Touring the Mexican Riviera

explore-tulumOne of the items high on my bucket list was to visit the Mayan ruins in the city of Tulum, which happen to be about two hours from Cancun, and only 45 minutes from our hotel in Playa del Carmen. Luck would have it, the morning prior to our excursion a man on the beach had a great package – an entire day of ‘Extreme’ adventures in the jungles of Quintana Roo, a meal, and a guided tour of the Mayan Ruins of Tulum (transportation to and from the hotel) & zip-lining for $80 USD. Keep in mind that a one-way taxi ride into town was roughly $40 USD not including tip. Needless to say I booked it!

Guided Tour of Mayan Ruins in Tulum 

The shuttle picked us up at 6am sharp and routed through the town of Playa Del Carmen to pick up the rest of the group, which took longer than anticipated; there were two couples from Argentina and a young lady from Norway. We arrived at our first stop, Tulum around 9am where we had a chance to use the facilities.

NOTE: There’s an attendant outside the men & women’s restroom with a cash box and sanitary paper, at first glance I figured I had to pay in order to use the facilities, but our tour guide let everyone know that both restrooms were fully supplied with everything we needed. 

The group was also forewarned about mosquitos, so the shops came in handy as I completely forgot to pack my repellent. The shop I went into had two kinds one was $10 USD the other $7USD, I managed to haggle and paid $5 USD for a small bottle.


The package included the entrance tickets to the archeological park; it took about 10 minutes from the parking lot/shop area to get to the main entrance. Many rented bicycles, others paid for a trolley, our group opted to walk it there and back. In hindsight, the trolley would have been a good idea; once the sun came out it was a scorching 80 degrees & humid.

Make sure that you stay close to your group, there will be multiple guided tours, you don’t want to get mixed up with a different tour and miss your shuttle to the next destination. Once we made it past the main park entrance a dense jungle greeted us. Our guide identified a couple of different flora and a sacred tree native to the area, the Kapok, ceiba or Ya’ axche in Mayan. The Ya’axche can grow to be up to 100ft tall and still used in traditional medicinal practices.

Learn more about the flora native to the area here.

Once out of the jungle, we encountered what remains of the limestone wall of the once thriving city of Tulum. The stones, shades of white, gray and black protected what was at its historic peak, an important trade center for this coast.

1tulum-6There are multiple structures still standing; our guide explained that it is believed only high priests resided within those walls. I couldn’t help but imagine what this Mayan city looked like in all its glory.

As we made our way through the city, there is the Castillo. Across from the Castillo a structure that is believed to hold ceremonies- a Mayan face is carved facing southwest and distinct red hand prints surround the top strip of the building.

From there we walked east to one of the best preserved temples, perched on a cliff. If you stand facing the Caribbean looking out north towards Cancun, you’ll be able to see a corral reef that has been perfectly carved for boats to travel to and from this beautiful city to other worlds.

Once you make it past the amazing views of this archeological haven, make your way down to the crystal clear waters of the stunning Tulum beach. It will not disappoint.

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Ready for your Mexican Riviera vacation? If you are a planner, this site will give you a ton of options and information on activities and popular tours so that you can get that taken care of before you even walk out of the Cancun (CUN) airport and the Caribbean breeze touches your hair. ¡Buen viaje!

Published by Crystal Diane

Landscape embroidery artist + Landscape Architect

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