Cost of Living in Playa del Carmen: My One Month Budget

If you’re thinking about spending time in Playa del Carmen as a digital nomad, remote worker, or even just on vacation, the first question that comes to mind is all about the finances. What is the cost of living in Playa del Carmen? Here’s the budget breakdown of one month I spent eating, drinking, and exploring this beautiful place in 2018.

 Mexico beaches and blue ocean waters from above

 

Housing

Furnished Studio Apartment: $542 

This was definitely the toughest part to keep on budget. Rent will play a huge factor in determining your cost of living in Playa del Carmen. I was on and off Airbnb for weeks looking for places near the beach and was coming up with nothing affordable. Luckily, I finally landed a jackpot.

Our Airbnb is a 15 minute walk from my favorite beach in Playa del Carmen, and a 45 minute walk from downtown. Obviously not ideal, but the walk is on the quiet 5th Ave. and actually really nice to make after sitting at home working all day. When we don’t feel like walking, a taxi is only $2.

We’re also staying in high-season, and when I was searching for a month long stay in January Airbnb said only 1% of listings were left on my dates. So you might have even better luck in different months of the year.

My tip: Start looking early. The absolute best places to stay are between Calle 2 and Calle 40 near 5th avenue, but we’re all the way out on Calle 98 and it’s still safe and nearby.

 

Transportation

Transport total: $450

Next, transportation. This is a little stretch to our cost of living in Playa del Carmen because here I include our flights in and out of Cancun, which you can dismiss if you want to. I always compare prices on flights with Skyscanner to find the best deals. It also lists the airport buses and taxis in our day to day life. This does not include transport to and from weekend excursions and day trips, which is in the activities section.

Two Flights Chicago –> Cancun w/ checked bag: $272.58

Two Flights Cancun –> Mexico City w/ checked bag: $82.28

Two Airport Bus Tickets Cancun –> Playa del Carmen: $18

Two Airport Bus Tickets Playa del Carmen –> Cancun: $18

Taxis are cheap here, but they don’t have meters and require some negotiating. Just make sure you always leave the main touristy area on 5th Ave where the drivers will offer you crazy high prices. Walk up to Avenue 10 or 15 and you’ll be charged a fraction of the price. During our one month stay in Playa del Carmen we walked a lot, but probably spent an estimated $60 on taxis.

 

jungle and steps up the Coba pyramid

 

Food, Drinks, and Activities

Activities total: $1,000

We budgeted to spend $250 a week on going out to eat, getting drinks, and all weekend activities. We work during the week but during the weekends we did a lot. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Playa del Carmen for food and fun.

One day swimming with the turtles $40 incl. one meal

One day visiting a rooftop pool $20 inc. one meal

One day boat Cruise with snorkeling Sponsored but $24 on transport and tip

Two days laying on the beach Free

Two night weekend trip to Tulum, visiting cenotes, the Coba ruins, and renting bikes $170 incl. transport, hostel, food, and drinks

Two night weekend trip to Laguna Bacalar $200 incl. transport, hostel, food, and drinks

Various meals out, nights out, movies, etc: $546

During the week we also volunteered to walk dogs at SOS el Arca (free) spent a day working at the co-working spaces (you can get free one-day passes here), went to movies ($2 tickets) or would walk to town or spend the evening on the beach. Having so many cheap/free/nearby options really helped keep our budget down and save money for the weekends.

 

steak dinner on catamaya cruise

 

Groceries

Total Groceries Costs: $300

For groceries we spent $75 a week at Walmart and that was enough for 3 meals a day all week and one or two cooked at home on the weekend. This included steaks, salmon, fresh fruits and berries, salads, and lots of good eats.

 

Nightlife

The nightlife in Playa del Carmen is one of the main reasons why people come. To give you an idea of costs drinks are usually $5 to $8 for a cocktail or $2 to $3 for a beer. However, you can definitely find them cheaper if you know where to look. If you wanna save money check out my list of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen.

