Unlike the title of this article suggests, we decided not to go to Cancún. It is reputated to be an expensive American party place, with no other interest than its clubs: it’s not really what we are looking for. We set off for Playa del Carmen instead.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is actually also a party place, but way smaller and less “americanized” than Cancún. We spent two days there, enough to enjoy its beautiful beach and its incredibly wild nightlife.
Diving Isla Cozumel
We got bored of the beach and the party fairly quickly and left to Isla Cozumel. Isla Cozumel was the first island the Spanish reached, 8 years before the Conquistadors, with the ship wrecked.
The members of the crew were kept prisoner by the Mayans to serve as human sacrifices, and only two of them managed to escape. One of them, Gonzalo Guerrero ended up living a Mayan life with the lord of Chetumal and led the defense against the Spanish conquistadors under Francisco de Montejo. He was killed during the Chetumal battle.
Nowadays, the main reason to come to the island is to go diving its amazing underwater world!
Getting ready to go
Coming out of a tunnel
“I’m OK”: No Tom, you’re upside-down
We didn’t regret coming, we did two dives over there that were amazing, between tunnels, swim-through and amazing fauna. Our only regret was not to stay longer (diving is unfortunately a bit too expensive).
Coconut picking after the dive
Isla Mujeres: whale sharks snorkeling and partying
We scheduled to go directly from Cozumel to Tulum. However, we made a new friend while diving, a Swedish girl named Linnéa who kept going on and on about how good Isla Mujeres was.
We decided to trust her on that one, and went with her. It was an awesome choice: we went snorkeling with whale sharks!
After 2 hours of boat on a (very) wavy sea, making us regret our decision of going, we finally found some whale sharks.
Whale shark spotted! Going in!
It made it entirely worth it. We ended up swimming with 3 different whale sharks. They were massive (an average whale shark is 10 meters long and weight 9 tons – with a mouth 1.5 m wide), so it was quite impressive and we were concerned about being hit by their huge tails. An exhilarating experience!
Chilling after the snorkeling
Natural sun protection
We also really enjoyed our two nights in Isla Mujeres. Our hostel had a sort of private beach with a bar that was THE party place at night for the entire island, so we enjoyed partying bare-foot in the sand.
Tulum: A Mayan citadel
With regrets to be leaving Isla Mujeres, we finally made our way down to Tulum.
Apart from its beautiful beach, Tulum is reputed for its Mayan ruins. It used to be a fortress (“tulum” means fortress in Mayan) at the top of a cliff dominating the sea, and surrounded by 3 defensive walls. The landscape is incredible.
Tulum’s architectural style was mayan-toltèque, with its building covered by a layer of stucco painted in vivid colors, blue red and white. It’s from there that the Mayan saw for the first time the Spanish ships arriving. It was one of the last Mayan cities to disappear, as it was still inhabited when the conquistadors conquered the Yucatán peninsula in 1544.
El Castillo, the main edifice of the site
Our trip in Yucatán was really awesome. Between the diving and the whale sharks, the Mayan pyramids and the party, it was rich in amazing experiences. The only downside being that it is the most touristic place of Mexico, so it feels less authentic. Nonetheless, we would happily go back!