I say Cancun, but this is really about a small part of Yucatan. It started with planning a trip to Cancun, but during our five-day trip we were in fact never in Cancun except for the Cancun International Airport. I’ve only traveled to the Yucatan this one time, so read this for what it’s worth.
A couple of factors played into our trip planning. Number one: difficult teenagers! We traveled with a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old. It seems that an all-inclusive resort would give everyone the most freedom and the least headache. We couldn’t do anything longer than a day trip. We had to cram a bunch of activities in one day so that Aaron still had some time to hang out with the kids. Secondly, the trip was short. Minus travel time, it was only 3.5 days actually in Yucatan.
說是說坎昆，但其實這篇是關於猶加敦半島(Yucatán Peninsula)靠近坎昆的那塊，不過當初計劃行程是打算要去坎昆的，做做功課之後決定要玩要住的地方其實是在海龜灣(Akumal)和土倫(Tulum)一帶，整整五天除了機場之外都沒有在坎昆。我只去過這麼一次，不是什麼太厲害的攻略，大家參考看看就好。行程安排受到很多限制，我們帶了兩個沒耐心的青少年，所以選了all-inclusive飯店，這樣大家都有自由沒煩惱，但也因此只能排當天來回的行程，還有就是時間很短 (因為沒有假可以請了)，扣掉飛來飛去其實只有三天半。
Where to Stay
There are a lot of hotels, condos, B&B, and all-inclusive resorts in Yucatan. Your travel preference matters. If you want to stay in an all-inclusive resort the whole time, Cancun hotel zone would be just fine; Playa del Carmen might have some cheaper options. Mayan ruins that are closer to get to would be Ek Balam and Chichen Itza. Swimming with whale sharks would be closer that way. Yet it would take an hour 40 minutes to get to Xel-Ha Park and about two hours to Tulum.
If you want to see Mayan ruins like Coba and Tulum and swim with green sea turtles, staying in Riviera Maya close to Akumal or Tulum makes more sense. We stayed in Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya this time. It’s about 1 hour 20 minutes from the airport (95km) and only:
- 13 minutes of a drive to Akumal or the Turtle Bay where you can snorkel with sea turtles (7.5 km),
- 17 minutes to Xel-Ha Park, a popular commercial aquatic and ecotourism theme park (17km),
- 30 minutes to the ruins of Tulum (30km),
- 35 minutes to downtown Tulum where you can get some local food (35km),
- 65 minutes to the ruins of Coba, the ultimate wanderlust destination where you can climb to the top of a Mayan pyramid (80km), and
- 2 hours and 15 minutes to the ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders in the world (183km).
I had really wanted to visit Las Coloradas, the unreal pink lake that’s a salt mine up north, and Río Lagartos, a nature and wildlife reserve where you can see flamingos, crocodiles and almost 400 species of birds. We even researched car rental and driving in Mexico. However, four to five hours of driving one way is just too much. It would be ideal to stay up north for at least one night and then get on a boat tour in Río Lagartos early in the morning.
See my Google Map to get an idea of where things are.
想住all-inclusive又完全不會想要離開飯店的話，住坎昆飯店區或者卡門海灘(Playa del Carmen)就可以了，卡門海灘常常會有比較經濟實惠的選擇，離坎昆飯店區和卡門海灘比較近的馬雅遺跡是Ek Balam和奇琴依薩，坎昆一帶季節對的話可以看鯨鯊，不過去某些景點就非常遠，像是土倫要兩個小時、Xel-Ha要一個小時四十分鐘。
想去看Coba或Tulum這些馬雅遺跡又想看海龜的話，就要住在Maya Riviera 靠近 Akumal 或 Tulum 比較有道理，Akumal北邊有不少all-inclusive飯店。我們這次住在Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya，到機場大概一個小時二十分鐘 (95公里)，到其他景點車程大概是:
- 13 分鐘到海龜灣 Akumal 浮潛看海龜和魟魚 (7.5 公里),
- 17 分鐘到 Xel-Ha，是個很熱門的生態水上主題樂園 (17公里),
- 30 分鐘到土倫馬雅文明遺跡 Tulum (30公里),
- 35 分鐘到Tulum市中心吃當地人常光顧的美食 (35公里),
- 65 分鐘到Coba馬雅文明遺跡，可以爬上金字塔頂端 (80公里),
- 2 小時15分鐘到奇琴依薩 (Chichen Itza) 馬雅文明遺跡，是世界新七大奇景之一 (183公里)
本來真的很想去Las Coloradas看超夢幻粉紅色的湖 (是鹽田) 還有去Río Lagartos看紅鶴和鱷魚，還研究了路線和墨西哥自駕，最後因為得要當天來回但是單程就要四五個小時所以放棄了，要去Río Lagartos還是得要住在北邊，隔天一早八點去坐船逛生態圈比較好。
這些地方的相關位置可以參考這個 Google Map。
There are a ton of tours available in Yucatan — ranging from half-day group tours to see one site of Mayan ruins to customized private tours that can last two or three days. Pay attention to what’s included and what’s not (lunch, driver but no tour guide etc.)
