From the resort row, it'll be worth it to rent a car and take a pleasant 3 hr. drive to the ancient Mayan temple complex of Tulum where you can soak in the historical sight as well as the amazing view of the sea!
Yup this temple sits at a cliff overlooking the carribbean sea! If you feel like taking a dip, a small beach by the alcove can be host to your 40degree heat break.
The Mayan ruins at Tulum are the only known Mayan ruins located on the coast. This ancient village is in excellent condition and well worth a visit. Don?t forget to take your speedos as if the sightseeing gets too much, you can pop down to the beach for a quick dip in the ocean.
This trip is quite often run as a 2 part day-trip to Xel-Ha as well.
For more pictures from Tulum, have a look at my Tulum travelogue
I believe that if you have the courage to get behind the wheel of a vehicle in Mexico, that you should focus that courage and use it to venture down the highway from Cancun to Tulum. The clifftop ruins by the sea are a breathtaking sight and the drive down there is truly scenic. Plus there's the opportunity to stop by Playa del Carmen and enjoy the laid back alter ego of Cancun.
From Cancun it is not far to Tulum, the only fortified Maya-City at the coast. The ruins are not as impressive as the ruins of Chichen Itza, but it is overwhelming to see the temple above the beach and the blue ocean.
As it is easy to reach from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, there are also millions of tourists.
For more photos and impressions of Tulum please see my travelogue!
Tulum is great. It's close to Playa del Carmen and it's the only piramid by the sea. It's quite amazing how these mayan guys built all these, and the landscape is great. If you're going to Tulum, BRING ON YOUR SWIMSUIT. There's an AMAZING beach right next to it. Impossible not to get in the water. You'll thank me afterwards.
Close to Cancun are Mayan ruins that stir the immagination. While Tulum, Chichin Itza, and Coba have well-deserved reservations, I also liked less traveled sites, such as Muyil.
If you go to Tulum, get there in the morning before the tour buses -- the site is compressed in a relatively small area and fills up fast. We got there around 8:30 - 9:00 and things were still relatively quiet -- but by the time we left the parking areas were full and more were coming in.
Muyil is just south of Tulum -- a relatively small site, but one that has some impressive buildings and gives a sense of discovery.
The Grand Pyramid is impressive at Coba, rising 12 stories above the jungle. The guidebooks mention that bikes are availble to rent because the sight is so spread out. They should be more emphatic: rent a bicycle if you go there.
Chichin Itza has a well-deserved reputation. Stay for the Light and Sound show if you can -- we took a tour bus to avoid driving late at night (and considering the cost of the toll road it was well worth it). Be sure to get the headphones unless you speak Spanish. Our guide was kind enough to arrange headphones for us, but we heard many people say that they wish they had gotten them.
I will always remember a large, orange-colored, full moon rising next to the great pyramid at Chichin Itza.
Ek-Balam has the most impressive artistic work -- well preserved statutes that defy description in this page.
Snorkeling is wonderful around Cancun. We were somewhat disappointed with Aquaworld's snorkeling tours -- both at Punta Nizuc and the Isla de Mujeres. Both of these tours took you out on boats with a guide in groups of 10 or so. It got a little crowded, but the reefs were great. You might want to consider a tour with Scubamex in Paamul instead.
There are lots of snorkeling areas south of Cancun: Paamul, Akumal, and Xpu-Ha all have beautiful beaches with access to reefs. Be sure to wear BIODEGRADEABLE sun block - and don't touch the reefs. We need to protect them for our children.
One of the ancient Maya Indians cities... or naturally ruins of it. Maybe not so impressive than some other ruined cities but a landmark of very old civilization. If you go to Cancun, I think you should also visit one day, or half of it in Tu-Lum. Actually we did Xel-Ha and Tu-Lum in one day and I think it was quite okay schedule for that.
As we were leaving the site, I took this photo from the landward protective wall, looking back over the main area of Tulum's buildings toward the ocean cliff. This site is much newer than Chicen-Itza, springing up in the 1200s, and it was still inhabited when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 1500s.
