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NickyLouise

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I am sailing on the Sensation Aug 26, 2004. I would like to do the Tulum tour from cozumel but am lost at where to start. I'd like to do it on my own, without paying for a tour group. But how do I get there? Are there beaches that are accessible close to the Tulum ruins? Help!!!!!!!!

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You would still be going as part of a tour so you wouldn't have to worry about catching a bus or cab, but it probably wouldn't be as crowded a tour as that of the ship. If you've never been to Cozumel or the Mayan Riviera before, and especially since you're not staying in either place for longer than your ship is in port, I would recommend sticking with a structured tour.

 

http://www.cozumelinsider.com/tours/mainlandruins/

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In the case of this tour, I would book with your ship. It is a very long day tour including a boat ride to the mainland and then the bus tour. Our ship's tour returned way late and I'm sure it would have been a disaster if those folks had been on a private tour. I highly recommend booking your own tours for mornings, but for extended tours which run any risk of missing the boat, I would stick to the ship's tour.

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Hi NickyLouise,

 

I applaud you for daring to think you can do an excursion outside of the ship's structure and high prices! You CAN do Tulum on your own, as long as you do your homework. My DH and I just got back from our cruise and had a very successful and fun journey. We're in our late 40s and fairly adventurous when it comes to travel. Spending the day in Cozumel drinking heavily with the kids did not appeal to us at all. I'd always wanted to see Tulum - it's so picturesque with such a gorgeous location right on the ocean. I knew it was going to be HOT, but I was hoping the ocean breezes would mitigate the heat and humidity, which is true, but only right on the coast - a few steps away canceled them right out. Be prepared for HOT! I mean, life-sucking, soaked-through, why-did-we-come-here HOT! As long as you're mentally prepared (as well as equipped with hats, water and sunscreen), you can enjoy it! Really!

 

First of all, check out this thread which gave me all the info I needed on how to do this (and to give you some other perspectives):

 

http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=098097554&m=1553078686

 

It is a time-consuming journey, so be sure to get off the ship as early as possible. The chaos at the pier exit is a little intimidating, but this is the worst part. Just get in the taxi line and you'll get a cab quickly. All the fares are posted on the board and they can't charge you more than 60 pesos ($6.00 - I paid in dollars with a $1.00 tip) to get to the ferry pier. There are two different ferry companies, with booths right on the street. Doesn't matter which one, I think they cost the same ($18.00 per person, round trip - I also paid in dollars). We got to the pier at 10:58 and got on the 11:00 ferry without problem. The ferry we rode was clean, modern and air-conditioned. A very nice 45-minute ride.

 

We got to Playa del Carmen and I followed the directions that I read - walk up two blocks, turn right and walk two more blocks. Right on the money! I decided that we needed pesos; there is a Canadian bank ATM across the street from the bus station that takes all the major American ATM cards. We withdrew 200 pesos ($20), which was enough to buy bus tickets, water and our admission to Tulum (I would have withdrawn maybe $20 more in hindsight, but if we'd needed something else, I suspect we could have used dollars)

 

At the bus station, our cashier spoke English and we had no trouble buying tickets on the next bus, a second class bus (the first class busses are supposedly nicer, but their schedules are less convenient). The tickets cost us a total of 80 pesos round trip. The bus was leaving in five minutes and we got right on. The bus was just fine, comfortable seats, well air conditioned, lots of gringos going to see the ruins, as well as locals going about their business. I sat next to a Mexican mother and her baby boy, the most beautiful child I'd seen in a long time. She was kissing him all over and he was squealing in delight. Just one of those moments that makes you so glad that you took a chance in going off on your own.

 

One important lesson I learned about riding Mexican busses is that the driver calls out the stops ahead and will only stop when someone indicates they need to get off. I didn't know that and couldn't hear the driver anyway and it caused a problem. I did read that the stop for the Tulum ruins is before the stop for Tulum town. I just assumed with the large number of gringos on the bus, that he'd automatically pull over at the ruins. Nope. Went sailing right past it. I ran up front, but the driver told me, "I said, 'ruinas'. You'll have to catch a bus or taxi from town." So we got off in Tulum, a dusty little ramshackle town. We readily found a taxi who charged us all of $2.00 to take us back. Not a trip spoiler, but make sure to tell the bus driver that you're going to Tulum "ruinas" (pronounced rue-een-us") because you may otherwise miss the stop.

 

There are aggressive vendors at the entrance trying to sell guided tours. We stopped to talk to one and took his little map, but we knew that we weren't going to hire a guide. We politely declined. There is a trolley that will drive visitors up the road from the entrance to the gate for a nominal charge. We decided to walk the 3/4 miles, which was fine, not too difficult the heat notwithstanding. I think the entrance fee was 38 pesos per person; they also charge a 30 peso fee for video cameras (which we didn't have). If you need cold water, there is some in the book store adjacent to the entrance booth.

 

The ruins are spectacular. Such an incredible location. There are placards in English and Spanish at various major buildings, so it is possible to learn a lot without a guide. We would also eavesdrop on the numerous English language tour groups. I have to say that I was more interested in the physical beauty of the site than in learning the history. I think that was because I was so hot! I took some fantastic photos, if I do say so myself. Hard to go wrong when you have an intense blue sky, turquoise ocean and majestic stone buildings all in the same place! There is a small beach there, and some shade trees, if you want to take a dip. Lots of families were doing so - I wish I'd brought my suit!

 

When I finally couldn't take the heat any longer, my DH and I headed back to the main entrance to wait for the bus. There is a decent shelter with overhead fan where we waited about 20 minutes. If you're pressed for time, there are also white vans hanging around the entrance, called "collectivos" which you could take back to Playa for 20 pesos, I think. We made it back to Playa for the 4:00 ferry to Cozumel (we had to be back on the ship by 6:30) We easily hopped a cab to the ship pier with enough time to shop there before we boarded. Booze like Kahlua and rum is really cheap, so we bought some. There might be better shopping destinations on the island, but I wasn't really up for it.

 

So, all in all, I heartily recommend that you "go for it." The memories are worth it!

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I applaud YOU Shaken Bake for being so adventurous! The Tulum tour is absolutely something you can do on your own! Here are just a few alternatives to the way Shaken Bake did it. First, to avoid the bus hassles, you can pay extra and just take a taxi to Tulum from Playa del Carmen. I believe, but don't quote me on this, that the taxi fare is $30 per cab of 4 passengers or more, each way. I once heard it was $15 but I don't think that's accurate. Once you get to Tulum, take the tram to the main entrance. It's always hot in Tulum, in my opinion, and you will enjoy the rest of the tour that much more if you start off without the 3/4 mile stroll. I love to walk and am in excellent physical condition, but I would take the tram. Finally, and most important, whenever you tour ruins, spend the extra money and hire a guide. I have done it both ways and they are completely different experiences! A guide will bring the ruins to life and give you a historical basis for these amazing sites. It makes a huge difference in your enjoyment and appreciation of the ruins, and it's sooooo worth it.

 

Enjoy,

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Shakenbake, thank you so much for the info and the wonderful link from the prior boards. I wish we could somehow transfer that thread to the new board for everyone. Alan. :cool:

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