A friend of mine recommended Entertainment-Plus. We booked a one-day private tour with them mainly because I was very ambitious about how much I want to do in a day. We went to Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik-Kil, and Coba all in one day! I didn’t see this combination available elsewhere. （Not recommended. That’s not enough time to see Chichen Itza. However if you also have limited time and want to see a lot, this is doable.) The tour started at 7:00 a.m. when the driver picked us up at our resort in Akumal and ended at about 6:00 p.m. when we were dropped off in Tulum for dinner. Our driver Jose was wonderful. The one guide Entertainment-Plus typically works with at Chichen Itza was booked solid that day. We went with Santiago and it was great.
We had another private tour — also due to very limited time and we were not sure if difficult teenagers who already did not want to leave the resort would have much patience for a group tour. We booked with Local Quickies. I was looking for snorkeling at the Turtle Bay. Local Quickies was the only tour company that seemed to genuinely care about wildlife conservation with a passion, so I went with them.
Our driver was Cesar and our guide was Captain Quickies’ nephew, Hector. Hector was fantastic! I wholeheartedly recommend booking tours with Hector especially if you are interested in any water activities. We went to the ruins of Tulum in the morning, swam at an underground cenote with stalagmites and stalactites, snorkeled in Akumal with green sea turtles, sting rays and all kinds of tropical fish, ate at a hole-in-the-wall authentic taco restaurant, and did cliff jumping and swimming in a beautiful open cenote. The tour started at 8:45 a.m. when they picked us up and ended at about 4:40 p.m. when we got back to the resort. (Note that our resort is really close to Tulum and the cenotes we went.) The trip was unbelievably amazing!
Hector offers day trips that can include visiting the ruins of Tulum or Coba, snorkeling in the Turtle Bay, swimming in cenotes, and ziplining. You can also customize your tour and even make the tour longer than a day trip to visit Río Lagartos or further away ruins like Uxmal, snorkeling with whale sharks, or adding adventures like off-road ATV rides. Hector loves Yucatan and he’s passionate about his job. You’re getting much more than just a driver who shows your around, but a local who would ensure you have the best experience and learn the culture. Hector is an experienced swimmer and snorkeler. Most importantly, he respects wildlife and cares about conservation — that’s really important to me. You can find information about day trips he offers and his contact information to customize your own trip at Malo’kin Tours.
猶加敦半島有很多觀光團，從馬雅遺跡一座的半日遊到多日包車旅遊都有，挑選的時候要注意團費到底包含什麼 (是否包含午餐、包含導覽還是只有司機等等)。有朋友推薦Entertainment-Plus，我們訂了這家的單日包車旅遊，很衝地一天內去了奇琴伊薩、溶洞(cenote) Ik-Kil、馬雅遺跡Coba! 看了好幾家旅遊公司都沒有這麼拼的團，於是就訂了這家 (如果要好好逛完奇琴伊薩的話，不推薦把這麼多景點排在同一天)。一日遊從早上七點司機到飯店來接，到晚上六點左右司機把我們放在Tulum晚餐的餐廳 (通常是送回飯店，但是我們訂了晚餐的餐廳在Tulum)，司機Jose人超好，Entertainment-Plus平常合作的奇琴伊薩導遊那天沒空，我們的導遊是金毛獅王Santiago，也很不錯。
另外一天的包車旅遊是找Local Quickies，也是因為時間有限又想跑很多地方，加上青少年大概沒耐性跟團。我想找海龜浮潛團，Local Quickies的網站看起來他們真的關心野生動物保育，所以就決定訂這家。我們的司機是馬雅人Cesar，導遊是老闆Captain Quickies的外甥Hector，我們真心大推Hector！這天早上去了Tulum，接下來在鐘乳石洞的溶洞浮潛，再去烏龜灣Akumal浮潛看海龜和魟魚，去吃道地taco，下午到另一個溶洞跳水和游泳，一日遊從早上8:45出發到傍晚大概4:40回到飯店 (我們的飯店離景點都很近)，這幾個景點都美得不可思議！
Hector有自己的公司，提供包車一日或多日遊，一日遊的景點選項有馬雅遺址、海龜灣浮潛、溶洞游泳、飛索等等，多日包車旅遊可以自己計劃想要的行程再和Hector討論，可以去生態圈Río Lagartos、超遠的馬雅遺址Uxmal、浮潛看鯨鯊、越野車探險等等。Hector感覺真的熱愛這片土地和海洋，又對這個工作十分有熱誠，找他包車旅遊不只是有司機帶你到處走，還加一個當地人導遊，真的可以好好體驗當地文化和這些景點，Hector浮潛經驗豐富，又很重視動物保育，想找他談包車旅遊的話可以到Malo’kin Tours。
Do I need pesos? Should I buy pesos back home, exchange at the resort, or use a hotel ATM? I tried researching the best way to deal with money and still don’t know what that should be. I would say — bring as much U.S. dollars you would possibly need and use peso preferably when you’re at a local business or taking a taxi.