 

Miscellaneous

Sprint International phone plan – $36

Health care – $280/month (although there are much cheaper travel health care plans available, this is the one we use through Daniel’s job)

 

water swings in laguna bacalar

 

Total Cost $2,608

Ok! So, this may seem pretty high at first but just keep in mind that it is for two people, and includes our international flight into Cancun, a domestic flight out, and an expensive US health care plan. Eliminating these three costs puts it closer to $2,000 a month.

This is definitely not the cheapest place we’ve ever stayed, but for such a touristy destination and to be walking distance from a beautiful beach, I still thought the cost of living in Playa del Carmen was surprisingly low. We ate, drank, and went pretty much wherever we wanted to go. You could easily lower the budget even more by including lots more beach days instead of weekend trips, and of course cutting out alcohol.

If you’re wondering about the cost of living in Playa del Carmen, I hope this budget breakdown helps give you a better idea of what to expect! If you can make it here, you’ll fall in love with this little slice of Mexican heaven 🙂

All my love,
Di

 

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The Best Cheap Bars in Playa del Carmen

I’m always on the hunt for the best cheap bars in any city, and Playa del Carmen is no different. This town is super touristy (like most beach towns are) and there’s nothing worse than wasting money and time on totally inadequate or overpriced drinks. That’s why I drank my way through the city (just for you guys of course) and created this list of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen.

 

La Camelia’s

Location: 5th Ave. Between Calle 12 and 14
More Info Here

I can’t speak for their food because I didn’t try it, but their happy hour was amazing. From 11am to 6pm every day, you can get two mixed drinks for 90 pesos. Not bad for one of the most touristy places in town! The list of cocktails has over 20 options on happy hour, and the mojitos were delicious. I’ve also seen this sign out at various different hours of the evening, so I think their happy hour times are pretty flexible… walk by and take a look!

 

 

La Pechita

Location: 5th Ave Between Calle 34 and Calle 38
More Info Here

La Pechita is one of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen because they offer a good deal on mojitos and beers all the time, no happy hour needed. The price for two mojitos is 140 pesos, or you can check out the beer deal, two for 60 pesos. This place is on the more relaxed end of 5th Avenue and the tables spill out onto the street, perfect for people watching.

 

Manne’s Biergarten

Location: Calle 4 Between Avenida 10 and 15
More Info Here

Ok, this place was such a great find, and probably my favorite of the cheap bars in Playa del Carmen. The delicious blended margaritas and other mixed drinks are only 60 pesos each, and 1 liter margs for only 120 pesos! That’s a great deal considering on 5th avenue they usually cost way more. The best part about Manne’s is that it’s totally chill, the waiter we had was SO friendly and nice, and this is the permanent price… no need to hit them up for happy hour because you’ll get the same great deal no matter how late it is. Also, did I mention the tequila shots are only 25 pesos each? Dangerous…

 

 

Tropical

Location: 5th Ave. between Calle 8 and Calle 10
More Info Here

This restaurant often has a sign out front advertising 2 cocktails for 100 pesos total. I noticed it at such random times that I stopped to ask, and the waiter told me they just put it out when it’s not crowded, and pull it in when it’s busy haha. So, def walk by and take a look, and you may just be able to snag this deal. The restaurant spills out onto 5th Ave. and has a great location.

 

Palm at the Playa Rooftop Pool

Location: Calle 8 between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue
More Info Here 

FREE DRINKS for ladies on Friday night between 8pm and 11pm. Did I mention it’s a gorgeous rooftop pool with a view of the ocean? During the days, you can also get pretty good deals because it’s a 300 peso entrance fee on Mon – Wed (and 500 on Thurs – Sun) but that all goes towards food and drink at the bar and restaurant. If you’re sick of the sandy beaches, this is a great place to chill. And definitely hit it up for free drinks on Friday night!

 

rooftop pool at the palm at the playa

 

Club de la Cerveza

Location: 5th Avenue between Calle 34 and Calle 38
More Info Here

I love craft beer, so I just have to include this one! The drinks aren’t that cheap (around 50 to 90 pesos per beer) BUT they do have a meal of three fried chicken tacos for 45 pesos, which is a crazy good deal. They also have a huge selection of different craft beers from Mexico and around the world, and an awesome ambiance. If you’re looking for craft beer in Playa del Carmen (or cheap tacos) this is definitely the place.

