You already read about what I did while I was on my first cruise on the Norwegian Getaway (and that I did it ALL ALONE), but today I’m sharing something I did off the ship.
Thanks again to Norwegian for hosting me on this complimentary cruise. I paid for my excursion to Tulum out of my own pocket.
First things first, though. Before you set sail on a Norwegian cruise, you’re able to log into a pre-cruise portal and plan ahead. You can purchase a beverage package, which I highly recommend, as well as book tours and excursions for the cruise ports.
There’s something for everyone when it comes to port excursions: wildlife encounters, beach days, adventurous activities like kayaking or paddleboarding. But what interested me the most was seeing some of the history of my destination, so for my Cozumel, Mexico port day I chose to book a tour of the ruins at Tulum.
Getting to Tulum is an adventure in itself! The port of Cozumel where the ship docks is on an island but Tulum is on mainland Mexico, so you have to take a ferry ride and a bus ride to get there.
It was very windy the day I went, so I’m glad I brought some Dramamine with me — if you are known to get seasick, you’ll definitely need to take something or wear SeaBands to prevent nausea on the ferry ride.
The ferry (~45 minutes) takes you to Playa del Carmen, and from there a bus (~1 hour) brings you to Tulum. Although the bus ride is long, a tour guide tells you all about the area while you ride so it’s not at all boring.
When you arrive at Tulum you must purchase a photography permit if you plan to take photos. If you want the tour guide to handle the permit purchase for you, you’ll need cash. I believe it was $5. But if you speak some Spanish like I do, you can use your credit card at a Spanish-language kiosk to purchase your own permit for $2 and some change. Just a little money saving tip for savvy travelers. 🙂
The cute little creature above is a coati we saw before we got to the ruins. Even though it is friendly enough to approach tourists, the tour guide warned us not to pet it and he was right: someone tried to and almost got bitten!
To enter the ruins, we walked through this little corridor through the stone wall. It would have been cool if Hogwarts was on the other side, just sayin’.
And here’s the view that greeted us on the other side of the wall. Beautiful, right? I guess I’m not that upset it didn’t turn out to be Hogwarts after all.
Our tour guide told us a few interesting things about the ruins and surrounding area. As you can see in my photo below, the ground is sandy and rocky, which means crops don’t grow well there. The indigenous people — Mayans — were fishermen instead, and the area has an abundance of delicious, fresh seafood.
Once our tour guide had finished speaking to us, we had some time to wander around by ourselves. We were so lucky to have a beautiful, clear day (although it was VERY hot). South of the equator, ya know.
Beyond the ruins, you can see the clear, blue ocean.
And on top of the ruins, you can see cute little iguanas chillin’ in the sun. Can you spot him?
Here’s a better look at one:
I wandered over to the beach beyond the ruins and stood in the cool ocean breeze for a little while. I couldn’t believe how crystal clear the water was! Truly stunning.
And once I’d gotten a few nice, deep lungfuls of ocean air, I wandered back to the shopping plaza at the entrance to the ruins to get something to eat. My tour guide had pointed out a restaurant that he said had the best fish tacos in town, so that’s where I decided to stop.
The restaurant was called Frosty’s and as someone who has a lot of faith in the power of word-of-mouth, I ordered the fish tacos. I was not disappointed!
I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture of the tacos themselves, but here’s a snap of my Coca-Cola Light (aka Mexican Diet Coke), chips and EXTRA spicy salsa. Seriously, don’t have the salsa if you don’t like spicy food!
After my belly was full, it was about time to get back on the bus, head back to Playa del Carmen, then board the ferry back to the ship docked at Cozumel.
Although I was tired by the end of the day, I am SO GLAD I decided to book this excursion and that I have these pictures to remember it by.
Comments & Reviews
Anita Anderson says
Wow! The picture of the blue ocean is breathtaking. That photo looks like from a brochure and is so inviting.
Thank-you for sharing this amazing day trip with us. I would have no idea that a photo permit would have to be purchased, good thing they tell you! And I love the pictures of the excursion, especially that secret entrance way!
Rebecca Bryant says
What a beautiful place. I like exploring new places and seeing what they offer. Adding this to my must see places.
Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says
That looks like it was an amazing time! We love going to Mexico. And we love it more for ruins like this than we do for the beach. Fun!
Jen Rattie says
I’d LOVE to visit the Tulum ruins. Most people go to Mexico for the beach, but I’d be happy with an entire trip devoted to ruins and pyramids.
Shirley Wood says
Thanks for the great tips, Sea Bands/Dramamine for the ferry ride and the photography permit info. Good to know. This is the kind of excursion my hubby and I would enjoy. We always like to see the historical places. Your pictures are beautiful and that water is so enticing.
Your pics are gorgeous. Some great tips. I love Mexico. I hope the next time I go I can do some excursions of the ruins, especially after seeing your pics
Neha Saini says
Thanks for sharing your trip story. All these pictures are amazing. I have never been to Mexico. I love Mexico for the beaches and white sand. I’ll definitely go some day.
The excursions have to be the best part! I know it’s exhausting, but so worth it!
Tonya Wilhelm says
That looks like a fun trip. Really interesting that you had a photography fee! I’ve never heard of that. Cute critters on the journey too.
Nancy L. says
My family and I love to travel to Mexico. The Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen are beautiful! Tulum is always fun to visit and is rich in history and beauty. I never took the ferry and will have to do that on the next trip!
Neely Moldovan says
How completely gorgeous! I have always wanted to visit Tulum!
Oh wow I have always wanted to travel there! I always loved the different lizards and reptiles on the islands in the caribbean. This sounds like such a wonderful trip!
Pam Wattenbarger says
I wanted to go to Tulum last time we were in Mexico but we didn’t make it. It sounds like an awesome adventure.
Carol Bryant says
For starters, those images are perfection. Second, this looks both relaxing and educational. What a trip this is and I would love to explore this area in person.
Claudia Krusch says
I am looking forward to going on a cruise this Winter. It is a great way to travel and see many places on one trip.
Jenn Borget says
This looks so fun! I love cruises and have been looking for a new destination to visit, I’ll definitely have to check this one out!!
What a trip! And you are very brave for doing it alone. Lots of great tips in this post and beautiful pictures. I would love to visit the Tulum ruins one day. I will have to mention this to my husband.
Erica Schwarz says
I cannot believe I have never been on a cruise! And I live near Port Canaveral Florida where we have a bunch of cruise ships. Looks like this was a fun trip!
Adriana Lopez Martn says
How lovely I am jealous has been forever since I was in Mexico my beautiful country. I am happy you had a blast. Your pictures are amazing =)
Toni | Boulder Locavore says
Such a beautiful place! Glad you are having a great time! Enjoy your trip! 😀
Ohhh boy, you’re so making me want to plan another cruise! What an incredible vacay you had!
Ashley Mullins says
That looks like it was a great day out! I want to go to Mexico soon! That beach is calling my name.
Seattle Travel Blogger says
Your pictures are awesome! I love the “where’s Waldo” picture with the little iguana!
What a wonderful trip! I like to see the ruins too. It just amazes me how people from ancient civilizations built such structures when they did not have much tools. I love the beach too. The water looks so pristine!
Annemarie LeBlanc says
Cool! I love your photos! It captured the beauty of the place and of the big blue ocean. I like visiting places like this, and I sometimes dream of visiting Machu Picchu too. It must be so surreal to be standing there, in the ruins of a once thriving community.
Wendy Polisi says
What an exciting little adventure! I never thought about traveling here before!
Dawn McAlexander says
When we went to Cozumel, this was one of the expedition options. My husband was excited to see it, but I thought that the expedition was too long and cut it too close to get back to the ship, so we didn’t take it. I feel bad about that now.
I went to Tulum two years ago with some friends for spring break. I was so in love with it and have been itching to go back since then!
What a great post. I have been all over the world, but I had not been here. I am going to try to make a trip!
Amanda Love says
I have never been to Tulum and it would be nice to drop by and vacation there! Everything looks amazing to be honest! The beach is really breathtaking.
Gracias! This is a great article with great photo’s of Tulum. It is one of my favorite places to visit in Mexico.
Beautiful photos! I have yet to go on a cruise, but it’s on my bucket list for sure.
Alissa Apel says
Oh wow what an amazing trip. I love all the photos you captured!
Sarah Hailey says
Very lovely photos!
You have chosen the great place for holiday