Looking for Holiday Packed with Ton of Water Activities & All You Can Eat Food?!….Tulum Mexico is the Place!
Maybe you’ve done the beach holiday before – lounging in the sands, filling up on the all you can eat goodness, and forgetting the world for a while. Maybe you’ve never been to the beach before, and you’re eager to absorb as much of the local culture as you can while exploring this new territory. The truth is, as soon as you set foot in fantastic, historic, incredible Tulum, you’ll know that you’ve made the right choice!
Tulum is so much more than a beach holiday – forget about snoozing your vacation away on a beach towel (although there is plenty of time for that, too,) Tulum is all about an incredible historic experience waiting for you in this ancient Mayan city resting on a cliff that looks out over the big, blue Caribbean Sea!
What’s the story behind Tulum? How did this city come to be, and what happened there?
The Mayan civilization had begun a slow but steady decline by the year 900 AD, and a lot of the bigger cities within the southern region were completely abandoned. In the shadow of this decline came the city of Tulum, rising to establish significance in the void of the cities that had once stood.
Tulum was an important seaport, overseeing a great deal of maritime commerce that made its way along this particular region of the coast, from Yucatan to Honduras. The little town that rose up to become an important port city made a name for itself, and was frequented by travellers coming from far and wide.
A great deal of the history about Tulum during the time of the Spanish Conquest was learned from studying the writing of Diego de Landa, the 3rd bishop of the Yucatan. His writings described how the city of Tulum was relatively small but powerful, with only about six hundred inhabitants permanently making their homes and their livelihoods there in platform dwellings.
These dwellings were along the streets, and the inhabitants supervised the coming and going trades. It was a walled city, but it’s understood that the majority of the city’s inhabitants actually had their homes situated outside of the city walls. The interior was for governors, priests, religious and ceremonial structures.
After the Spanish Conquest, Tulum remained a busy port city for some seventy years, when it too was eventually abandoned like the many Mayan cities before it. You could argue that it wasn’t completely abandoned, as many of the local Maya still returned to the temples in order to pray and burn incense well into the late 20th century, which was followed quickly by tourism…
What makes Tulum one of popular holiday destinations? Why visit Tulum when there are other, more exciting places to see along the coast?
For some travellers, a vacation just isn’t a vacation without getting to know the location a little more intimately, and culturally. In the ancient city ruins of Tulum, you’re able to take a huge leap into the past and walk in the footsteps of the people who shaped this region.
You’ll find the Tulum ruins located 130 km south of Cancun – the perfect distance to make for a great day trip if you happen to be staying in the resort city. Not too close to the madness of Spring Break or the bustle of constant comings and goings throughout the peak season, and not too far away either.
The Tulum ancient Archeological Zone is the first distinct zone that you’ll come across when visiting this site. You won’t be able to miss the ruins as you’re coming along Hwy 307 – there route is conveniently pointed out with a number of different signs, and a large pink hotel marks the corner.
Make your way to Tulum yourself by car, or travel with a bus and join a tour. The Tulum ruins are roughly one kilometer east of Highway 307 when you’re headed towards the coast. There’s a rather large craft market located there, a handful of fast food joints if you’re looking to grab something quick and easy, and a few other kinds of shops.
Along this road heading towards the Tulum ruins, you’ll see on your immediate right the place where the Mayan Pole Flyers perform their pole flying. You can sit and watch The Danza de los Voladores – the Dance of the Flyers, or Palo Volador which translates to English as pole flying, which is an ancient Mesoamerican ritual and ceremony that has carried on to the present day.
The ceremony has been modified over the generations, but is still performed in places around Mexico including the Tulum region. It’s thought to have originated with the Nahua, Otomi, and the Huastec people in central Mexico before spreading throughout the majority of Mesoamerica.
This entertaining ritual consists of the art of dance and the skillful athleticism of climing to the top of a 30 meter pole before launching back down to the ground again, tethered by a rope. The fifth performer will remain at the top of the pole, dancing while playing musical instruments.
One legend says that the ritual was a way of asking the gods to bring an end to the severe drought that was troubling the region, and even though this ritual never originated with the Totonac people, it’s a performance that has come to be strongly associated with the culture – particularly those from the Papantla area in the state of Veracruz, Mexico.
This performance was regarded as being an Intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in an effort to help this ritual survive and be carried down through the modern world’s generations.
Of course, the biggest attraction in the region are the Tulum ruins themselves. The ruins can be enjoyed up close, or from the water as you enjoy the beautiful Caribbean beach. The latter is a really great way to cool off after a particularly hot day of travelling and exploring!
The ruins can be enjoyed on a brief trip of just a couple hours, or you can choose to spend the entire day here – there’s plenty to see and do. Explore each of the structures, and take a walk around the ancient ruins imagining how life must have been back when these impressive buildings were gleaming and new.
Bring your swimming gear and head down to the water where you can go for a swim, cool off, and just relax on the beach. Again, imagine how life must have been for the civilization who worked here in the past, seeing off large shipments and receiving vessels coming from far away lands.
You can take to the market and feast your eyes on some of the local crafts – Suenos Maya’s can be found just beyond the parking area for the Tulum ruins, along the road that takes you to the ruins. It’s the region’s biggest shop, so you can’t miss it. Here, you’ll be able to find the most authentic gifts such as carvings, handmade jewelry and more.
The shop works with local artists and craft makers who put a lot of pride and effort into their creations, ensuring that the interesting souvenir you’ll be taking home is one that’s great quality. Once you’ve finished browsing the shops, have a look around for a bite to eat – there’s plenty of modern conveniences.
Don’t Forget – Pack for your Tulum holiday! Be prepared for fun and a historic experience.
Bring cash – you’ll need to pay about $3.50 or 64 MXN to access the archeological site, and remember not to leave any valuables around while you’re exploring the ruins or having fun on the beach. It’s a good idea to have sunscreen with you so you can re-apply as necessary (especially after any swimming).
Don’t forget the camera, it’s recommended that a standard to telephoto zoom lens will help you take some great shots if you’re taking photos during peak tour times. This will help you keep people out of your photos of the ruins. Leave the tripod at home – tripods are only allowed if you have a permit that is exclusively available to those who fork over a $500 fee, and can only be purchased from within Mexico City! Not worth the hassle, unless you truly have to get that specific shot.
Try to enjoy the ruins during the off-time, when there aren’t as many people around. The ideal way to see the ruins is to stay nearby overnight, and come early in the morning so you can enjoy this fascinating piece of history before the crowds start to roll in. If you happen to be a part of the crowd rolling in you’ll have a great time learning about the region with many others, and maybe you’ll make a new friend!
No matter how you choose to enjoy this destination along the Caribbean Sea, it’s a vacation that will whisk you back in time, enchant you with its secrets, and encourage you to want to learn and explore more about this nation’s history.
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