Tulum Ruins, Mexico

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Ruins poised dramatically on a sea cliff

Tulum is a park of Mayan ruins that sit on dramatic sea cliffs, overlooking the Caribbean sea. In it’s heyday it was a trade hub for the Yucatan Mayans.

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A curious coatimundi

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Stone Structure

It is extremely popular, and is the third most visited ruin in Mexico. I cannot stress enough how critical it is that you get here early. The park opens at 8am and I would recommend you get there right when it opens. Tulum is only 2-3 hours away from Cancun, and is a popular day trip. We got there at 8 and there were only a dozen or so other people. By the time we left at 10:30 it was full on Night of the Living Dead, if the zombies were cast with sunburnt mid-westerners. Not to mention, it feels like you’re on the center of the sun in the afternoon.

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This site is overrun with iguanas

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Structure amongst tropical vegetation

All the buildings are made of stone, and the architecture is similar to that of Chichen Itza, another famous Mayan ruin in the area.

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The park is nice and compact

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Behind a castle

If you get here early, the weather is usually still mild. The walkways are also marked, so no exploring within the ruins themselves. However, the walk around the park is beautiful and relaxing. Nothing beats a warm ocean breeze.

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More ruins

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El Castillo – the castle – the largest structure in the park

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View of ruins from the beach

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Close up of some ruins

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You can swim at the beach in the shadow of these ruins – but it was about to rain when I was there

If you want, you can take the stairs down to the beach and tan or swim. I imagine it would be really cool to swim out and look back at the ruins perched on the cliff. However, the clouds were coming in by the time I got to the beach, so we didn’t go in.

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Rain clouds coming in

Because of the crowds, I suggest staying the night in Tulum so you can get to the ruins early. Tulum itself has a pretty nice downtown that has tchotchke shops and great restaurants. A cab ride from downtown Tulum to the ruins runs about $10 USD each way, which is a bit pricey for Mexico, but well worth it.

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