Tulum is the site of the pre-Columbian, Mayan, walled city ruins which lie on 39-feet tall cliffs dating back to 13th & 15th centuries. Tulum is located along the Caribbean Sea in Quintana Roo, Mexico and is one of the best-preserved of all Maya coastal sites. Tulum is one of the last cities inhabited by the Mayan people. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have resulted in very high fatalities, disrupting the society and eventually causing the city to be abandoned.
We sailed into Cozumel and then took a ferry ride to Playa del Carmen, which is located in the state of Quintana Roo. We hopped on a tour bus in Playa del Carmen for an hour ride to Tulum.
Tulum was formerly known as Zama, The City of Dawn, due to it’s position facing the sunrise. Sitting along the Caribbean Sea, Tulum means wall, fence, or trench. Designed as a fort, with access to land and sea, it was a site to defend against invasions, worship and operated as a crucial trade hub. The population is estimated to be 1,000-1,600 inhabitants.
Europeans discovered Tulum during the Spanish expedition of 1518, Juan Diaz specifically. As described in the novel, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Tulum was described as tall, impressive buildings according to the authors John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. Maps and sketches were created of the site and discovery of an inscription date of AD 564 on the stele (stone), showing that the stone was most likely transported to Tulum from someplace else.
On your way out of Tulum there are amazing food options! We had the best tacos of our lives served with a plastic bag of pico de gallo to pour over. They serve HUGE margaritas with a salt rim. If you are on a tour, be sure to pay attention to the departure time, especially when drinking those margaritas. We almost missed our tour due to the language barrier and….possibly tequila.
$$ Saving Tips~ Be sure to have pesos, Tulum does not accept US currency. I would advise against using a credit card, unless you speak Spanish. I love sharing all of our “lessons learned the hard way” with travelers. We used a credit card for lunch after we ordered and ate the food, of course, then realized that the waiter could not relay what the credit card machine was saying. He was handing us the pin pad but our credit card doesn’t have a pin, didn’t know if it was asking for a zip code or what? Then he went back into the kitchen to tell the cooks in Spanish and they all were staring at us but apparently, no one spoke English. It took so long to figure out that we almost missed our departure time.
I advise against ordering a Dip n Dots ice cream unless you’ve never had one and are absolutely dying to try it. Our daughter was insistent on having an ice cream on the blazing hot and humid day in March so they ordered one and next thing we knew, we were totally ripped off! Of course, they only accept pesos but it equaled $10 US dollars for one tiny cup.