Built on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean waters in 900 B.C., well-preserved walled Tulum is the Maya’s last major city and only seaside city. It was still inhabited when the Spanish arrived, and Cortez described it as larger than Seville and unfriendly. Of the more than 60 well-preserved structures, the most noteworthy and the highest is El Castillo--the main tower and temple that is sometimes referred to as the lighthouse. Local Maya used the temples until late in the 20th century.
Tulum is a gorgeous, magical place, with well maintained gardens. Get here early in the morning—for the spectacular sunrise if possible (the Maya called the site Zamá, meaning “city of the dawn”). It is also glorious on a sunny day, when the water turns a gorgeous turquoise. Sea breezes cool visitors on the often hot days, and you can also plan for a dip in the warm sea below (stairs lead down the hillside to a sandy beach and crystal-clear water). A tractor-pulled train transports visitors from the parking area to the archaeological site; an average visit takes one hour.
This company has a good tour of the area.
More things to do in the Riviera Maya.
More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.
video c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers