Traveling To Tulum
A week into living in Cozumel and we’re already taking trips to the mainland! We spent the weekend in Tulum visiting our friends Will and Cate of The Life Nomadic before they move to Mexico City.
All we own for transportation right now is feet, so how did we get to Tulum from Cozumel?
Easily, because Mexico has excellent public transportation.
There are three ferry companies running between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel all day every day, a quick 45 minute ride. We took the first available departure with Mexico Waterjet and I was surprised to find it was 196p-about 30 pesos more per person than the other two companies. Rookie mistake assuming that they were all the same price but I won’t make it again.
June was excited to sit out in the open air, but Rory is more timid and wanted to sit inside. The windows inside were frosted to keep out the sun, which also means you can’t see out, and when the boat moves we found the sensation very unpleasant. Both Rory and I did not like it, but luckily there were funny music videos on the flat screens to distract us. I think being able to see the water makes a big difference in how comfortable I am, so next time I’ll sit outside.
From there we dodged through shouting vendors to the Colectivo pick up on Calle 2 Norte between 15 and 20 (“calle” means street, “norte” is north, and they tell you the block by giving the cross streets, 15 and 20.)
The Colectivos are vans that run from Playa to Tulum and back and will also stop anywhere in between. For gringos it is 40 pesos each way(about $2.50 USD)-locals always get a discount.
The other option is the ADO bus for about 62 pesos one way (about $4 USD.) There is a big station just across the park on the corner of 5th Ave and Benito Juarez, about two blocks from the ferry. Personally I like the flexibility of the Collectivo; there is no schedule, they are constantly running and you just get on and off where you like. Both options are safe, comfortable and air conditioned. ADO has room for more luggage but if you’re traveling light you can take your pick.
We were only staying overnight so our bags were light. Each of us carried a Camelbak backpack and packed only a change of clothes, snorkel and mask, and a few toiletries. The kids each packed a stuffed animal. Sometimes I feel like wearing backpacks marks us as outsiders, but we are gringos, and the benefit of being able to carry 3 liters of water on my back outweighs any fashion statement I care about. Rory especially gets overheated and drinks a lot of water, and the cool bladder full of icy water against her back helps cool her off.
On a side note the Colectivo is not for the nervous traveler. I’ve seen tourists white knuckled and bug-eyed at the fast driving and sudden stops to pick up or drop off, but this is Mexico. You just have to roll with it. If it makes you feel better my girls were bored after 10 minutes and Rory fell asleep halfway down highway 307, so how scary can it be?
In Tulum we took a taxi to Will and Cate’s beautiful apartment and had a great time meeting all their neighbors at the Going Away potluck. It was a surprise luxury getaway compared to our rustic house-a king sized bed! A stove that lights itself! Hot water! With serious water pressure! They told us about the trade offs, though, like the internet and electricity in Tulum go off and on randomly and have driven them crazy. We had considered Tulum as a back-up destination if Cozumel didn’t work out, but I guess our infrastructure on the island really is better (despite our recent lack of internet.)
There were a lot of kids for June and Rory to play with and a good sized pool in the center of everything. We could watch them swim while enjoying the breeze on the balcony. Having other adults to hang out with and talk with was good, too, and we are reconsidering what we want in a long-term rental ourselves after experiencing this kind of community.
We expected to connect with our friends who are also digital nomads and travelers, but having everyone there be some sort of a traveler was a treat similar to our first experience at TBEX. Being around people who “get it” and working together to help each other adapt is something that’s been missing in person for us, both before the move and after. We have support and interaction with travelers online, but that’s not the same as having it in your backyard. We’ve been operating on this assumption that we needed to live in Mexico only, but meeting families from California, Canada and Australia made me realize that they are all equally exotic to us.
We slept in, let the kids swim and play some more, and visited Grand Cenote late in the afternoon. Too late really, it was so crowded it was overwhelming and an hour after we arrived they started chasing people out, preparing to close. My waterproof camera had a dead battery so I’d like to go back some other time, but we’ll get there when they open at 8am instead of near closing!
A taxi back to town to catch the Colectivo again, and both kids fell asleep this time. In Playa del Carmen we checked the ferry schedule to make sure they didn’t stop early on Sundays, then spent a few hours getting the girls hair braided and watching the free entertainment that popped up everywhere.
Mayan dancers on 5th Avenue under the sculpture took turns with the Voladores flying backward from their 80-ft high pole. There’s a quick video on my instagram. We got to watch over and over while we waited and I loved that the girls were fascinated. They didn’t even notice the playground in the middle of it all for the first hour or so.
Finally the girls were ready to “go home” on the ferry. We bought the cheaper tickets this time, 135 pesos on Barcos Caribe, and bobbed across the water. I thought the girls might fall asleep, but the ferry is still too new and exciting. Rory wasn’t even scared this time-when we’d hit a big wave she’d look nervous, but she said “Whee! It’s fun!”
We walked home in the cool dark to our little casita, were greeted enthusiastically by our sweet gata and fell into bed, exhausted from our travels. Hasta mañana, amigos.
Share with me: what did you do over the weekend? What adventure did you have?