OOPS…This one didn’t get published, better late than never.
On the 25th of January 2013, we hired a car and decided to go to Tulum and Playa del Carmen on the Mayan Riveria via the ruins of Ek Balam and Rio Lagartos.
Tip#1. When hiring a car in Mexico make sure you are fully insured and clear on your excess and what it covers. You may also want to go with the bigger more well known companies.
It’s been 11 months since I’ve driven. Driving on the right and in the left side of the car, opposite to Australian driving felt a little weird at first…Even though i have driven before in the USA. To my surprise, the roads were in good shape and I would recommend hiring a car. As a family of four it was cheaper to hire a car than to go with buses. It also gave us the freedom to travel, take our time and see what we liked.
Our first stop was Rio Lagartos, a quiet little fishing town by the ocean known for it’s mangroves and flamingos. Upon arriving we realized it was slow season as many tour guides were sitting around waiting for tourist to come along. Since we had already seen flamingos in the Celestun we found a shaded pier and had some lunch and enjoyed the peaceful waters and nature around us. If we had known that Rio Lagartos was less touristy and more local and natural we would have liked to see the flamingos there instead. It was also cheaper and we’d recommend it.
We drove to San Felipe another small colorful fishing town but didn’t stay and headed to Tizimin where we would stay the night before heading to Ek Balam the following day.
We searched for some accommodation and found hotel 49; a great place! For the four of us it was cheaper to be at this hotel than a hostel and had all the modern trimmings. Very nice. We settled in and decided to go for a walk and grab some food. We were told to go to Ricardo’s by several locals and OMG!! We ordered the tacos! Honestly the best Mexican food we’ve had in Mexico!! The flavors were delicious and we wanted to go back for more!! Afterwards we went for a walk around the town to burn off our tacos…LOL
The next morning we headed off to EK Balam!! I was really excited! This was a ruin I wanted to see. It was definitely less traveled than Chichen Itza but worth seeing.
The cost was $98MXP for adult and $6MXP for children. What was really beautiful about Ek Balam was it’s naturalness. This sacred site represented the jaguar. The name Ek Balam means the black or star jaguar. There something about this site i felt was very powerful and significant , more so than Chichen Itza. You were able to climb the ruins to the top and view the terrain from above. Although parts were restored (as you can see in the photos) it is a magical place.
We headed towards Valladolid and took a German hitchhiker there with us before heading in the direction of Tulum. The city of Valledolid had a beautiful main plaza that reminded me of Merida. It seems many main squares were designed in a similar way.
From Valledolid we went to Tulum via route 278 and avoided the toll road and it only took an hour and a half. I must say, although there are speed limits, it seems everyone in Mexico is doing their own speed.
We arrived in Tulum and it had the essence of a beach town. Very local, lots of one way streets that drive you crazy… One wrong turn and you have to circle the perimeter again. Finally we found Mama’s Home hostel. That night we went for dinner at Camello Jr. A local seafood place where we had grilled and crumbed fish that was amazing! Served with salsa, beans, rice, and salad. Yum!!
After dinner we went for a beautiful drive along coast and saw the many resorts and restaurants that line the beach.
The next morning we really wanted to go for a swim so we woke up early and went to the beach. Although we went to Progresso beach in Merida, it was nothing like this. We really appreciated the salt water on our skin and being back in the ocean.
Later after having breakfast we drove to Playa del Carmen to look for accommodation and check out the scene. Shortly after arriving we caught a glimpse of the ocean and we could not resist the temptation of this gorgeous, blue, blissful water. So we threw on our swimmers and jumped into the Atlantic. Yes, it was touristy amongst all the resorts but it was too beautiful to refuse. This place is surely alive with tourists and mainly influenced by Americans with Canadian, amongst europeans. Much of the pricing is in us dollars and for the wealthy.
After checking for accommodation for future endeavors, we decided to have some dinner and walk down the main street – 5th ave. Most restaurants were fairly pricey but their is something for everyones taste and budget. we managed to have some pizza.
We went back to Tulum that night and the following morning we went back to Playa del Carmen to sort out accommodation that we weren’t successful in doing the day before.
On our last day we headed out to Paradise Beach next to the ruins of Tulum. We jumped into the crystal, clear water and it was divine! We didn’t want to get out. There was a great sense of freedom! The waves were perfect, just big enough to carry you but still so relaxing. No doubt the waters on the Caribbean side are beautiful and we couldn’t wait to come back and go for a swim.
Next Post in a few days…Yes, I have been a little slack.
Until the next post…Are you living a fulfilled life?
Lot of Love
Faris and Family