Just south of Soliman Bay and Villa Vidorra you’ll find one Mexico’s most iconic treasures. Sitting on a rocky cliff overlooking the Carribbean Sea are the Tulum ruins. Though I’ve been there many times I’m always a bit surprised by its beauty. The contrast between the dark stone, green palms, and turquise blue water below make for an exotic setting that’s totally unique. Below the rocky cliffs you’ll find sunbathers and swimmers enjoying a white sandy beach and the warm Carribbean waters. If you’re visiting the ruins it’s not a bad idea to bring a backpack with a towel and other items for the beach. There’s a giant wooden stairway that wind’s down the rocky cliffs to the beach below. It’s a great way to mix up your time at the ruins and a refreshing way to cool off. You won’t find too much shade as you explore the ruins so bring a hat, sunscreen, and lots of water. There are restrooms at the entrance to the ruins and none once you’re inside. Tickets for entrance to the archeological site are about $6usd and if you want a full tour with an in depth history of the ruins there’s always licensed guides at the entrance that can be hired.
The Maya site may formerly have been known by the name Zama, meaning City of Dawn, because it faces the sunrise. Tulum stands on a bluff facing east toward the Caribbean Sea. Tulúm is also the Yucatan Mayan word for fence, wall or trench. The walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to be defended against invasions. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes, making it an important trade hub, especially for obsidian. From numerous depictions in murals and other works around the site, Tulum appears to have been an important site for the worship of the Diving or Descending god. Tulum had an estimated population of 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants.
Daily tour buses bring a constant stream of visitors to the site during high season. The Tulum ruins are the third most-visited archaeological site in Mexico, after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. Most tour busses get there around 11AM. I would advise getting there early and avoid any lines at the entrance. From the parking lot it’s a short walk to where you can board a shuttle to the entrance. The shuttle drives up a long low grade hill that you would otherwise need to walk. I would recommend the shuttle as you’ll get enough walking in after entering the ruins. It costs very little and is well worth it. I typically park east of the main entrance close to the beach. You can get here by driving down the main beach road to Tulum beach but turning left at the guard station (T in the road) instead of right. Go to the end of the road and you’re there.