Cancun & Riviera Maya
Home to the most beautiful of ancient Maya sites, Tulum’s ruins are perched atop towering cliffs overlooking the Carribean’s sparkling aquamarine waters.
The ancient Maya structures Tulum’s original draw, but today the waterfront town attracts over 2 million people a year
Home to the most beautiful of ancient Maya sites, Tulum’s ruins are perched atop towering cliffs overlooking the Carribean’s sparkling aquamarine waters. The town also features miles of white-sand shores and Tulum Pueblo – gateway to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Expect to find an array of food stalls, souvenir shops and budget hostels downtown, offering an authentic slice of Mexico.
Over the last 5 years, Tulum (“wall” in Mayan) has also grown into Mexico’s hippest destination. It’s now a pitstop for the party set as biggest DJs fly to the Caribbean for the winter when the likes of Ibiza and Mykonos are off-season.
This eco-friendly town also attracts “bohemian” visitors who come for its “jungle-chic” bungalows, yoga centers, spas, colorful pueblo and tropical-hipster restaurants. Think solar-powered hotel villas lining the 2km (1 mi) beach east of town, south of the Maya ruins.
The downtown pueblo along Avenida Tulum; Mayan ruins north on the coast; Zona hotelera extending south from the archeological site
Tulum Archeological Site
Sitting on the edge of the Caribbean, Tulum’s ruins inspired such wonder that even the Spaniards compared it to Seville’s beauty when they first laid eyes on it in 1518. Reserve at least 1.5 hours to explore the archeological zone itself, plus another if you want to swim at the stunning beach.
- Templo del Dios Descendente: Home to the small, upside-down winged ‘god’ that appears all over Tulum – its unique insignia. It’s thought to represent either the setting sun or bee god (honey was an important Maya export).
- El Castillo: The highest part of the site, this structure boasts the finest panoramic views.
- Templo de las Pinturas: Clustered on a grid, the “Temple(s) of the Paintings” are named for their intricate carvings. You can follow a small trail here towards viewpoints of the sea and ruins, going through the greenery.
- Taxi from Cancún: MX$1,400
- Direct (shared) shuttle service from Cancún airport: MX$600-$1,400
- Bus from Cancún: www.ado.com.mx
- Driving: 45 min from Playa del Carmen
- Walking: It’s a 2km / 1 mi walk from the pueblo to the archeological site
- Bike: A good way to get around
- Taxi: Pueblo to zona hotelera is MX$140
- Shuttle: Pass every few minutes plying certain routes
Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico; Opening hours 8AM–5PM