This summer I visited Tulum, a resort town south of Cancun on the Mayan Riviera. This sleepy, surfer town is home to boutique hotels, cabanas, Mayan ruins and beautiful waters.
If you’ve never been—you have to check it out and here’s why:
Cenotes and more cenotes: Cenotes are natural swimming holes “formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, which has revealed…groundwater pools.”[i] They are spectacular with their crystal clear turquoise waters making it a snorkeler’s paradise. Tulum has several cenotes to explore, from cave to open-air, which offer a refreshing alternative from the ocean. There’s always a shop nearby to rent either scuba gear or paddleboards. Here are some of the best cenotes, recommended by Lonely Planet.
Mayan ruins—but specifically Chichen Itza: “Chichen Itza can be traced back to the classic period of Mayan civilization, running between 250 BC through AD 850.”[ii] It is a UNESCO World heritage site and is a formidable example of Mayan architecture. The most famous structure is the pyramid called El Castillo. Its four sides contain 365 steps (depicting the solar year), 52 panels (for each week in the solar year) and 18 terraces (for the 18 months in the religious year). Approximately 4,000 – 9,000 people visit daily so I recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds and to take unobstructed pictures of the ruins.
Up close and personal: May to October is Turtle Nesting Season. In Tulum and all along the Caribbean coast is where the endangered sea turtles nest their eggs. You can watch, from a distance and very quietly, the mother turtle dig a hole to lay and nest her eggs. There were several nests around my hotel which were carefully protected by signs and fences. The hotel also used special lighting at night to not disrupt the mother turtle and her hatchlings’ path.
Tulum has a distinctively west coast vibe and offers a good combination of great food, history and water sports.