A few weeks ago my husband and I traveled to Cancun Mexico for a little beach time and relaxation. To our surprise we found out on our arrival that the next few days were going to be very busy, it was Mexico’s Independence Holiday Day Weekend.
So the all-inclusive resort that we stayed at Dreams Tulum went from 50% occupied to 100% occupied within a manner of 1-day. Instead of spending our time on the beach relaxing under a cabana listening to the sounds of the ocean, it was a high energy rumba of music, jumping excitement of beach activities and non-stop beach cocktail waitresses scurrying from beach cabana to cabana.
After a day of watching all the activity around the beach and pool, we decided to take our rent a car and explore some of the area around Tulum for the next few days. Tulum is South of Cancun about 100 miles or so and usually not as crowded because of the distance. We spent the next 2-full days exploring Cenote’s around Tulum and a full day driving up to Chichen Itza,, consider one of the New Wonders of the World.
Our trip began with a drive down to Dreams Tulum about a 2-hour drive from the Cancun Airport. If you intend to rent a car in Mexico, then be aware that your credit card insurance and your personal car insurance may not cover you to the extent you would like to be covered in a foreign country. American Express, Visa, and Master Card may NOT cover car-insurance in Mexico, you should find out before you arrive. The car insurance that is offered to you from the car rental agency is excessive and expensive, it costs more per day than the daily car rental, but take it. The reality of it is, negotiate the best deal for the Mexican insurance and take it, it’s going to be cheaper in the long run. If you get into an accident or your car is stolen and you DON’T have their insurance, you have problems and it’s going to be very expensive to get out.
Ok back to Dreams Tulum, once we arrived at the Dreams Tulum our 4-night luxury stay began with a friendly greeting from the staff and reception at the lobby. The resort is located on a great stretch of white sandy beach that is walk able and the ocean tide is swim able for all ages.
Dreams Tulum is an all-inclusive resort that is caters to honeymooners, couples and families that want to relax in a large resort complex that can accommodate up to 800 people when full. The lobby is large and spacious with a nice bar, rooms are scattered around the property in 2-story structures with interior courtyards that resemble Spanish Architecture and design. Large courtyards and fountains are located in the middle of the walk ways. Rooms are hacienda style with colonial decoration spacious and nice with balcony and hammock, TV, Mini-bar, Room Safe and wireless internet access that is extra and not very reliable.
Dreams Tulum is right on the ocean, guests can take advantage of snorkeling, catamarans, windsurfing, kayaking and jumping on the ocean trampoline. One of the nice features about this resort hotel are the dining options with seven à la carte restaurants to choose from, Italian, French, Seaside Gill, Japanese / Sushi Restaurant Steak House and El Patio for Mexican fare and the World Café which is the buffet for breakfast and lunch plus 7 bars.
Built in 2000, the resort does a good job of entertaining, feeding and keeping the guest happy with good service and friendly staff. As with all-inclusive resorts the food, alcohol, entertainment and lodging are all included in the price of the stay.
The first night we tried the Italian restaurant, food and service was very good along with the Chilean House wine. Second night we ate at the French restaurant which also was very good but I think our favorite was the Steak House, it was a little smaller but the food was prepared very well. One of the things that make this resort stand out is service, the wait staff is very professional and dedicated to making your stay a memorable event. Make sure you bring some dollar bills for tipping after your meal.
Cenotes for Snorkeling
If you like to snorkel and have never snorkeled in a Cenote than I would recommend the following. In a 2-day period we snorkeled in 6 different Cenotes and found 2 that were worthwhile. The Yucatan peninsula was originally under the ocean and the region’s limestone foundation is fossilized coral beds and ocean floor. There are no above ground rivers in this area. All of the ground water sinks through the porous limestone and travels to the sea in underground rivers. Parts of the limestone weakened over time and collapsed, leaving sinkholes filled with water – a cenote (pronounced: seh-NO-tay). I’m sure there are many other Cenote in the region, but these we found are easy to find and safe, also they are not your typical tourist trap destination.
Located just outside of the town a few mile of Tulum on the highway going to Chichen Itaz is a sign and parking area Grand Cenote. Entrance fee was $10 U.S.D per person and if you don’t have your own snorkeling gear, you can rent it there. You walk in and climb down the steps into the large sinkhole area that is approximately 100 yards long and about 25 – 30 yards wide. There is a deck to drop your stuff before entering the water. Water is crystal clear cool and fresh and inviting. Many scuba divers enter these Cenotees and dive deep into the underground river caves. You will see many different rock formation in the water, there is not current and the cool water is refreshing.
Yal Kul Cenote
This Cenote is located in the Akamal area, 30-minute drive north of Tulum. As you drive into Akamal you follow the road about 2 or 3 miles to the dead end where Yal Kul is located. There is parking and an entrance fee of $20 u.s.d per person. They have snorkeling gear if you don’t have your own, extra cost. This particular Cenote is great, the fresh water flows gently to the ocean and you have a wonderful snorkeling experience of tropical fish and interesting rock formation in the water. You can easily spend the entire day here. Akamal is also know for great snorkeling, fun beach restaurants and scuba diving in the area.
On our transition day from Dreams Tulum to the Zoetry Hotel, we decided to drive up to Chichen Itza in our rental car. The drive to Chicen Itza is about 2-hours from Tulum, the 2 lane road is in good shape and the signage provides good direction for finding the ruins. We arrived at Chichen Itza around 1:00pm in the afternoon in the middle of the heat. The cost to enter is around $30 – $40 per person without a guide. You need comfortable walking shoes, lots of water and a hat and sun screen. To see it all you need 2 – 3 hours or more and if you “rent” a guide, plan on 3 hours plus. If you arrive late in the day like we did, you avoid all the masses of tour buses that arrive early in the morning and leave around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. By the time we finished walking and seeing all the Mayan runs, it was around 5:00pm and the place was deserted, with the exception of the vendors trying to sell anything to anyone. It’s worth seeing and the paths are marked, so it’s very easy to get around.
Chchen Itza is the capital of ancient Maya empire, its majestic building dates back to 435 and 455, and it is geographically located in the middle of spectacular natural environs in the Yucatan Peninsula. At this site declared as one of the 7 World Wonders, you can visit magnificent temples such as the Kukulcan Pyramid and the Ball Game as well as there are others that cannot be visited to avoid damages.
The Castle or Pyramid of Kukulcan is the most impressive temple in Chichen Itza renowned for the number of tombs found there and its endless 91 steps, as well as the impeccable architecture that stands out by a stone feathered serpent.