During a recent cruise on Royal Caribbeans Mariner of the Seas one of my ports was Cozumel Mexico. Although I have visited Cozumel a number of times this time did I something different. I visited one of the most popular attractions at this port. The Tulum ancient ruins and cenote.
Tulum is located about 50 minutes south of Playa Del Carman on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mayans occupied this area from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. It was a walled city and there are still remanence of that wall along with the buildings including the Castillo where royalty would have lived. The site is located right on the ocean so was used for shipping and commerce but the coast was protected by one of the largest coral reefs in the world so invaders were less likely to come in by sea. Because of the reef, the Mayans had to use flat boats to get to open ocean for trips down to Central and South America for trade. Quite an interesting civilization.
The tour started by meeting in the theater on the ship and then moving off of the ship to the pier. A lot of the excursion do meet on the ship just so you can make sure the group arrives and its easier to get instruction. We met a representative who took us just a few steps away from the pier to the private ferry for our group to get to the mainland at Playa Del Carman. The ferry is about 45 minutes and not for the faint of stomach. Fortunately i did not have any issues with sea sickness but saw several that did as its a little rough going over, much rougher coming back, This is just the nature of a ferry on for the most part, open ocean.
After arriving in Playa Del Carman, we met our tour guides Diego and Carols. They walked us through the streets to a staging area full of busses where we boarded our motorcoach for about a 50 minute ride to Tulum. It really was not a bad ride, the guides gave us information about Mexico, the Mayans and other tribes in Mexico. A lot of great information.
Once we arrived at Tulum, our guide walked us in and it was a bit of a hike to get to the ruins. Once you are there you see this vast open area with these buildings scattered about with the Castillo (castle( right on the cliff overlooking the Caribbean. What an amazing site that was with the ocean crashing against the rocks as the backdrop to these ancient structures. Carols gave us information about the culture, how they used their resources and who discovered the area. He showed us where on June 21st every year, the sun shines directly through one of the buildings and how some of the buildings have faces. Now you are unable to walk into the buildings anymore as people have defaced them but you can walk around the site with lots to see. Make sure you walk over and get a good picture on the cliff.
Prior to arriving at Tulum, Diego and Carols took our orders for tacos to pick up from Slushys after the tour in Tulum. For $12 you got 3 tacos, chips and a drink, water, beer or a margarita. We did not have time to sit at the restaurant so we had to eat on the bus. My sister said her fish tacos were good and my chicken was pretty good as well. If they offer this, get it, you will get hungry.
After Tulum, we boarded out motorcoach for about a 20 minute ride to the Tortuga Cenotes. A cenote is an underground river. Here we had the chance to swim in one of the open areas of the cenote and in one of the caves. The water in the open cenote was cold but clean, clear and beautiful. Fortunately I did have my mask so I was able to dive down a little but I just did not have my case to take my phone in with me for pictures.
After about 20 or so minutes there, we moved over to the cave where we entered single file. You had people behind you so no getting used to the water, you just went for it. The water was even colder there but you could not think about that because it was such an amazing place. I believe this was the first time I had ever swam in a cave. We moved with the current through the cave for about 50 or 60 yards and cane out on the other side. so it was not long but amazing to be surrounded by all the limestone.
The park had showers, bathrooms and changing areas so you can change out of wet clothes and not have to ride back wet. I would say its a good idea because you do spend another 50 minutes on an air conditioned motorcoach.
If you decide to take this tour or something simular, I have some suggestions to make the trip great. First, book the excursion direct with the cruise line. You are traveling pretty far from the ship and getting back requires vehicle and ferry so you do not want to miss the ship.
Second, comfortable walking shoes are a must. We walked almost 14,000 steps that day and without good shoes, my feet would have been killing me. Plus you are on some very uneven terrain when you are at Tulum and the cenote.
Third, make sure you have water shoes for the cenotes. You walk a bit on rock and gravel plus the rocks in the water can be slippery. I saw several people walking barefoot through the gravel going between the cenotes and I know they were hurting.
Lastly, take some snacks. As I mentioned, we did get tacos but not every tour may offer food. Take some wrapped snacks, nothing open off the ship, just to tide you over. Its a very long day as we did meet in the theater at 8 AM and did not get back on the ship until almost 5:30 PM.
This was a fantastic tour and would highly recommend it. But as I mentioned, take an excursion through the cruise line to ensure you do not miss the ship.
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I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.