The Beachside Mayan Ruins of Tulum

JessicaOutside @jessicaoutsideJuly 2018 · 5 min read

Perched on the edge of a cliff, alongside the Caribbean Sea, stands the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum. Can you imagine a more picturesque place to build a city?



We went to visit this stunning archaeological site last week. Here's what we know:


Tulum was the only Mayan city built on the coast. It was protected by steep sea cliffs on one side, and walls on the other three. Mayans rarely built walls around their cities. I wonder what made Tulum so special? One theory is that it was used to house people of importance, while the peasants lived on the outside. Although experts are not exactly sure, they estimate between 1,000 and 1,600 Mayans once lived here in Tulum.



Visit as early as you can. The Tulum ruins are the third most visited site in Mexico and the most visited site in Quintana Roo. This makes it BUSY! The site is open from 8am to 5pm, everyday. By going earlier in the day, you can avoid some of the crowds. Things started to get really crazy by 10am. 11am is when all the tour buses arrive so avoid this time at all costs! The price to enter is 70 pesos - approximately $3.70 USD. If you bring a camera, there will be an extra charge of 45 pesos.



It sure does get hot out there. We arrived at 8.30am and it was already stinking hot. It's easy for pale skin folk like us to turn a nice shade of tomato under the Mexican sun. There are areas of shade, but make sure you bring a hat and some sunscreen. Some drinking water is a bonus too. Bring your swimsuit so you can cool off in the ocean once you're done.



The main structure, El Castillo, was once used as a lighthouse. There are two small windows at the top of the castle. These windows helped sailors navigate through the reef at dusk. If the sailor could see light through both of the windows, he knew he was on the right course.



You don't have to join a tour group to visit the Ruins of Tulum. You can pick up a guidebook at the entrance. That way you can explore the site at your own pace, without the hassle of a large group around you. The tour guides are really knowledgeable though so it just depends on what experience you're after.



Although the buildings are now grey, they used to be painted colours like red and blue. In fact, some of the buildings are painted on the inside as well. To preserve the paintings inside the Temple of the Frescoes, visitors are no longer allowed in.



There are iguanas everywhere! I had never seen one before. Now I'm not one for lizards, but these guys are cool! I wonder why there are so many of them? With views of the Caribbean all day long, they're definitely smart real estate investors.




A taxi from downtown Tulum will set you back around 100-120 pesos. Make sure you ask the taxi driver how much it will cost before you get in. They don't have meters in the cabs and it could get quite awkward at the end if you can't agree on a price.



Tulum was one of the most important ports on the East coast. Goods like turquoise, jade, and cacao beans were once traded here. Tulum was a hub for international trade and distributed goods all over the Yucatan.



It's believed that the people of Tulum were killed off by the Spanish when they introduced diseases into the area. The city however remained inhabited for 70 more years, until it was eventually abandoned.



Did you know the Mayans predicted the end of the world for 21st December 2012? Well... that’s not exactly right. That’s what I used to think BUT...the Mayan calendar does not predict the end of the world. It was however the end of a calendar cycle. It was more like a rebirth and a promise of positive things to come, like spiritual enlightenment.



The Mayans were quite clever when it came to predicting weather and natural disasters. One legend claims that seashells were strategically placed along the shores of Tulum. When a hurricane was nearing, the shells would let out a sound, warning the people of the approaching storm.



We really enjoyed exploring the ruins at Tulum. The only thing I'd change if I were to visit again, was the timing. Lighting is particularly harsh during the day so it didn't make for the nicest photos. If you want to get some nice shots of the structures, I would recommend you visit outside of normal hours. I noticed a sign on the way in that mentioned a charge of 240 pesos for a sunrise or sunset visit. It's a significant hike in price but it would be a pretty epic spot to watch the sunrise. The site was formerly known as Zama, meaning the City of Dawn, or "place where morning is born" so it seems quite fitting to me!


Thanks for reading. If you'd like to know more about my story and my path to full-time travel, please check out My INTRO

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Thanks so much @travelfeed 🤗


Tulum is one of my favorite places!
@lynncoyle1 is in the Playa region, I believe...


