Km 21 772
We have been looking forward to enter Mexico for quite a while. On the one hand, we can’t wait to finish the trip and meet our families and friends back home, but on the other hand, we are also impatient to see the cenotes (water holes) and the white sand beaches, the natural jewels of the Costa Maya.
Once we cross the border, we make a detour to Chetumal, the capital of the Quintana Roo region, which covers the entire east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula all the way to Cancún. We try out the Mexican cuisine in a small restaurant with tortas, huaraches and quesadillas – delicious! We visit the coastal road before cycling back onto the main road north in the late afternoon. We cycle a few more kilometres before we reach the Laguna Milagros. We have read that there are some possibilities for camping in the village of Huay-Pix, so we try our luck in one of the alleys. At the end there are several restaurants with a beach access and we ask in one of them if we can camp somewhere here. We are allowed to camp on their beach with palapas (palm leaf roofs) and it is not even expensive – perfect! Since we still have a little more than an hour until sunset, we go swimming and have fun like little kids on the swings set up right in the water.
The next morning we cover a few kilometres before we come across the next beautiful lagoon, Laguna Bacalar. It is also called Laguna de los 7 Colores (Lagoon of the 7 Colours) because it has so many different shades of blue, from light to dark. It is beautiful! We drive past the Fuerte San Felipe in the centre of Bacalar and have lunch in a restaurant on one of the public beaches. Before we set off again, we jump into the incredible water to cool off. In Buenavista, at the northern tip of the lake, we see the lagoon again. But we only have a small snack and don’t go swimming again. More kilometres follow before we find shelter for the night with locals who have a small forest with clearings next to their house.
There are still two not very interesting days of cycling on long straights in the middle of the forest. Then we finally reach Tulum and the famous Costa Maya, one of the most touristy regions in Mexico. In Tulum, one hotel follows the other and we realise immediately that this will not necessarily be a place for us, but we will still try to enjoy the natural jewels of the region. So we drive straight to one of the cenotes near Tulum, the Cenote Cavalera. The entrance fee is quite expensive and accordingly only foreign tourists can be found there (as on the entire coast). On the other hand, the place is very nice and well-kept, with beautiful colourful graffiti on the walls and the cenote (the water hole) in the middle of the forest, surrounded by a few deck chairs. The cenote is not very big, but there are several holes in the limestone floor where one can jump in, and we have a lot of fun. We fall 2 m into the water directly into the cave, where we also discover some bats. Then we come out again via a big wooden ladder. In the evening we pitch the tent next to an abandoned house and a lighthouse, from where we have a beautiful view of the coast and the fine white sandy beach. But an unpleasant surprise spoils our quiet evening: While we are eating, a security guard comes and tells us that we are not allowed to stay here. We negotiate that we may at least finish our hot meal and then pack up our things, the tent, the mattresses and everything we already had prepared for the night. We look for another place to sleep, but that is a difficult task here in Tulum, as almost every square metre is occupied by hotels or restaurants. Finally we explain our situation and that we don’t know where to go (it’s almost 10 pm) to a guard of the Tulum National Park and he lets us camp for the night in the small visitor pavilion. It is right next to the main road, but we hide in a shady corner and at least we have a safe place to sleep.
This was our last night in wild camping mode. We now know that it is just too complicated to find a quiet place to sleep here along this super-touristy coast. In the morning we are still very tired as we couldn’t sleep well with the traffic noise, but we motivate ourselves to visit the ruins of Tulum, one of the most famous Mayan archaeological sites. Part of the temples are located directly above the cliffs and the fine white sand beach, which is admittedly beautiful. Unlike other Maya sites, the temples here are rectangular and not pyramid-shaped. There is a lot of activity, but we still enjoy the beautiful view of the coast. After the visit, we drive a few kilometres further along the coast to Chemuyil. In this small village we have located some cenotes on the map, one of which can be visited for free. We don’t expect much, because here in Mexico everything has to be paid for. So if something is free, it can’t be very interesting. But we were wrong, because the place is really beautiful, almost more beautiful than the other cenote we visited in Tulum! We enter a large cave and at the end there is a pool with very clear water. Directly behind it, there is an opening in the cave through which one can look directly into the jungle. We picnic in the sun in front of the cave and then jump into the crystal clear water. We are all alone, which is great! After this refreshment, we drive on to Playa del Carmen, one of the biggest towns on the coast. We make a detour to the crowded beach, but with a great atmosphere, where we come across a Mayan dance and song performance. We walk through the pedestrian zone, where restaurants and tourist shops line up, and then settle into our flat with pool. We treat ourselves to a little luxury for our last days on the trip 😉
Then it’s already our last day on the bike, but that seems a bit surreal. We cycle kilometre after kilometre on the highway, and again there are lots of luxury hotels next to us. One could think it’s about who has the biggest and most magnificent entrance. At noon we find a small public entrance to the beach, Playa Paraíso. The name sounds good and it’s a good place for a picnic. We settle down on some rocks with our feet in the water to eat and can hardly wait to swim in the turquoise water. But while we are still eating, a huge thunderstorm hits. Within less than ten minutes, the sky turns black and it starts to poor down. We have just enough time to pack up our things and return to our bikes. We put on our rain gear and then look for shelter. 100 m further on, we find shelter in a guard house under construction. We finish our meal and then wait until it stops raining. Half an hour later we set off again in the sunshine, but unfortunately we don’t have time for a swim anymore, which is a shame. We make good progress until a sign saying “Tequila Tasting” stops our speed. We desperately need a break and it would be nice to learn more about how tequila is made. The young woman greets us with a big smile and shows us directly to the tasting table. We try a white tequila and then various liqueurs. It is all so delicious that we will definitely take a few bottles home with us. We haven’t heard anything about the production process, though, so we start asking her a few questions. She explains to us that all tequilas come from the Tequila region and that it is a protected name, similar to champagne. She explains to us the production process from the blue agave leaves, which are cut by hand, to the storage in wooden barrels (like wine). After tasting all these delicious liqueurs, we find it hard to continue cycling. Fortunately, there are not many kilometres left to Cancún. We cycle past the airport in the south of the city and through the centre to the north, where we arrive at our Warmshowers host’s house with still warm tamales (steamed corn pastries). We have dinner together and spend a pleasant evening.
We stay two more nights to visit Cancún and prepare for our return to Europe. Time flies between the difficult task of transporting huge card board boxes on our bikes, doing PCR tests and buying souvenirs. We just have time for a little bike tour through the centre and the Zona Hotelera, where all the famous hotels and beaches are located. On our last evening, we treat ourselves to a big seafood platter at a restaurant to celebrate the end of our trip properly. The next day, we have nothing left to do but to play Tetris to pack all our things into the boxes and take a taxi to the airport. Hasta luego las Américas, we will be back!
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The famous Costa Maya