Western Caribbean Stories and Tips

Ancient Tulum: Part 1

Beautiful Play del Carmen Photo, Western Caribbean, Caribbean

One of the most popular shore excursions in Cozumel is to the ancient city of Tulum. Tulum is actually not in Cozumel but in the smaller city of Playa Del Carmen, which is about 30 minutes away. The ship stops near Playa de Carmen. The ships are too big to pull into the port, so you get on a small boat, which will take you to the pier. Once you arrive at the pier, you will take a brief walk though this very lovely town to your tour bus. From here you will board your very luxurious tour bus, and then the trip starts. Soda, beer, and snacks are provided. You will have a bilingual interpreter onboard (I don’t know why since everyone we met spoke English) who will give you a history lesson along the way. Our guide was Armando. He was quite chatty, entertaining, and very knowledgeable not only about Tulum but this lovely city as well. It is about a 45-minute drive to Tulum. You will stop at a very large gift shop for a break and refreshments before you go into Tulum. This is a great place to stock up on water if you forgot yours or have gone through what you brought. You can get soda, water, candy, and pretty much the same stuff you get at a convenience store. But you can pick up some wonderful souvenirs and beautiful jewelry. I purchased a beautiful sterling silver cross necklace here for $12. This is also a great place in case you need a potty break.

Once you board the bus, you drive about another 10 minutes and are then at Tulum. There is someone who stays on the bus in case you make a big purchase in the gift store, so you can leave it on the bus and your item will be safe. You will then walk through a small shopping plaza. Here you have two options. You can walk the 800 feet to the entrance or you can take a tram for $1.50. Due to my asthma, we took the tram. It was a very nice ride up and beats the heck out of walking. Your guide will meet you at the front entrance, so just wait before you go on in. Your guide will take you in as a group. He or she will give you an overview of Tulum and a history lesson. They spend about 1 hour telling you about this wonderful city. Then you are given several hours to tour at your leisure. You will be told what time to be back at the bus, so make sure someone in your party has a watch. They do have photographers around who will take a nice souvenir photo for you.

Back at the shopping village, you will find several shops featuring some absolutely beautiful handmade crafts, everything from handmade masks, figurines, and blankets to T-shirts, collector’s spoons, and postcards. There is a Subway here in case you get hungry. They also have a convenience store stocked with sodas, snacks, beer, and souvenirs. Your tram ticket is good for the length of your stay. So if all the trampling around the ruins gets you hungry or you need a potty break, you can hop back on the tram and return. Do try to leave in time to stop by the shops and see some of their amazing craftsmanship. Again, everyone does speak English here and your U.S. dollars are gladly accepted.

Of the two most prominent ruins in Mexico, Chichen Itza (located near Cancun) may be more well known and photographed, but Tulum offers a something else. This city was built atop a cliff overlooking the beautiful ocean. You can climb down and enjoy the sand and take a dip into the cool turquoise waters. From here you are offered a breathtaking view of this amazing site.

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