An hour from Playa del Carmen rests Tulum, a beautiful paradise on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.
While vacationing in the Yucatan peninsula, I decided to take a break from the unlimited pina coladas and resort life to experience more of Mexico’s true beauty. The result?
A full day wandering around Tulum, and falling completely in love with this little slice of heaven.
With beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and the Mayan city of Tulum overlooking the sea, it’s easy to see why Tulum is such a popular destination in the Yucatan!
If you’re headed to the Caribbean side of Mexico, Tulum is absolutely worth a visit. Here are three things I recommend doing in this beautiful city!
1. Visit the Tulum Ruins
Nestled on the cliffs overlooking the Gulf of Mexico is the ancient Mayan City of Tulum. Unlike several other ruins in Mexico, the Tulum ruins are incredibly well preserved, giving visitors a glimpse into what the Mayan city once looked like. The castle rests, quite literally, on the edge of a cliff, while palm trees have grown out of the cliff’s facade, making the whole ancient city look like something out of a movie.
Beauty aside, Tulum is rich with history. It is the only Mayan city built on the coast, as it functioned as a seaport. Each ruin includes a plaque that speaks to how the structure was made and what purpose it served in the city’s function, so be sure to take some time to read each one!
Logistically, if you’re headed to check out the ruins, make sure you get there first thing in the morning. By 9:30 AM, the place is packed with people standing in line to get in. I went at 8 AM and shared the city with only a few others, making for a great, private experience!
2. Lounge on the Tulum Beach
While Mexico is full of gorgeous beaches, the beach in Tulum truly stand out as one of the most beautiful. The sand is white, soft, and completely free of shells and rocks. Palm trees stretch along the strip at random intervals, making the beach look like a picture-perfect paradise (and it is perfect for pictures).
The main area of the beach strip is completely walkable on foot, and is dotted with small restaurants and bars, meaning you can enjoy a bite to eat and a drink while taking in the views.
If you’re a swimmer, you’ll love the water there, too! The water is crystal clear and a calm, turquoise blue all the way up to the reef, which protects the beach from large waves and debris. And since Tulum is on the Gulf, the water is the perfect temperature for a nice swim!
3.Snorkel over the Reef
If you’re looking to do more than take a quick dip in the sea, consider snorkeling over the Great Mayan Reef, which runs across Tulum. The reef is the second largest in the world next to the Great Barrier reef, and extends 600 miles, from Cozumel to Honduras.
If the tides are right, you can even snorkel directly on top of the reef and experience beautiful coral, colorful fish, and even the occasional stingray or sea turtle! Several tour groups offer some form of snorkeling over the reef as an excursion. If you can experience it while also getting the opportunity to lounge on Tulum’s beautiful beaches, it’s even better!
Tulum truly is a small paradise nestled on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. While Mexico has so many places to discover, I would 100% recommend dedicating a day (if not a whole trip!) to exploring Tulum and enjoying its natural beauty and history.