Photo by Tommy Milanese
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Located in the Yucatán, Tulum is a town that’s a Mayan historical site, that makes it one of the top tourist towns in Mexico. It also has great beaches and cenotes to swim in along with other environmental attractions. Below are some of the top archaeological and natural destinations in Tulum!
Tulum’s Archaeological Sites
Tulum has historical significance as it is one of the last cities that was built and inhabited by the Mayans between the 13th to 15th century. It was later abandoned during the Spanish occupation, and then rediscovered in the 19th century, after which it was brilliantly restored, and developed to become the place it is today. You’ve got a few historical sites to visit here such as:
The walls occupy a significant portion of the town’s identity, with Tulum meaning ‘wall’. Historically the city had been named Zamá which meant ‘dawn’. It had been protected by the seaside cliffs on one side, and by the walls on the other. Their height ranged from 3-5 meters and width about 7-8 meters. The protection had been limited to the inhabiting ruling classes and important buildings, while the common folk lived outside them. Now, they are part of the town’s background, bringing out its identity as a town of historical importance.
Photo by chrisjgj
2.Temple of the Descending God
As the name suggests, this temple is named after the figure on the door depicting a descending god. The temple is a small building, consisting of a single room placed on a foundation. The figure on top is wearing a headdress, has wings over his arms and is carrying an object. There are various speculaculations on what this figure represents and it can be seen in other sites of Tulum.
Last but not the least, El Castillo is the biggest building, standing 7.5 meters tall and overlooking the coast. This building has two elevated rooms accessed by a wide flight of stairs. Alongside that, there is a stone altar used for human sacrifices. It was built over various periods, over a previous building. It also has a shrine on top which was used as a beacon, so El Castillo doubled as a lighthouse.
Photo by Aaron Huber
Tulum’s Natural Attractions
Alongside its intriguing history, Tulum also has a variety of natural attractions like cenotes, snorkeling spots, and more. Here are the most popular ones:
1.Tulum National Park
In this national park, you can see both the Mayan ruins, as well as a glimpse of the complex ecosystem of the Yucatán. A featured natural attraction are the cenotes. These are sinkholes or caves that accumulate water over time. These cenotes had served as water sources for the Mayan residents of Tulum. Now they serve as spots for swimming or snorkeling. Some even have ziplines in them for extra fun! There are several cenotes in Tulum beyond just this park, and this article mentions many of them. The park’s wildlife features iguanas, anteaters, eagles and sea turtles(during nesting season). The vegetation in the park include coconut and palm trees, bushes, and chit trees. Remember that the park tends to get crowded later in the daytime so you might want to visit early in the morning.
Photo by Mathilde Langevin
2.Punta Laguna Nature Reserve
This reserve is part of the Ma’ax Yetel Kooh reserve and offers spectacular sights of the local wildlife with Spider monkeys being the most popular species. Other animals include howler monkeys, several bird species, and big cats like jaguars and pumas. It’s run by indigenous communities nearby which you should also visit to get a taste of the local life. Indulge in their local cuisines, and maybe even partake in a Maya purification ceremony. You might be glad to know that these communities directly benefit from the tourism revenue here. The reserve also has adventure activities such as rappelling and kayaking the lagoon. It is advised that you hire a local guide as they can help you better learn more about the reserve and guide you through the activities.
Photo by Jimmy Salazar
Located near the Tulum ruins, the Playa Paraiso has soft, white sands and shimmering blue waters that puts anyone into a mood to relax. The beach is very popular with travelers to Cancún, so you might want to come a bit early to avoid the crowd. An upside to this popularity is that you’ve got many beach furniture such as hammocks and lounge chairs available. Not to mention the severak bars and restaurants that serve refreshing drinks and delicious food.
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