Tulum is a town on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It’s known for its beaches and well-preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan port city. The main building is a large stone structure called El Castillo (castle), perched on a rocky cliff above the white sand beach and turquoise sea. Near the ruins is the Parque Nacional Tulum, a coastal area with mangroves and cenotes (natural limestone sinkholes).
Among the last of the Mayan cities, the port of Tulum had its heyday between the 1200s and the 1400s and is unique in that it survived for a few decades after the Spanish had taken control of the region.These ruins need to be top of your agenda when you come to Tulum, as they’re some of the most intact Mayan remains on the Yucatán Peninsula, also standing out because of their defensive wall.This barrier is up to five metres high and punctuated by gates, while cliffs form a natural barrier to the east.
One of the advantages to being in the Yucatan Peninsula as a whole is that you’re surrounded by Mayan sinkholes, otherwise known as cenotes. In Tulum, you’ll be within a stone’s throw of some of the country’s most magnificent examples, so you really ought to take the chance to check them out. El Gran Cenote, Calavera and Carwash are some of the most well-known examples, but with a little searching you can find some underrated and practically deserted ones to explore too.
Sistema Sac Actun
Only discovered in 1987, the Sistema Sac Actun could be the largest surveyed underwater cave system in the world.When you combine its dry and underwater tunnels, the system adds up to more than 346 kilometres.Of course, you’ll only witness a fraction, but more than enough to get a feel for this natural marvel.Entrance includes a life-jacket and snorkel, and there are optional extras for your tour like a wetsuit and waterproof camera.The guided tour is 90 minutes long, but will pass by in a flash as you get in-depth information about the cave’s wonderful concretions.
Check out turtles in their natural habitat
If you’re into all things ecological, then this is undoubtedly one of the most unmissable things to take part in when visiting Tulum; each year, from May to October, most of this coastline sees the arrival of turtle nesting season. After the sun sets each evening, the mother turtles slowly make their way up the beach to lay their eggs, before carefully journeying back to the surf. If you want a more hands on turtle experience, day trip to Akumal instead, where you can snorkel with these magnificent creatures!