When you plan a holiday to the Maya Riviera, you may already recognize the potential history that awaits. After all, the name of the area is taken from the Mayan people who once inhabited the region in the long ago, Pre-Columbian era. While you may instantly imagine a few quality museums will allow you to experience this lost world, would it surprise you to learn that there is a huge amount of this culture’s history remaining? Found in the lovely Maya Riviera destination of Tulum, it offers up what is easily one of the most enchanting archaeological sites throughout the region.
For many of us, the image of Mayan pyramids means deep jungle settings in which enormous structures might remain hidden within centuries of growth and neglect. However, Tulum changes that model because this ancient Mayan fortress city sits right along the sands, gazing out to the sea and the modern beaches.
In fact, one of the most distinctive structures of the entire complex sits at the end of a spit of land perches on top of a cliff gazing out over perennially turquoise sea waters. This is the Castillo, and it is a truly picture-postcard perfect image, but only the beginning for those who visit Tulum.
Paying a visit to the historic ruins means enjoying a huge walkway that wraps around the perimeter of the site. A stair leads down to the stunning, sugary sand beaches below, and most visitors will take the time to savor the delicious breezes, the flawless waters and the ruins sitting on the cliffs just above.
Of course, there is more to Tulum than these appealing ruins, though you might find yourself spending many hours just wandering them. There is also the enormous Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an nearby, and this allows you the chance to book a guided tour through mangroves, jungle, and even some caves and cenotes. Choosing a guided tour is the wisest choice as it is an enormous place and one where you might miss out on great sights unless with a knowing guide.
Beyond a Day
While many travelers experience Tulum during a day trip, you may want to consider something a bit longer. After all, experts will tell you that the best way to see Tulum is at sunrise when mists rise from the surrounding jungle, making it easy to forget our modern era. There are hotels and other accommodations close to the ruins, and even some luxury rentals are available.
Staying close by lets you plan a visit to Sian Ka’an as well as the remote little fishing villa of Punta Allen. Spend a bit of time here, and then move on to the even more impressive Mayan ruins in Coba. Tucked into the jungle, many of the ruins have yet to be officially documented and excavated. Visitors tread the same sacbes or ceremonial limestone paths used by the ancient Mayans themselves, and visitors are able to mount the Nohch Mul mound and take in a remarkable vista of the entire setting.
There is also a small town center back in Tulum, though it is far from the beachfront. Here you can find a nice array of affordable eateries offering truly authentic local foods. Favorites include the famous Taqueria Honorio that started as a stall and has now become a must try destination for Tulum visitors. Locals prefer El Mariachi Loco and Charlie’s, and if you are seeking a more upscale experience, Los Aguachiles or Le Bistro (both in the heart of town) are great options.
A truly unique experience awaits visitors to Tulum, and when you are in the Maya Riviera, you will definitely want to pay a visit.