Destinations / Between Tulum and Valladolid

Between Tulum and Valladolid

Between Tulum and Valladolid

12 January 2006 Destinations, Mayan Riviera, Valladolid Living, LIVING 38

If you're leaving from Valladolid and heading for the coast, or looking for the fastest way to Tulum from Merida (or vice versa), you will find yourself on the road of which we speak. The first time we drove this road four years ago, it was two narrow pot-holed lanes between kilometers and kilometers of jungle on both sides... and not much else.

Things have changed a bit.

Starting in Tulum, the road leaves from the corner where the San Francisco Assis grocery store is located. The signs point to Coba and Valladolid. At this end, they are starting to widen the road, so there is a nice wide road to start, some construction, and then it narrows for the rest of the way. The narrow road is not for the first-time driver in Mexico, perhaps, but if you are used to driving here, you should have no problems. The pot holes are mostly gone, but it is still narrow for most of the way, and cars do drive fast.

But don't let that stop you, because there is much to discover on this road. One of the first things you will see is a cenote, (whose name escapes us at the moment), where swimming and scuba diving are available. Tour buses seem to stop here, so it must be good... and one day, we'll find the time to go there and let you know all about it. (Feel free to comment if you've been there!)

Fairly soon after leaving Tulum, you will pass three small pueblos. In each pueblo are artisans who create handmade wooden furniture, replicas of Mayan ancient relics, figurative wooden sculptures, planters made from logs, masks and stone carvings. There are also fresh juice stands with everything from cocos frios (cold coconuts that they poke a whole in so you can drink the coconut water) to mandarina (tangerine) or naranja (orange) or whatever is in season. Don't hesitate to stop at these little villages and sample their wares. The people are friendly and some of the crafts are quite exquisite.

For instance, in the middle village there is an older gentleman who has spent his life making exacting replicas of ancient Mayan sculptures. He has an extensive art book collection from which he creates his sculptures. He and his son sculpt from plaster, stone and clay and his creations are not cheap, but they are exquisite. And from what he says, his work is collected by people from around the world. I know of at least one of his works that resides on a shelf in a modern 33-floor high rise apartment in Las Vegas!

Continuing on the road towards the north, you will come to a glorieta (roundabout) where you can turn off to go to the Mayan ruin of Coba to the left. If you continue north (straight ahead or todo derecho, as they say here in Yucatan), you will come to the libre (free) road that parallels the carretera (toll road) from Cancun to Merida. Turn left here to go towards Valladolid.

On our last trip this way, we weren't interested in going into the town of Valladolid. The town is well worth the trip, but we didn't have time. Instead, we stopped at a restaurant called Restaurante Hacienda Ticuch. This restaurant has been built to look like an old hacienda, though it is new construction. The main building houses the kitchen, an indoor dining area and a gift shop. If the weather is nice, we suggest sitting outside under the palapa-covered tables. While you are waiting for your meal, take a stroll towards the back of the property along a well-maintained path where you will see a dozen or so peacocks strutting their stuff. At the end of the path is a capilla (chapel) dedicated to El Cristo de Las Ampules (the Christ of the Blisters). Its a lovely spot and a peaceful place to stop in the middle of this long drive.

The food was delicious too! Some of the best sopa de lima (lime soup) that any of us have ever tasted. We had fresh fish, arrachera and delicious homemade tortillas. The food was fresh and well prepared and we would go back again.

Just past the restaurant, turn right to follow the signs to Merida. At the next stop, follow the sign to Merida if you want to continue on the libre road, or go towards Tizimin if you want to get on the carretera here. If you neglected to eat at Hacienda Tucich, then stop at the halfway point on the carretera, and eat at one of the little restaurants. The tacos and tamales have always been delicious here. We prefer the restaurant with the big shiny capuccino machine. A cappucino for the road makes the rest of the drive back to Merida that much easier.


  • CasiYucateco 14 years ago

    Possible yes, desirable or relaxing, no. ;-)

    Working Gringos & Harold are right. And six hours will be gone before you know it. Choosing one would be best. And if you must see Valladolid, head there first. Short distances can take longer than you think. Small or side roads can bring unexpected surprises and delays (horse carts, potholes, anything). Cancun (turnpike entrance) could have a traffic jamb or something else could come up. Why stress out needlessly?

