On my recent trip to Mexico I officially discovered a type of paradise I had never encountered before at the beach town of Tulum, about an hour and a half away from Cancun. Though growing up in Australia beach towns and sunshine have always surrounded me, I never thought I would completely fall in love with another destination on the water, as I have normally been more drawn towards mountainous scenery because it differs so much to what I am used to. However, I do not think that a place has stolen my heart as quickly as Tulum did.
With amazing food, markets, and colours, I couldn’t imagine a better way to begin my too short tropical trip with my sister. By our first walk along the white sandy beach, and the taste of one too many margaritas still on our lips; I was completely hooked by this small town on the Caribbean Sea. With crystal clear waters right on our doorstep, that never seemed to go cold, even in the early hours of the morning just before the sun showcased some of the most breathtaking sun rises I have ever seen, it was hard to resist its allure and diving in at any chance that we got.
However, with so much to see in and around Tulum, we had to drag ourselves away from the water to experience everything this amazing place has to offer. From ancient ruins to sink holes, known as cenotes, there is so much adventure to entertain even the wildest of spirits. Though with so many hotels and restaurants scattered along the beach if you’re after a more relaxed vacation it isn’t hard to spend your time eating amazing food, drinking tasty drinks, and sun-baking, all while taking in the natural beauty of the Mexican coast.
Although I loved my time swimming amongst the fish and would have no trouble spending endless days wandering the beach and exploring the shore, my absolute favourite part of Tulum was the cenotes. The Quintana Roo area of Mexico is filled with these natural sinkholes that offer snorkelling and diving opportunities, though also just provide incredible swimming experiences. I got the chance to explore four cenotes on my visit, and it definitely was not enough! I loved my time swimming amongst the turtles, fish, and caves, and to be encompassed by such outstanding scenery, it was truly one of the most spectacular adventures of my life so far. On this trip the four cenotes we visited were Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Nicte Ha, Gran Cenote, and Cenote Ik Kil. My favourite being Nicte Ha, as it is a little less known compared to the others, and so we were able to swim and explore it by ourselves just like it was our own private paradise. With lily pads covering the water and with a fern gully atmosphere, it was easily the most magical place we visited.
While other cenotes were more crowded they all still offered differing aspects that would appeal to everyone. Cenote Dos Ojos is most famous for its incredible diving adventures that travel from one cave to another, and Cenote Ik Kil, being probably the most famous cenote in Mexico, lies beneath an astonishing waterfall, that has the power to make you feel completely refreshed even in the Mexican heat.
The Tulum ruins offer a drier day trip compared to the cenotes. Although there is a breath taking beach at the base of the ruins, we unfortunately did not get that memo, so went without swimming costumes, and missed out on taking a dip in the water. However, even without visiting the beach, there is so much to discover at the top of the cliff where the Mayan ruins lie. For those interested in history, there is an endless amount of compelling facts to uncover amid the crumbling buildings of the Mayan society.
Back along the road to the beach, there are infinite brightly coloured stalls and cafes that offer hammocks and dresses, and some of the freshest produce I’ve ever had. Make sure to stop in to the restaurant Posada Margherita for some of the most delicious foods, and the best views over the water. Riding bikes is the most common way of transportation in this area, and can be rented from most hotels, though it is possible to walk to many places, if along the main road.
Although Tulum is often overlooked as tourists opt to travel to the better-known resorts of Cancun, I urge you to appreciate for yourself! Tulum really is a type of heaven, which could not be any more beautiful than what it already is. With plans already forming in my mind of future trips, I cannot wait to again sink my feet into the sand and water of this paradise.