The #1 reason to visit Tulum is the Mayan Ruins.
Our To Travel Too Tip: Arrive early before the crowds and the heat of the day. Make sure you have water, sunscreen and lots of insect repellent. We understand that up to 80 tour buses can visit on any one day so arrive early.
Tulum Day One: our first attempt
The taxi driver dropped us at the side entrance closest to where we were staying on the beach just outside Tulum at the hotel Posada Punta Piedra. As we walked the 1km to the entrance gates we were bombarded by mosquitos, not your usual small ones but large ones with ferocious bites. In minutes, we were covered with bites and welts and they were still coming after us. It was hot, very hot and as we neared the entrance there were loads of tour groups queueing. We were totally unprepared for this, large numbers of tour groups from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, no sunscreen, not enough water and definitely no insect repellent. We stood in the queue for five minutes, did not move an inch, looked at one another and headed for the main exit for a taxi into Tulum town itself for a coffee fix. Noting that the park opens at 8.00AM we set a plan to revisit early the next day.
Tulum Day Two: our second attempt
Out of our hotel the next morning at 7.30am we hailed a taxi and we were dropped off at the same point. We had slathered sunscreen thickly all over us, had a double helping of mosquito repellant on top of the sunscreen and bottles of water. The ticket counter opened at 8.00am and we were the first to arrive. By 8.03 we were walking around the ruins, it was quite serene and peaceful. Then the buzzing noise of mosquitos hit us and we added another layer of repellent.
Tulum was built by the Mayans in the late 13th century. It was a sea port trading mainly in jewels such as turquoise, jade and obsidian. During this time a population of between 1000 to 1600 lived and worked here before its demise at the end of the 15th century by old world diseases brought in by the Spanish settlers.
The castle or Castillo is perched on the edge of a 12 metre limestone cliff facing east towards the Caribbean Sea.
Some other facts we found interesting about the Mayan Ruins:
- It is one of the only walled cities built by the Mayans, there are three walled sides the fourth being the Caribbean Sea.
- The word Tulum in the Yucatec language means wall.
- Tulum was called Zama meaning ‘dawn’ in the Mayan language.
- The earliest date recorded on the site is A.D. 564. This was found as an inscription on a stelae found on the site in the Temple of the Initial Series south of the Castle
- The Castle is the tallest building on the site and was erected in several stages.
- There is a small cove located at the foot of the Castle where boats would come ashore to ply their trade.
- From Honduras to the Yucatan Peninsular the Mayans controlled all maritime movements during its hey day
- The Mayans honored the Descending God or ‘diving god’
Normally you can head down to the beach for a swim and a great photo opportunity as you look up at the ruins along the coast but today the tide was high and not recommended.
We spent 1.5 hours wandering through the ruins with iguanas crossing our paths and mosquitos hungry for our blood.
To Travel Too Tips
Our number one tip is to be at the Entrance Gate just prior to opening at 8am. Ensure that you have plenty of sunscreen and mosquito repellant and water with you.
Entrance costs to the ruins 2013 prices 57 mxn per person = AUD9
Opening hours 8am to 5pm
Address: KM230 Carretera Federal 307 Cancun Chetumal Tulum Quintana Roo
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