As a destination, Tulum has undergone a huge transformation over the past number of years. From humble beginnings as a small fishing village, similar to the heritage of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it has turned into one of the hottest vacation spots in the world.
With a stint as a bohemian/hippie retreat before growing into a boutique hotel and wellness resort destination, the town of Tulum shows no signs of slowing its growth.
With the opening of the Tulum Airport just weeks away and direct flights from the United States already announced, the previously difficult-to-get to Tulum is about to become a super-convenient destination for all travelers.
With the arrival of convenient connectivity, it’s safe to say Tulum is finally shedding its hidden-gem status and joining Cancun and Playa del Carmen as a mainstream destination.
But, for travelers who revel in visiting lesser-known destinations and attractions, Tulum is surrounded by a wealth of hidden gems that are still less crowded and as charming as ever.
The following are 3 awesome hidden gems for travelers to discover near Tulum.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is one of the best natural attractions in all of Mexico; covering over 1544 square miles, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A hugely important site to the Mayans, its name translates to “gate of heaven”, which holds no secrets when travelers visit this area and witness its truly special beauty.
Travelers have many ways of experiencing this awesome reserve, which includes the following:
Sian Ka’an Nature Encounter
This wonderful tour is suitable for families and takes travelers on an unforgettable trek through the ancient jungle.
Sian Ka’an Reef & Mayan Canal Snorkel Tour
Travelers who want to experience the full beauty of the reserve will need to don their bathing suits and take a trip underwater.
The awesome Mesoamerican coral reef this tour visits is teeming with interesting sea life, and the chance to swim in the Mayan Canal, built over 1000 years ago, is a great way to interact with such an impressive piece of history.
Ancient Mayan Route
Undoubtedly the most popular tour available, this full-day excursion includes snorkeling as well, but that is just a slice of what travelers get to experience.
This tour will take visitors on a jungle winding tour up the Mayan Canal, letting travelers retrace the steps of the people who once inhabited this important corner of the world.
Sian Ka’an Fly Fishing
For any anglers planning a visit, the fly-fishing excursion at Sian Ka’an offers an unforgettable experience that is unrivaled in Mexico.
Semi-professional fly-fishing equipment is available for rent, although not included in the tour price. What is included is beer, soft drinks, water, a packed lunch, a fishing license, as well as the entry fee to the reserve.
This is a must-do experience for anyone who enjoys the sport.
Mahahual & Bacalar
While Tulum is losing its hidden gem mantel, the towns of Mahahual and Bacalar still hold that title.
Located just a 2-and-a-half-hour drive south of Tulum, these towns offer a fantastic reason to rent a vehicle and take a short road trip.
Mahahual is home to pristine and uncrowded beaches that are the perfect getaway from the beach club vibe growing in Tulum. It’s also an ecotourism hotspot that offers surroundings unspoiled by commercial tourism development.
Bacalar is further inland, and while it doesn’t have a Caribbean beach to boast about, it is home to one of the most breathtaking lagoons in the Americas.
This is also a fantastic destination to visit for travelers who wish to swim in one of Mexico’s many cenotes. In fact, Bacalar is home to one of the country’s deepest and is a hugely popular diving spot.
The Mayan ruins at Tulum have quickly become a big highlight for travelers visiting this corner of the Mexican Caribbean. While in the past it was a great alternative for those who hoped to avoid the often-crazy crowds at Chichen Itza, the attraction is no longer the uncrowded gem it once was.
But travelers don’t need to worry; the ruins at Coba are just a 45-minute drive away and even more impressive than those at Tulum.
It could be argued this was an even more important city to the Mayans than Chichen Itza, with over 6,000 structures here that all lead to the central pyramid of Nohoch Mul, one of the few still-climbable pyramids in the Yucatan peninsula.
More Awaits Travelers
The greatest selling point of a vacation to Tulum is the huge number of hidden gems surrounding the destination.
While the 3 mentioned above are some of the best, the list of things to do and places to see is huge, and the new airport means that this barely traveled corner of Mexico is set to be within reach for all travelers.
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