DOCUMENT TIPS - You might want to screenshot any of this info you want to access while driving around because cell service is extremely slow all around Akumal/Tulum!
Cozumel Picturess (ferry, Paradise Cafe, video of driving in San Miguel, rental car etc) click HERE.
Impressions of my last visit to Chakanaab in 2014 were that 1) buying food there in the big palapa restaurant was expensive! It was a quiet restful place to spend the day. Snorkeling was definitely better by the shoreline than in deeper waters. All pics HERE.
TULUM BEACH ROAD - Best Restaurants anywhere I have ever been!!!
Beach road in Tulum Area - I don't know the official road name, I think it's just Beach Road. To get here turn left off 307 at the main intersection in the town of Tulum. There is a ____ at this intersection. At the dead end turn right and you are on it!
Along this road is Piedra Escondida. We went here with Mac. It is a small villa resort with a restaurant and a small picturesque cove. When we were there Dad and Mac climbed to the hill on the left side and we took some pics, see below. We also had this framed picture of this chair in our house from this spot.
Beach Road is also the same road where Jamey & I stayed last year (at Viento De Mar) and I really, REALLY loved the atmosphere of the place so much! If you go out for any good restaurants or any nightlife I HIGHLY recommend going down this road!
Note* There is an entrance to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere at the end of this road. Once you enter, you drive for miles and miles down a dirt road and we didn't see much when we went (but hundreds of crabs at sunset!) and we turned around. Not sure there's much to see from this entrance! Seems more like private property.
BEACH ROAD RESTAURANTS. We ate at the following restaurants on Beach Road:
Papaya Playa - This is a whole compound place (I think people camp here?) Jamey heard lots about so we wanted to check it out. They have regular events and parties there (they are very advertised at the entrance as you drive by) and so we checked one out. We went in there at night and found a parking space and headed toward the ocean. It was a really cool ampitheatre type (think chastain but small!) with tables all around and an open air bar. It was a festive atmosphere there! You might want to see if there are and parties while you're there (you will see signs at the entrance if so).
Posada Margherita - Best. Restaurant. Ever. My FAVE OF ALL TIME! But pricey! They make your pasta AFTER you order it! From scratch! It was truly like being in Italy-for real. Here's a write up I found online: Posada Margherita, Tulum’s most famous Italian number, is situated within a beachside hotel of the same name. To fully soak in the unobstructed ocean view, try dropping by before sunset — whether for lunch or an early dinner. While you’ll want to try Posada’s great assortment of focaccias, served with Parmesan chunks and pickled cauliflower, save room for the housemade pasta, often dressed with local vegetables and seafood. Protip: Posada Margherita doesn’t accept credit cards, so pesos are required. [$$$]
Hartwood - We didn't eat here but man, did people rave! It was reservation only but I do not believe it's real expensive. It is not on the beach side, and I was a stickler for wanting a beach breeze! But this restaurant is renown far and wide.
Mateo's - SUPER FUN at night! Cool red lights, live music, ping pong. Love it! Kids would have fun here! Funnest Restaurant/Bar:Good food and fun vibe. Hammocks and great views can be found on the upper floors of this treehouse-style of a restaurant. Live music on Monday and Friday nights here and across the road at Zamas.
Tulum restaurant article link: The 18 Essential Tulum Restaurants This article also sited restaurants off 307 in town.
TULUM TOWN PROPER (on Hwy 307)
Burrito Amor in Tulum Proper/right on 307- Great little restaurant on the main drag (Hwy 307) through Tulum on the way to Muyil. It is towards the South end of the shopping/restaurant district. It is an open air, laid back, gourmet burrito restaurant. They have hand crafted drinks with coconut milk from coconuts with garnishes like aloe. We loved it so much we went there 4 times last trip! It's fairly cheap and everything is a la carte, and they have a great 4 sauce selection on each table that were AWESOME. LOVE THIS PLACE! The avacado toast was breakfast one day! LINK to tripadvisor review with address etc
COBA & COBA AREA
Cenote pics HERE
Coba ruins pics HERE
Coba town pics HERE
Ruins, town & Cenotes
The road to Coba has lots of cool shops and things to look at. I enjoy the drive. This is also where I saw tarantulas crossing the road in 2011!
When going to Coba I have always done the ruins first. It gets hot and so a cenote swim after is refreshing. You don't need directions to get to Coba, just turn off Hwy 307 in Tulum inland and follow the signs. You pay a few bucks at entrance gate to park. There is some shopping there, although I have never shopped around in more than the one convenience-store type shop there.
I recommend you grab the bicycle taxis to explore the ruins, they go pretty far back to get to the temple, it's a long hot walk. I think it's $10 or so to rent them and they carry 2 people. Try to find a driver who speaks a little English because they tell you all sorts of things as they drive along. Walking up the Temple is the hightlight!! Girls can do it fine, you all can just go slowly! I tipped our guy a cold drink from the stand right there.
After exploring the ruins you can change into bathing suits for your cenote swim in the restroom they have there in the parking lot.
To get to the cenotes I usually ask the guide for directions just to refresh my memory, but they're easy to find. Come out of ruins parking lot and turn left and go through "suburban Coba" lol. Just kidding, it is really only a neighborhood.
Link to interesting history of Coba HERE
Sian Ka'an Biosphere
See full gallery of pics HERE.
