Our bus dropped us off in Tulum at lunchtime, and under the intense heat of the midday sun we set off on a hot and sweaty walk to our hostel. We had decided to stay at Day Tripper, which is just a short walk from the town centre and has air con in the dorms – we were sold on that alone! It also has a great vibe and plays 60’s and 70’s music in the common areas, which meant we got to listen to classics from the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Rodriguez while relaxing on the outdoor deck in the evening. Day Tripper also has the bonus of curtains on the dorm beds, which adds a nice element of privacy that is definitely lacking in a lot of hostels.
Tulum is a typical beachy town in many ways – packed full of tourists, lots of shops selling beachwear, hats and tacky souvenirs – yet at the same time it has managed to retain its cultural identity and is still delightfully Mexican, with its bright colours, loud music, friendly locals and delicious street food. On our first day, after checking into the hostel, we went to a nearby bar to cool off with a refreshing cerveza. One cerveza turned into several more as we got chatting to a guy from Chicago who has lived in Tulum for 15 years, who recommended several restaurants that we could try for dinner. In the end we decided to try the Mexican restaurant La Malquerida – he had also suggested a seafood place and a steak restaurant – and we were definitely not disappointed. The food was delicious, though I learnt the hard way that when a Mexican waiter tells you that the salsa is spicy, that basically means it will melt your face off.
On our second day we rented some snorkelling gear from a nearby dive shop and took a collectivo out to Akumal Beach. We had heard about Akumal from a girl we met in our hostel in Valladolid, and she couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Akumal is a beautiful, picture postcard beach with bright white sand and gorgeous blue water, and on top of that it is a natural habitat for turtles.
As I am not a very confident swimmer I mainly stuck to the shallows, but Dan was able to swim out a little further and got to see lots of turtles and tropical fish swimming around the reef. There were loads of people in the water, some in groups with a guide, but we walked right along the public beach to where it borders the private hotel beaches and were rewarded with a slightly less crowded area to swim in.
The rest of the afternoon we spent lazing in the shade under a palm tree – but still we managed to get a little sunburnt, the sun here really is relentless – before going back to the hostel and attempting to wash all the sand off ourselves. We then went out for seafood tacos at La Savana De Mariscos – another incredible dinner for just £5, where the fish and shrimp in our tacos was coated in coconut before being fried. No matter how many times we have them I don’t think we will ever get tired of seafood tacos in Mexico!