Updated: Jul 8, 2021
We understand not everyone has the same schedule or same plans in mind. If you want to skip to a certain place, feel free to click a location below and skip ahead.
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico
Where to Stay: Stay at an Airbnb: https://abnb.me/K4M5JmUGygb.
Our Review on Airbnb: Such a great and excellent host, his location is prime and his availability and attention are second to none! Lovely home as well, quite quaint :)
Arrival & Check-in
Land in Cancun and pick up your vehicle from the car rental, exchange money, and drive to your Airbnb in Valladolid.
Unwind, go out and explore downtown, and prep for an early morning.
(We rented our car from Easy Way Cancun Car Rental after reading several reviews. But our experience wasn't as smooth as others which is why we're not recommending them. But if you decide to give them a try, there is a money exchange place right outside of their rental agency or else you can exchange your money at the airport).
Visit Cenote Suytun and Las Coloradas
Cenote Suytun opens at 9am but if you get there earlier, they will usually let you in. From the parking lot you have to walk a little ways in and down some steps to get to the cenote. Depending on the time of year, you will be able to walk onto the platform and capture pictures and swim around OR you can swim on the platform and take pictures with the sunlight peaking in.
Cost: Cenote Suytun costs 120 pesos per person which includes parking and a lifejacket rental.
After the cenote, take a 2 hour drive to Las Coloradas. The best time to visit is around noon when the sun is shining brightly, making the pink color stand out even more. There are two areas you can visit here, one is the pink saltwater and the other is the quiet, peaceful area where the flamingos roam in the water. Each side has its own fee and rules.
For the pink saltwater area you can only visit for 30 minutes at a time and no tripods or drones are allowed. This time frame is to ensure your safety in order to avoid anyone from fainting in the scorching, dry heat. For the flamingo side, a tour guide riding on his scooter will show you where to drive. He will signal when to slow down and stop as to not scare the flamingos off. When he says its okay, you can get out of the vehicle, quietly and walk over to the lake to take photos.
Cost: We honestly think they change their prices whenever they feel like it. But you can expect to pay 300-500 pesos between seeing both the pink lake and flamingos.
Day 3 (Part One)
Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik-Kil
Chichen Itzá opens at 8am and is 40 minutes away from the airbnb we mentioned above. Tour buses only arrive after 9am so it's best to wake up early and visit this wonder of the world. We were able to see the pyramid so peacefully and leave by 9:30am before it got crowded.
Cost: For foreigners the tickets are $25 or 497 pesos. Ticket prices are the same online and in person so we chose to purchase at the ticket booth. The credit card machine doesn’t work at times so its better to pay in dollars/pesos.
Cenote Ik-Kil is 5 minutes away from Chichen Itza and it's another unique cenote to visit. Once you enter and put your belongings into the locker, you must rinse yourself off of any lotions, makeup, etc. before walking down several steps to the cenote. This is also one of the deeper cenotes at 150 feet (45 meters). This makes it a fun place to jump into the water. There are stairs that you can climb up if you are looking to jump. Don't worry, with a lifejacket and lifeguards on duty it is a safe place to go diving.
Cost: 150 pesos per person which includes a lifejacket and locker rental.
Once you're done at the cenote, head back to the airbnb, and get ready to check out. Then drive to Cancun for the weekend.
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Now that you've experienced a bit of what Valladolid has to offer, it's time to make your way to Cancun. This drive is about 3 hours long, we did this because we wanted to party in Cancun. If you want to save some time and/or want to leave Cancun for the end of your trip then head to Tulum. (skip to day 7)
Day 3 (Part Two)
Where to Stay: Ocean Dream Cancun by GuruHotel
Our Review on Booking.com:
Pros: I loved how close it was to the beach and the party strip. This made our stay in Cancún very easy, from having a place to park to being able to enjoy the beach and party without having to worry about getting back!
Cons: If I had to choose, I’d say the bathroom looks a little old and decrepit.
Day 4 & 5
Chac Mool Beach
If you're staying at Ocean Dream then it's already part of Chac Mool Beach but if you're staying nearby then make your way over to Chac Mool Beach. This beach is perfect for swimming, surfing, or for any water activity, such as jet skiing or parasailing, that you may want to try out while here. It's also near some good beach bars and restaurants.
Lunch/Dinner: Try out The Surfin' Burrito, it is a great place for food and drinks and right at the heart of Chac Mool Beach. We enjoyed the chicken tacos, their chicken quesadillas, and the create your own burritos.
