We chose to do an all day excursion with the Alltournative Tours company. The Alltournative company gives a portion of the fees they charge back to the communities and local people in the area. They work to offer tours that promote cultural awareness and promote conservation efforts in the area. We chose a tour that spent part of the day swimming in a cenote followed by a lunch of traditional Mayan food. The second part of the day was spent exploring the Ek Balam ruins. The Cenote Maya is the largest cenote in the Yucatan. The area around the cenote is a garden area with traditional Mayan homes so that guests can see how the Mayans lived. We also got to see a traditional shaman ritual before entering the cenote. You have two options for getting down to the cenote; you can rappel down or you can take a staircase. I am scared of hieghts so I opted for the stairs. Ryan rappelled down. Once your in the cenote you can swim, and zip line over the water. The water is fairly cold and also very clear. you can see some small fish swimming around. They will ask that you rinse off in a shower stall before entering the water and to not apply sunscreen before getting into the water in efforts to keep this water source clean.
After lunch we were off to Ek Balam. There are multiple old ruins at this site, which is less visited than other Mayan ruins. While you are visiting you can walk on and climb through all of the ruins. You are given a tour of the grounds with an explanation of what all the different buildings are. This tour is offered in English, we also had French speakers in our group so they split up from us and were given the tour in French. After the tour you have time on your own to walk through the ruins. There is also a small market in the parking lot near the entrance were local people are selling crafts and locally made liquors and other goods. We got to sample a local liquor called Xtabentún. This is made from anise seed and honey. It has a very distinct flavor, we enjoyed it and would recommend trying it while there since it isn’t something we have ever been able to find it in the U.S. The people in the market are very nice and will offer to show you things and explain to you what they are but they will not haggle you or pressure you to buy.
Here is the link to the tour we took with Alltournative Tours
Link to the Playa del Carmen post