Whenever I mentioned I was planning to head to Mexico, the constant soundtrack I’d hear was Tulum is fantastic but Mexico City is sooo dangerous. They would add: you might get kidnapped! Talk about being melodramatic, too many people have watched Narcos on Netflix. When I say solo I mean just me, no organised tour. It’s not that I am anti-social but rather I like to be spontaneous.
I wanted to get away for Easter 2023. I’d looked at tours but my inner indie queen said go alone and book on day trips. What I knew from the outset was I’d be looking to stay in a four star hotel. I’m of the opinion, if you go away solo then choose somewhere that will miss you if you go missing.
I chose this hotel because it was relatively new and on the edge of town. I briefly considered trying to get a hotel on the beach but the prices were and are insane. Also, the seaweed problem is a very big problem. It’s piled up high on the beach as more and more of it washes onto the shore and it stinks.
I arranged a private transfer from the airport to the hotel. Don’t bother. Get the local Ado Bus service. Those are big red buses and have a/c and free wifi. Tulum is 1.5 hours from Cancun airport and the buses are very regular, modern, and clean just make sure you book in advance because it fills up quickly. Whilst I am on it, exiting Cancun airport is like running a gauntlet. You will be besieged by guides and other people trying to convince you to get into their transfer/taxi/car whatever. Put your screw face on and march out like you speak perfect Spanish and know where you are headed. Confidence is key.
The hotel itself was lovely and looked like it did in the pictures. There was even a social hour aka happy hour every evening. My room was gorgeous and the housekeeping staff outdid themselves with the towel art.
The biggest issue was the water temperature. Admittedly I love my shower to be hot. Did I say I like my shower to HOT. I went down two mornings in a row to say the water was cold. It was only ever lukewarm and I mean heated by the sun warm. It did however lead me to make friends with two other travellers Jess and Marisa. I went over to their table and asked if they had hot water. It started a great friendship that saw us spend a day on the beach and Jess help me after I fell off a bike later that same day.
The other issue is the quality of English spoken by the staff varied greatly. I know I should learn more Spanish but my expectation of a four star hotel is that you will be able to understand each other well enough to communicate the basics. This was an issue when I borrowed a free bike from the hotel. Apparently, I have a lot of friends who’ve ridden a bike in Amsterdam and so know how to pedal backwards to brake, Dutch bikes. I did not and to stop myself from colliding with a taxi I put my feet down and toppled to the side still sitting on the bike. Mercifully nothing was broken and the taxi driver jumped out of his taxi to help me up as did a man behind me.
You have to pay for everything even standing by this sculpture on a beach costs $3 USD which is mad.
I wanted to see it and I’m glad I went with a guide because I learned so much of the history and things I’d never pick up in a guidebook. Alonso the guide was great. The actual ancient site is very exposed to the sun so take a hat and lots of water, if your hat doesn’t have a wide brim then take something to protect your neck. Sunstroke is no joke.
The best thing about the day trip was visiting a cenote. Even if you are not comfortable in the water put on a life jacket and get in. These cenotes or sinkholes were created when meteors first hit the earth. The Mayans regarded them as portals to the world below. The water was freezing and there were a few black fish in there but nothing else. It was incredible.
The food was not great in Tulum. It is really expensive. Do not expect any dollar tacos there, for that you must head to Mexico City!
It’s not that Tulum is not safe but I didn’t feel particularly safe there. Ironically, I felt very safe in Mexico City. There’s a lot of construction going on in Tulum so it is noisy everywhere but it also means there are dark spots. Around the hotel I stayed in, it was a good 7 min walk down an unlit road to get to the main road.
I was in Tulum from Sunday to Wednesday and think that was too long. I’d have preferred to leave on the Tuesday. Apart from day trips, there’s not much else to do. Gone are the days of the sleepy beach town, which is what a lot of the nostalgic talk you’ll hear from the 40somethings. That was the last century, the 90s to be precise! It’s now show me your money and I’ll give you an unripe coconut!