The Beachfront Ruins at Tulum

Tulum Travel Blog

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Seaside View of Tulum
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The architectural ruins of Tulum are one of the best-preserved coastal Mayan sites in the Yucatan and are about an hour or so easy drive south of Playa del Carmen.  Actually, once we got through the long debacle of getting the car, we were pleasantly surprised with how good the roads and generally the signs were and we arrived early prior to the hordes of tour buses that descend from Cancun and Playa.  

TulĂșm is actually the Yucatec Mayan word for fence or wall and the walls surrounding the site allowed the huge fort to serve as a defense against invasion from enemies.  Tulum is protected on one side by steep sea cliffs where you can take a dip in the incredible, multi-hued blue and turquoise waters after the hot, tromping around the largely shadeless site.
El Castillo at Tulum
  On the land side it is surrounded by a really thick wall (20-30 feet) that averages about fifteen feet in height. On the southwest and northwest corners there are small structures that have been identified as watch towers, showing how well defended the city would have been. There are five narrow gateways in the wall with two each on the north and south sides and one on the west. These walkways are how you enter and exit the architectural site.  Near the northern side of the wall a small cenote (fresh water, limestone sinkholes found all over the Yucatan) supposedly provided the city with fresh water but now it is kind of just a muddy hole.  Historians think that Tulum served as the port city for the bigger complex at nearby Coba.

The site is relatively compact and probably only takes 90-120 minutes to walk around at a slow pace (a good idea in the heat) not counting stopping for a swim if you are so inclined.
Blue Iguana at Tulum
  It is actually a bit of a walk from the parking to the site itself, maybe just about a kilometer, although they do have a little bus service that you can hire.  There are boatloads of guides out front and once inside offering their services (which we neglected to take advantage of but some sounded pretty informed if you are really into the archeological thing).

There are a number of buildings on the site, some more impressive than others such as the temples and El Castillo in the center of the site.  Humorously, one of the most intriguing sites to most of the visitors (me included) wasn't the ruins themselves (which at the end of the day are old rocks...) was the iguanas which freely roam around the site eating, crapping and sunning themselves on the rocks.  The view from the cliffs is pretty spectacular and has a nice breeze going to cool you down.  Even in the morning, people were dripping sweat and most of the men were walking around with unbuttoned or no shirts at all.
Tulum Buildings
  We decided to forgo a swim, tempting as it looked, so we weren't even saltier when we head to Coba

After walking around the site, we had some very tasty fish tacos and a beer at one of the many restaurants in front of the parking lot before climbing back in the cushy Dodge Avenger for the drive to CobaTulum is definitely touristy but definitely worth a visit.  We just hope that we don't hit the wall with Y.A.F.R (see a similar definition of this acronym in our Laos 2006 blog from our Aussie friends Rosemarie and Brent here

sylviandavid says:
Great blog (as usual).... Good to know you can hire a car...
Posted on: Nov 06, 2009
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Seaside View of Tulum
Seaside View of Tulum
El Castillo at Tulum
El Castillo at Tulum
Blue Iguana at Tulum
Blue Iguana at Tulum
Tulum Buildings
Tulum Buildings
Tulum Buildings
Tulum Buildings
Tulum Panorama
Tulum Panorama
Cindy walking through the Exit Wal…
Cindy walking through the Exit Wa…
Mayan Warriors - you can tip them …
Mayan Warriors - you can tip them…
Tulum
photo by: Mezmerized