Nightlife: Some of the places that we visited and loved were Mandala Beach Club, La Vaquita, and Señor Frogs. They all had great music and a fun atmosphere. Drinks were pretty well priced too.
If you want to see some dolphins, drive down to Playa Delfines. The nearby parking lots are free. We can't guarantee you'll see dolphins but that is what this beach is known for. We arrived mid-day when the beach was already crowded. After waiting for a bit and not seeing any dolphins we decided to go back to the beach at our hotel and just relax.
Some things we didn't do in Cancun that might interest you are:
The Cancun Scenic Tower which is said to offer amazing views of the coast and Cancun Downtown. It's open from 9am-9pm every day.
Mercado 28 is in the heart of downtown Cancun and is a huge shopping center with just about everything.
Underwater Museum or MUSA is an underwater attraction filled with about 500 sculptures. There are different types of tours you can book depending on the amount of snorkeling you want to do.
Day 7 (Part One)
Waking up early and catching the sunrise on the beach is one of our favorite memories in Cancun. The water isn't too cold and makes for a great couple of hours of swimming and sunbathing in Cancun before checking out.
Once you've enjoyed your morning, head back to your room, check out, and drive down to Tulum.
Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Day 7 (Part Two)
Check into hotel, unwind, explore downtown.
Where to Stay: Hotel Biwa Tulum
Our Review on Booking.com:
Pros: The junior suite was very spacious, exceptionally clean, and had wonderful little touches. The shower was beautiful and water pressure was great. We enjoyed the pool and rooftop very much. The food at the restaurant downstairs was delicious. Staff was friendly. The drive to the beach and nearby attractions wasn’t too far. Overall we really enjoyed our stay and would recommend to others.
Cons: The wifi didn’t work at times. The power seems to go out every night for a second throughout the whole town. And the view from our suite of the streets wasn’t that great. The tiny parking lot did make it a bit of a hassle to find parking at times.
Dinner: Try Burrito Amor, the burritos are delicious especially paired with their sauces.
Matcha Mama & SFER IK
Get some acai bowls at Matcha Mama while you get your Insta-worthy photo on the swings. It's open from 8am-6pm.
Then head over to SFER IK. SFER IK looks like a treehouse but is actually a museum filled with exhibitions from artists around the world. But don't let the "museum" title fool you, this is no traditional museum. It is more of an experience. SFER IK is open from 11am-7pm.
Cost: Tickets can be bought in advance online for $10 USD per person.
Escultura "Ven A La Luz", Kaan Luum Lagoon, & Cenote Calavera
If you don't want to wait in a line, wake up early and get to Ven A La Luz before 8am. This is the best time to take photos without being rushed by other tourists. The sculpture is on the main road and is open for public access so there are no fees to take the photo.
Breakfast: Try Raw Love, their acai bowls are refreshing and delicious. They have two locations, one on the beach and one in town. Though we visited the one in town, we've heard and seen some insta-worthy photos of the beach restaurant. Raw Love is open from 9am-6pm daily.
After visiting the sculpture and grabbing some breakfast, head to Kaan Luum Lagoon.
Kaan Luum Lagoon is an ecosystem home to different kinds of species; due to this no food or drinks are allowed. Regular sunscreen is not permitted. Biodegradable, organic sunscreen is however safe to use.
Cost: The entrance fee is 300 pesos per person which includes the usage of the restrooms and parking. If you want to visit the observatory deck, use a drone, or go kayaking, you will have to pay an extra fee for each.
Once you've enjoyed the water swings and hammocks in Kaan Luum Lagoon, head back to town and grab some lunch. After lunch head over to Cenote Calavera, one of the most fun cenotes we've been to.
Cenote Calavera is a giant swimming hole that can only be entered two ways.
By jumping into the hole with or without a lifejacket.
Climbing down the ladder.
Truth be told, if you're not going to jump into the cenote than this one may not be the cenote for you. All the fun is in jumping right in, then coming back out and doing it all over again. There is also a swing in the cenote, great for photos.
Cost: 150 pes0s per person to enter. Use of a GoPro costs extra pesos.
Follow That Dream Sign, Cenote Dos Ojos & Xcacel Beach
The infamous Follow That Dream sign is located right in front of Lolita Lolita boutique on the main road of Tulum's beach town. Due to it's location it has become a popular spot for photos.
