Tulum: The Mayan Seaside Treasure

Many people know of Cancun, a touristy vacation destination filled with crystal blue seashores, white sands, and over-the-top resorts; however, not many have uncovered the Mayan treasure 81 miles south of Cancun. Hugged by the Caribbean Sea, Tulum, Mexico is the only coastal city ever built by the Mayans and the evidence is clear upon arrival, but the ruins are only a sliver of the magic that has stained this must-see Mexican village over the years. Getting to Tulum is fairly simple as Delta, United, and Virgin Airlines offer round-trip direct flights to Cancun International Airport. All that is required upon landing is a quick hour and a half drive south from the airport via Highway 307 to reach the gem so often referred to as “off the beaten path.”

The Tulum Ruins are likely to do everything but “ruin” your day. The seaside remains from the Mayan civilization are perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean waves. Although the precise cause for the 784-meter limestone wall built around the city remains somewhat of a mystery, the remnants themselves are remarkable in both architecture and historical allure. The Ruins are open 8am to 5pm daily, but it is best to arrive early or late to avoid the crowd. There is a Mayan craft market that is worth browsing if you fancy unique mementos marked at reasonable prices. If you are a history buff looking for a tad more information on the structure, there are tours available through Playa Del Carmen Tours & Activities that combine ruin exploration, snorkeling, and a zip-lining adventure for $116 per person.

Sure, the beaches in Tulum are magnificent beyond comprehension, but that is not what is most attractive about the Tulum seashore. There are ample activities that the Caribbean lends itself to year-around to ensure that Tulum keeps up with its fun-in-the-sun reputation. Options such as snorkeling, jet-skiing, cenote-exploring, kiteboarding, sunbathing and margarita-sipping will keep you occupied during your sun-soaked days on the beaches of Tulum.

If you are looking to ditch the Caribbean shore in exchange for a slice of underground adventure, then you should personally discover the enchanting cenotes. The natural freshwater caves serve as a playground for those looking to snorkel, scuba dive, or simply wade in the splendor of the indigenous venture. Playa Del Carmen Tours & Activities can provide you with guiding options.

The shopping opportunities are unique in Tulum. The Road to Coba offers visitors crafts that are handmade by store owners and locals alike. Typically, the same pieces are sold in town for three times more than what you can get them for here, so take advantage.

Craving a Mexican chic shopping experience? Take a short trip to Playa Del Carmen where you will find the heart of the shopping world known as “5th Avenue.” Although the prices are steeper than those found outside of town, the experience is worthy of a half-day trip with a rental car or bus from Tulum.

TIP: The US dollar is accepted in and around Tulum but please note that the more desolate the town or shop, the less likely the vendor will be to accept foreign currency.

Popular among the locals and visitors alike, Posado Margherita boasts one of the freshest menus on this side of the Caribbean. The setting allows diners to cozy up in a beachfront location accompanied by an ocean breeze. There is never a set menu, but rather food options are determined by the fish that is caught that day, ensuring that the patron is met with an element of both surprise and freshness. Due to the popularity of the establishment and limited number of tables, it is recommended that you arrive early to secure a spot.

Want to minimize your carbon footprint while on vacation? If you choose to dine at Hartwood Tulum, you will! Located on the jungle side of Tulum’s Beach Road, the restaurant operates solely on the use of solar panels for a source of sustainable energy. All food is prepared by hand and cooked on a wood burning oven and open grill, and the menu changes daily due to the availability of ingredients. Please note, it is a cash-only establishment.

A beach vacation seems to get a little sweeter when crisp and cold cocktails join in on the fun. Luckily in Tulum, sipping on the sand is a customary treasure. Ziggy’s is a seashore restaurant that provides cabanas for beach-goers searching for leisure and offers comfortable options such as beach beds, hammocks, and a bar swing for lounging. Their extended happy hour adds to the joy of all who partake, lasting from noon to 6pm daily.

La Zebra is another Caribbean front restaurant that provides cabana services throughout the day. Known for their Mexican cuisine and lengthy list of cocktails, it is best to visit on Salsa Sundays and treat yourself to their most popular drink: the cucumber margarita.

In the oasis of Tulum, you will find a charmingly luxurious boutique hotel. Hotel Be Tulum is comprised of twenty executive suites engulfed in nature and oozing extravagance, offering guests an experience of extreme indulgence from the private pools to the Mayan herbal baths given at Yaan Wellness Energy Spa on the hotel grounds. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for and if you are looking for luxury you are sure to find it here. Typically rooms range from $500-$700 per night, but a 10 percent discount is offered for those holding an AAA Membership Card or an American Express credit card.

For those wanting to maintain their trendy status but wish to avoid putting a dent in the wallet, check out Mezzanine. Found along the country’s impeccable Riviera Maya, the fashionable boutique hotel shares a bit of Tulum nature and modern sophistication while offering oceanfront views and a one-of-a-kind martini selection. The rates vary from $120-$350 per night depending on the space you choose. August is a special time of year since you can book a room for as much as 35 percent off. But you should note that although promotional specials are offered during specific months, rooms tend to be booked quickly.

If you are looking for a milder price range without compromising the unique appeal of the Tulum lifestyle, Airbnb is a great option in the region, providing a homestyle feel to your vacation spot. Whether you opt to rent a charming oceanfront cabin, a single room, or an entire villa equipped with a pool and luscious views of the City of Tulum, you will feel right at home. Rooms have a wide scope of prices suitable for all budgets, ranging from $35-$200 per night depending on the location, size, and amenities, and an additional cleaning deposit is often required.