Tulum, Playa del Carmen & Akumal – the Caribbean coast

Saturday, 26th July
We arrived around 10pm at night into Tulum bus station and after securing a taxi arrived at out hotel – ‘Pacha Tulum’ not long after. It seems as though the owners had left for the day and left the night watchmen in charge who seemingly wasn’t aware of our arrival. Anyhow, we managed to get a key and made it to bed bu midnight, getting a much needed good nights rest. We are now in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

Sunday, 27th July
The hotel we are staying in whilst in Tulum is a small, family run place with only six rooms and a restaurant out the front. Not quite what we had in Vallalodid with a pool out the front of our room but I don’t think we’ll be getting that again anytime soon. The town of Tulum is on the site of an old Maya walled city which served as a major port. There are ruins of the old city on 12 metre tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayas; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. With that said, we didn’t come here to see the ruins, having had our fill from Monte Alban and Chichen Itza. I am sure they are quite spectaular but we have come to Tulum not for the town either but for the beach and to swim in the Caribbean Sea. We are here for one complete day and intend on being lazy. After a morning of eating breakfast and sorting out our onward travel (we decided to head North to Playa del Carmen and then South again to Belize) we caught a taxi to the beach. After just a five minute journey we were greeted with a picture postcard sight of fine white sands leading up to a clear blue ocean. We duly found a spot in the shade of a palm tree, stripped off and jumped in the sea. It was amazing – warm, clear and calm. Just the thing to cool off and relax. We stayed for around four hours, having some lunch here also, then caught a taxi back to our hotel to rest up and get our skin out of the sun. We had dinner at the restaurant next door to our hotel. For the first in Mexico I had fajitas and Kirsty had some fish. It was nice not to have to walk too far for dinner. Tulum does have an historic centre, much like other towns and cities in Mexico but to be honest we were too exhausted to leave the confines of our little strip. Dinner was nice, Kirsty had another couple of margaritas and we turned in for the night, watching a movie in bed, in the comfort of our air-conditioned room. The next day we would leave for Playa del Carmen up the coast and some more beach action.


My view of Paraiso Beach, Tulum


Enjoying the Caribbean Sea off Tulum

Monday, 28th July
We spent the morning at our hotel with check-out not until 12pm. We find that hotels and hostels here are very generous with their check-out times. Midday is the earliest we have had. It’s nice not to rush around to have breakfast and pack and also not to get up too early. We had breakfast at our hotel again and then with bags packed made for the ADO bus station to find the next bus heading North to Playa del Carmen.

We arrived in Playa del Carmen around 1pm and walked the 10 minutes to our hostel, ‘Hostel Vive Vida’ fully laden. After checking in we hunted down some lunch. We first had a look down the ‘Fifth Avenue’ (Quinta Avendia) by the beach but being the main drag with all the tourist shops and restaurants it was overpriced so we found a place down a side road offering good food for cheap prices. I had a shrimp broth and Kirsty some roast pork, with rice and refried-beans of course. We then grabbed our beach gear from the hostel and paid an exorbitant price for two sun loungers under an umbrella on the beach. The beach here is not as nice as Tulum, with rubbish in the sand, big coloured buoys marking out swimming areas and jet -skis going up and down. Playa del Carmen is clearly a major tourist destination and has all the trappings that goes along with that, they call this the Maya Rivera and you can see why. We stayed for a couple of hours reading and having a swim before heading back to our hostel to book some accomodation for Belize. With that out of the way we went out for dinner, along the ‘Quinta Avendia’ and found a place that did vegetables, a rarity in Mexico we have found. Kirsty was very excited to find broccoli on her plate!

Playa del Carmen

The view from our sun loungers at Playa del Carmen beach, not the best!

Playa del Carmen

Quinta Avendia at night

Tuesday, 29th July
After a night of almost no sleep due to one of the hottest hostel rooms we have stayed in we got up and packed. It was like sleeping in ‘the hole’ in one of those prison films, dripping in sweat. Not sure why it was so hot in our room as outside it wasn’t too bad. Anyway, we checked out and left our bags at reception for the day as our bus to Belize City didn’t leave until 11:40pm so we had the whole day to entertain ourselves. We had breakfast down the road of quesadillas and juice then found a collectivo bus heading to Akumal. We were told by a girl in the hostel that this beach is much nicer than Playa del Carmen and were keen to check it out. We arrived at Akumal beach around 2pm, found a shady spot underneath a palm tree and staked our claim with our towels. Akumal is a nice beach for relaxing on with the warm blue ocean just a short step away to cool off. There is also snorkelling here and apparently turtles to see but with snorkels costing US$10 to rent each we opted for reading and swimming to help our budget. We stayed for a few hours, in no hurry with our bus leaving so late for Belize.


Our view on Akumal beach


Akumal beach

On the way back to Playa del Carmen we shared a taxi with another couple and got dropped off just outside a roast chicken place I had spotted the other day and was keen to try. ‘Asadero del Pollo’ sells you either half or whole chickens that have been roasted on a massive grill with a chimney looming high into the sky. With your chicken you get tortillas, pickled onion, salsa and rice. We shared a half chicken as a rather large pre-dinner snack and it was delicious. We went back to the hostel for a much needed shower and clean up before dinner back out on fifth avenue for some more vegetables. We feel like we haven’t eaten nearly enough in the Americas so we get them while we can! After killing a couple of hours along this tourist trap strip we grabbed our bags from the hostel and made for the bus station looking forward to what Belize has in store for us. Next stop Belize!

Playa del Carmen

The best roast chicken in town, the only question is 1/2 or whole?

Playa del Carmen

A plate of roast chicken at the ‘Asadero del Pollo’



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