 

Beer at El Club de Carveza

 

La Verbena

Location: Calle 34 between 5th and 10th Ave.
More Info Here 

Another ladies night! This bar has free drinks for women from 8pm to 10pm on Wednesday nights. It also has an awesome ambiance with a jungle like atmosphere. Greenery hangs from the ceiling and nice lighting make this place romantic an relaxed. It’s also right by the Club de La Cerveza, so hit this up first, save a few bucks, then splurge on some Mexican craft beer afterwards!

 

Botanico bar in Playa del Carmen

 

Enjoy your night out, and I hope this list of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen helps you stick to your budget. If you’re still looking for more great deals, here’s another list of Ladies Nights in Playa del Carmen that you also shouldn’t miss! Salud!

All my love,
Di

PS Don’t forget to check out the best cheap restaurants in Playa del Carmen as well!

 

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The Super Easy Guide to Basic SEO For Travel Bloggers

If you’re an aspiring travel blogger, there are a lot of different ways to promote your work. You can build up a huge social media presence, but don’t forget to focus on basic SEO for travel bloggers as well! SEO means search engine optimization. When your posts have better SEO, they will rank higher in a google search and get clicked more. I know it seems intimidating (especially for new travel bloggers) but it’s seriously SO simple, and so effective.

In July, I stopped focusing on my social media and began working on improving my travel blog SEO. Since then, I’ve seen my daily visitors continuously increase from about 25 per day to now around 75 per day and growing. If you’d like to see the same, implement this basic SEO for travel bloggers on your site today.

 

1. Install and Use Google Analytics

Most of you have (hopefully!) done this already, but if not, it’s a must. Google analytics are free, and it will take you about five minutes to follow these steps to install it.

Once you have it set up, you can start tracking your visitors. Use the “Audience” overview tab to see how many visits you’re getting, and how much time people are spending on your site. Use the “Acquisition” overview to see WHERE your traffic is coming from (social media, google searches, etc.) and finally, use the “Behavior” content drill down tab to see which pages are the most visited on your site.

The content drill down tab is a very useful tool, because it helps you understand which posts are the most popular, and then write more like them. Are you articles about budgeting always getting hit? Or maybe everyone is reading your destination reviews from a specific country you have visited. Whatever it is, create more!

 

table with type writer and paper

 

2. Install Yoast SEO

The next step in basic SEO for travel bloggers is installing Yoast SEO. It’s a free plug-in on WordPress, and is totally invaluable in making sure you rank. It will add a form below your post and as you write it, it will tell you what you need to improve like adding a meta-description or more keywords, filling out the alt descriptions for your images, remembering to link to internal and external pages, and more.

Use this on every article you write going forward, and go back to your old ones to make sure they pass their SEO guidelines as well.

 

3. Write for Obscure Keywords

Ok, maybe obscure isn’t the right word, but you need to be very careful about the keywords in your articles to avoid getting buried in the mass of blog posts on Google. Did you know millions of blog posts are written EVERY DAY? You have to work hard to stand out, and basic SEO for travel bloggers will help you do so. That starts with keyword research.

So, how do you pick the right keyword for your post? Here are some ideas:

1. Google the keyword you want to write for (ex: snorkeling in Playa del Carmen) and see what comes up. If the first few hits are TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet forums that is a good sign. It means not much has been formally written about the topic it will be easy to rank with your post. If there’s already two pages of content published by high authority sites (like BBC Travel or National Geographic for example) your lil’ post probably wont make the front page.

2. Brainstorm what you would search for. That’s how you can find different variations on the keyword that will get hit. Instead of Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, it may be better to use “Unique Places to Snorkel in Playa del Carmen” or “DIY Snorkeling Trip in Playa del Carmen”. The goal is to always, always try to be on the first page of Google.

For Example: When I visited the Rainbow Mountain in Peru, it had already been covered by tons of travel blogs and I knew it would be hard to rank. Instead, I set my focus keyword in the Yoast SEO plugin to Mount Vinicunca, the actual name of the mountain. Because of that there was way less competition, and now my article is the top Google hit for the search, outranking Wikipedia and even Forbes.

