Two weeks cave diving and exploring Tulum, Mexico

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 by

February in Seattle is gray, like really, really, ridiculously gray. So in an effort to realize the sun still did in fact exist I bailed out of Seattle for two weeks to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to get my tan for the rest of the year.

Uhh where now?

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico View on Google Maps

Quick Tips

  • I flew into Cancun, Mexico and rented a car through Easy Way (had a great experience) and drove to Tulum (about two hours away)
  • I had a few interactions with the police and they were all absolutely positive (and I only speak like ten words of Spanish)
  • Everybody in the tourism industry speaks English, except the police
  • About 60% of businesses in Tulum were cash only, so carry cash
  • The gas station attendant might try and switch your $500MXN note for a $50MXN note and claim you didn't give him enough (they're both red colored). Wanker.

The Yucatan Highlight Reel

Includes cave diving, human skulls (really), the Tulum Ruins, and Chichen Itza.

I used three cameras on this trip (because why not make it complicated...) and the video was edited with iMovie, because at least that was easy -

  • GoPro Hero4 Silver with the dive case for everything underwater (no filter)
  • Sony RX100 II for most of the no-water activities (ex. Chichen Itza)
  • Hover Camera Passport for the little bit of drone photography I did - which actually would've been more, but they released some update to the phone app that caused it to freeze every time I tried to use it on vacation... they've since released an update that fixed it, but I sold the drone since I'm not risking a busted camera on vacation again... bad QA people, bad

My Itinerary

Or what I call, show up at the dive shop and tell them to sign you up for everything, overall cost was ~$1,000USD for -

  • Six cenote dives - Casa Cenote, Dos Ojos (amazing), Cenote Angelita (deep dive), Calavera, Chikin Ha, and Tajma Ha
  • An open water bull shark dive off Playa del Carmen
  • An amazing coral reef drift dive off Cozumel
  • And a tour with our Mayan guide Ocho to Cobá and a nearby cenote used for human sacrifices

Somewhere in the middle of this I also road tripped it up through Valladolid to Chichen Itza for an awesome day trip - so definitely go see Chichen Itza.

I also drove all the way down to the very end of Punta Allen which may have included some off roading in my VW Gol - the pinnacle of off roading experience.

VW Gol
VW Gol

Pro tip At the end of Punta Allen is a sketchy abandoned military facility, so after two hours of solid driving down there, I promptly turned around and drove home. How's that for climactic ending you didn't expect?

But where did I stay during all of this adventure? Surely I could fit within the spacious, yet compact luxury confines of my Gol, no? Alas, I forwent spending my nights in various yoga poses and decided to slum it in local accommodations.

Lodging - and what you'll get for $100USD/night in Tulum

Spoiler, I spent a week at each and both were worth it. I call this, beach vs shower.

Hotel Tunich TripAdvisor

Pros (Beach)
  • On the beach road (30 second walk to the beach)
  • Great free breakfast every day
  • Complimentary bottles of water in your room every day when it's cleaned
  • English speaking owners that'll help you with anything you need
  • Being right next to everything you could want
Not so pros
  • A mosquito net for you bed (because there will be mosquitos)
  • A shower that'll get you clean
  • Parking nearby that's probably easy enough, but may not be free

Mestizo Gallery TripAdvisor

Pros (Shower)
  • Decent free breakfast every day
  • Air conditioning
  • A shower with water pressure and temperature settings
  • Somewhere easy to park close by for free
Not so pros
  • 10-15 minute drive to the beach

But what would I recommend?


If you want the true Cenote Experience™ this is a prime town to do it from, including -

  • Cenote Dos Ojos for the most cenote-like experience. It offers both diving and snorkeling and is one of the most picturesque cenotes I saw as it's a bit inset under some overhanging rock.
  • Cenote Angelita if you want a great deep dive with a false bottom (see that sulpher cloud in the trip video), I lost about 30 seconds of my life somewhere near the bottom where I can't quite remember how I got there. Narceddddd.
  • Cenote Carwash (yes they used to wash cars there...) if you want a great cenote to just chill at and swim around.

But wait! There's more!

Other cool things to see

  • Chichen Itza may not be the closest (it's a two hour drive away), but if you've rented a car or have time for a bus definitely go. I go there at 8am (when it opens) and while there were lines it was amazing to walk around the huge property before 1) all the other people showed up, and 2) before it got hotter out.
    Pro tip Chichen Itza isn't on daylight savings time so it may be an hour earlier than Tulum (and Cancun et al).
  • Cobá Ruins are also fun, grab a bike for like $50MXN (~$2USD) and ride around and check out some great Mayan history, and if you're there definitely climb to the top of Cobá. All around I'd still rank Chichen Itza high than Cobá, but you also can't climb Chichen Itza.
  • Tulum Ruins are pretty cool, and a nice big area to walk around in, but ultimately you can't get very close (or inside) and of them, so if it's easy - do it, otherwise... meh.


Although the best tacos were from that place off the side of the road coming into town that didn't have a sign...

  • Street tacos, seriously, anything off the street is my kind of food, so this one's going to be mostly up to you to.
  • But I will highlight Mivida off the beach road for an amazing restaurant atmosphere with some great seared tuna.
  • And Ki'Bok Cafe for the best coffee I could find in all of Tulum (and I looked), along with a great breakfast, super friendly staff, and a chill atmosphere.

And that, my friends, is it

I hope you make it to Tulum, and if you'd like any more advice feel free to get in touch!

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