One of the Yucatán’s most impressive Mayan ruins and spectacular subterranean formations sit side by side on the sun-drenched Caribbean coast.
The Tulum National Park is an eco-archaeological site situated on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The park features a beautifully preserved archaeological compound set amid a stunning landscape that includes cenotes (sinkholes), and some of the Yucatan’s most dramatic coastline.
The city of Tulum reached its peak between the 13th and 15th centuries, and was one of the last Mayan cities to fall to the Spanish. Today, despite it’s relatively small size, the ruins are one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico.
The park has numerous cenotes that were of great importance to the Maya, both as a water source and as places of ritual. The park also preserves different types of vegetation, such as chit trees, coconut palms, tropical shrubs and creeping plants. Look out for anteater, agouti (a large native rodent), and the white turtles, loggerhead sea turtles and leatherbacks that visit once a year to lay their eggs.
Arrive early in the morning before the tour buses roll in. Even better, arrive just before dawn to experience the sun rising over the Caribbean Sea and slowly illuminating El Castillo. Swim in the crystal clear waters off Tulum and picture the trading canoes that once landed and disembarked from the sheltered cove beneath the towering ruins.
The ruins are an hour’s drive south from Playa del Carmen and about 80 minutes from Cancún. Regular bus and minivan services run to the park. Make it clear to the driver that you are going to the ruins, as the area has three sections called Tulum: the ruins, the town and the beach, where many of the hotels are located.