Tulum is located along the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and is home to the most important archaeological site on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. What is now ruins used to be the site of a Mayan walled city and served as a major port, which was home to around 1000 Mayans before the Spanish arrived in the 1400s. It is one of the best preserved coastal Maya sites and is up there in terms of popularity with Uxmal and Chichen Itza, which is helped out by its superb natural environment as the site is located with a stunning backdrop of Caribbean Sea.
The best area to stay in Tulum is the beach area as this beach is one of the most spectacular beaches on the west coast of Mexico and is close to both the town and the famous Mayan ruins. The beach area also has the highest concentration of tourist amenities, which include hotels and cottages that are ecological and therefore are powered by the sun and wind. This area was built so it would naturally fit into its natural surroundings as well as being built of course for the archaeological site and offer some of the closest accommodation to the Mayan ruins. From here, you get the best views of the sea and ruins and there are many restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to pick from.
The beach area is a great area to stay in Tulum due to the actual beach being one of the most beautiful beaches found along this coastline. This area is very safe too and is well connected to the rest of the place as there are an adequate number of buses and taxis that can get you to the town area and the actual ruins can either be pursued by foot or by local public transport. The closest airport is Cancun, which is around 90 minutes and you can get a bus straight to Tulum or even better is renting your own car and doing it at your own pace.
The thing that makes this area the best is the amazing beach that sits along the front of the coastline. Tulum Beach has been claimed by many to be one of the most visually gorgeous beaches along the Mayan Riviera with its picture-perfect sand and tranquil and clean water. It is perfect to walk along, sunbathe on and swim in and there are a variety of activities that you can experience like kitesurfing, snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing as well as exploring various cenotes in the area.
Tulum Beach makes way to the Tulum ruins and there is a mile-long road that runs up to it with the road itself having restaurants, shops and a few middle-range hotels lined up along it. The ruins that are found here are the reason why this place is so popular and can get exceptionally busy during public holidays and in the summer time. Being compared to the likes of Chichen Itza, perhaps the most famous archaeological site in the country, is no easy feat and its impressive location is the main bearing for that as it was erected on top of a cliff that has a sheer drop into the beautiful turquoise Caribbean Sea that sits beneath it.
The buildings that you see here come from the Post Classic period, which is as early as 1200 AD and were protected by a 12 foot wall that surrounds them. It is best to visit the site at sunrise or at sunset to avoid the crowds and especially on a clear day so you can get the maximum atmosphere of the site. The major highlights of the city include the Temple of the Frescoes with the interior actually having original Mayan frescoes that depict classic Mayan gods and other religious people. The tallest building in the walled city is El Castillo, which is the castle and is said to have mainly functioned as a navigational aid to the ships that were coming into the port. There are also many traditional houses and places of worship within Tulum and you can either go around by yourself or join a tour.
All along the beach road there are shops that cater for all tourist needs from supermarkets to banks and clothing shops to pharmacies. You can also rent bikes and there are a good amount of restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines as well as bars, clubs, cafes and of course the best located hotels.
Tulum Town, the other place to stay in
The town is found just a few kms from the beach inland and provides as a good alternative to stay in as there are many hotels and hostels to pick from and are generally cheaper as you don’t get as good views as you do by the beach front. The area is very safe and is well connected to the ruins and the beach area by buses and taxis and the town is well equipped with tourist facilities like shops, an extensive range of restaurants, groceries, markets, post offices, traditional bars, clubs and cafes.
From the town it is possible to arrange tours around the area where you can go to a great range of cenotes, eco tours, snorkelling and diving areas as well as going to see the Coba ruins, which feature the tallest of the Mayan ruins and are found in the jungle with the sights being incredible. You can also join cooking classes, yoga, spa treatments and Spanish lessons too in the town.