 

city skyline at sunrise

 

4. Guest Post

I once read online about someone who’s professor gave them great advice “Try to get rejected by something every day.” I love it! Email people and sites you think you have absolutely no shot at, cause you never know what might happen.

When you are guest posting, you need to understand Alexa Rank. This will tell you the rank of your website vs. every other one in the world. If you website ranks at 5 million, don’t waste time guest posting on a site that ranks at 12 million, because it probably won’t improve your SEO or send much traffic to your site.

The best idea is to try for big names like BBC Travel, HuffPost, Forbes, etc. You can also look for niche sites that are focused on the country or topic you are writing about, like a travel site focused only Peru, or hiking gear, or all about finding cheap flights.

One great travel blog that I have guest posts on is The Planet D. Their Alexa Rank is 95,000 (that’s great! The lower the better) so a backlink from them (aka a link on their website leading to mine) improves my SEO because it tells Google that an authoritative website trusts mine.

When you are pitching guest posts, make sure the website you pitch to accepts guest posts first (you don’t want to spam them with requests if they don’t) and second, make sure they don’t already have similar content on their site. Once your post is up on their sites, you should see the traffic it sends over in your Google analytics at Acquisition –> Overview –> Referrals. If one guest post sends a lot of traffic, pitch two or three more to the site.

 suitcase and travel gear

 

5. Publish More Content

Learning basic SEO for travel bloggers is all well and good, but you also need to be writing a lot if you want your blog to take off. The more content you put out, the more visitors you will get. Google will also regularly look at your website. If they see lots of new articles every time they come, that’s great for your site. If there have been no updates since their last visit, it’s bad for SEO.

How much should you write? At a minimum, you should be publishing at least one article a week, but aim for two or three instead.

If you’re not traveling at the moment, there’s still plenty to write about! Brainstorm topics that affect you during your travels, or just write whatever comes to mind. Some examples of non destination based articles on my website include What is a South American Suicide Shower?Six Insane Living Places We Can’t Believe People Actually Live, and The Truth About Traveling Full Time.

Since I started focusing on publishing much more regularly in July, my Alexa Rank has dropped from 9 million to 4 million… not bad!

 

6. Publish Better Content

While I’m on the topic of content, publishing BETTER content is also imperative when it comes to basic SEO for travel bloggers. One way to do so is make sure your headlines are catchy to get those clicks (but you don’t have to be click-baity and annoying either. Just make sure they clearly explain what your article is about so people choose to click YOURS on their Google search).

Also, increase your word length. Something that takes 15 minutes to write is just not going to be worth reading. I often click on links when I’m researching my next trip that have NO value whatsoever, and it annoys me when a title looks promising but the article was just a promotion or fluff and is a waste of time to read.

When people are planning trips, they want to hear about your experience, but they also want all the info they’re looking for in one place. So that means for an article about weekend trip for example, you should include everything: what you packed, how you got there, where you ate, and most importantly, THE COST!

Millenials talk about money and it’s no longer taboo (thank God) so please please spell out the budgets and costs for your bus, or your hostel, or your month long trip through a country. For prospective planners this is often the most important factor in making a travel decision.

 

mountain and lake

 

7. Improve Your Load Time

This is more important than you think. Did you know that Google reports that 53% of people will leave a page if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds?! Don’t do all the work to get visitors on your site, only to lose them at the last second!

The most common things that people do wrong to slow down their load times are not optimizing their photos for size (or using too many pictures), using things that slow down their website like cumbersome sliders or fancy animations, having a poor hosting plan, and not minifying or caching. I’m currently tackling this problem on my own site, and am working on improving my load time with these steps:

1. Check the page speed at Google Insights. The higher the score the better. Just like a school grading system, 90-100 is best and lower than 60 is failing.

2. If you have poor load times then there are different ways to fix it. For beginners, the easiest solutions are plugins (not too many though, because too many plugins slows down your site too). I use EWWW Image Optimizer, WP Fastest Cache, and Fast Velocity Minify to help improve load speeds but there are a lot of others that work too.