  • Harald Jezek 14 years ago

    as WGs say, it CAN be done. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it. I suggest enjoy Tulum. You could rent a car and discover some places around Tulum. perhaps visiting a cenote (there are some nice ones all over the stretch from Cancun to Tulum).
    You also coud go for a few hours to XEL HA. In this case you could take a cab and don't even need to rent a car. You also could go to Playa del Carmen or the opposit direction to Majahual. 6 hours isn' really a lot of time.

  • Working Gringos 14 years ago

    We have been thinking about it... it COULD be done, but don't forget the time it takes to rent the car! That could take up to an hour right there, unless they have them waiting for you at the dock. We would head straight to Valladolid if you really want to see both. That way you'll be closer to the dock in Tulum if you find yourself having to cut it short. Valladolid is not that close.
    Our vote would be to choose one place and enjoy it more thoroughly...even though we are loathe to disagree with CasiYucateco on anything!

  • CasiYucateco 14 years ago

    It could be done. Probably would allow about an hour or so each in Tulum and Valladolid, with a little time here or there to eat or relax on a beach or soak it in. Too bad more than 6 hours are not allowed. That's not very long. Enjoy!

  • jennifer 14 years ago

    My cruise is docking in Calica. We have 6 hours to sight see. I was thinking about renting a car and going to Tullum, then take the little road to valladolid and then the toll road back to cancun and then to the port in you think there is time for all this in 6 hours and enjoy the sights???

  • cynthia 14 years ago

    Hi. Many thanks for such a detailed, inspiring site! Please tell a pair of Tulum first timers: are ten nights too many in Tulum? We wanted to crash on a gorgeous beach and forget the beeping and buzzing and ringing and honking of Los Angeles, but as we contemplate this trip, we're becoming more inspired to trek around. I'm thinking that we cannot see all that you've piqued my interest to see if we are anchored in Tulum for the entire stay. I have so much more research to do; the deposit for the hotel hasn't been wired yet; and we will have a car. Thanksthanks for lending your expertise!

  • Working Gringos 14 years ago

    If it were us, we'd go for Tulum. It really isn't that touristy and it has the best beaches on the planet (okay, we haven't seen them all yet, but the ones in Tulum are damn near perfect). Holbox is harder to get to, and from the twins point of view (sand, water, sun, mom & dad), what's the difference? I predict you will be happier and more peaceful going straight to Tulum and relaxing there.
    And you have friends with a hotel there?
    You're gonna' love it...

  • Ellen 14 years ago

    Working Gringos: Just love your site & articles. We are headed to Yucatan for 2 wks Jan 09, with our 5year old twins. Our itinerary: Arrive Cancun in AM (on the red eye from West Coast) & drive to Valladolid, 2 nights; Merida 3-4 nights, Izamal/Hac Chalante 3 nights, and to Tulum for 4-5 nights. Beach for the kids at the end (their reward for all the sites in between). We are torn actually b/w Holbox & Tulum......realizing Tulum far more touristy. But friends have a "cabana" hotel there. Worry that Holbox too limited as far as activity for the grown ups. Any comments, especially for us with our two 5 year olds? Many thanks for all the great info and generosity in sharing it. -Ellen

  • Yucatan Living - Valladolid, Sultaness of the East 14 years ago

    [...] moved to Merida, lo these many years ago now, we traveled to Valladolid on the way to somewhere. On the way to Tulum, or on the way back from Cancun or Playa del Carmen. We would stop by and have a delicious lunch [...]

  • Patty Ayers 15 years ago

    There are two cenotes on the way out of Tulum on the road to Coba. I visited both of them one day on my bike. The one mentioned in an earlier comment is Grand Cenote, and it's quite large and impressive and beautiful. However, there were 30-40 people there on the February day when I visited it. It's quite an organized tourist stop. Still, I loved it. But the other cenote was a really magical experience for me, maybe partly because I just came upon it while riding my bike back to Tulum. It's on the same side of the road, but a little closer to Tulum. There's a little store with a shrine to the Virgin Mary outside of it, and some kind of a building under construction, and a kind of hand-scrawled sign that just said "Cenote". When I pulled up on my bike, a guy came from somewhere and said that it cost 50 pesos. He then accompanied me down the jungle path to the cenote. It was very quiet back there, just lots of bird sounds. The cenote had just a small round opening in the rock. At first it was just me and this guy; a little later a couple of other people came, including this European girl who shouted "Uno, dos, tres!" and jumped in. Photo: . I'm not a diver, but the water was delicious as in all of the cenotes. I cannot WAIT to get back to Tulum...

  • Carolyn 15 years ago

    Any suggestions on places to stop, ceynotes or other interesting places to stop between Merida and Xcalak?

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