Mexico (Yucatan)


We left Playa del Carmen a little after mid-day for the short trip by public bus to Tulum. Tulum is famous for its archaeological site containing the ruins of an old Mayan Port that flourished from the 13th to 15th century.  That would wait for the morning, for today was the 31st of December and it was time to celebrate the end of 2017.

Our intrepid group went out to dinner in the centre of the town and it appeared that all of Tulum, and all the summer tourists had the same idea – it was a festive atmosphere. An hour before midnight, the fair Nello and I took our leave, headed back to the hotel and took a bottle of bubbly up to the roof-top terrace, where we danced out the old year beneath a full moon as the warm Caribbean breeze wafted by.  Sometimes the smallest things leave the largest memories. We didn’t quite get to dance in the New Year, as others from the party joined us.

Last sunset of 2017 - Tulum

After a short sleep-in, we were up and ready to head off to visit the Mayan ruins, only a few minutes away by local taxi. It was a good idea, as the numbers of people was way down – lots of people were sleeping in after the big New Year’s Eve celebrations. We entered the site via a low gate in the city wall (this is the only walled Mayan site), to wander past some of the many types of building – houses, palaces and temples, set on the cliff-tops above the Caribbean Sea.

Casa del Cenote

Steps to the temple ruins

Coatis at play

Temple of the Descending God

Part of the Great Palace

Below the main palace, a set of steps led down to a white sand beach - it was a good place to have our first swim in the extra salty aqua coloured waters of the Caribbean. As we left the site, the entry queue was stretched out for over a hundred metres – Tulum was waking up and we were glad that we had chosen to visit the site early.

The exotic setting of the Mayan ruins in Tulum

Caribbean beach below Tulum ruins

El Castillo

Iguana basking on a rock wall

After leaving the Mayan ruins, we had a late lunch and then hailed a local taxi to head to the Grand Cenote, the closest of the Yucatan sinkholes to Tulum. Our time in the cenote near Playa del Carmen had whet our appetite for the cool, clear, fresh water of these sinkholes. The Grand Cenote, however, was very different to our previous experience where we had swum alone in the jungle. Much larger and more like a swimming pool, we paid our entry fees to join a large number of other tourists in the manicured surrounds.

Looking down into the sink hole

But then, what swimming pool lies beneath a limestone overhang, has stalactites growing into the water and has a water-filled cave separating the two open pools. After the saltiness of the ocean, the crystal clear fresh water of the cenote was very refreshing. It was a great way to end a very pleasant day in Tulum.

In the Grand cenote

The clear blue cenote water

Limestone formations from beneath the water

Find the tortoise

Swimming through a short limestone cave