We made it all the way to Cobá before stopping for lunch. After a quick feed of Cochinita Pibil we drove for one minute more to get all the way to the ruins. Cobá was one of the most powerful cities in the northern Yucatán between 200 and 600 AD; the city controlled significant water resources as well as trade routes. Most of the significant structures were built between 500 and 900 AD although it remained an important site for hundreds of years after that. It is believed that at least 50,000 people lived there during its peak time and that the city spanned 80 km squared.
By the time we left Cobá it was nearing 5 pm, when all attractions seem to close, so we went straight from Cobá to Hotel Latino in Tulum. That evening, we had a relatively early dinner at La Gloria de Don Pepe, just around the corner from our hotel. Tapas and cervezas went down well that night.
The next day, we started off by heading straight for the Tulum ruins, just outside of town. The great thing about these ruins is that they're right next to the ocean, making for exceptional photos and a nice breeze off the sea, although the not-so-great thing is that they're in a prime location for tour buses so the place gets busy. Really early in the day. The site is definitely large enough to accommodate everyone but we did miss the days of having Maya ruins all to ourselves.
Akumal is a small community with an unbelievable beach. The thing that makes this beach so unbelievable is that there are turtles that come near shore to graze on the sea grass which means that people can hop in the water and swim with wild turtles in their natural habitat. In the Mayan language, Akumal means "place of turtles". And what a place of turtles it was!
After some initial fears on Elizabeth's part, likely as a result of her Underwater Santa experience, we snorkelled with turtles for over an hour. The life jackets proved useful as we mostly stuck to floating near the turtles, with the occasionally dive down. Our favourite moments were when the turtles popped their little heads out of the water for a breath of fresh air before diving down to munch on some more grass.
Our last stop of the day was Cenote Azul, a cenote with crystal clear water and more locals than tourists. We whipped out our snorkel gear once more and took a refreshing dip in the water with some tropical fish who also enjoyed nibbling on our toes.
The next day, our last day in Mexico, we decided to take in one last Maya ruin and finally spend some time at the beach. We were in Mexico after all. We started off by driving to Muyil, a former Maya city that seems to have been in use for a considerable amount of time; artifacts found onsite have spanned over 1500 years. The structures onsite are an example of Peten architecture, with steep walled pyramids, which differs from the styles of the other cities we visited on our road trip. It is believed that Muyil had a strong connection to the city of Cobá.
The rest of the day we spent at Tulum Beach - eating, reading, swimming, and relaxing in the shade. The great thing about Mexico is that all beaches in Mexico are public so anyone can walk through any hotel along the beachfront to access the beach. As long as you spend some money at a restaurant along the beach, you should be allowed to use that restaurant or hotel's beach chairs for as long as you want! It's a pretty great deal.
The next day we drove through along the slightly crazy highway between Tulum and Cancún to get to the airport. Sadly, that marked the end of our road trip around the Yucatán. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Yucatán and would recommend it to everyone, so we have created a guide for anyone who is looking to do a road trip around the Yucatán Peninsula! Check it out, and spread the word about this remarkable road trip destination: YUCATÁN ROAD TRIP GUIDE
If you missed either of our previous blog posts about the road trip, look no further:
Yucatán Road Trip: 2 Days in Valladolid
Yucatán Road Trip: 2 Days in the Ruta Puuc
And here is the travel video we put together of our trip: