For the first time, I ventured to a place not called Europe and instead made my way to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. This was my first tropical vacation and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Mayan ruins in Tulum with a group of great friends. In fact, my only requirement for this tropical vacation was a chance at exploring the Mayan ruins in Tulum or Chichen Itza. Tequila and tropical drinks flowed liberally and we survived the heat by lounging by the pool and beach, taking a trip to Tulum, and of course, enjoying a Cerveza or five. It was a glorious vacation and one that I will make again in the future.
Exploring the Mayan ruins in Tulum
Tulum was built in the late thirteenth century on the Caribbean coast as a seaport. Tulum actually means “wall” which is accurate as it is a walled city. It stands 12 metres (40 ft) up the cliffs with a majestic castle looking down on the beach. The city may have been called Zama, City of Dawn, and was an important trade route as well as a place of worship. It is estimated that as many as 1500 inhabitants occupied these lands.
The Maya civilization consisted of small states ruled by a king; similar to the Greek city-states. Their civilization still exists as the Maya can still be found in the area to this day. The peak of their civilization came between the 3rd and 10th centuries, where numerous cities flourished. But drought, deforestation, war, and the arrival of the Spanish all may have contributed to their decline.
We booked a day trip from our resort to visit Tulum and ended up with the most delightful guide, Mio. He was quite knowledgable and entertaining. It was a bit of a hike from the parking lot but once you saw the ruins, it was a worth the walk. The ruins are in pretty good shape and you get such lovely views of the beach and Caribbean Sea from up on those cliffs.
There were so many highlights at Tulum but one of my favourites is the Castle below. It is just simply spectacular. The Maya were known for their pyramid building and cenotes (caves).
Tips for Tulum
- I recommend a guided tour – there are many options and you cannot go wrong with a knowledgeable guide who will get you to Tulum and fill you with its history and background
- It was damn hot – bring water. Bring an umbrella and dress cool. Yes do not forget a hat and sunscreen
- Go early in the day if possible
- There is a fair bit of walking so bring good shoes – I had some nice walking sandals. Perfect!
- Bring your bathing suit to go swimming if you have time. We did not but next time!
Have you been to Mexico? What was your favourite tropical spot? What trips are you planning next? Next up is a trip to Europe this fall: Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna and Salzburg, Austria; and Munich, Germany.