 

8. Sweat the Small Stuff

You’re trying to grow and compete with established travel blogs, which means every little bit helps. Always add alt attributes to your photos. Always respond to comments on your blog. Always make sure every link on your post works and point exactly where you want it to go. Always make sure you use lots of headers and break up the text for easy reading.

Anything you can do to keep people on your page longer will help. Add videos to your posts, and use nice pictures (check out Unsplash for gorgeous free stock photos for your non-destination articles). If you take the time to tweak these small things for every post, it will help your SEO.

 

Old school green VW travel van ready for a summer road trip

 

Basic SEO for Travel Bloggers

I hope these tips on basic SEO for travel bloggers have helped! Take your time to start implementing these into your own blog and watch your visitors grow on Google analytics. If you have any more simple steps I missed, please comment below and I’ll add it to the list. If you try out some of these and see results, let me know!! Best of luck to all you travel bloggers out there, and safe travels 🙂

All my love,
Di

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Unique Places to Stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Clear turquoise water, soft white sand, a warm breeze blowing between the palm trees, incredible local food — Mexico’s Riviera Maya is calling your name. Stretching from Cancun to Tulum, and past the famous Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo, the Riviera Maya is an ideal section of Caribbean coast for your relaxing vacation.

With so many all-inclusive resorts and hotels that often look the same, it can be hard to find someplace unique when you come to Mexico. To go along with the unique restaurants in Playa del Carmen, we’ve compiled a list of the most unique places to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, so you can plan a trip unlike any other.

 

1. The Kombi Experience, Tulum

 

The Kombi Experience Van to explore Mexico's Riviera Maya

 

Can’t decide on which Mexican beach town to stay in? Visit them all!

The Kombi Experience is certainly one of the most unique places to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Instead of booking a resort, rent a Kombi VW van to sleep and travel around in! The van comes equipped with a bed, sheets, pillows, camping style cooking supplies including pots, pans, silverware, dishware, a GPS, and a full tank of gas.

Explore all of Quintana Roo at your own pace, and don’t worry about choosing between beaches because now each one is easy to access. The hosts of the Kombi Experience recommend parking it at beach campsites so that you can have access to bathrooms, electricity, and internet when necessary. Bring your valid driver’s license to rent out the van and bring it back with a full tank of gas.

 

2. Beachfront Tiny Living in Soliman Bay, Tulum

 

Tiny living in a truck bed

 

Tiny living is all the rage right now. If you want to try it, check out this tiny living situation in the bed of a pickup truck. Yep, you heard us right, a pickup truck. This is definitely one of the most unique places to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

This doors on this beachfront tiny home open up and show that the space has room for just one bed and not much else. The house is described as being the ideal for those looking to connect with nature. It has a private bathroom, outdoor shower, outdoor grill for cooking, and is perfectly located just a few feet from Tulum’s crystal clear waters. This is truly an experience fit for those looking for adventure. You can also borrow bikes to explore the town of Tulum, and there are chairs where you can sit and enjoy a beach bonfire or lounge around by the water’s edge.

If you can’t cook for yourself, check out the nearby restaurants. This “palapa” (a regional term for small hut) is located in one of the best parts of Tulum, Soliman Bay. The area is not only home to a quiet, secluded section of beach but also some of Tulum’s best authentic eateries.

 

3. Beachfront Camping, Playa del Carmen

 

beachfront camping in playa del carmen

 

Sleep right on the sand at Lotus Beach in one of these beachfront tents. Your stay here lets you snooze under a canopy right by the water’s edge. Relax to the sound of the waves gently lapping at the shore as you rest on a foam mattress with comfortable sheets and pillows.

Each tent can host two guests, but there’s no hot water, electricity, or internet in them so be sure you have everything you need ready. The tents are located in between Le Reve Hotel and Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, on a safe and beautiful part of the beach.

The area around the tents is undeveloped and generally draws in fewer tourists than the other sections of beach, so you can enjoy an untouched slice of sand (rare for Playa del Carmen) while still being just a short walk away from the center of town.

Relax in the campsite’s hammocks, cook your own dinner over a fire on the beach, or even book a therapeutic message. What could be better than your own private relaxing getaway on this beautiful beach?

