Shop, Washrooms, ATM are Available at the Ruins
There are several older VT Tips where people say you should purchase water and things to eat at the access road intersection before you walk down to the ruins because they aren't available at the ruins. This is no longer true, as of 2004 there is a brand new a washroom facility at the ruins (it's large and very clean) and a nice tourist shop where you can buy guidebooks, souvenirs, water, drinks, and snacks.
The cult of the Talking Cross
The cross was an important symbol to the Maya people, and you will see it several times in Tulum. Obviously, the cross was not used as the symbol of Christianity. Instead, it represented the movement of the sun (East to West along the day and the movement North to South along the year, as the position of the sunrise and sunset moved).
The importance of the cross to the Maya people led to the cult of the Talking Cross, which started during the caste war and still exists today.
Details seem to be confused and several versions of the story exist. While retreating from the Mexican retaliation, a group of Mayas led by Jose Maria Barrero found a tree resembling the Ceiba, or tree of life, beside a cenote, with a cross carved into it. This united three important symbols: the tree of life, the cenote (the underworld) and the cross (the sun, seasons and rebirth). To top it off, the cross spoke to the rebels, urging them to continue the fight.
A cult sprang up around the cross, and its followers were the Cruzob (followers of the cross) and it became a symbol of the Chan Santa Cruz (Small Holy Cross), the area the Mayas controlled in the east of the Yucatán.
This cross was eventually taken to Tulum and placed in the care of María Uicab, a leader of the community. The Mexicans tried several times to capture the reliq, as a way of breaking the spirit of the rebels. Eventually, though, the cross disappeared, but no one I talked to could tell me that story.
swimming under the ruins
One of the top beaches I have been to, even with the crowds... where else do you get the chance to swim in turquoise waters right under some spectacular mayan ruins? Only at Tulum. A fantastic beach - possibly better if you come early in the day, before the buses arrive. Bring a swimsuit and a towel - bring a hat and sunscreen, too, and water - as inside the archaeological area none is sold. There's also very little shade.
Public Bus to Tulum
You can get the bus to Tulum from Cancun, the Cancun airport, or from Playa Del Carmen.
After Playa Del Carmen, the bus only makes one real stop before Tulum, at the side of the highway in Akumal.
The bus fare is very cheap, only about $5, but the buses can be very full and you could have to stand the entire trip. They leave and arrive in Tulum about every 30 - 60 minutes depending on the time of day (more in the morning and afternoon).
The first stop in Tulum will let you off at the access road to the Ruins. The second stop will let you off downtown. If you're going directly to a cabana beach accommodation, you should find out before which stop is closer to your destination.
This photo is of the bus stop of the access road to the ruins, the tourists are walking away from the bus towards the ruins. The ruins are about a 1 km walk in from the bus stop. Since this photo was taken, they've built a large bus shelter to the front and left of the picture.
Compare and decide
Cabanas Santa fe is cheaper for food and drinks but is less clean.
Cabanas Don Armando is lighty more upper class.
Tip: have a drink first and eat with Armando. Go quite early because from 9 pm onwards it changes into a disco