We left Playa del Carmenunder the rain and drove straight to Tulum, our next stop. It’s only an hour away so yes, it was rainy and chilly in Tulum as well, but we were excited because it used to be one of our favourite spots in Mexico.
Let’s just say that… ahem, Tulum has changed in the last decade. More on that later, once I wrap my head around the fact that it went from a quiet village on the backpacker trail to a fancy Instagram hotspot.
One thing didn’t change, though—the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum, abandoned by the end of the 16th century.
This is where we headed once the two days of rain were over, and like everything in Tulum, it started with a walk along the highway.
There’s Tulum pueblo, the town, and then there’s Tulum playa, the beach, about four kilometres away. You spend a lot of time walking along the Carretera Chetumal-Cancún, through the national park or along Avenida Coba to get from the town to the beach, or from the beach to the town if you splurged to stay in one of the beachfront resorts.
Tulum ruinas are unique because they were built on a bluff facing the Caribbean Sea. This is basically your Mayan equivalent to an Airbnb with sweeping views overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Eiffel Tower or the Sugarloaf Mountain.
The site is also well preserved and very compact because it’s contained within massive stone walls, so it’s popular and easy to explore. The most famous buildings are the Templo del Dios de Viento, the Templo del Dios Descendente, and El Castillo, the pyramid.
The structures are much less impressive than in other ancient Maya cities but they are very picturesque—it’s all about the location, turquoise water and white sand in the background, plus you can hit the beach right after the visit!