Had a bit of a lie in until about midday, waking with slightly fuzzy heads from the night before. Got our stuff together and easily hopped on to the Collectivo to Tulum.
Short trip down to Tulum and we chilled by pool once we’d found the place. It wasn’t the smoothest arrival and we had the help of a friendly local and his car to kindly drop us off.
Nipped out for more tasty grub before an early night in the relative luxury of a private room!
Early awake and feeling refreshed we hoped on the hostel bikes and down to the local stretch of beach for the morning. We’d understood that the Ruins would be packed between 9-12, so wanted to make the most of the morning.
The beach is pretty idyllic, palm trees leaning over turquoise water and the sun beating down on us. We swam and enjoyed the sun before cycling on to the ruins at around 1, which was very hot work! The ruins are fascinating themselves but the backdrop makes them all the more special, deep blue skies, bleach-white beaches and vivid turquoise water finishing off a beautiful scene.
You don’t need more than 2 hours to enjoy the ruins and at around 2.30 we headed back to our rather plush hostel to put our feet up by the pool for an hour or two, bathing in the sun and struggling to cool off unfortunately not so cool water. At about 4.15, we were all set to go cenote adventuring (having heard that Caye Caulker, our next stop, demands an 8.30AM bus departure), but were then informed that they close at 4.30/5.00!!
I had foolishly thought that they were natural pools open to anyone at anytime, so we scuttled off to see what could be done but the Gran Cenote shut at 5 and cost $120pesos to enter, absolutely gutting! It would have to be a job for next time as the remaining schedule didn’t allow for it, this was the day for it 😞.
With that off the cards, we headed up to the beach for one last chill before handing our bikes back to the little shack and grabbing an early night before our journey down to Belize in the morning!
We got a taxi down to the ADO station in Tulum for an 8.30AM bus departure where we bumped into Mitch and Mike, a couple of Aussies from the Whale Shark tour on Isla Mujeres. The bus down to Chetumal took around 4 hours and it was a bit of a shame to waste the day travelling but we had to make the only ferry of the day on to Caye Caulker at 3PM. We waited about for a bit in Chetumal, grabbing some munch and walking around the town before hopping on the tiny, yet expensive ferry to Caye Caulker via San Pedro (where we passed through immigration).
| About Caye Caulker:
Located off the coast of Belize, Caye Caulker is everything you could dream of: Caribbean island vibes intertwined with Central American soul and unrivalled marine life. Accessible from the coast of Mexico or Belize City, Caye Caulker is at the centre of a vivid reef and possesses the most incredible selection of fish and marine mammals. One snorkel can introduce you to nurse sharks, stingray, eagle ray, moray eel, green sea turtles and a host of colourful reef fish. If you’re lucky, it could also even include a manatee or two too! Out of the water, the rum is readily flowing and the reggae blasting, nowhere more so than The Lazy Lizard, which sits on ‘The Split’, the bar is made up of the twisted remains of a pontoon that was destroyed by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Top tip for Caye Caulker, get there for the Lobster Festival!
We arrived at the Caribbean island of Caya Caulker (the #1 Remote Island I’ve ever visited!) at around 6 in the afternoon and checked in to Bella’s hostel. We had booked via email but the fella running the place seemed too stoned to have any recollection of that, luckily, we were able to check in to a private 2 bed beach hit for 60pesos between us per night, M&M checked in to Dirty McNastys next door.
We had a quick walk around and settled for some grub at Enjoy, coconut curry for Bobs and myself, lobsters for the boys along with a fair few rum & cokes. We retired to bed quite early in the hope of booking on to a snorkelling tour the following morning. Our hit was simplistic but charming, 2 mattresses, 2 floors and 2 fans, what more could you need!?
We were up early as planned, well, even more so in fact as we were on Mexico time still! So up at 6am ready to find a tour, we asked about a few places and everyone seemed pretty keen to book on to the highly acclaimed Caveman tour for the coming day.
However, that all changed when a fella called Corey approached us outside the hut and asked if we fancied a trip for $40BZ, we summed up the risk and thought ‘why not!?’, the worst that could happen is some rasta rips us off and takes the equivalent of £12, the best, we get an awesome tour for a third the price of the legit tours.
So we waited and waited for this man to appear and, about an hour later he did, Benedict or ‘The Ninja’ as he liked to be called, rocked up round the back of one of the hostels and collected our money. He faffed around getting kit together for a good while longer on land before we set off on his speed boat along with Phillip and his wife. A couple of crucial stops later (petrol, rum and “herbs”) we headed out towards the reef with no Ninja, but were to be looked after by the other two.
