump in the water underneath. Less things to see but nice for a fun and quick bath.
We’re not sure if they’re the best spots, but they were clearly popular and very close to each others facilitating an express tour.
Cenote scuba-diving 🏊
Intially, we planned to graduate our Advanced Open Water course in Tulum by doing three dives in the cenotes since it was a good price. Having caught a bad cold few days before, we sadly had to cancel and opted for one dive instead in the famous Dos Ojos Cenote.
After speaking with some dive centers in the city, we went with La Calypso since they were the cheapest and the most honest (rate available online). While they didn’t had a shop, they were very responsive by mail and super professional so we highly recommend them. We managed to book the afternoon dive the day before and paid 100$/dive/person which is way cheaper than any other center in Tulum.
On the dive day, we made our way to their local at 2PM. We tried out the equipment and jumped in their car up to the cenote. After a quick briefing on site, we started the dive at 3PM which lasted for 50 minutes. That was simply incredible.
We went into tunnels to see massive underwater stalagmites and stalactites, fossils, crazy rocks formations and little light openings. During the whole dive, we simply followed a line showing the directions, and watched the surroundings. We actually stayed between 2 to 6 meters deep so it was very shallow but still pitch black at some points. We always were in big spaces so no claustrophobia issues. It was our first dive in fresh water and in a cave, and seriously one of the best we did.
Post dive, we took some time to enjoy the cenotes with some jumps in the water, before heading back to the center to bring back the material where we arrived at 17:30PM, quite a day!
Sian Ka’an day trip 🦎
After a day of diving, we walked in the city center, searching for an agency to do a tour in the Sian Ka’an Reserve. After talking with few of those, we understood two tours were possible:
- Half day tour from Muyil: Quick boat tour in the mangroves
- Full day from Tulum: Expensive but going up to Punta Allen, featuring snorkelling, turtles, manatee and lunch.
While the second was more expensive, it felt way more appealing, so we booked it for 2800MXN/person. Bloody pricy in our opinion but that the best we managed to get. We also struggled to find availability since it was a very popular one, so we would advise to book in advance. We did it with Tony (Whatsapp: +5219841187307) via the Sian Ka’an Deluxe agency and would highly recommend.
The next day, we got picked-up by a mini-van at 8AM in front of our hotel. We arrived at the agency where we paid in cash and got splitted into other 12 persons minivans. We then drove for 40 minutes up to the visitor center where we climbed-up the watch tower to get a first view of the park.
From there, we boarded 6 persons boat on the lagoon and rode for one hour up to Punta Allen where we spotted dolphins. It was very cold so warm clothes would have been great. We then jumped out the boat and did a little walk in the lovely village, passing by school, hospital and beach, to then take a quick average buffet-style lunch.
Post-food, we boarded another boat on the beach and did a snorkelling session of 30 minutes, a crytal-blue water bath and a beautiful turtle spotting session. About 90 minutes after, we carried-on in the boat, passed Punta Allen up to the harbour. We changed again boat, and rode up to the bridge where we spotted a napping crocodile. After what we boarded back the minivan for an hour drive back to Tulum where we arrived at 16:30PM.
Overall, it was quite a long day and very cold for snorkelling, but with a beautiful landscape and some wildlife to spot. It clearly wasn’t the highlight of the trip and we both found it overpriced and overrated. However, that’s the only way to get a preview of the reserve in a day. We both felt sleeping one night in Punta Allen would have been better.
- La Malquerida: Good prices and various food in the city center.
- La Mezzanine: Lovely but a bit pricy thai restaurant on the beach.