Calica, Mexico

Fritz Randall
We visited the Calica port as the first port of call on Carnival’s Holiday cruise ship after leaving Mobile, Alabama. The goal of our party of 8 was to tour some of the closer Maya ruins and we wanted to “go it on our own” instead of taking a cruise-arranged excursion. We had done some planning and research and decided to try view both Tulum and Coba during our one day port stay. There was really nothing to see at Calica – it is just a dock with a few tent vendors and a car rental kiosk. We rented Jeep Wranglers right at the dock exit for approximately $80 each vehicle for a day. The convertible was a great way to enjoy the scenery. The drive to Tulum took approximately 45 minutes and was easy to find from Calica. Just go to the main road and head south. We spent probably 2 hours at the site, which I feel was plenty of time to take in this site. A couple of hints: 1) you must have pesos for the minimal entrance fee and 2) when you finally get to the site you must go to the small building to the left and purchase tickets before getting in the line to enter the site. There is no signage to direct you where to go and it can be a little confusing. By driving ourselves, we found that we were slightly ahead of the largest crowds arriving in tour buses. Definitely worth visiting, though the site was starting to get crowded by the time we were ready to go. >From Tulum, we headed south again and fueled up at the nearby Pemex before take the west road toward Coba. It was approximately an hour drive to Coba and went through a couple of very small roadside towns. Caution: slow down through these areas since children were very close to the road and the topes (speed bumps) can be very large. You will quickly learn to slow to a crawl when you see the double-hump topes signs. Coba is a very impressive site and definitely worth the effort. I don’t want to discount visiting Tulum, but Coba is more impressive and gives a better feel of Maya ruins (plus no crowds). We spent maybe 3 hours at Coba and needed more time really, but got a basic view of the site. After hiring a guide (a great value by the way – lots of information) for a guided tour of the first set of buildings, we rented bikes for the 2 kilometer trek to the Nohoc Mol pyramid (the largest in the Yucatan peninsula). The climb and view was worth the bike ride (you can’t climb any of the ruins at Tulum). Overall, I found that it was very doable to visit both Tulum and Coba from Calica on your own with some minimal planning. We left the dock at 9am and were back to the dock before 6pm. We had a great experience.

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