So from Valladolid it’s very easy and quick to get to Chichen Itza, It’s only about an hour drive and there are plenty of collectivos running. I would recommend the 7am bus, getting you there just before the doors open. This probably means a little more queuing than if you arrived 15 minutes later, but it does guarantee it’s pretty much empty when you get inside, and you’ve got a good couple hours before the big tour coaches start arriving from Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. The site is huge, with more than just the main temple to see, there are old areas of the city still standing, the big ball court and even a couple of cenotes in the grounds.
It was great getting in early, having a chance to get photos without dodging around other people doing exactly the same. The mobile stalls also were rushing in at the same time as us, so they weren’t set up, which meant much less hassle from the traders. Once they were set up they were much less obtrusive than others I’ve experienced in Asia and India. They also have some brilliant catch phrases to draw you in, along the lines of ‘Everything $1, except the things you want’.
We spent a good couple of hours at the site, looking through each of the various areas, and briefly reading the signs and listening to some odd bits of tour guides as we explored. The cenotes were unimpressive and it’s not possible to even get to the water, let alone go swimming, so while they’re okay to look at, they won’t knock your socks off. It was just pleasant to be in such a touristy spot, with so much to see, without hundreds of people clogging it all up. Of course, once the coach groups started arriving, it got clogged up and we decided it was time to go. We hopped in a taxi and made our way to Ik Kil, the nearby cenote.
This is by far the most touristy cenote, probably in the whole of Mexico, being the second part of the tour for those on the coaches. Luckily we missed most of them, but the site has much more infrastructure than it really feels necessary. It was nice to have an actual changing room to use, and there weren’t too many shops, just a few essentials and a big official gift shop, so it was classier and smoother than the last two, but still felt way over done. The cenote itself was nice, there’s a big concrete viewing platform to one side, and a couple of diving platforms up from that, plus of course a big swimming area. The viewing platform was pretty quiet when we first went down, but by the time we left it was packed with fully clothed tourist trying to get that perfect photo. There were some wonderful Instagram couples that made for wonderful people watching, the girl striking ridiculous poses while the poor boyfriend snaps endless pictures, getting more and more bored, while she gets more and more frustrated that there’s too many people, and she just can’t get the perfect angle. There must be a thousand photos taken each day that make the photographer wish they knew Photoshop well enough to clear out all the people. It made for some good entertainment from the water though.
Getting back again was a bit more of a challenge, the collectivos don’t officially stop at Ik Kil, so we had to head out to the road and try to flag one down, but each one that passed was already full. While the weather had been very nice most of the morning, it was starting to look less clement with each minute and eventually we had to take a taxi to get back to town. Not the cheapest for sure, but we didn’t get soaked in the rain, and between 4 people it wasn’t so bad.
We got back too late for the last bus directly to Chiquila, the port town where you can get the boat to Holbox, but after some investigation (and moving bookings, and moving them back) we found a local service that got us there just in time for the last ferry – so of course we jumped on this. We spent plenty of time being confused by time zones thinking we would miss the boat, but it must be very well planned, (probably specifically for people trying to get the last ferry to the island) and we made it with a few minutes to spare. The boat powered us across the short patch of ocean and soon enough we found ourselves snacking on burgers in the town square and trying some karaoke.