This is it. After 8 months of travelling through the Americas we finally made it to some beautiful beaches. And about bloody time.
Tulum was our first stop. If you’ve seen pictures of Tulum beach then you’ll know what we were expecting to find. Crystal clear blue water with white sand beaches. It was exactly what we got and much more. Playa del Carmen is the complete opposite with its bustling main strip full of bars and restaurants and dare I say, not as appealing beaches.
For us there was no comparison, we much preferred Tulum.
We were super excited to get to the beach in Tulum. There was just one problem, it was a pain to get to. Lonely Planet made it sound like it would be an easy collectivo ride away. Oh how wrong they were. After some frustrations we managed to get there but would need to use $4-5 taxis each way rather than a $1 collectivo. When we saw the beach all the travel irritations disappeared, it was stunning and worth the hassle. It was an amazing stretch of beach and even with the addition of some pesky seaweed it was still the best beach we’ve been to.
Playa del Carmen had beaches that were far easier to get to but after Tulum they just weren’t as enticing. The water was a bit murky and the beach didn’t have the same serene feeling as Tulum. In fact we only went to the beach for a dip in the sea once during our week long stay.
In addition we visited another beautiful beach just 15 minutes from Tulum, Xcacel beach. It was a quiet public beach with no infrastructure and had the added bonus of a small cenote just 5 minutes from the beach. This was my favourite.
So far we’d only visited underground cenotes in Valladolid. The best had yet to come. We visited 4 more, Gran Cenote, Casa, Jardin del Eden and Cristalino. Casa was very different from them all and was completely in the open and surrounded by mangroves. The resident crocodile resting on a bank gave us a bit of a fright. Cristalino was amazing for snorkeling and free diving with a underwater swim through, a small cave and lots of fish. Gran Cenote was very busy and for good reason. There were turtles, interesting rock formations and a fair few bats. Jardin del Eden just edged being our favourite. It had the biggest open space and a great ledge to throw yourself off.
As if Tulum didn’t have enough to offer they also had ruins in an amazing setting along the coast.
I gotta hand it to Playa del Carmen, they did have a great town with everything you could ever possibly want (with the tourist price tag). Bars were plentiful and met our favourite German couple for a few drinks and finally tried our first Mexican tequila. Tulum was a lot more low key and smaller.