Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
Riviera Maya

Maya Tulum Ruins Display Greatness of Ancient Culture

Riviera Maya photo

The Maya Tulum ruins are one of the most popular attractions in Riviera Maya because of their unique location by the sea.

They are the only known seashore ruins of this famous and ancient Mexican culture. Their cliff top location adds to their beauty.

The ruins are the third most visited archaeological site in Mexico after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza.

The city rose to prominence around 1200 A.D. and fell after the arrival of the Spanish.

Visitors can explore more than 60 well-preserved structures within the three massive walls that surround this ancient city.

El Castillo (The Castle) is the largest and most prominent structure on the site. Also look for Temple of the Frescoes, which is one of the best-preserved buildings.

Visitors also can swim at Tulum’s beach and be able to observe the ruins from the waters. Combining a visit to the ruins with a swim is a common activity.

Getting There

The ruins are located about 120 kilometers or about 70 miles south of Cancun and about 64 kilometers or about 38 miles south of Playa del Carmen.

Cancun or cruise visitors will take either an excursion bus or rental car.

Going there by rental car is simple by taking the well-maintained Mexico highway 307 straight south into Tulum.

It is helpful to know at least some Spanish to read the road signs, but we found traveling on highway 307 in a rental car had few challenges.

Look for a left turn before reaching the city of Tulum.

Anyone in Cancun should note that Chichen Itza is larger and more popular, but it also is a longer bus trip.

People who want to spend a little more time in Tulum and have gone there by rental car can stay overnight at several hotels and resorts in the area.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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