Tulum, Akumal and Laguna Bacalar
Tulum is a very economical tourist option on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is also a place that has several interesting natural sites to visit. Its beaches are not the best as there are parts where you won’t find much sand around you and instead you will find firm rocks to lie on. However, you can walk around a bit trying to find a good spot and you will surely find white sand combined with that azure blue sea that lives in the Yucatan peninsula.
Throughout Tulum, you will see that there may be more bicycles than cars, as many people use them as a means of transportation.
Here you will find the Mayan ruins of Tulum. They have a special attraction because they are close to the sea. The mix of ruins, white sand and clear blue sea is incredible and makes this place postcard-perfect. These ruins are relatively small and can be visited in about 45 minutes. The buildings are not very pretty, but their proximity to the sea makes them unique. I wanted to arrive very early as, like Chichen Itza, this place gets crowded early in the morning.
Near Tulum, you will also find a place that I loved because I did something I had never done before in my life: swimming with turtles. There is a beach called Akumal about 30 minutes north of the city. When you get to the entrance you are met with a lot of people who tell you that you can’t go in the sea without a life jacket and protection but it’s all a lie, the only thing they want you to do is to pay for a tour that leaves a lot to be desired. This consists of taking you to the shore and showing you what you can do on your own and without protection because it is not dangerous. Many people snorkel in this area but there isn’t much to see. The main attraction is the turtles and the occasional rat poison. This place is worth a visit. Swimming with the patience they have and enjoying the flapping of their legs was one of those experiences that fill you up too much.
If you want to see cenotes you also have a “good” option. This is the cenote called Gran Cenote which is not as big as its name. It is a different cenote but not as flashy as others. They have a place in the cenote where they take care of the turtles and you can see them. We had the curious experience of seeing 2 turtles mating which was funny but also cultural. Like the Gran Cenote, there are also many more cenotes around Tulum but this was the one we heard the most about.
We stayed at the Sheck hostel and it was not a bad choice. However, we visited Mama’s home hostel and found the atmosphere and facilities to be very good. This hostel had been highly recommended to us.
Those are the 3 places I would recommend you to visit in Tulum. If you have any other recommendations leave them in the comments.
Our next destination was to be the ruins of Palenque, but before we got there we decided to stop at a place we had heard a lot about. This is the Bacalar Lagoon. It is a lagoon located very close to the border between Mexico and Belize that is simply breathtaking. Due to its chalky soil, you can see many shades of blue in the waters of the lagoon ranging from the lightest blue to the darkest blue you can imagine. Laguna Bacalar as such does not have much to offer, but if you are looking for peace and relaxation all day, this is perhaps the place to be. Many people take boat tours of the lagoon or go for a swim.
Most of the hostels on offer are hippie hostels. We stayed in one called Casa China which was comfortable and quiet. This small town is unique in that there is a sense of tranquillity and the hostels are extremely relaxed. We had a curious experience. We had previously made a reservation at a hostel called Casa Tortuga which we had heard very good things about. The reservation was ready and they were supposedly waiting for us. When we arrived, we were surprised to find that there were no rooms available and what happens is that people really decide to stay there for a long time and this hostel for its part did not even have a calendar where you knew who was in the hostel. It was all verbal. When the man, the only owner of the hostel and a born hippie, saw us he tried to move heaven and earth to give us a mattress in some room but we decided to walk a bit further to the other hostel where I think we were more comfortable. This hostel had a good vibe and is perhaps a good option to stay but if you do, make sure you have your space, it is located next to the lagoon and they have several events during the week. Magic is another hostel I would recommend.
Overall, this lagoon is a beautiful place worth visiting. The colour of the water and the atmosphere can take away some of the stress you may be carrying around.