Their main website link HERE. On their site I see several tours; A nature encounter tour, Mayan reef snorkel, Ancient Mayan Route Tour (I think we did this), Birdwatching at sunset and also Fly fishing.
We didn't make any reservations or ever see their website before actually. We parked at the ruins in Muyil and paid the small fee to explore the ruins at the entrance booth. When you're driving down 307 and you see the first sign for the town of Muyil, soon after look for the parking lot on the left. I don't remember how it is marked but we didn't have much trouble finding it.
Walk along and look at the ruins there. They are really beautiful! The walkway to the beach and the boats for the boat tours are at the end of the trail at the beach. Follow the woodland trail along behind the main temple area to a gate. I think there's a sign there that says it's $5 or so to walk there but we didn't see anyone so went anyway. The employee met us further down the boardwalk trail and asked for the money then so we paid him. You will come upon the look out tower. Go up! Keep walking til you get to the beach! There's a bathroom here to change clothes before you go. Boats are $60 each if I recall correctly and hold up to 6 people. We just walked to the boats with no prior reservations and told them we were here for the tour.
We hopped on the boats and we got going, across some water to an island with a canal through it. We went through there on the boat through more open water to another island. There is a ruin there. Here is where they take you upstream one of the canals to where you disembark and float down the mangrove canal. I guess it took 45 minutes or so. At the end they meet you and you walk through the grasslands on a boardwalk back to the boat and you head back.
TIP: Wear LOTS of SUNSCREEN. Do NOT take anything with you that you don't want to leave in the boat unattended! You can leave your clothes bag while you snorkel but don't leave valuables. We did not wear fins for this, we went barefoot, fins aren't needed as you float quickly with no man power. The canals are also narrow, so fins may be cumbersome. We did not wear water shoes and the boat guide met us at the end with our flip flops for the walk back. I would wear water shoes.
CENOTES (See specific cenotes further down)
What is a cenote?
A cenote (English: /sᵻˈnoʊti/ or /sɛˈnoʊteɪ/; American Spanish: [seˈnote]) is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.
The term derives from a word used by the low-land Yucatec Maya — ts'onot — to refer to any location with accessible groundwater. Cenotes are common geological forms in low latitude regions, particularly on islands, coastlines, and platforms with young post-Paleozoic limestones that have little soil development.
The word means "sacred well".
Above ground cenote/open air: These are like ponds. Sometimes they have algae everywhere, sometimes they are clear. Sometimes you walk in from all sides, some of them are sunken and might have cliffs on one side you can jump off of.
Some really good ones are Garden of Eden (Jardin of Eden) which is sunken so it has a jumping cliff, Cenote Casa which is like a pond and level to the ground.
Partially covered cenote/Cave-like sides: These are sunken areas which have a "C" like edge cenote which is open to the air but also covered. They often have more visible connections to underground tunnels and waterways.
Some of my favorites are Gran (Grand) Cenote which has an arch to swim under and lots of vegetation like lily pads in the water. It is gorgeous but often crowded.
Complete cave cenotes/completely underground: These you have to access by a side entrance or "rooftop" entrance and are almost totally underground.
Where to find some of these: Hidden Worlds is now a big event to go to but if you can just visit the cenotes the main ones are dark and mostly covered. They are pretty good ones!
Places to see all three! If you head to Dos Ojos cenotes you will see the main cenotes are partially covered/cave like cenotes. You can go fairly deep into them to experience the full cave feel. But on the grounds you can hit others (for additional fee) which are above ground/open air cenotes. They look great! No true underground cenote there though, I don't think.)
Dos Ojos - Akumal Area. "Two Eyes" I think we went here with mac in the past. Great partially covered cenotes! A busy cenote complex but for good reason. Once you turn down the road to Dos Ojos there are also other cenotes available for additional fees. I am sure in the hut at the entrance (see pic with Jamey talking to man) they have more info on all the cenotes down there!
Off the dirt road to Dos Ojos is a sunken pond/open air cenote, which also has the partially covered cave like edges called Nicte-Ha. It was very, very quiet and private compared to Dos Ojos, hardly anyone there. See pics below.
Also down that road is Cenote Jaguar which was really cool! Its a pond type cenote which is sunken, which creates jumping rocks the owners accentuated with jumping platforms. Looks quiet, secluded and fun! See pics below the Cenote Nicte-Ha pics.
Cenote Osos - Tulum Area. This cenote was almost deserted when we went. Nothing special about the water and cenote itself, but it stood out for being a relaxing pool-like place fun for kids. There's a slide with running water and lots of lounge chairs to chill in. We checked it out but didn't stay.
What are haloclines? You will see a LOT!
In oceanography, a halocline (from Greek hals, halo- ‘salt’ and klinein ‘to slope’) is a subtype of chemocline caused by a strong, vertical salinity gradient within a body of water. Because salinity (in concert with temperature) affects the density of seawater, it can play a role in its vertical stratification.
In the midlatitudes, an excess of evaporation over precipitation leads to surface waters being saltier than deep waters. In such regions, the vertical stratification is due to surface waters being warmer than deep waters and the halocline is destabilizing. Such regions may be prone to salt fingering, a process which results in the preferential mixing of salinity.
Watch a really cool video about them here: https://youtu.be/dHn80f3lAUs
Keep your eye out for these critters!
There are some really different animals here than we have at home.