The sign is located down the road from Ven a La Luz, so you can very well visit these in the same day. We chose to go on different days as we wanted to capture photos in different outfits and before the road began to get busy.
Cenote Dos Ojos translates to two eyes which means you can expect to swim in two separate cenotes. These cenotes definitely have some of the bluest and clearest waters we've seen. Cenote Dos Ojos is best known for snorkeling and scuba diving. While there aren't really any fish to see, the cenote is pretty deep making it a great place to explore and see what is hidden beneath the surface.
Cost: This cenote is one of the more expensive ones. Entrance is 300 pesos per person which includes parking, use of bathrooms, and lifejackets. If you want to rent a locker, go snorkeling, and/or scuba diving it will cost you extra per activity. Lucky for us, we brought our own goggles which allowed us to swim around and see a lot of the second eye. The first eye is better for scuba diving.
After the cenotes grab some lunch before heading over to Xcacel Beach. Similar to Kaan Luum Lagoon, due to the ecosystem living on this beach, no outside food or drinks are allowed. Only biodegradable, organic sunscreen can be applied. The beach does have restrooms and showers.
Make sure to bring your goggles as you can see some pretty cool fish in the water. We also recommend flippers or water shoes as the whole beach is surrounded by a reef, the deeper you go the harder the ground gets. The beach is open from 10am-5pm.
Cost: Xcacel Beach costs 90 pesos per person which includes parking and use of their facilities.
Some things we didn't do in Tulum that might interest you are:
Cobá Archaeological Zone + Cenote Tamcach-Ha + Cenote Choo-Ha + Cenote Multun-Ha - All of these are located within 5-10 minutes of each other. Coba Ruins is open from 9am-3pm, Cenote Tamcach-ha and Cenote Multum-ha are open from 8am-6pm, and Cenote Choo Ha is open 9am-6pm. Cenote Tamcach-Ha has deep blue water, and two platforms for jumping. Cenote Multum-Ha is really just known for its spacious swimming area. Cenote Choo-Ha is located deep in a cave and less touristic than other cenotes making it a great place to hang out and swim. Cost: 80 pesos per person for Coba Ruins and 100 pesos for each cenote per person.
Gran Cenote is the most popular cenote in Tulum so make sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds. Gran Cenote is open everyday from 8am-4:45pm. Cameras are no longer allowed there. Cost: The entrance fee is 180 pesos, renting snorkeling equipment costs 80 pesos, lockers are 30 pesos, and a life jacket is 50 pesos per person.
Tulum Archaeological Zone is open from 9am-3pm. This is one of the largest cities built by the Mayans. Cost: Entrance fee is 80 pesos per person, parking is 100 pesos per person OR if you are able to drive away from all the tour operators, you can continue on to the free public parking area so we've heard.
The Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most well preserved habitats in Mexico. Due to the road conditions near the area, the only way to really visit the biosphere is by booking a tour. As we didn't do this, we cannot recommend any tours in particular but if you have the time, we've heard this is well worth a day or two visit.
Tulum Jungle Gym is a one of a kind gym with equipment made from wood, bamboo, and stone and is located on the beach. Cost: 500 pesos for a day pass.
Papaya Playa Project is known for their beach clubs and parties on Saturday's. If you make reservations for their Beach Club restaurant you will have access to their beach beds, beach, pool, towels, and yoga class. Cost: 1000 pesos for food and drinks must be spent per person minimum + 15% service fee.
Casa Malca – Pablo Escobar’s Mansion - If you're not a hotel guest you can splurge for a day pass to walk around the mansion taking photos, eating at the restaurant and chilling poolside. Cost: $175 USD per person for the day pass which includes $125 USD towards food and drinks.
Coco Tulum is an affordable place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and a great place to take some photos on their insta-worthy beach swings.
Macondo and La Popular at Nomade are known for their insta-worthy restaurant style. Macondo boasts Moroccan vibes while La Popular is all about their woven teepees beach vibe. They are open to non-guests from 12:30-10:30pm.
Tulum Beach: Check out Casa Jaguar, Papaya Playa Project, and I Scream Bar.
Tulum Town: Check out Batey's, Elixir, and Make Hotels meet up Wednesdays.
Check out & Fly Home
Go for a final swim at your hotels pool. Then check out, drop off your car at the rental agency, and get ready to fly home.