The beach is fabulous, as is the breakfast at La Via Laktea (The Milky Way), our lucky hotel find in southern Tulum. The waves are big enough to have fun, but not dangerous. Water temperature is warm, very warm, even in Winter. And they own a sizable stretch of oceanfront but have only 10 cabanas, meaning you’ll have the beach nearly to yourself.
They make breakfast right in front of you, practically to order. It’s $8 for the full breakfast including fresh fruit and yogurt, some kind of eggs, toast and the only great brewed coffee I’ve had in Mexico. The owners, a couple from Mexico City, live here almost year round and have teenage kids of their own.
If you are looking for a family friendly vacation spot, you could do a lot worse that La Via Laktea. It’s high season, and we paid $180 per night. The kids are sleeping on cots, but the room is very big. Like all of the Tulum coast, La Via provides their own electricity and plumbing. Power is off in the middle of the day and overnight, and internet access is so limited that it wasn’t worth setting-up, so this isn’t the place for a working vacation.
When Trish went from hotel to hotel looking for vacancy, we saw a lot of places that advertise themselves as eco-chic, which more often than not is code for “run-down and lacking power or plumbing”. I’m sure there are some good ones, but ‘Eco’ in Mexico often means ‘half-functioning’. Make sure you know what you are getting into.
Today is a rare experience: an unscheduled day. I built in some extra time in our Mexico itinerary. We could go to Coba, but it’s an hour away and having visited five sites in the past week, our interest in ruins is limited. We settle on a quick visit to the Tulum ruins followed by some shopping and more beach fun.
We thought the crowds had subsided after the New Years weekend, but they are out in full force at the Tulum archeological zone. The lines are the longest we’ve seen on this trip and you can’t go a meter without having to move around people. It’s the most manicured site of all we’ve seen – even Chichen Itza looks rough compared to the disney-like mass plantings, clean white walkways and ropes everywhere. You can’t climb on anything here, not even the grass.
We take a short walk around the ruins for fun, but everyone knows this is not nearly as good as it can be. Clouds come and go, and it’s cool but not cold, so the brisk walk is pleasant. Tulum was hardly an important city, but the location makes it beautiful and, of course, it’s not far from the beautiful beach.
Trish takes the girls to buy some souvenirs while I try to find good internet access. They are good shoppers and find jewelry, headbands and dresses that look great. If Tulum has broadband anywhere, I could not find it. Cellular, internet cafes, and hotel wireless systems are universally weak in signal and bandwidth. It makes it hard to check in with work and post on the blog, but isn’t of consequence otherwise.
The kids play with boogie boards on the beach, and both enjoy the surf. The waves are probably only 3ft waves, but some are much higher than that when they crash on shore. With my help, the girls are launched just as the waves crest onto shore, and on a good one they fling 30 feet to the beach. Emma wipes out hard a few times, drinking the frothy mix of fine sand and frothy sea foam but she gets back up. Only when the boogie board cord gets tangled around Emma’s feet does she get spooked. After two hours of non-stop activity, it’s time to call it quits anyway.
We almost sleep through dinner. But we make ourselves get up and go on our last night in Tulum. No beach walk this time, the moon is gone and it’s too dark. We go to restaurant Om, an boutique place with decent prices (~$145US/night) but they were totally booked when we asked a few days ago. The restaurant is pretty good though. Kids fall asleep at the table again. Trish and I wish we could do that.