You should bring enough U.S. dollars because ATMs at resorts may charge you some ridiculous amount of fees. The one at Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya had a transaction fee of USD $25!
U.S dollars work for tips at resorts. Some say to always tip in local currencies because that’s easier for locals. It didn’t seem that way. Locals are fine or happy with U.S. dollars. They hold on to them until the exchange rate is good to buy pesos.
If you are going to spend money outside of the resort, you need pesos. (Not necessarily for touristy places like souvenir shops at Chichen Itza, Coba or Tulum. They will take U.S. dollars, euros or pounds.) Businesses or taxi drivers sometimes get you with horrible exchange rates if you pay with U.S. dollars. The exchange rate between U.S. dollar to peso was about 1:17 when we went. The exchange rate offered by the resort fluctuates, but was roughly 15-16 pesos for a dollar. Taxi drivers quoted 17 pesos to a dollar to as low as 14 pesos to a dollar.
飯店提款機匯率可能不差但是手續費可能很高，像我們在Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya領錢，領錢是領美金，手續費要美金 $25！
如果要去飯店外面探險的話，還是要有披索 (熱門旅遊景點像是奇琴伊薩、 Coba、Tulum的紀念品店還是會收美金) ，用美金買東西的話，商店或計程車司機可能會給你超差的匯率。我們在墨西哥的時候，美金對披索大概是1:17，飯店的匯率會浮動，不過都是15-16 披索，我們坐了幾次計程車，司機給的匯率有時候是人超好的 17，有時候是很坑錢的 14！其中一天晚餐在外面吃飯，餐廳可以收美金，但是偏好披索，當天飯店的匯率是 1:16，餐廳用的匯率是 1:15。
What to Pack
- Biodegradable sunscreen: Coral reefs are already dying from climate change; you don’t want to make their lives worse by using regular sun block that would promote viral infections. Regular sunscreen is banned at the Turtle Bay Akumal and ecotourism parks like Xel Ha. I bought Tropical Sand. It worked very well in preventing sun burn, but it was hard to rub in. It would look like you applied white paint on yourself. I have yet to find a perfect biodegradable sunscreen.
- Bug repellent: In five days, my husband got one mosquito bite while I got at least 45! Hell I even got two while floating in the lazy river. Bug repellent is important when you visit ruins like Coba, explore in mini jungle even just in a resort, or, if you’re like me, standing still to take pictures of sunrise on a beach. There’s biodegradable and environment-friendly bug repellent. You can probably buy bug repellent at the hotel. Entertainment-Plus offers bug repellent, sun screen, and after sun aloe gel as add-ons when you book tours with them. Knowing me, I of course also packed anti-itch cream and I went through two third of a tube.
- Snorkel masks: We bought full-face snorkel masks that cost about USD $45 back home. It was a great investment. These are full-face masks so you can breath normally, instead of biting on some rented tube that may be disgusting. This way you can snorkel whenever, wherever you want rather than renting gear. Don’t make the mistake we made. Treat your mask before you use it (with toothpaste I guess). Our masks — supposedly anti-fog — worked well in the ocean but fogged up like crazy in cenotes. Lots of hotels offer snorkels free of charge, but sometimes with limited time. For example, the limit at Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya is one hour per day.
- Aqua shoes/water socks: Reefs and the bottom of some cenotes can be sharp. Aqua shoes are not necessary but good to have.
- Umbrella (for those who can’t stand burning sun): Apparently there’s no shame for using umbrellas to block sun at ruins like Chichen Itza. Even our local guide from Merida used an umbrella at Chichen Itza.
