When you stay in Cancun, it seems almost mandatory to check out some ancient ruins while you’re there. The most popular is Chichen Itza which is 200 kilometres inland. But also popular though not as well known is the coastal Mayan city of Tulum. It is right along the coast 128 kilometres from Cancun.
Tulum was a walled city and a seaport, a major trading hub for the Mayan civilization with a population of around 1000-1600 people. It thrived between the 13th and 15th centuries but was decimated by diseases brought in by the Spanish. By the end of the 16th century it was completely abandoned.
Major restoration work began in and continued throughout the 20th century. It is one of the best-preserved Mayan excavations, though considerably smaller than Chichen Itza.
Tour buses leave Cancun daily for Tulum and we took one of these excursions. Onsite, a guide gives you a running commentary on the various different structures. While you can explore in your own, we found our guide very knowledgable and helpful.
There are many structures on the site. The major ones include El Castillo, the castle, as well as several temples. The Temple of the Wind commands an excellent view of the sparkling blue Caribbean waters.
The Temple of the Frescoes stands in front of El Castillo, a modest structure by comparison.
One of the things that sets Tulum apart from Chichen Itza is its location. It sits on a 12 meter limestone bluff overlooking the sea. Near El Castillo are steps leading down to a beautiful beach. If you’re planning a visit, be sure to bring your swimsuit!
We did not bring swimsuits as we did not know about the beach. But we did take off our shoes and socks and waded through the surf. There is also good snorkeling in the area.
Tulum is a site steeped in history with a majestic setting. Definitely worth checking out on your Cancun vacation.
The iconic image of Cabo San Lucas is the famous arch, El Arco, a rocky outcrop on the tip of the peninsula not far from the town of Cabo San Lucas. But Cabo is more than just the town and the rock formations. A plethora of large resort hotels dot the coastline between that town and the town of San José del Cabo. And, of course, there are lots of golf courses and a national park near by.
Our first visit to Cabo was to the town. It was the first port of call on a cruise we took in 2007. Although there were excursions available, we opted to wander around on our own. We were surprised to see heavily armed soldiers on duty on the docks.
Cabo is a pretty little town and we stopped at a place called Margarita Villa for the largest Margaritas we had ever seen.
Our second trip to Cabo was in 2013 when we spent a week at an all-inclusive resort about half-way between the two towns. The Dreams Resort, like many resorts along the strip, has fabulous amenities – a large swimming pool with a swim-up bar, several fine restaurants, and entertainment.
Sandy beaches spanned the front of the resort and off in either direction past many other resorts. Every morning we would start our day with a walk along the beach for an hour or so. The ocean here is a deep blue and the surf is quite fierce. There are warnings to be careful of undertows and riptides. Swimming is at your own risk.
One time we were walking along talking and maybe closer than we thought because a large wave crashed and pounded up to where we were. The water swirled around our feet and Janis lost her footing. As she fell, her new hat flew off. I quickly grabbed the hat and was surprised to see her sliding down the sand flat on her back away from me into the sea.
I followed her out and as the wave settled she struggled to her feet and I grabbed her hand and we raced back up the sand out of reach of the next wave. It was a bit of a scare and she lost her glasses in the process. But hey, I saved the hat!
One day we took the bus into the town of San José del Cabo. It’s a picturesque village with a large church and a central plaza. We wandered around and visited a few shops but there is not a lot to do there.
The resort often had entertainment and one evening show featured acrobats twirling batons of fire as well as a lot of dancers on the beach.
Of course, a lot of time was spent just lounging by the pool reading, or going for a swim. Who wouldn’t want to take a dip when the pool has a swim-up bar!
Later in the week we booked a sunset sailing excursion in town. We took the bus to the city and boarded the boat, a large sailboat. This was a terrific adventure, the surf, the wind, the sail flapping in the breeze.
The ship took us past the famous El Arco and along the way we saw a narrow strip of sand between two imposing cliffs. The beach, we were told, led to another beach on the other side. The beach on this side was called Lover’s Beach. It is safe to swim here as this is the sheltered side.
The other side is called Divorce Beach. Here you are exposed to the open sea and the surf is unpredictable and dangerous. Rogue waves, strong undertows and riptides have claimed lives here. Swimming is not recommended. When we returned home I found a few stories on the Internet of drownings and narrow escapes.
We were served a tasty meal aboard and then we sailed into the sunset. A gorgeous sight. We enjoyed this sailing adventure a lot.
And while we had a great week what with the sea and surf, the swim-up bar at the pool, the fabulous restaurants, and the sailing adventure, we had an unexpected surprise on our last day there.
Dreams Resort is part of a sea turtle rehabilitation program. Five species of sea turtles lay eggs on the beaches of Cabo every June. Some are protected and sheltered until they hatch and return to the sea, but many of the eggs are gathered and taken to safe hatching grounds. When the hatchlings are large enough, they are returned to the sea.
On our last day there, the resort announce that they would be having a turtle release in the evening just before sunset. Everyone eagerly gathered on the beach to watch.
Hundreds of little sea turtles were placed on the sand and they crawled eagerly out to the sea. As they got closer, the surf pulled some in, and also washed some back up onto the beach. People were eager to help the little critters make it back to their home. It was quite a sight to see.
After a week in Cabo we flew back home and had another adventure, an emergency landing in San Francisco as one of the engines on the plane failed. So we got home a day late, but very happy to have spent a week in fabulous Cabo San Lucas.
Be sure to check out the additional photo gallery for more pics and vids. Either click on the link or if you are in the main page, scroll on through.
Here are some additional photos of our Cabo adventure.
We’ll leave you with another video of the turtle release. In it we see a couple of waves washing the turtles out to sea, but then one large wave, instead of carrying all the remaining turtles out, pushes a number of them back up the beach. There is a bit of chaos and then the staff tell us we can pick up and carry the turtles back to the water. The video ends with me picking up a turtle and putting it back down closer to the water. The sun had set so the video is a bit grainy.