Tulum, a city of only around 50,000 people, known for its Mayan ruins and Caribbean beaches, continues to grow as a popular vacation destination for American travelers. It sits about 80 miles south of Cancun, making it about a one-and-a-half to two-hour drive from Cancun International Airport, which is where the bulk of foreign tourists fly into when vacationing in Tulum. Visitors to the increasingly popular city have endless opportunities to explore some of the best cultural and natural assets the Yucatán Peninsula has to offer without having to leave or go too far from Tulum.
According to historical evidence, Tulum was one of the last Mayan cities to be constructed in the area and was an important seaport for trading. It was inhabited by the Mayan people as recently as the 13th – 15th centuries, abandoned by the 16th century, many years after Mexico began being occupied by the Spanish. Before being abandoned by the Mayan people, traders from other Central American and Mexican tribes would travel to the port city to do business.
Today people travel from all over the world, especially from the United States, to get a glimpse of this once vibrant Mayan city that still draws a crowd today. While tourism has been growing for many years, it has become more and more of a vacation hotspot in recent years. Tulum has hosted as many as 2 million visitors a year at times, and so far this year, more than 70 percent of visitors to the city were American tourists. We’ll share a few reasons why this mesmerizing city is so popular.
Many people travel to Tulum to see the magnificent Tulum ruins, making it one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico, behind Chichén Itzá and Teotihuacan. There are a number of well-preserved structures in the ruined city, but the most noticeable and perhaps one of the most telling remnants of it is the wall that protected the land side of the city, the opposite side fortified by a cliff that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Although much smaller in scale, the architectural style is similar to that of the famous Chichén Itzá ruins.
Tulum Town Center/Tulum Pueblo
The town center, or Tulum Pueblo, is where visitors can really get a feel for Tulum’s culture and heritage through food, art, and the local community. The more charming part of Tulum might not be where you find the famous parties the city is known for, but Tulum Pueblo is not without its own special allure. Small local bars can be found by walking the streets, the smell of authentic Mexican cooking wafts out of the charming restaurants as you pass by, and a simple stroll is like walking through an outdoor art museum.
Tulum Beaches/Tulum Playa
Tulum is a hotspot for kitesurfing, but plenty of visitors go to the beaches simply to relax the day away and enjoy the sunshine and warm turquoise Caribbean water too. For those that stay in the town center area, the beaches will be about 10-15 minutes away, whereas the resorts in the Hotel Zone sit directly on the beach, hence the name Tulum Playa that was given to the area. Some of the more secluded beaches, with fewer hotels on them, include Playa Pescadores, Playa Paraiso, Las Palmas, and Playa Ruinas, which, as its name suggests, sits at the bottom of the cliff that the ruins overlook.
For adventure seekers, it doesn’t get much better than Tulum, as it is a diverse natural oasis just waiting to be explored. Water sports, jungle tours, numerous Mayan ruins, adventure parks, cenotes, eco reserves, and so much more are all only steps away. There are plenty of tours available that offer some of the best opportunities to explore the many sides of Tulum’s natural side.
Tulum is a great vacation destination on its own but also makes for a great day trip for those staying in Cancun. There are many options for making the trip, and doing so means being able to explore two great Mexican Caribbean destinations on one very memorable vacation.
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