To experience as much of the archaeological sites Quintana Roo, Mexico has to offer in one day we booked the Coba, Tulum, & Cenote Tour through Thomas Moore. Transportation to and from the site, admission to Cenote Multum-Ha, Coba and Tulum archaeological sites, tacos at a traditional Mayan village, and a buffet lunch are included. Throughout the tour water, beer, chips, and sandwiches are passed out and tequila sunrises are offered on the ride home.
- The entrance to Tulum is just over half a mile from the parking lot consisting of stairs and a combinations of winding dirt and paved roads to reach one of the 5 entrances into the city; 1 to the West, 2 on the South side, and 2 on North wall. The ruins can be visited every day between 8:00am and 5:00pm.
- The limestone wall enclosing the city of Tulum, over 2,500 feet long and 22 feet thick, was built as a defense and separation from upper and lower classes. The height of the wall varies due to the contour of the land. The rectangle only consists of 3 sides, the fourth wall is the sea.
- Tulum, meaning fence or wall in Mayan, once was an important trading port for jade and turquoises along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula into central Mexico and Central America. Tulum is the third most popular destination in Mexico.
- Castillo, the castle overlooking the coast, is one of the most recognized structures in Tulum. A hint of the once red painted stucco covering the building is still visible.
Temple of Frescoes
- The Temple of Frescoes once served as an observatory and was used to track the sun. It now holds a mural painted by the Mayans representing the dead, the living, and rain gods.
- Outside of the ruins is a small, touristy market. Near Senor Frogs, the souvenir shops, and convenience store men are dressed in traditional ceremonial attire with snakes, monkeys, and iguanas. Our guide cautioned us that posing for a photo with them can cost as much as $50 per person.
- We recommend a rickshaw or renting a bicycle to reach Nohoch Mul if time is limited or to save energy for climbing. Our taxi was patiently waiting for us when we were ready to return to the entrance, just remember the taxi number.
- Located around 30 miles North West from Tulum, is Coba, meaning waters stirred by the wind in Mayan. A network of an estimated 50 roads once connected Coba to neighboring cities, the longest reaching 60 miles. It is estimated 50,000 people lived in the Coba between 400 and 1100 A.D.
- 2019 is the final year visitors will be able to climb the 120 steps to the top of Nohuch Mul, the tallest Mayan Structure in the Northern Yucatan. According to our guide, this 138 feet tall pyramid is actually a tomb built for a small honey bee.
- There is no one regulating the number of people climbing the pyramid. The queue waiting to climb down the smooth, worn rocks with the assistance of the anchored rope can cause the top to become very crowded.
- The La Iglesia Temple with a tree growing out of the stones is located near the entrance of Coba. A narrow tunnel runs under the front of the structure. Climbing this temple is prohibited.
- The Crossroads Temple has a unique rounded shape. Once all trades and accounts with neighboring cities were handled here.
- Also near the entrance of Coba are stelae or stories carved into stone slabs and a replica Pok-a-Tok court, a game played by Mayans where a ball is tossed through a sideways hoop without using feet or hands.
- About 10 minutes from Coba is Cenote Multum-Ha. A steep spiral staircase descends 26 feet below ground to reach the deep water cenote. A small hole in the ceiling and a light above the deck provide the only light source in the cavern.
- The cenote can be accessed by stairs or jumping off a platform at the edge of a wooden deck above the water. 2 ropes run across the cavern to assist swimmers; one underwater to stand on and one visible across the top of the water starting at the deck. Life jackets are available for use. Showers, changing rooms, and restrooms are located above ground at the entrance.
Traditional Mayan Village
- The last stop on the tour is a traditional Mayan village. We have the opportunity to sample fresh corn tortillas served with spinach, scrambled eggs, bean paste, and hot pepper sauce.
- Mayans have a long history of raising sting-less honeybees. The bees live in hollowed, horizontal logs. The entrance to the hive is a small hole in the center of the log. Each end is closed with a block of wood that can be removed to receive the honey. Unlike most honeybees, the honey is stored in wax balls instead of a honeycomb.
- Gardens are planted out of the reach of small animals in elevated beds. In the medicinal garden among Aloe Vera, lemongrass, rosemary, and chamomile are Mimosa Pudica, also known as Sensitive Plants. The leaves of the plant fold closed for about 5 minutes when touched. This plant was commonly used to treat insomnia and used during childbirth.