It may have been over 23 years ago since we visited Cancun, Mexico on our honeymoon, but we had a great time. One of the things we enjoyed while on our visit was the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city named Tulum. However, it was formerly been known by the name Zama, meaning City of Dawn, because it faces the sunrise.
Whatever other people call it, I call it phenomenal. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have resulted in very high fatalities, disrupting the society and eventually causing the city to be abandoned. Today, it is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites and a popular site for tourists.
It is small but exquisitely poised on the cliffs above the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. Tulum has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. You can actually drive there, but we decided to purchase a tour and relax and enjoy the scenery. It is about a two-hour drive, but it was amazing and went quickly.
After our first glance, we were both shocked that these unbelievable ruins were still standing. Having a tour guide was nice as he was able to tell us the history and culture of the area and some of the meaning of the buildings. Again, I also have to say that the views of the Gulf of Mexico from the top were breathtaking. It was hot but still incredible. We were so glad we decided to take a tour and bus ride. I heard it was hard to find on your own. After the tour, we had some downtime to explore the area.
We soon found out that there are quite a few other activities in the area. Besides the Mayan ruins, you can swim or relax on the beach, visit a craft market, get something to eat, walk up Tulum Beach Road, and watch the Poll Flyers. We actually hit the beach for a while to see the ruins from the water. It was an interesting perspective for sure. Plus I was very hot so this was a welcomed treat. After our nice swim, we grabbed some lunch. It was a blast and I enjoyed people watching while we were eating. There is so much activity and excitement in the area. Here is a link to a website with more information about Tulum as well as things to do in the area.
As I said, we had an amazing time and I am so glad we visited. I just wanted to add a few words of advice before I end. When we first arrived we were surprised at how aggressive some of the people there trying to sell us a package tour. Don’t make eye contact or respond to their questions unless you want to spend time dealing when them. Also, make sure to have insect repellent and sunscreen with you. Those bugs will quickly remind you you’re in a tropical rainforest. A hat is also a great idea.
Directions / Transportation
Tulum is located approximately 81 miles [131 km] from Cancun. From the airport: Take ADO or another bus line to Playa del Carmen, transfer to Tulum bus or Colectivo (marked shuttle van) Taxi/Car service from airport direct to hotel in Tulum. Tulum doesn’t have an airport, so you’ll have to fly into either the Cancun Airport or Cozumel. If you are flying into Cancun, as we did, you can grab an ADO bus (find the ticket booth right outsides customs upon arrival) to Playa Del Carmen and then on to Tulum. If you’re flying into Cozumel, you will need to take a ferry and a taxi to get to Tulum, so grab a taxi to the ferry terminal and take a ferry to Playa del Carmen. From there, walk over to the ADO bus station to grab the next bus to Tulum.
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6 thoughts on “Tulum – The Mayan Ruins in the City of Dawn, Cancun”
I love the photos you share and your story. It brought back memories of my trip with my husband so many years ago. Thank you for sharing.
You are welcome. I love to hear that comment. I enjoy sharing our trips and I and hope it brings back fond memories for others. THANK YOU so much for your comment. Happy travels.
I Love the pictures and the general information. We live in Puerto Vallarta but it is on our bucket list to visit that area sometime soon. These pictures will help us pick a date.
Hi there William. Glad you found the post helpful. Hope you can make it there soon. It will be hot, lol. Happy travels.
I really enjoyed this article. Very Nice and thanks for sharing important information about direction and transportation.
Hi there, thank you for the msg. You are very welcome. Glad you enjoyed the post. If you haven’t been, I hope you can make it there someday. Happy travels.