Tulum: between a Maya treasure and the perfect beaches
Located in the southern part of the Riviera Maya, Tulum is one of the star destinations of the Mexican Caribbean. A Magical Town that offers spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, incredible archaeological treasures, and some of the best beaches in the area. An enchanting place wrapped in an eco-chic atmosphere that has become one of the hottest travel spots worldwide.
The heart of Tulum in the 21st century is still the ancient Maya city that gives its name to the whole area. Known as Zamá or “The City of Dawn” before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, Tulum was one of the most impressive cities of the Maya civilization. Its temples and palaces left the Spanish chronicler Juan Díaz speechless in 1518, who described it as “a city as big as Seville.”
Nowadays, this ancient jewel has expanded to become a charming town. A world-famous travel destination that offers an impressive variety of attractions. From its beautiful beaches and mystic cenotes to great nightlife and tons of exciting sports and activities, Tulum has it all.
- The ruins that tell stories of the stars
- The beaches of Tulum. Paradise in the Caribbean
THE RUINS THAT TELL STORIES OF THE STARS
In addition to serving as an important commercial point for centuries, this ancient walled Mayan city was essential for understanding the workings of the cosmos. For this reason, the Maya civilization built specific buildings to look at the sky, many of which still stand, ready to receive visitors from all over the world. In any case, its excellent state of conservation and impressive mural paintings make Tulum the most emblematic site on the coast of the Riviera Maya.
1. The Castle (El Castillo)
The archaeological site of Tulum is dominated by this remarkable building. Built on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, the Castle was related to the movements of the Sun and Venus. Moreover, it was also a kind of lighthouse that showed the ships the exact point where they could access the channel that crosses the coral reef to reach the city.
2. Temple of the Stele
Also known as the Temple of the Initial Series, this place received its name thanks to a stela (an upright stone slab) found inside, which includes the earliest documented date in Tulum: the year 564 AD.
3. The Wall of Tulum and The Temple of the Wind God
Tulum actually means “wall.” And, yes, the city is famous precisely for the wall that delimits the great archaeological complex to the north, west, and south (the Caribbean Sea is in charge of doing so to the east). In any case, the wall served as a filter for access to the area. Also, it delimited the city’s main ceremonial complex.
Included within the so-called Kukulkan Group, which counts several different constructions, this temple is one of the most emblematic buildings in Tulum. Dedicated to the mighty Kukulkan, god of the wind, the temple has a cylindrical base, something quite unusual in pre-Columbian architecture.
4. Temple of the Frescoes
Without a doubt, this is one of the best-preserved treasures within the archaeological complex and one of the few that maintains a good part of its original decoration. One of its most fantastic attractions is the mural painting depicting several significant deities. Also shown in the mural, snakes, flowers, and fruits demonstrate the Maya culture’s vital relationship with agriculture.
5. Cenotes of Tulum
In the entire area near Tulum, you can find these fantastic natural attractions that characterize the Mexican Caribbean and the Yucatan Peninsula. The cenotes offer a magical experience of contact with nature, and they are one of the most sought-after visits by travelers in the area.
The Dos Ojos cenote, the Carwash cenote, the Calavera cenote, the Zazil-Ha cenote, the Tankah cenote, and the Cristal cenote are just some of the most famous in the area. Beautiful places to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or diving in its crystal clear waters. Or just relax surrounded by lush nature. Although perhaps the most popular is the Gran Cenote, a natural paradise divided into an open-air natural pool and a flooded cave. Abundant vegetation, impressive rock formations, super crystalline waters… The place offers, in detail, everything that makes a cenote a truly spectacular place.
Set up a nice tour with the guys at Vacaciones Barcelo and discover the unique archeological site of Tulum. And then enjoy a refreshing visit to one or two of the beautiful cenotes in the area. The Mexican Caribbean at its best!
The beaches of Tulum. Paradise in the Caribbean
The beaches are, without a doubt, one of the most important attractions of this beautiful destination, including some of the best beaches in the Riviera Maya. They offer a super relaxing experience for those who want a vacation away from the madding crowd. But also for people looking for adventure and exciting experiences, from diving in its crystal clear waters to an unforgettable party.
