I recently realized that for some odd reason I’ve missed writing about a lot of places in Latin America. Since I saw a photo from the Tulum ruins while I was looking through some of my pictures, I decided to start there. And because I also get a lot of questions about this city.
Tulum is a town in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It tends to be one of the Yucatan’s more popular areas. I suppose its close proximity to Playa del Carmen doesn’t hurt. It is known for white sand beaches and some of the most gorgeous blue waters in the Caribbean.
But we didn’t like it.
We missed seeing the ruins during our first visit, so when friends came to Playa del Carmen, we accompanied them to visit the remnants of the walled Mayan port city.
Still didn’t like it.
I mean on one hand you have to admire the Mayans who lived and worked here. This has to be one of the best views for any city. But compared to other Mayan ruins on the Peninsula. . . well, Tulum doesn’t compare.
The town itself doesn’t offer much. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of mid range accommodations. You’re either lodging in interesting hostels or forking out some serious pesos for more luxury. Regrettably, the amazing beach is also not easily accessed unless you’re staying in one of the more luxurious beachside places.
If you love sitting for hours and hours on the beach, though, Tulum could well be one of your favorites. It is generally more quiet and less crowded than some of the tourist meccas nearby. The beach is pretty good for families (as long as you don’t have to trek to get to it) as there are sandbars and reef breaking up rough water.
Feel like you just have to see it? I would recommend doing it as a day trip from Playa del Carmen. You can catch a mini van for super cheap, and they run back and forth frequently throughout the day. You can also grab an ADO bus if the mini vans don’t appeal to you.
If you come to Tulum, I’d suggest skipping the ruins and hitting the beach instead. There is little to no relief from the sun in the ruins complex, and to me they just weren’t worth the effort and heat. When we were there, the access to the beach from within the ruins was also cut off. That may be repaired by now.
The nearby town of Akumal, however, is most definitely worth a visit! There is even less to do here, but the beach is nice, and you can snorkel with sea turtles! They are found in the waters off Akumal’s coast year round. It is an absolutely incredible experience to be able to swim with these creatures.
If you can’t do both Tulum and Akumal, skip the Tulum ruins, beaches, etc., and head straight for Akumal!
Have you been to Tulum? What are your thoughts?