For years, I’ve been spending Christmas in the Mayan Riviera, but have never had the opportunity to visit Tulum. Finally, my sister and I took a tour of the Tulum ruins and beach area. My sister’s been studying architecture and was very interested in seeing the ruins herself, and I was intrigued in the site’s unique history, positioned on the Caribbean sea and its discovery in the early 20th century.
The tour operator picked us up from our hotel to make the one hour trek from Playa del Carmen to the Tulum archeological site. Sadly, we had to pick up a family at another hotel, which slowed down the process. The highway is very straight and busy, so next time, I would opt to charter a van for my family, rent a car or take a public bus to save time and have more time to explore the ruins. Our guide, Walter, was incredible. His mother is indigenous Mayan and he spoke Mayan. I really enjoyed listening to his family’s history, his perception of other indigenous groups in Mexico and the education system in Yucatan. My only regret is not going on the French tour to have it led by him! Our other tour guide was a bit rushed and our group was huge, so again, I would have opted for a private or self-guided tour to be able to explore the site in depth.
Tulum was an astronomical site, and served as a calendar. Openings in the buildings would indicate the equinox, and the two months in between the solstice by the position of the sun. Tulum itself means “stone wall city” and the site is bordered by a wall on three sides, the only side without a wall is a cliff that faces out to the water. After our brief 30 minute tour, we had about 30 minutes to explore, take pictures and walk back to the van. This was not enough time at all, we spent at least 10 minutes taking photos of the cliffside and had no time to explore. The walk back to parking was a solid 15 minutes and my sister and I are quick walkers, so make sure to give yourself enough time. When I come back (because I definitely will), I will pack a light picnic and spend some time exploring all the sites, reading the information boards and taking more photos. I would also suggest to come earlier in the morning before the tour buses come, or during the off season. It was pretty busy, so nearly all of our shots had people in the background, taking away from the majesty of the destination.
For the trip, I wore a printed dress from H&M (similar printed dress here), jewelry c/o Foxy Jewelry, a leather bag from Mexico (similar bag here), gladiator sandals from Athens (similar sandals here), Miu Miu glitter sunglasses, and a watch c/o Daniel Wellington, get 15% off with code DW Natalie.
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I accessorized with my mexican leather purse and my Daniel Wellington Classy Winchester watch. I love the sporty feel of the band, and the fun colours that add some pop to my arm party. The fabric band is surprisingly durable and is very comfortable during activities, exercise and in the hot climate. I also like the updated face design with the rhinestones to mark the hours!
It was incredibly windy at the site, keep this in mind for family photos because all of mine with my sister were ruined with crazy hair! The cool breeze is welcome though, as it was a scorching hot day!
After finishing at the ruins, we made our way back to the van and took some pictures with a 12 pound iguana named Calimar. He was so huge, he was like a baby dragon. To cool off after our heated jungle walk, you could buy popsicles or cold coconuts, and even Starbucks. We were running late, so sadly no popsicle and frapp stops for us! Our tour then took us to the Playa Pescadores beach club. Food and drinks were very reasonable and we had a few tables of reserved seating. I enjoyed the gorgeous pristine turquoise waters and white sand at the Tulum beach. My hotel in Playa del Carmen was plagued with the sargasso seaweed so it was a welcome change! A quick bottle of Corona later, we headed back into the air-conditioned van and I enjoyed a chat with Walter as well as a quick snooze (which my sister documented on Snapchat) and got back to the hotel by 3 pm.
I would definitely recommend going on a tour to Tulum if you’re visiting the area for the first time. I loved chatting with our guide and visiting the beach club, and for $60USD per person, it was a fair deal. However, if you’re more adventurous or going with a bigger group, it might be more economical to take a bus or taxi and pay the $6USD entrance fee to Tulum and go on a self-guided tour, or purchase an audio guide. I only wish we had more free time on our tour to take in the magnificent site and capture more of the picturesque ruins by the sea… all the more reason to come back soon.