Swim Next to Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico

BY: Molly Metzig |Nov 4, 2014

Tulum, Mexico has a few things in common with its northerly neighbors, Cancún and Playa del Carmen, including warm weather, white-sand beaches, and plenty of snorkeling spots. But you won’t find festive margarita bars or thumping nightclubs here. Instead, you’ll discover something that will forever stand out in your Caribbean vacation memories (and photos): the site of ancient Mayan ruins.

It’s Like Walking into an Indiana Jones Movie.

Despite the absence of pyrotechnic explosives and arrow-slinging booby traps, it certainly looks like something from a film set. The main structure, a massive stone fort known as El Castillo, sits on a cliff looking out on the Caribbean Sea. Plus, the Tulum ruins are surrounded by palm trees and inhabited by iguanas, boosting their cinematic feel even further.

Why Tulum?

For starters, the city boasts the only Mayan ruins situated on the Caribbean Sea, so you won’t see this anywhere else. And if you follow the sturdy staircase just below the cliff, you’ll find one of Mexico’s most exquisite beaches. The juxtaposition of haunting ruins and a gorgeous beach is unforgettable.

How Do I Get There?

From Cancún International Airport, you can rent a car (the drive to Tulum takes about two hours) or take a bus to Playa del Carmen, where you can then catch a bus to Tulum. The Tulum ruins are among the easiest day trips from Cancún or Playa del Carmen.

When Should I Go?

Though there’s no bad time to visit temperature-wise, you should plan on heading here after hurricane season in October or November, before tourists really start pouring in.

What Should I Bring?

In addition to a camera, bring a swimsuit and a towel. Many tourists come unprepared, not knowing that the beach is perfectly suited for swimming.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

We recommend getting there early in the morning, when there’s a chance you can have the beach all to yourself.