A visit to Tulum is not complete without a visit to the Tulum ruins!!! And it is easy to do since it is right on the coast, either at the north end of the beach lane if staying on the beach, or a short bit from Tulum town. We took a taxi from town after getting up early and getting some coffee first. Taxis drop off at the beginning of a long road (500 meters) ending at the entrance and ticket booth. There is supposed to be a little train that you can pay for if you don’t feel like the walk but we didn’t see it working at the time we were there. If you bike to the ruins make sure to bring along a lock.
Definitely get there when they open at 8am to beat the crowds, especially the tours. Chances are there will already be a bit of a line, the later you come, the longer the line. Also, come later and you may have a less than stellar experience as you vie for the perfect photo and are crushed by slow moving crowds.
We were lucky since I just turned 60 last year and am a resident of Mexico I have my INAPAM card which got me in for free!!! Otherwise it is a very reasonable 75pesos (about $4). And Mexico residents/citizens get in for free on Sundays. The ruins are open till 5pm. Then there are some after hours where you can pay 225pesos. Of course bring pesos. No other currency is accepted and there are no ATM’s.
If you are like me and have to pee all the time make sure you hit the banos before going into the site. There are none away from the entrance and it is a bit of a walk back.
You can get a guided tour or explore on your own, which is what we decided to do. Apparently there is a small guide book you can pick up at the ticket booth but they weren’t available when we were there so we just struck out and hoped for the best. Guided tours just aren’t for me. I find they go too slow, are crowded and all of the information just goes over my head and I can’t remember it anyway. There are not many signs though with explanations, so that is a trade off.
Although not the largest ruins, we found them to be very well taken care of and absolutely stunning. But there is barely any shade!! So if coming bring water, wear a hat, comfortable walking shoes and put on loads of sunscreen. I would bring mosquito repellent too although the entire time we have been on the Maya Riviera we have been blessed not to have been bitten too much. Do not expect to be able to climb the ruins. You can no longer do so.
There is a beautiful beach below the “castle” but it was roped off when we were there so the lovely dip we were looking forward to and wore our suits for just wasn’t to be. There is still sargasum along the beach and no indication as to when it will be gone.
After we finished seeing the site (about an hour and a half) we headed out of the south exit and down the beach lane and crossed over to the beach (Paradiso) where we walked along looking for a place to have a nice breakfast and then walking a bit more to where the rocks started. There we headed back to the road where we easily grabbed a taxi to take us back to our hotel.
To while away another day, when we were staying in town, we decided to take off on a day trip to Coba Ruins, less than an hour from Tulum. We made arrangements through Secret Garden for a taxi that would take us to the ruins and two cenotes near Coba. This was an expensive venture!!! (about $100USD) And I would say think about just using the ADO bus to get to Coba and maybe give these cenotes a miss.
Very little has been done to make the site pretty. And only part of it has been excavated. That being said, I liked Tulum a bit more than Coba, although I am glad we made it out here. I think this is where the “take the bus” idea comes most into play. We spent less than 90 minutes at the site before heading off to the cenotes, and the whole trip took about 5 hours. So it was quite a bit of money for a short time.
Because we set off from town relatively early we opted to have breakfast at a restaurant, Hotel Maya, in Coba town, which was very reasonable with good food. We found out when getting up early in Tulum that there is not a lot open at that time of day.
One of the big things about Coba Ruins that is different from Tulum is that you can climb the main pyramid, resulting in a beautiful view of the surrounding forest/jungle. It is 150 steep steps though and climbing up requires some stamina, while coming down requires some balance. Like many others, we scooted down on our butts to make sure we weren’t going to have to be rushed to a hospital. I believe there are plans to eventually close the pyramid to climbers to curtail the damage that is being done.
There are also a few ball courts on the site which are very cool.
A visit to the Coba ruins requires a bit of walking, but if that isn’t your thing there are bikes and pedicabs you can hire. However, don’t feel like you must commit to the pedicabs the whole time. If you walk out to the big pyramid you can easily hire one for your return. Be careful when walking along the paths though since the pedicab drivers seem to be racing between themselves a lot of the time.
Entrance to Coba Ruins is also 75pesos, and once again I was able to get in for free. You are able to hire guides. One thing we consistently noticed throughout the Yucatan is the huge amount of French tourists. They were everywhere!!! And there seemed to be a lot of French speaking guides.
We finished the day with visits to two cenotes, Multum-Ha and Choo-Ha, about 15 minutes away. There are actually three of them clustered together, but I don’t think you need to go to all three. Both of these are underground cenotes and were interesting looking and refreshing after the long walk through the ruins.
Not being big “let’s swim for hours” people and since these cenotes are underground cavernous spaces there is not much do do but swim. Choo-Ha had the stalactites and Multum-Ha had a large wooden platform to jump off of. The combination cenotes that have a mix of underground and outdoor space appeal to us more.
Use the showers to wash off at before you enter the cenotes, no sunscreen or repellent allowed. Both have changing and bathroom facilities and each was 100pesos per person to visit. Considering we spent about 10 minutes at each that is quite pricey.
We enjoyed our visits to both of these ruins and are going to Uxmal while we are in Merida. So stay tuned for our account of those.