Tulum is located along the Yucatan Peninsula coast just a few miles from Playa Carman. Although Mexico is quite famous for its Mayan ruins (including Chichen Itza), Tulum is the only major archeological site located on the Caribbean coast.

Tulum in July is hot, hot, hot… and worth the trip. With easy access to the beach, the combination of Mayan architecture and beach location make it a favorite destination for area visitors.

Temple at Tulum
Temple of the Descending God at Tulum

Getting to Tulum

Taxies, busses, and private transfers are available for the trip from Cancun to Tulum. Although many entrepreneurs provide organized excursions, we found that ADO buses are also a convenient way to get from Cancun to Playa Carman, and then on to Tulum.

We enjoyed traveling by bus with a stop over in Playa Carman (and visit to Cozumel).  We found the buses very inexpensive, clean and safe on our visit. Tour guides were available at Tulum that spoke either English or Spanish.  (Skip to map below)

The Settlement

The settlement is located along a bluff facing the Caribbean and was known as Zama (place of the dawning sun)  to its ancient inhabitants.

Archeological ruins
Archeological ruins – House of the Columns

Tulum is one of the few walled Maya cities. Limestone walls up to 15 feet in height (and 25 feet thick) surround the ruins on 3 of its sides with the ocean protecting the 4th side. An interesting theory holds the walls were not for protection but as a means of segregating priests (on the inside) from peasants (outside).

The site served as a key center for land and sea trade routes during its occupation by the Maya. The settlement peaked around the 13th – 15th century, and may have had a population of 1000+.

The Mayan ruins at Tulum were more extensive than I imagined with the Castile being the most prominent structure. Well developed paths lead visitors through the site with several places to sit, but no water fountains or concessions inside the park proper.

Mayan ruins at Tulum

Templo Dios del Viento

The temple of the god of the wind (Templo Dios del Viento)  overlooking the bluff is one of the settlement’s most recognizable land marks.

Templo Dios del Viento at Tulum (temple of the god of the wind)
Templo Dios del Viento at Tulum (temple of the god of the wind)

The Beach

A stairway provides access to the beach for a relaxing swim or just some sun bathing. If you have time, you may want to set aside a morning for a settlement tour and combine it with an afternoon swim.

A number of local boat operators provide ocean side tours of the ruins and beach. The prices seemed reasonable and provide a scenic ocean view.

Cliff overlooking the Caribbean, Tulum
Cliff overlooking the Caribbean, Tulum

Quick Tips

Although organized trips are available, Tulum is easily accessible by bus for an easy day trip from Playa Carman (or Cancun). It’s likely to be hot so be prepared and bring plenty of water.

Just outside the archeological site are a number of shops that will gladly sell you souvenirs,  water and/or soft drinks, but some come at a pretty hefty price, .e.g., I bought the smallest bottle that I had ever seen of soda for 20 pesos…

Excursion prices vary tremendously, and with some negotiation can often be cut in half — depending of course upon your negotiating skills.

Anything Else?

Tulum is hot, and arriving early is advisable. The beach is beautiful, so bring a swimsuit if you have time and are so inclined:-)

Iggie the Iguana


Tulum — Map

© 2015 by James Spruell All rights reserved.