 

4. Palapa Dolce Caribe, Playa del Carmen

 

Palapa Dolce Caribe on the beach

 

Sleeping under a tent not your thing? Get all the perks of camping on a beach without the actual camping. This wooden structure is one of the most unique places to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, and is described as being “immersed in nature” with an absolute Mexican jungle feel to it.

The small cabin opens to a single bed and a set of stairs leading to the loft, where you’ll find the second bed. The home is easily accessible, so you can save more of your money instead of spending it on cab rides. Walk right up to Playa del Carmen’s beautiful, clear water, or hang out in the hammocks outside your cabin. The home also has a clean bathroom, shower, and kitchen, and the host will even cook for you for an additional cost.

The rustic vibes of the cabin make it a truly unique experience in contrast to Playa del Carmen’s high-end resorts and hotels.

 

5. Tulum Beachfront Camping, Playa las Palmas, Tulum

 

Tents and hammocks at Tulum's beachfront camping

 

Check out more beach camping at the less crowded Tulum Beach.

The beachfront camping site allows you to sleep in large tents under the palm trees right on the shore.Take your choice of either two twin-sized beds or one queen sized bed, each fitting two guests. All the tents are outfitted with pillow-top mattresses, towels, and hammocks, and campsite has electricity so you can charge your electronics, cool down with a nice fan, or simply have light in the tent after dark.

Relax with fellow adventurers on the palm tree-lined beach and enjoy your own private section of Tulum’s pristine sand!

 

6. Casa Tipo Hobbit, Playa del Carmen

 

hobbit house in the jungle

 

You’ll be going on an adventure fit for Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in this house. The hobbit-style home is one of the most unique places to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, immersed in Playa del Carmen’s jungle-like nature. Just fifteen minutes from the city center, this hobbit home gives you easy access to all the best the town has to offer, while still being near the beautiful, picturesque beaches to enjoy a sense of privacy and seclusion.

The hosts of the hobbit home are extremely welcoming and will gladly help you find what you need in Playa del Carmen. They’ve been known to take guests for walks to the natural swimming holes in the forests around the home, and even invite them to dinner! This off-the-beaten-path home is the perfect location for your unique vacation to Mexico’s most famous beach.

For anyone planning a trip this beautiful country, a few days on the beaches are a must. This time, skip the all inclusive resorts and try out the most unique homes in Mexico’s Riviera Maya!

PS Love what you see? For more on the caves, ruins, stunning beaches and beautiful lakes in the Riviera Maya, check out all of our Mexico content here!

 

This post on the most unique places to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya was submitted by Rebecca at AllTheRooms.com – The website compiles homes to rent from across the web and makes it easy to search everything in one place!

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Spend A Relaxing Weekend in Laguna Bacalar

Laguna Bacalar is a perfect weekend trip from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancun, or anywhere in the Riviera Maya. The colors of the water are stunning, the sleepy town is the perfect relaxing getaway from the crowds, and all the food we ate here was AMAZING!

What’s not to love about this beautiful place? I promise these photos will have you itching to escape the salty beaches and spend the weekend at Laguna Bacalar!

 

the blue waters of laguna bacalar

 

How to get to Laguna Bacalar

Laguna Bacalar is three hours from Tulum, four hours from Playa del Carmen, and five hours from Cancun by bus.

In Playa del Carmen, you can take the ADO first class bus from the station on Calle 12 and Avenida 20. The cost is 322 pesos (about $17 usd) for a one way trip. The buses leave every two hours, and you can see the full schedule here. There are also second class busses called Mayab that run the route. These cost 222 pesos ($12 usd) if you’re really on a budget.

I strongly recommend choosing the first class bus. It’s more comfortable, has a bathroom, and most importantly… it’s faster! We missed the first class bus on our way home and hopped on a Mayab instead. It ended up taking an extra HOUR because of all the stops added in (and it was late too…) I’d rather spend the extra five bucks for a faster trip!

 

Shores of laguna bacalar

 

What to do at Laguna Bacalar

The number one activity in Laguna Bacalar is relaxing. However you like to unwind, you can do it here. Swimming? Check. Water swings? Yep. Hammocks, sun chairs, quiet restaurants? Yes, yes and yes.

