Catching another collectivo down the coast to Tulum, we were pleased to see that the town had more of the local ‘Mexican’ vibe to it, that we had been missing during our time in the Yucatan. Our room wasn’t ready for us yet so we wandered along the main street and grabbed some lunch while we waited to check in properly. For once we spied a restaurant that suited us perfectly – a combination Thai food and bagels. Ty had a delicious looking bagel but my thai didn’t really hit the spot L

After checking in we hired bikes and road the 5km down to the beach to relax in the last few hours of sunshine.  To kill the sesame seed flavour my yucky thai salad had left behind we enjoyed a margarita seaside.

We decided to get up early the next morning and ride down to the Tulum Ruins before it got too hot, hoping to arrive before the crowds did! Practicing our Spanish by forcing ourselves to read the explanation signs in Spanish before we read the English translation, we were finished with the site within the hour. The ruins themselves are not particularly impressive but the setting makes them worth visiting. Perched on the outcrops over a beach where turtles come to lay their eggs they are rather picturesque. 
Tulum ruins
Overlooking the turtle beach at the ruins
Relaxing on the dock at Bacalar
The weather wasn’t great but we decided to head down to the beach anyway before we had to drop the bikes back. It was good to catch up with my sister, Elaine, and Ty’s sister, Kalia and her boyfriend Jake, that night and hear about their plans for their adventure to South America. Hopefully we will be able to meet up with them at some point!

The next day we headed to Akumal, a beach halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, which is home to a group of resident sea turtles. Bypassing all the tour touts, we went to a stand and hired snorkels, fins and goggles for the day. Another backpacker had tipped us off about the turtles only being about 15m offshore so you really don’t need to go on a ‘tour’ to see them! The weather was gorgeous and we spent all day snorkelling with the wildlife. We were both so excited to see about 5 big sea turtles (and one little one which didn’t have a tag so we think it was a wild one!), 2 stingrays, a barracuda, and Ty saw a squid and a lobster. We bought an underwater camera when we were in Cancun and pretty much used it all up in the one day – so frustrating that we have to wait till we get home to get it developed though!

The downside to snorkelling (for me) was the fact that your back and bum are pretty much sticking out of the water all day. Despite diligently reapplying my factor 45 several times I burnt my butt and part of my back so bad I had to spend the next 3 nights sleeping on my front!

The final stop on our Mexican adventure was Bacalar – a freshwater lagoon of 7 colours. Well, 7 shades of blue. The info we read missed that crucial bit out. Our hostel/campground was pretty rustic but it was a relaxing place to hang out and it was nice to get out from swimming and not feel all salty! There’s not a lot else to do in Bacalar so we just hung out with each other and the other people at the campground, and I caught up with some blog writing.

Next stop: Corozal, Belize
Arriving back into the Yucatan, I felt overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the place – the traffic, the noise, the number of people and the lights everywhere. Our gut impression of Cancun was that we weren’t big fans, but in order to make an informed decision we decided that we needed to take a proper look around before we wrote it off. It also gave us a chance to catch up on laundry, restock some much needed supplies and make a few decisions about where to go next and what the plan would be.

After unpacking the bag we had left behind and repacking, we left a rather big and stinky pile of laundry with the hostel and headed out to get some food. We found a rather tacky looking Mexican restaurant serving large margaritas and settled in, only to realise we had left our eftpos card at the hostel and didn’t have enough cash, so Ty generously offered to go back while I nursed my drink and chatted to another kiwi who we had met on the plane back from Cuba, and who just happened to be sitting at the table next to us. 
Ty at the beach in the Hotel Zone
Spring breakers lining up for the beach party
The following day we headed into what’s known as the ‘Hotel Zone’. Cancun has two very distinct parts. Downtown, where the locals live and eat, and the Hotel Zone, where students in their thousands had come to celebrate spring break. Ty was sad to read on an online tourism guide for the region that for a real ‘adventure’ people should catch the bus into ‘downtown’ – how intrepid. The Hotel Zone is like a slice of the USA. Everything in the shops and restaurants is priced in US dollars, and the streets are lined with Holiday Inn’s, Ramada’s, Hilton’s, TGI Friday’s, and Chilli’s – with restaurants declaring that they sell ‘authentic Mexican food’ – um, yea, I should hope so! I have conflicting feelings about the area. While a part of me enjoys the idea of an all-inclusive holiday where all you do is eat, sleep and swim, to go there and then say you went to ‘Mexico’ is somewhat of a stretch.

There are a couple of quite famous clubs in the Zone which I wouldn't have minded checking out, but the entrance fees were $70USD per person. While that is supposed to include all your drinks for the night, we had spoken to Kylie in Cuba who said that you have to tip the waitresses to bring you drinks and if you don’t tip enough they won’t serve you. Given that that is pretty much a whole days budget for the two of us we had to give it a miss this time, but we did wander down to check out the spring break beach party which was entertaining to watch all of the 18 years old flaunting it in their best bikinis, waiting for Snoop Dogg to play the following night.

We decided we had seen enough of Cancun so the following morning hopped in a collectivo (like a taxi but they sell the individual seats) and headed south to Playa del Carmen. Arriving at the hostel we found that we had a 4 bed dorm all to ourselves, and brand spanking new mattresses! So excited for bed time after sleeping in crappy, well worn beds for the last 2 months!

Wandering down to the beach we were a bit disappointed to find that it was really windy, but we had a good time body surfing with the locals. Heading back to the hostel we stopped in at Walmart for some dinner ingredients (I swear we have been to more Walmarts in Mexico than I ever have in the States), before walking home. Turns out it was a LOT further than we remembered and it was really hot and humid so we were pretty glad when we finally made it back.

Next stop: Tulum