We were joined on the trip by M&M, Corey and two friends (Sara and Liz) from Sheffield and the States respectively. Storm clouds were closing in big time as we headed for our first stop. We hopped straight in with no instruction from our guides (they didn’t really care!) and were instantly surrounded by nurse sharks and stingrays, dozens and dozens of both! The heavens then opened and we were in a surreal situation, in a cacophony of rumbling thunder, blinding lightning and awesome sea life.
We played about there for a while before heading on to do some spear and line fishing.
We were given no introduction to the spear guns, just handed them and told to go find some fish! The guns were a little the worse for wear but we all had a go with them, despite only 2 fish being caught that way it was a pretty cool experience. Luckily for us and for dinner, Sara was a demon on the line and reeled in 4 snappers, a couple more were caught elsewhere to give us a total of 8, one per person for dinner! (I forgot to mention that we picked up a Canadian couple along with the aforementioned supplies).
By this point, the lady guide is high as a kite and steaming on rum and proving to be a good laugh, as was her fella and the slightly dodgy/suspicious air had all but lifted. We headed for shore, hoping to catch at least some of the World Cup final, but not before we’d played around with a couple of dolphins in the shallows, not in the water unfortunately but by boat. An incredible day that could have gone one of many ways, and it was only 3 o’clock!
We got back on dry land, showered and headed for the sports bar where we watched the last 10 mins of normal time and all of extra time in the WC final, which was also greeted with a huge rainstorm. We were happily inside however with plenty of rum to keep us going! Once the game was over we headed back to the hostel for a few more drinks and played with some abandoned puppies in a building before heading over to Enjoy, who were cooking up our fish and charging us only for sides! An awesome meal followed as did a funny night on the rum, although we didn’t even leave the hostel in the end! Lots of good people and good laughs, a long long day of adventure.
More groggy heads and a slower start. We rented out kayaks to explore the island, jumping from a broken tree opposite the Split and wading through the mangroves surrounding it, minding that we didn’t step on any unsuspecting crabs!
Given that the reef was so, so stunning I felt the need to get on-board with another trip and booked tour with Reef Friendly Tours for the following day, all locked in for an 8:30AM start. Robbie sadly couldn’t join me, but would be happy enough in paradise I figured! Chilled night followed to be in prime condition for the next day.
Jumped aboard with a friendly but weird crowd on the Reef Friendly Tour, mostly the bizarely safety conscious American family, the mother of whom didn’t leave the foetal position in the shade all day!
The snorkelling was like nothing I’ve ever experienced – with one 45 minute snorkel exposing me to green turtles, nurse sharks, an array of sting rays, an eagle ray, barracuda moray eels, lion-fish and a shipwreck!
Back and dried off to check out of the hostel and we set off for Belize city…
We’d had advice on how to successfully get on board the ADO for Cancun, as well as warnings about Belize City after dark. The trick is to wait for a certain employee at a convenience store within the terminal to finish work and place on a specific cap, you then form a queue to buy your ticket.
All was going to plan until the queue was informed that the bus was full – we were too far back! Without clear direction, we managed to hop on a local bus that was heading, quite simply, for the border!
It all ended up working out wonderfully, we got the local bus as far as Cazumel, then a taxi to the border and on to Chetumal bus station after immigration – as if it had all been beautifully planned. We then hopped on a bus for 6 hours to Cancun, arriving in at 6AM, although the bus was absolutely freezing!!
The plan was to get on up to Holbox for our remaining days and we got the bus up from Cancun and a ferry onto Holbox with ease.
The temperature and humidity levels had soared for us as we checked in, got some lunch and proceeded to sweat heavily as we walked around the typically perfect local beaches, slept in hammocks, played cards, drank beer, ate crisps and devoured another unreal Mexican dinner before bed – the simple life!
We were up early and grabbed cereal before renting push-bikes to explore the island.
Perhaps unwisely, we ended up leaving the hostel around midday and got the full-force of the terrifying heat as it snuck over 40 degrees!
We were hunting flamingos and powered up the back of the beaches towards the east of the island to find them. It wasn’t a simple task, the heat was intense, the sand flies relentless in their biting and the way was blocked by an inlet. We ditched the bikes and swam across to continue up the beach.
In the shallows on the other side, however, were hundreds of bright pink flamingos going about their day in the lucid turquoise waters. We walked alongside them and looped back through the shallows before cycling back for a well earned drink and a cold shower!
A siesta and reading in the hammocks as the sun went down was the perfect form of recovery, before more cards then dinner, then bed.
Chilled in the hammocks for most of the morning as the temperature continued to increase, although it didn’t stop us chilling on the v v v hot beach, complete with equally hot waters! We spent the last night in a luxury room and dined on lobster in the local town to bring the brilliant trip to a fitting end. Back to Cancun on to the UK leaving the little man to his own devices in Mexico, what a place and what a trip!