An interesting fact about Tulum is that it is the only ruin located directly on the coast. There is a very nice beach located directly below the cliff on which Tulum is situated. Our bus tour was too short to allow us time to explore it, but we had a good view from above!
the ancient Mayan city of Tulum on the coast of Quitana Roo dominates the Caribbean from its clifftop vantage point.
the impressive walled city is located on the coast and dates from the Post Classic period (A.D. 900-1521) A wall surrounded the ceremonial and political center of the city, while the common people settled on the perimeter.
The most noteworthy structures in Tulum are El Castillo , built on a 12-meter tall cliff facing the sea; the Temple of the Descending God, with a bas.-relief carving of the god Itzamna on the facade; and the Temple of the Frescoes, elaborately painted on the inside and decorated with masks on the four cornices
I had a great time getting to Tulum. Tulum lies approximately 80 miles south of Cancun--an easy and popular day trip (often in combination with Xel-Ha). The site, Quintana Roo's most famous and well-restored, is the only Mayan port city ever discovered. Tulum flourished from 1200 to 1500, and was still occupied when the Spaniards conquered the area in 1544. While not as extensive as Chichen Itza, Tulum's breathtaking location on a 40 foot bluff overlooking the turquoise Caribbean gives it a special magical quality.
Once you have entered Tulum through a small archway in a stone wall, it is just a short walk to El Castillo, from which you can see most of the ruins and the beautiful coastline. Other notable structures include the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God. A small, but beautiful beach lies between the Castillo (Castle) and the Templo del Dios del Viento (Temple of the God of the Wind). It is a fun place for swimming or snorkeling if you have the time.
The beach at Tulum is the best ive ever seen.I only wish that i had time to go swimming here.If you go,go for the day and go swimming as most people do not as they have limited time.There are snack bars and shops at the entrance and toilets too.
I took my video camera in and was charged for doing so,3$,but it was worth it.It costs 3$ to get in also.If you hire a car,which i will do when i go back,you can get to all these sites and parks and save alot of money and spend as much time as you wish at them.
I enjoyed the trip to Tulum.The beautiful cliff-top archaeological site of Tulum,86 miles south of Cancun,dating from the Maya Post Classic period(AD 900-1512),is one of the most famous landmarks in the Maya world.It has wonderful views of the Quintana Roo coast.
We went here on a two centre trip and had about 2 hours here.Our guide took us around the temples and told us about them,then we had free time.
I am not much of a 'sight seeing' person, but this is well worth your time . . . Gorgeous views . . . Tulum is the only walled city near the ocean the Mayans ever constructed . . . Built between 1200 and 1500 A.D. . . . Rising at the edge of a 40-foot cliff is 'El Castillo,' the main castle overlooking the Caribbean's turquoise waters . . . We coupled this site with Xel-Ha (Shell High), a snorkeling park, for a same day trip . . . 1/2 the day was spent at Tulum with the other half at Zel-Ha snorkeling . . . Worked out great for us
Tulúm is the most visited of the Maya sites in the Yucatán and not only because of its proximity to Cancún. Although the ruins are structurally less impressive than Chichén Itzá or Uxmal and much less extensive, they have the azure Caribbean as a backdrop - a startling contrast and heaven for the photographer or artist. Because the area is small and there is comparatively little climbing involved, you can gain a fair appreciation of Tulúm in a couple of hours.
Tulúm was built around AD 1200 as the Mayan civilization declined
Amongst the frescoes is a portrayal of a man on a horse, which indicates that these drawings were still being worked on after the Spanish invasion. (The horse was introduced by the Spanish and clearly had a disarming effect on the Mayans - originally it was thought that horse and rider were one being and later, when one of Cortés's horses died, its skeleton was worshipped as a god).
El Castillo is the result of several phases of building. Steps lead to an upper temple featuring columns decorated with plumed serpents as seen in Chichén Itzá and an indication of Toltec influence. It would also have been used as a watchtower, with visibility over land and sea. Beneath El Castillo is a small but perfect beach, where the Mayans would have landed their canoes.
The Temple of the Descending God is to the left of El Castillo when looking out to sea. Above the door of the temple is a stucco relief of a figure prevalent at Tulúm, the upside-down winged god that also shows bee-like features. This figure is sometimes referred to as the 'diving god' because of its position and the resemblance to a bee signifies the importance of honey to the Mayans.
The Temple of the Frescoes lies between El Castillo and the entrance to the site. Here fragments of color can be seen on murals depicting Maya life.