Sometimes you go to a place and are completely blown away by what you just did not expect. Imagine going out (if you are male) and getting funky with some hot looking girl all night long, as she brushes up against you suggestively you see nothing but green lights and drop a few quid in the johnny machine in anticipation of what is to come. You pretty much float in a ‘the beach is that way’ pose to the hotel, open the door and throw your arms down straight at the ground, almost instantly a choir sings out and your clothes are ripped off and smoke comes from the floor. The curtains pull themselves on, the door shuts itself and you are seconds away from a home run. Just as you slip your hand where you’ve ached to all evening you sense something a bit suspicious. In looking you notice something that no woman should have, bang, like a lightening bolt you are shot to the floor in a blind sided move you just did not expect.
Well, Tulum is a bit like that, but in a good way. I simply don’t have the words for just how gorgeous the ancient city is. Easily one of the most beautiful places we have ever been, definitely the best backdrop to any historical site in the world and most definitely the most spectacular Mayan ruin in the whole of Mexico.
Tours will gladly shaft the life out of you for a trip to Tulum, some bloke with cheese stuck to his chin will happily bull shit you around the ruins and then rob you of $60 US. None of it is needed, Tulum is arguably the easiest place to get to in the whole peninsula and also one of the cheapest. Though not to stay over, prices are higher than both Playa and Cancun and are mostly eco hotels which switch of the electricity in the name of saving the planet, but more likely in saving the pesos on the leccy bill if you ask me.
I have explained before, there is one main road that runs between Cancun and Tulum and funnily enough is called the Cancun – Tulum highway. If you don’t know where it is, just walk west from whatever beach you are on and you will hit it. Or, hop in a taxi and ask to be dropped at the collectivo to Tulum Ruinas. There are 3 different Tulums, all near enough to each other, but for the sake of hassle ask for ruinas. Prices on the ADO bus from Playa are $60 pesos for an adult, $30 pesos for a child. Prices in a collectivo are $40 per seat. If you can be arsed negotiating on kids prices you can shave a few pesos off each one, but given 40 pesos is like 3 dollars for a 45 minute journey its a bit of a piss take to argue about such a ridiculously cheap price.
Collectivos are mini buses that bomb around town and between main towns for a fixed fee. Minimum is always 20 pesos from one town to the next, with each 15 minutes being about 10 pesos. They are air conditioned, clean and driven by mad men who in a past life were formula one drivers and who now are trying to relive the dream of speed.
You will get ditched at the wrong side of the freeway and if you look over the road you will see where you need to dodge traffic at 100kmh to get to. Once there you will be assured you need a guide, that you need to get a ticket at one of the twenty or so ‘official’ information booths which are wooden shacks where someone has scrawled ‘official’ in cheap gloss paint. Ignore them all and keep walking down the road. After about 5 minutes someone will approach you and tell you its an hour walk, but guess what – He owns a tractor that pulls shady looking carriages for $2 US. Ignore him too and plod on down the road. After about 10 minutes you will come to the entrance. Now, it became apparent to me later that you could very easily get into Tulum without paying, take a right at the ticket office down a road where people will likely be walking towards you. They have just left Tulum at an unmanned exit. However, if like me you didn’t know that, or that you don’t mind paying then grab your ticket for 59 pesos and head in. Kids under 12 are free so Charlie lost a year and it might be worth pointing out that each Sunday all Mexicans are free across all Yucatan ruins so avoid Sundays if you prefer things a little quieter and come early if you prefer places to yourself. Tours from the north rock up for about 10am, so get there early if you want some real peace.
If you could pick up the ruins of Tulum and place them in a field somewhere you’d probably not bother going. They are small, not really anything special and you can’t climb on anything. But place those ruins on the edge of a cliff jutting out into the Caribbean Sea, furnish the ground with soft white sand, and cover the rocks with deep green palm trees, huge iguanas and then add a backdrop of an emerald green sea and feel satisfied that you might just have created the most spectacularly placed historic site on earth, and thats just what the Mayans have done. Walking along the coastline i wondered if they could have found a better spot and i doubt it. It’s like the ruins blend naturally into a backdrop made for them. Like the world has grown around them, it is simply beautiful. every corner you turn, every time you peer over the cliff edge, it blew us away. But beyond the stunning ruins is (in our opinion) the best beach in Mexico. It is like walking on flour, furnished with huge sea battered rocks crawling with Iguanas, palm trees and all the foot of an ancient city. Where else in the world can you make such a concoction of beauty? The best thing is, the beach wasn’t too busy when we were there. It turns out, tour companies keen for a quick turn around neglect to tell their tourists that there is the best beach in the country accessed directly from the ruins via a steep wooden staircase that clings to the cliff face. Its equally good and bad because you can see all those on tours stood at the top looking down on the beach with sadness, considering going in in their underwear, but short on time. But it’s great because the vast majority of those at Tulum are on tours so it frees up the beach for those of us who have all the time in the world.
All three kids agreed it was their favourite beach. The water was crystal clear and had waves which they would jump in all day long. I was sat in the tiny bit of shade by the cliff trying to avoid man eating dragons watching my kids love life. Some Mexican woman kept talking to me, I fake laughed at something she said and she must have thought I spoke the language. In the end she shut up and must have thought I was ignorant as the conversation from my way was simple smiles and canned laughter.
But really that was our time in Tulum, we explored, walked for miles, found gorgeous beaches, roamed stunning ruins, got chased by iguanas, and laughed about it every step of the way. Quite simply our best day in Mexico, and probably one of the best days of our lives.