Come to Laguna Bacalar to spend your days by the gorgeous fresh water lake. The colors are seriously stunning, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. Even when it was cloudy and storming, the turquoise water seemed to glow with an ethereal look. To be honest lakes are not usually my favorite place to be, but this is the clearest, cleanest, most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.

 

girl on water swings in laguna bacalar

 

Our hostel Yaxche Centro had a shuttle to their own private spot on the beach where we spent two days swimming, kayaking (100 pesos per hour), reading, and relaxing on the water. There are also plenty of beachfront hotels and campsites, so there’s something for every budget here.

One of our two days was super rainy so we spent them both on the water, but you can also rent stand up paddle boards, visit the San Felipe Fort, day drink, do a boat tour (sold on the street corner by the fort, 250 pesos per person), snorkel, check out the nearby cenote Azul, and even go down a giant water slide into the lake.

 

Jumping into laguna Bacalar

 

Where to Eat at Laguna Bacalar

I was surprised because every meal I had in this small town was delicious!

We got the shrimp ceviche and beef tacos at Mexico Gourmet (so good), enjoyed the sopes and burritos at Ojitos La Catrina, and tried the vegan burgers and milkshakes at Mongo y Chile, which also had a beautiful view of the lake. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to snack at Akira Ice Rolls, sooo I guess I’ll just have to come back someday!

 

View from Mongo y Chile cafe

 

Nightlife in Laguna Bacalar

Laguna Bacalar is a pretty quiet town, so don’t expect some Playa del Carmen level parties. I recommend having a few beers and watching the sunset at La Playita restaurant, located in a jungle ambiance right on the water. Afterwards, just walk down the street to enjoy live music and cheap drinks at Ojitos La Catrina, which was packed both nights we stopped in.

 

View of the shore and blue waters of laguna bacalar

 

Have I convinced you to add Laguna Bacalar to your Mexico bucket list? This place is definitely off the beaten path but it’s so worth taking the time to explore! You will never see a more beautiful lake than here, I promise. If you want to disconnect from the real world and recharge, Laguna Bacalar is DEFINITELY the place to do it. Enjoy!

All my love,
Di

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How to Visit the Coba Ruins from Tulum

Ahhhh. There is soo much conflicting information on the web about how to visit the Coba Ruins. Can you still climb the Coba Ruins? Is there a collectivo to the Coba Ruins? How can you visit the Coba Ruins from Tulum (without a rental car or crazy expensive tour)? Luckily I got alllll the answers for ya right here.

Daniel and I did a day trip to the Coba Ruins and nearby cenotes and had an awesome time. Here’s a step by step guide on how to visit the Coba Ruins from Tulum!

 

 

How to visit the Coba Ruins

First things first, how do you get there? There are plenty of options on how to visit the Coba Ruins, you can take a collectivo, bus, or taxi to them from Tulum.

 

Transport by Collectivo

The first thing that comes to mind is grabbing a collectivo on the street right? A lot of forums asking about how to visit the Coba Ruins mention a collectivo, but with no definitive information. Well, there IS a collectivo to the Coba Ruins form Tulum, but it’s probably not your best option. The collectivo is located on the corner of Tulum Ave (the main highway) and Calle Osiris Nte.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure about either the price or times that it runs. It was definitely there early in the morning around 7 am when we were headed to the bus station, and is easy to spot because it’s a large van with Tulum – Coba written on it.

The collectivo is only a 5 minute walk (if that) from the bus station, so my advice is just check it out on your way to the bus. If it’s there, jump on, if not, head to the bus station. (And if you do try it out, please comment below with the info!)

 

Transport by Bus

Right now, going by bus from Tulum is your best option for how to get to the Coba Ruins. I highly recommend getting the first bus out at 7:20 am to avoid the crowds. This bus leaves from the Terminal Autobuses Tulum ADO station. The brand is Mayab, which is “second class” and just means it’s a little cheaper. The cost for the one way ticket to the Coba Ruins (you’ll be on the Valladolid Route) is 50 pesos per person and the drive takes about an hour.

If you don’t want to get on the 7:20am bus, there are more out about every hour. The only problem is the second class Mayab busses aren’t listed online.

