For the second time in the past year, we’re back in Mexico! Only this time, we’re in un-chartered territory for us…the Yucatan. We have the next 11 days to explore the Caribbean beaches, Mayan ruins, and enjoy some fabulous tacos and margaritas 🙂 After flying into Cancun and getting our rental car, we headed straight for the small interior Mayan town of Valladolid. This little town is picture perfect Mexico! There’s a large square in the center of town with a park and church and it’s surrounded by restaurants and stores filled with hand-crafted goods and local flair. The outlying streets are as colorful as they come — every other building is a different pastel color and vintage VW bugs line the storefronts. Valladoid was recently added to the Pueblo Magico city list in Mexico, meaning it’s a “magical city”, and we couldn’t agree with that more 🙂
This city is also a great central location to visit all the Mayan ruins. Our first stop was Coba. Coba was first settled between 50 and 100 AD and is home to the Nohoch Mul Pyramid. This is the only Mayan pyramid that you are still able to climb up so we obviously had to give it a shot! It’s 137 feet high and has 120 steps…those are some steep steps! Getting up wasn’t super hard, but I freaked out any time I’d turn around to see how far I had gone. It’s incredibly steep! They had a rope lining the center of the pyramid that you could use to help you get up and down, but most people scooted down on their butts…which we did as well 🙂 Although it was a little scary, it was worth it to get up to the top! The view was incredible!! Trees and jungle as far as you could see!
The other cool thing about the Coba ruins is that it’s a large complex shaded by trees with small pathways leading throughout. You can actually rent bikes for about $2 for the day and ride all through the ruins. We had so much fun biking around to see all the different sites!
The next day we went out to Chichen Itza — one of the Wonders of the World! This Mayan ruin site dates back to 600 AD, but it’s much more intact than Coba. We joined another couple on a private tour of the grounds to learn all about the Mayan culture and the Kulkulkan, the feathered snake that is represented throughout the village. Chichen Itza itself is pretty incredible! It not only housed the emperor/king of this village, but it was also used as a calendar. The number of steps, stones, and levels all have significant meaning for the days of the years, months, etc. There is also a “feathered snake” that appears from the shadows of the sun during the winter solstice…thousands of people come to witness this every year. It’s unfortunate that you can no longer climb the steps, but it’s a beautiful site to look at so we’re happy!
After Chichen Itza, we drove to the site of two cenotes, Samula and Dtznitnup. Cenotes are natural underground sinkholes that are the result of limestone collapsing and exposing the water below. Every cenote is unique and different but I think we found two of the best ones! Samula is so incredibly beautiful! There is a small opening in the top allowing some sunlight in to illuminate the whole cavern. It makes the water appear as if it’s glowing! I was a little nervous to get in since there were some dark fish swimming around and you couldn’t always see the bottom, but it was so refreshing so I couldn’t resist! Dtznitnup is much darker and definitely feels more like a cave — there were even bats flying around! Eek!! Word to the wise — the stairs are natural limestone as well and since you’re in a cave, they’re wet and slippery…yep, I fell down the stairs lol No injuries, just embarrassment… 😦
We then topped off our day with some horseback riding through the Yucatan! It was insanely hot but we bonded with our horses (mainly Brandon with his lady horse, Buttercut lol) so everyone hopefully had a nice ride 🙂
Our final Mayan ruin was beach front in Tulum! I enjoyed the ruins, but honestly could not stop staring at the crystal blue-green waters below! The Caribbean really is magical! Palm trees surrounded all the ruins and large lizards and iguanas roamed free. After a hot tour around, we headed straight for the beach to relax and swim 🙂
This was our first trip to Tulum and it definitely will not be our last. We stayed in town (which is a short drive to the beach) so we were able to experience both the vibes of the town and the coast. The food and drink specials were incredible — I think we ate tacos for almost every meal! Yum! The beach area mainly consists of a long rode that runs parallel to the beach and has condos/hotels on one side and then restaurants and shops on the other. There is so much to do and see there…and the beach itself was stunning!!
Our road trip through the Yucatan continues…next stop: Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, and Cancun! Stay tuned 🙂