In ancient times, Tulum served as a point of defence and a port for the thriving maritime commerce. Today, US News Travel calls Tulum the #1 beach in Mexico. The combination of thriving eco-tourism activities, and the only major Mayan ruin found on Mexico's Caribbean coastline makes Tulum a great getaway. Tulum is the ultimate destination for a bohemian style vacation where you can enjoy free and easy days.
Tulum is most famous for the Tulum ruins located on the sea, but the beaches of Tulum are running a tight second place to the ruins in the last few years. As visitors discovered the Mayan past at the Tulum ruins, they ventured south on the beach to discover some of the most beautiful scenery in the Riviera Maya. Tulum was a carefully held secret among residents who settled in this Mayan community over 30 years ago. Little beachside hotels with wooden cabanas housed backpackers and hippies for over 20 years. With no electricity and few amenities, Tulum retained a quiet existence. Today, Tulum is one of the most sought out destination in the world. With its growing notoriety, the feel and look of Tulum has changed very little and the beaches are still gorgeous and uncrowded. Vistors and businesses fight to maintain the Tulum they know and love through sustainable building practices and a continued love for community.
Tulum is made up of three very distinct sections; the Tulum ruins, the Tulum Pueblo (town) and the Tulum beach. Most visitors just make it to the Tulum ruins where they enjoy the history of this famous ruin site. Not to be missed in the Tulum pueblo (town) is set back from the coast, and on highway 307 just a few kilometers to the south of the ruins. Businesses in the pueblo are diverse and interesting and give Tulum its community feel. Charlie’s restaurant has character and serves authentic Mexican meals. Mixik, next to Charlie’s, is a Mexican Folk Art store that is known for its incredible selection gathered from all over Mexico. If you venture onto the back streets, you will see a thriving and active Maya community that is the heart of Tulum. The Tulum beach is to the south of the ruins on the Caribbean coast and home to the cute cabanas, beach clubs and bohemian restaurants that Tulum raves about. It is the cool part of town and sought after by many as the beach is pristine and uncrowded.
Tulum is a thriving and active contemporary Mayan community that co-exists with an increasing international population. This sense of community is felt by those who visit. The main street on the highway leading into the pueblo is an active area, but the side streets have little gems and jewels that should not be missed.
Regardless of where you choose to stay in the ‘Riviera Maya’ you should plan at least a day to visit Tulum and experience some of its spectacular natural beauty.
Tulum is also famous for its cenotes; Mother Nature’s own crystalline fresh water pools. These cenotes are openings to the vast underground river system which flows beneath the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes have provided freshwater to communities for thousands of years. Some interesting cenotes are located south of the Tulum pueblo and inland along the road to the ancient ruins of Coba. Tours to these cenotes are offered to both snorkelers and divers by dive shops and adventure tour operators. Qualified scuba divers interested in cavern diving in a cenote should build a good relationship with a local dive center before embarking on one of the best dives in your life.
The beaches of Tulum are worth a special mention. Tourists from around the globe are discovering Tulum as a destination for relaxation, retreat and adventure. Tulum’s beaches of soft white sand and sapphire blue waters are perfect for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. Follow the Coba road east toward the beach to get to the spectacular beaches south of the Tulum Ruins. Several excellent restaurants, deluxe beach cabañas and boutique accommodations are located along the coast road. One of our favorites is Zamas, which is less than a mile south of the intersection of the Coba road. Farther south on the Tulum beach road is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and more deserted beaches. The Amigos de Sian Ka’an and the Centro Ecologico de Sian Ka’an (CESiak) can arrange tours of the waterways and Mayan canal systems inside the Reserve. Sian Ka’an means ‘where the sky is born’ and is a habitat for thousands of birds as well as various terrestrial and aquatic animals such as dolphins, manatees, crocodiles and more.
Whether you travel to Tulum to for a day, or maintain it as your vacation destination, this delicate environmentally sensitive area is not to be missed. It needs to be seen and experienced so you can plan another trip back to this magical area.