Located less than a mile from the archaeological zone of Tulum, this beach is considered one of the stellar beaches of the destination and one of the most beautiful in the world. It’s the typical Caribbean picture: white sand, palm trees, turquoise waters, relaxed atmosphere… A perfect place to relax under a palm tree and for snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking, among other options. In any case, in Playa Paraiso, you can find people from all over the world enjoying the inexhaustible charm of Tulum and the Mexican Caribbean.
This is one of the best-known and most photographed beaches in the world, as it is located right at the foot of the cliff of El Castillo, in Tulum’s archaeological site. The combination of history and nature makes this place a magical spot. So don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and take a nice dip after discovering the incredible treasures of the ancient Maya world.
Xcacel Beach and the Cenote of Xcacelito
For those who want a much less crowded place and connected even more with nature, there is this wonderful option. Being an ecological reserve since 1998 and one of the sanctuaries for the protection of the turtle, it offers an environment that completely changes the perspective of what it means to spend time at the beach.
It is right here where every year the nesting and nesting of two species of turtles occurs: the loggerhead turtle and the white turtle. Although it is not visited in this important season, there is no problem, its generally calm waters call for a swim and you can dive and snorkel to see a number of species of fish in their natural coral habitat.
This place hides a secret: The Xcacelito Cenote. Through a marked path from the beach, you can enter this freshwater place protected by mangroves. There is no need to panic once you decide to swim, inside the cenote live small fish that seek to feed on dead skin cells, and at the same time serves as an exfoliant.
Tulum is for everyone. Those who want to live a relaxing experience that takes them completely away from their routine activities and gives them a moment of peace during their vacation, and it is also for those who are thirsty for adventure and connect with nature in a more intimate way and discover places that will remain forever engraved in their memory.
Nightlife in Tulum
Nightlife in Tulum is much more relaxed than in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a great time. Either by the beach or in town, there a more than a few options to enjoy an exciting evening. Dance in bare feet on the sand at a fun beach club. Listen to live music in a funky bar. Check out one of the exciting nightclubs in town. In any case, get ready to live an unforgettable night with all the charm that makes Tulum one of the hottest travel spots worldwide.
Fun in the sun: sports & adventures in Tulum
The beach and the jungle make Tulum a fantastic “amusement park.” So get ready to have fun in the sun in this exciting destination in the heart of the Riviera Maya.
First of all, don’t forget that you’re in the Mexican Caribbean, so gear up and enjoy the sea: snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, kite surfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing… You name it!
Then there’s the jungle, which is also an excellent setting for all kinds of exciting adventures. Besides visiting several ancient Maya treasures, like the fascinating city of Coba, you can explore the local cenotes, fly over the jungle in thrilling zip-lines, go on a birdwatching jungle hike, or an ATV off-road ride, or just enjoy a great yoga session at the beach. Once again, the options are almost limitless!
Another great adventure is to explore the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Catch a tour with Vacaciones Barcelo, and don’t miss a thing about this unrivaled natural paradise, including a kayak ride among the mangroves, a wildlife-spotting boat ride, or a breathtaking snorkeling tour to the coral reefs, among many other exciting activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do in Tulum?
Tulum is a unique beach paradise adorned with impressive Maya treasures and a relaxed and bohemian atmosphere. In short: a place where you can enjoy the sea, sand, jungle, history, great food, exciting nightlife... And anything in between!
How far is Tulum from Cancun?
Tulum is about 80 miles south of Cancun (a close to 2-hour drive). Nevertheless, you just have to put yourself in the hands of the great professional team at Vacaciones Barcelo and let them take you there and show you all the wonders available at this fabulous destination.
Does Tulum have a downtown?
Yes. Besides the archaeological site, Tulum is "divided" into two main areas: Tulum town and Tulum beach, separated about a couple of miles from each other.
Is it safe to go to visit Tulum right now?
In general terms, the Mexican Caribbean is a totally safe travel destination. That’s why more than 15 million people visit the place each year. So, just a bit of common sense and the help of the folks at Vacaciones Barcelo to safely enjoy the best tours and activities will be more than enough to live the time of your life.