We opted to go south towards Tulum for the day to check-out the Tulum ruins – we had such a great time at Ek Balam that we were up for another set of ruins. It was an entertaining drive down the last 2 kms to the parking area – as everyone was vying for our parking business. We were able to park quite close – with only a short walk (300 metres). We lined up for the entrance fee – and realized that we got there at the same time that about 6 tour buses also showed up! In true Mexican style – they only had 1 ticket window open, and they only took cash. We pooled it all together quickly and by the time we got our tickets and walked to the entrance, we were moving at the speed of turtles through the main entrance. Here is a quick shot of the crazy amount of people getting in: https://youtube.com/shorts/FmVTqTtWkq4
It was a neat place, but NOTHING like the Ek Balam ruins and the quantity of people was insane! It was tough to get a good look due to the people (and all the Instagram posers). The location is directly above the ocean – that was cool. Luckily I was able to get pictures that strategically look like there is basically no one there!
It was so hot though we had to stop at the beach to cool off for a few hours before we headed back home. After 5 days in our new house, we pretty much had the lay of the land figured out and a new routine that we were liking. It usually involved an activity in water, consumption of anything in a taco format, a drink of anything that usually included tequila and a game of some sort. One of our in-depth nightly conversations involved the fact that you could turn anything into a taco – like chicken Caesar salad…in a taco or spaghetti in a taco …(this does sound like a spaghetti theory, but the actual is 18+ so I opted not to write it)
Spent a day in downtown Playa del Carmen tourist zone near the water – where there is like 22 blocks of nicnac shops and overpriced restaurants and bars (unless you can find a decent happy hour place with two margarita’s for 150 pesos)! We went off the main strip a block or so, and found a chicken meal place and took it down to the beach to eat with our hands. Aside from many taqueria’s, there are also a lot of takeout chicken stops – includes a cooked spatchcock style size of chicken (full, half, quarter, etc) a bag of cooked rice, a bag of really hot sauce, bag of onions and peppers and sometimes you also get a bag of potatoes. This meal varies in price depending on the size of the chicken. Our full size family meal was 250 pesos (just under $20 – for 6 people).
We had talked quite a bit about a snorkel boat in Puerto Morelos. It’s the second biggest reef in the world (behind the great barrier). Packed up the car and headed down there only to discover the wind was insanely strong that morning which meant the snorkel boats wouldn’t go out – even if they did, the snorkeling would suck.
So we headed down the road into Cancun for the day…first stop was Costco! Mostly to check it out and look for anything unique…not much. Then went to find a beach or two to hangout for the day. Finding a public beach in the Cancun area isn’t as easy as you would think – all the resorts have tied up the beach access to the public so there is really only 2 public accesses and luckily we found them both!
The day after we attempted Puerto Morelos one more time and we had success! The wind was low, the water was clear so we were good to go! The snorkel boat system is a neat setup. There are “snorkel salesmen” at the dock – and once you decide you want to go snorkeling, you sign the waiver pay your monies ($20 / person) and they assign you to a boat. They rotate through the 8 boats in the queue so that all the boats get a fair chance at making money and taking people out. We went out on the 3 Brothers boat with another family from Argentina. The whole trips was about 2 hours and they took you to two spots on the reef. Aside from fishies, we did see a stingray and I think Devon also saw a turtle. We celebrated at the beach bar with margarita’s, ceviche, burritos and burgers!
Our last big adventure in the area was at Xel-ha! Basically an all-inclusive natural outdoor waterpark. We arrived promptly at opening (8:30) and spent all day in the water (water slides, river float, snorkel, cliff jumping, cenote swim, etc). When we weren’t in the water, we were eating and drinking…after all it was an all-inclusive. The food was actually pretty good – started with breakfast at 9:30, lunch at 1 and dinner at 5. Spending a day here was $99 US/person. There are also other activities you can “add on” like swimming with dolphins, overhead bike zip line that we didn’t want to do. At the end of the day, Deanne described this place as “Mexican Disney”! If you have never been, you must put it on the “must do list” for next time.
And just like that….12 days with family and friends came to an end. They all got on a plane and Todd and I headed an hour south to Tulum for the next 8 days.