Ah yes I believe so! I didn't know that. I just saw the beautiful mural post. Tulum is magic. The food and the people have all been so great. Leaving here in a week for a bit of an island vacation but I dare say we'll be back very soon.


I just read your intro post! So so awesome! My husband, @briancourteau and I are actually from Vancouver, but prior, I lived in the interior of BC for years and love Big White! Did you ever make it to Sun Peaks outside of Kamloops? So worth a visit!!!

Tulum is magic, isn't it? I always knew the Mayans were pretty clever, and the history at Tulum is wonderful, but after a tour of Chichen Itza, I have been in awe of what they accomplished!

My husband and I actually sold everything in Vancouver and came here to enjoy life; he is unfortunately sick (cancer), and we decided several years ago, that it was time to jump off of the hamster wheel. Kudos for doing the same :)


Ah awesome! Small world.

BC is such a special place. And Biggie is one of my favourite places on earth. I loved living up on the mountain, even if it sends you crazy every now and then. We never made it to Sun Peaks unfortunately. After 3 seasons at BW, I can't believe we didn't venture out further. Ah well...will just have to go back 😉 I'm still following that story of the 20 yr old boy that's still missing from up there. My heart breaks for that Mumma.

I'm so sorry to learn of Brians cancer. I caught your post the other day and it must be tough. I truly hope he can get the pain relief he so badly needs. It sounds like you've got an incredible support network here on Steemit and I hope by your side as well. We're heading up to Isla Mujeres at the end of the week, but we're so close by, so please do let me know if there's anything you need ❤

Lovely to connect with you. Sending light and love to you both x


There are so many spectacular spots in BC @jessicaoutside, but sometimes when you find one, you just stick with it!

Thank you for your kind words regarding Brian. It is of course difficult, but making the decision to come here has been the best thing. It was always in our plans, we just did it sooner than later. I am continually in awe of the support we have received from our steemit peeps; I have never been involved with any other social media platform that comes close to what goes on here!

I really appreciate your offer here as well! That's so very kind of you ❤️ Isla Mujeres is wonderful too; enjoy yourself way toooo much 😎

So nice to connect with you as well! Appreciate the light and love and I'm sending the same right back atcha ❤️


Once again a great post Jessica, you really seem to have fun in Mexico!! These pictures look great and the site definitely looks like something that has to be done.

Also, not related, but since my country just won the World Cup, I feel like upvoting 100% everyone 😅


Ah yay! I instantly thought of you when I heard the results. Go France! What a victory 😁🇫🇷 And thank you my friend. I hope you have a lovely evening celebrating.


Yay! 😄 Thank you very much, celebrations are ongoing, and we will confinue to celebrate tomorrow morning as we watch the parade down the Champs Elysées. It's just sports but it is still one of these moments that I will remember forever!


Fantastic. What an incredible vibe it would be in Quebec right now. A great moment to remember. Enjoy!


Looking like you are having a grat time.


We are thank you 😁 it's been fun learning a new language too.


Wonderful again and congrats again :)


Thank you my friend! I appreciate it 🙏


Great post! I'm loving following your journey :)


Thanks so much @hayles And it was a pleasure to read another post from you today 💙


Great post Jess!
When I visited Mexico I skipped the peninsula of Yucatan so I haven't been to Tulum but I think that all the ancient settlements have amazing energy and from what I have seen Mayas follow this pattern.
I know that you are about 600 miles away from my favorite town in Mexico but if you go west and find yourself in San Cristobal de las Casas would you please make a post about it?
I loved it so much that I was fantasizing to live there :)
But it was so many years ago and I have heard that it has changed a lot. So if you happen to be there some fresh feedback would be great!
But then again maybe you are heading to the Jamaica so it doesn't really matter.
Have fun wherever you are :)


Thanks very much! And yes I would love to do a post on your favourite town, if we visit that is. Our next stop is Isla Mujeres as we are craving some beach time. We've got a month booked there and then, who knows? We will most likely be heading West though so it could be on the cards.


Wow thanks!
Enjoy your beach time and keep us posted :)