The Mayan Coastal Town of Tulum
Date Visited: 10/5/20
I got up early, everyone was still asleep but I needed a one mile walk for my walking challenge so I headed out to the beach and watched the sunrise over the Atlantic. Getting back to the hotel room it was tough getting everyone awake and going, but we eventually we made it out the door and on our way to Tulum.
We got to Tulum at 8:40 a.m. which is early, but we did that because we wanted to get to the archeological site before all the tour groups came in. Parking was $100 MXN ($5 USD). The front part of tulum is a tourist trap with all sorts of crazy shops and photo ops. As soon as we got out of the car I started walking to the entrance but everyone got distracted by the tourist traps and scattered. It took like a half an hour to find everyone.
There is a quarter mile road from the tourist tow to the actual archeological ruins. You can pay 100 MXN ($5 USD) to take a bus to the entrance or you can walk, we walked. The entrance fee was 80 MXN ($4 USD) but my dad was free because he is older.
Being there early we went the opposite way (counter clockwise) so we would avoid the tourists. First we went through the wall and walked the inner courtyard. Then we went up the stairs and looked on the coastline.
The earliest settlements in Tulum date back to 564 AD, but most of what you see today at the site was built between 1250 AD and 1450 AD. Today it is called Tulum, which is a colonial name, but it’s real name is Zama. Zama means sunrise Mayan. Tulum, in its day, was a major Mayan port town. Being in the tip of the curve that is Central America, it was a very strategic location for the Mayans who would go up and down the coast. It was also key to the Spanish who made Tulum their second landing point in 1518.
Tulum had an interesting natural defense mechanism. The word Tulum means wall and even though the Spanish didn’t have to fight to conquer Tulum, they still lost two ships trying to take it. The beach was surrounded by rock and coral. Only if you knew how to navigate the reef could you get to the beach and make landfall. The Mayan had a watchtower that could be lit to guide sailors through the reef at night. The beaches are beautiful but many of them were sectioned off because they are turtle nesting grounds.
Due to the ease of access and the beautiful beaches nearby Tulum attracts a lot of tourists. We got out of Tulum just as hoards of tourists were coming in which is great. As we got back to our car we could see a lot of tour buses coming in. I couldn’t even imagine how crowded the site must get when the cruise ships come.
How touristy is the tourist village? It has a Starbucks, that’s how touristy!
How fun to go with your father. It looks like a wonderful place.