- 生物可分解的防曬：珊瑚礁已經因為全球暖化快要死光光了，你忍心用你的一般防曬讓他們被感染嗎？海龜灣和Xel Ha之類的主題樂園都禁用一般的防曬乳液，要用生物可分解的防曬，我買了 Tropical Sand，防曬效果很好，但是超難推勻，快要跟塗白油漆沒兩樣，不知道哪個牌子好用。
- 防蚊液：這五天我老公只被咬一包，我被咬了至少45包！連在漂漂河也可以被咬。 去 Coba 這種叢林、甚至在飯店的樹林一定要擦防蚊液，(或者跟我一樣早上沒事站在沙灘上拍日出的話)，防蚊液也有生物可分解的版本，飯店通常會有， 訂Entertainment-Plus 一日遊的時候可以加購防蚊液、防曬、曬後蘆薈等等。知道自己很會被蚊子咬，所以當然也打包了止癢的乳液。
- 浮潛面罩：我們去之前買了大概美金 $45 的浮潛面罩，非常值得，是全臉的面罩所以可以正常呼吸，不用咬著幾千個人用過的借來的管子，而且隨時想浮潛就可以浮潛，不用租裝備，飯店通常有免費浮潛裝備，不過大部分使用時間有限。買浮潛面罩的話記得先處理防起霧 (據說是用牙膏)，我們沒處理，明明號稱是防起霧的面罩，在海裡都沒問題，但在淡水超會起霧。
- 雨傘 (給在台灣會撐傘防曬的人們)：在 Chichen Itza 之類的地方實在太曬了，顯然撐傘防曬不是什麼丟臉的事，我看到兩家旅行社提供整車的遊客超大陽傘，連我們的Merida土生土長金毛獅王導遊都有撐傘，所以逛馬雅遺跡又怕曬或太熱的話，就大方地撐傘吧！
Must-Eat in Yucatan — Cochinita pibil
Cochinita pibil is THE quintessential Yucatan dish in this area. It’s essentially Yucatán-style barbecued pulled pork cooked with Seville oranges and achiote. Traditionally the pork is marinated with achiote seeds, garlic, spices and bitter orange juice, then wrapped in banana leaves, and then cooked in a pib, a Mayan oven that’s a hole in the ground lined with hot stones. Cochinita is served with red pickled onion as a taco or a sandwich (torta). Yes, you can probably get cochinita pibil at a resort. It’s not the same. Any street vendor has way better cochinita. The most famous place for cochinita pibil in the area is Taqueria Honorio in downtown Tulum. I missed it because they are only open from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and closed on Mondays. I found this place online; it is also recommended by a cabbie who’s from Merida and now lives in Tulum. Supposedly lechon al horno is also a must there.
Another popular place is Antojitos la Chiapaneca, famous for its taco al pastor. I didn’t get to try it because they have random hours. Some say 5:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.; some say 4:00-6:00 p.m.; some say they don’t open everyday. We went at about 6:20 p.m. on a Monday and it was closed.
The best seafood place in Tulum is El Camello Jr. Camello is famous for their ceviche. A small ceviche is only 95 pesos and the portion is huge! Plenty for two people to share as an appetizer or one person to eat as a full dinner. I love octopus so I almost got an octopus (pulpo) ceviche. I got a mixed (mixto) ceviche in the end and was very happy with it. The claims were good! El Camello Jr also serves fried seafood, tacos, seafood soup and some non-seafood dishes.
A top-notch restaurant that required reservation two to four months in advance is Hartwood. Hartwood is a fine dining restaurant on the beach side of Tulum. The restaurant takes email reservation only in certain months, walk-ins in others. Chef Eric Werner from Booklyn opened this place in 2010. It’s not Mexican food. It’s true farm-to-table (or ocean-to-table) food that’s raw, grilled, or roasted. We went in July so we were able to make a reservation by email. The food was spectacular.
來猶加敦半島必吃的美食就是 cochinita pibil，基本上是猶加敦風味的燒烤手撕豬肉，傳統做法是把豬肉用帶苦味的橘子和胭脂樹種子以及大蒜等等香料一起醃一醃，把肉包在香蕉葉裡，再放進馬雅人的地下窯烤爐 pib。手撕豬肉上面會配紅紅的醃漬洋蔥，包在玉米餅當 taco吃或者夾在潛艇堡裡，這種類似法式棍子麵包的潛艇堡叫做 torta。在飯店就可以吃到 cochinita pibil 沒錯，但是跟外面路邊攤或餐廳的真的不能比！ 猶加敦人是早餐吃這道菜，所以到下午通常就賣完了。這一帶最有名的手撕豬肉是 Tulum市中心的Taqueria Honorio，這家只開早上六點到下午兩點，這次無緣，沒有吃到。我在網路上找到這家的，從 Merida來、住在 Tulum的計程車司機也推薦這家，據說他們的lechon al horno也是必點菜色。
一樣在 Tulum 市中心的Antojitos la Chiapaneca也非常有名，必點的是鳳梨烤豬 al pastor，我又再度沒吃到，這家餐廳想開就開，沒有固定營業時間，網路上有人說是下午五點半開到凌晨一點，有人說是下午四點到六點，也有人吃了一次之後在同一時間光顧結果兩天都沒開。我們是星期一下午大概六點二十去的，沒有開。
Tulum當地人也愛的的海鮮餐廳是El Camello Jr，必點的是檸檬汁醃海鮮 ceviche，小盤的 ceviche 才 95 披索，份量超大，可以兩個人分食當前菜，或者一個人吃當整餐。我超愛章魚，差點點了章魚 ceviche (章魚叫 pulpo)，最後點了綜合 (mixto ceviche)，章魚跟螺肉都超好吃，這家的炸魚和炸海鮮拼盤超多人點，除了檸檬汁醃海鮮和炸海鮮之外還有海鮮湯和各式 taco。
Tulum最熱門的高檔餐廳是 Hartwood，要嘛是排隊美食不然就是兩個月到四個月前就要訂位 (譬如說六月不接受訂位，只能現場排，七八月可以用電子郵件事先訂位)。主廚Eric Werner是從紐約布魯克林來的，2010年開了這家餐廳，不是賣墨西哥菜，所有食材都是生的或火烤，標準的從產地到餐桌。以美國大城市價位來說非常正常，以 Tulum來說是 $$$$ 的等級，不過真的很值得！
Must-See: Mayan Ruins and Cenotes
Major sites of Mayan ruins in this area are Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum, and Ek Balam. Every city has its personality. It’s certainly not like you visited one ruin then you see it all. We easily spent more than two hours in Chichen Itza and were trying to rush out of there for the next stop. We missed a lot of areas. To see all of the temples and sites it can take about four hours. We spent roughly an hour and 40 minutes in Coba and an hour and 20 minutes in Tulum (too hot to walk through the whole park!)
As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza obviously is a must-see. Coba is a wanderlust destination because it’s the only place where you can climb a pyramid. The view from up top is amazing. Tulum, as a seaport and defense castle on the coastline, looks very different from the other two.
Cenotes are sink holes filled with fresh water. Just like ruins, they’re all different. One of the most famous cenotes is Ik-Kil, which is very close to Chichen Itza. Malo’kin Tours and Local Quickies both offer tours to some incredible cenotes. Swimming in crystal clear water body that looks turquoise or green may be the most unforgettable highlight of your trip. The water is chilly, but feels amazing after walking around under burning sun for hours. It’s a perfect way to cool off after or in between visiting ruins.
這一帶的馬雅文明遺跡有奇琴伊薩、 Coba、Tulum、Ek Balam，千萬不要以為都是馬雅文明，有看過一個就好，每個城市都很有特色。我們在奇琴伊薩逛了兩個多小時，最後是趕著離開，怕走不完整天的行程， Coba 大概一個小時四十分鐘， Tulum 大概一個小時二十分鐘。奇琴伊薩身為世界新七大奇景之一當然是必去景點， Coba走頹廢浪漫叢林路線，是唯一一座可以爬的金字塔，金字塔頂端的風景是著名 Instagram 打卡景點， Tulum是個貿易港口又身兼防衛功能，跟其他兩個城市非常不同。
Cenote 基本上是淹滿淡水的滲穴，也是每個 cenote 都不一樣，最有名的溶洞是奇琴伊薩附近的 Ik-Kil ，Malo’kin Tours 和 Local Quickies 的跟團或包車旅遊都會帶去很漂亮的溶洞游泳或浮潛。溶洞的水非常清澈，很多溶洞遠看是漂亮的土耳其藍或綠色，水蠻冷的，但是在烈日下走路好幾個小時之後，泡在溶洞的水裡超級舒服！可以安排參觀完馬雅遺跡之後來散熱游泳。
Getting a taxi is easy at hotels or in places like downtown Tulum. Taxi rates are regulated. The resort we stayed had a rate chart. Cabbies use different exchange rates though, if you’re not paying with pesos.
A cheaper way to get around is taking the Colectivos. Colectivos are small vans that run between Cancun and Playa del Carmen as well as Playa del Carmen and Tulum. You need to catch it on the highway. We didn’t have time when we head to downtown Tulum so didn’t try this.
在飯店或 Tulum 市中心要招計程車都很簡單，計程車費率依照路程有公定價，我們住的飯店有貼費率表。不過付美金的話，司機自己決定匯率。