Your best bet is to go to the ADO bus station (it’s near all the bars and restaurants in Tulum) and check out the time tables they have on the wall to find the best one for your schedule. You can also ask your hostel to call and ask for you.

Getting back to Tulum from the Coba Ruins by bus is similar. There’s a storefront selling ADO tickets right near the entrance to the parking lot for the ruins. Here they’ll tell you the schedule. There’s a first class bus back to Tulum from the ruins at 3:10 for 86 pesos per person. Or, you can wait until 5 pm or 7 pm for the second class Mayab bus.

 

Transport by Taxi

Don’t feel like dealing with buses and timetables? Then you can also go to the Coba Ruins from Tulum by taxi. Obviously this is the most expensive option, but also the easiest. I know the taxis from Coba to Tulum have a set price of 450 pesos for the trip, so I assume the way out from Tulum to Coba should be a similar price. Of course, always try to negotiate!

 

 

Cost to Visit the Coba Ruins

The entry fee for the Coba ruins is 70 pesos per person. There’s also a “video” fee. If you want to bring in a go pro or shoot video, you’ll have to pay an extra 45 pesos for it. Photos are still free (for now…) It’s pretty weird, but I don’t really mind because the money is going to support the upkeep of the site.

 

When to Go to the Coba Ruins

Like I said above, GO EARLY! The ruins get pretty crowded, especially on the top of the pyramid. There’s not much space and of course everyone wants to climb it. If you want some time to snap a pic or enjoy the view in peace, you need to be at the ruins around opening time at 8am.

The most magical part of the ruins is wandering the secluded tree lined walkways and exploring the different sites, imagining what life was like when it was a bustling Mayan city. Being packed in with 100 people while you do it is gonna ruin it a bit. We spent 8:30 to 11 am in the ruins, and when we left the lines to enter were long and it was a madhouse.

 

 

Exploring the Coba Ruins

First things first, YES, you can still climb the Coba pyramid. A lot of rumors say this ended in January 2018, but we just climbed it on January 20, 2018. It will probably eventually be closed off to tourists, but it isn’t yet.

The large Mayan pyramid is called Nohoch Mul, and is really impressive at 137 feet tall. Honestly it wasn’t too bad to climb (I did it in flip flops) and a little extra effort is so worth the amazing view of the surrounding jungle from the top.

My second favorite area of the Coba Ruins was the Grupo Macanxoc. It’s far down a green tunnel of trees which makes for a super peaceful walk, and is one of the most interesting sites there. The paths are super easy to follow to every part of the ruins, and it’s not difficult to see it all without a map or guide (although you can hire one at the entrance to tell you more about the site).

There are a bunch of different ways to explore the Coba Ruins: by foot, by bike, or by cart. We chose to explore by foot, but they are really big. The Mayan pyramid you can climb, Nohoch Mul, is about 2 km from the entrance, and other parts of the park are even farther. But, whats the rush? I’m glad we did it on foot, especially because we rented bikes later to visit the nearby cenotes.

If you do choose it rent a bike, the cost is 50 pesos per person. There are also bike carts, where you sit on the front and a man drives you around. These are 150 pesos for an hour and 20 minute tour.

 

 

What To Do After the Ruins

We were hungry when we left the Coba Ruins, so we stopped for an early lunch. Little did I know I was about to eat one of the BEST meals! Definitely don’t miss the El Faison restaurant in the parking lot of the ruins.

When you’re there order the poc-chuc, a traditional Mayan pork dish. It was honestly one of the most delicious pieces of pork I’ve ever had. I just pointed to a picture on the menu cause it looked good, and it totally blew me away. It was really flavorful and came with a bean dip, chips, guac, tortillas, and rice. Try it, you’ll love it.

After the ruins, head to the nearby cenotes! There’s lots of info to share on these so I wrote a separate post, but you can read it here to learn how to combine the Coba Ruins with three cenotes for a perfect day trip from Tulum!

 

 

I hope this guide on how to visit the Coba Ruins form Tulum is helpful for every budget minded traveler 🙂 Enjoy the ruins!

All my love,
Di

 

 

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