“You turn into a dumb blonde when you’re handling a vehicle.” Jon said this after he saw me struggle with the pedal breaks of the bicycle another time. I laughed hard. “It took me a while to get used with hand breaks on a bicycle and now, I had to deal with pedal breaks!” I said, as an excuse. After my less than impressive driving in New Zealand, I think Jon has lost confidence in my driving skills, and it turns out my biking skills aren’t great either but I did what I could to see the best of Tulum in a day. Here’s what we saw during our short cycling trip around Tulum:
Cycling to the Tulum Ruins – Archaeological Site
Ancient ruins cast on top of 12m high cliff which overlooks the gorgeous blue waters of the Caribbean sea– the Mayan ruins in Tulum is definitely an extraordinary sight.
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The ancient city of Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Maya. It was also known as Zama, or dawn, due to its proximity to the place where the first rays of the rising sun hit the region.
Although the ruins are not as impressive as that of Chichen Itza, the atmosphere of the place draws crowds who come to appreciate the scenic location of the former port and swim in its nearby Caribbean waters. The ruins in Tulum have a charm of their own, with their crumbling facade and picturesque backdrop. Make sure to visit before the tour groups arrive. Entrance Fee to Tulum Ruins: $64 MXN.
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From the Tulum Playa (beach), we headed north, and biked for around 40 minutes to get to the Tulum Ruins. The beach road is well paved and relatively flat. However, there were several speed bumps along the way. There is a free parking area where you can lock your bikes when you visit the archaeological site.
Cycling to Cenote Calavera
Cenote Calavera is one of our favourite cenotes in Mexico because of its cozy feel. It is small and private compared to other cenotes we’ve visited in the Yucatan Peninsula, with crystal clear water and an impressive underground cavern. After a hot day of biking around Tulum and exploring the magnificent ruins along the coast, swimming in the Cenote Calavera was definitely the best way to rejuvenate. Entrance Fee: $80 MXN.
From the Tulum ruins, we biked towards Cenote Calavera, for around 40 minutes. Once outside the archaeological site, we had to bike alongside other vehicles on the main highway. However, there are some parts that have bike lanes, so it’s still not that difficult. If you have more time, there are other nearby cenotes in Tulum. Apparently, Cenote Dos Ojos is quite good. We didn’t have time to visit this cenote. If you did, let us know what it’s like!
Cycling to Tulum Pueblo (Town)
We made a quick stop at the main town to get some food before heading back to Tulum Playa. The town has cheap options for accommodation and food but is nothing special compared to old colonial towns in other parts of Mexico. The main bus station is also located here but as noted, we didn’t find any public transport for touristswithin Tulum itself so hire a bike! Whether you stay in the town or at the beach, cycling is the best way to see Tulum.
Tulum Pueblo is 30 minutes by bike to the Tulum Playa.
Cycling to Tulum Playa (Beach)
Tourists come to Tulum’s beaches to seek its laid back atmosphere and less crowded ambiance compared to Cancun. However, don’t set your expectations too high. Although this Caribbean beach still has the perfect powder white sand and turquoise blue waters, it has recently been suffering from a massive seaweed problem. According to the people at the guesthouse where we stayed, it has been like this for about a year (we were in Tulum in 2015) and they are not sure why it started. It’s still relaxing to sun bathe or chill out by the beach but swimming is not that appealing at the moment. The beach stretches quite long with a few small sections that are closed to private resorts.
The Tulum Playa is like a souvenir town, with quaint little shops, fancy restaurants and resort hotels. It’s nice to look around and have a few drinks by the beach, however, if you’re on a budget and staying for a few nights, there are not many options for cheap food in this area (thus the grocery shopping trip we did in town).
Although Tulum Playa is mostly hotels and resorts, there are some cheaper options for accommodation if you want to stay there. We stayed in Turquesa and did the Jungle camping (glamping) for three nights. Instead of the usual hotel room, we had a tent with a double bed inside. It was a very interesting experience. However, if you are looking for convenience, this may not be the best option for you, since electricity is not available inside the tents.
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Biking in Tulum
Going in and out of Tulum Playa is not easy on the pockets. Public collectivos don’t always stop for tourists in Tulum Playa and taxis to the town costs as much as $150 MXN per way. It is possible to rent a car, but still, the best option is to rent a bicycle, which costs from $100 MXN to $150 MXN for 24 hours. You can pretty much see everything from th cenotes to the Tulum ruins by cycling and it’s quite easy, even for an amateur like me.
Location Map: Biking in Tulum
Have you been to Tulum? Did you cycle around Tulum? What did you think of the place? Let us know.