July 13, 2024
7 Reasons Why Tulum Is So Much More Than Just A Beach Destination

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One of America’s go-to sunny getaways, Tulum is best known for its unspoiled Caribbean beaches, which unfold for miles on end along teal-colored seas, and thriving nightlife.

It’s a party capital of the sorts, with the highest concentration of beach clubs in the Mayan Riviera.

A Young Woman Smiling For A Picture At The Ancient Ruins Of Tulum, Mexico, Latin America

That being said, it’s been making headlines lately for reasons other than your usual bachelor/bachelorette parties and the jungle raves that have stirred up controversy for years, be it the opening of new cultural centers or the restoration of historical sites.

As it turns out, there’s more to Tulum than just unhinged fun and beaches, and here are 7 reasons why you shouldn’t be so quick in dismissing this Mayan gem as another tourist dump:

World-Class Resorts

Woman relaxing on a resort poolWoman relaxing on a resort pool

Tulum may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of a relaxing vacation, and we don’t really blame you, as for years now, the riotous nightlife has been overemphasized, but this is still a world-class coastal resort, with rows upon rows of luxurious all-inclusives.

Based on the latest CN Traveler survey, some of the best-rated hotels in Mexico are here, including Conrad Tulum, a spa-equipped Hilton listing nestled amid the verdant mangroves of the Riviera, and the rustic, full-of-character Secrets Tulum Resort, with romantic beach accommodations.

Tulum is no Cabo, but it is still your best bet for a stress-free escapade to Mexico if you’re looking for a quieter environment, but if you won’t be joining the crowds on some late-night fun, spending time in a resort while basking in the Caribbean sun and getting pampered 24/7 is as good as it gets.

Amazing Food

mexican tacos on a restaurant terrace in Mexicomexican tacos on a restaurant terrace in Mexico

Tulum has also achieved notoriety for being one of the Mexican Caribbean’s gastronomy hotspots: whether you’re eating exclusively within resort premises, or venturing out into town, to tourist faves like Yaax Ik or La Negra Tomasa, you’re in for a treat.

Resorts are known to employ award-winning chefs well-versed in putting a high-end spin to tried-and-true Mexican delicacies, while local eateries and markets are where you’ll find actual traditional food as it’s meant to be prepared, from spicy quesadillas to chunky, meaty tacos.

Mexican cuisine is an intangible cultural heritage as defined by UNESCO, and being home to a wide range of upscale and mid-range restaurants specializing on ethnic, as well as global cuisine, Tulum is a gateway into the country’s centuries-old culinary tradition.

Vibrant Social Scene

Smiling Couple On A Tulum Beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Latin AmericaSmiling Couple On A Tulum Beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Latin America

Long are the days this was but a quaint village, mostly inhabited by fishermen, with no redeemable qualities other than its historical value as an ancient Mayan port; with its rapidly-developing tourism zone, Tulum has become one of the liveliest spots in the Riviera.

It is incredibly youthful, multicultural town, having attracted hundreds of thousands of foreign expats in recent years, and being considered the Digital Nomad Capital of Mexico (let’s just put it this way, you’d have little to no issues living here not knowing a word of Spanish).

Its internationalization has not been without pushbacks, as the locals believe their native character is under threat, not to mention gentrification, but in general, it’s contributed to more open, liberal attitudes, and Downtown Tulum is never not an exciting place to be.

Unspoiled Nature

Young Female Traveler With A Straw Hat Exploring The Mexican Jungle, Mexico, Latin AmericaYoung Female Traveler With A Straw Hat Exploring The Mexican Jungle, Mexico, Latin America

The Mexican Caribbean is one of the most naturally-beautiful areas in the whole of Mexico, thanks to its turquoise coast, undisturbed jungles and lush-green reserves, and as it is in the heart of it all, Tulum is just the perfect base for nature enthusiasts to explore.

We’re talking ATV jungle expeditions, swimming in the pond-dotted Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve, a wild, lesser-known part of the Riviera Maya, and floating tours down the crystal-clear Muyil canals, a short 20-minute drive from the bustling city center.

As you might have guessed by now, Tulum is what you make of it, and though you could certainly fall into a rabbit hole of beach clubs and psychedelic techno parties if you’re looking for a more tranquil escape into nature, there’s no shortage of options around.

Crystal-Clear Cenotes

A Young Woman Swimming In A Crystal-Clear Cenote In The Mexican Caribbean, Mexico, Latin AmericaA Young Woman Swimming In A Crystal-Clear Cenote In The Mexican Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America

This ties into the next point, and one that’s a seasonal concern: sargassum. The smelly seaweed is back to battering the Tulum coast, as humidity increases, and thus proliferation of algae rises, but fortunately for travelers, the tarnished white-sand beaches are not the only spot reserved for swimming.

Tulum is surrounded by cenotes, natural inland sinkholes the Ancient Mayans once believed to be portals to the underworld, and even used as sacrificial chambers, yet now serve a far less eerie purpose: they’re a water baby’s safe haven when sargassum invades the coast.

With waters just as clear, and stunning underwater caves, cenotes are a must-see attraction when visiting Tulum, particularly the open-faced Cenote Cristal, Cenote Escondido, tucked away deep in the forest, and the landmark Cenote Dos Ojos, popular for snorkeling.

History Is All Around

A Father And His Son In Tulum Ruins, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico, Latin AmericaA Father And His Son In Tulum Ruins, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America

Unlike Cancun, built exclusively to cater to resort-goers, Tulum was formerly a thriving Mayan port prior to becoming a beach destination, and needless to say, it’s retained much of that historic character; it is, in fact, the leading cultural destination in the Mexican Caribbean.

You’ve probably seen the iconic postcard picture of an ancient pre-Columbian temple resting on a cliff’s edge, overlooking the bright-blue Caribbean doing the rounds on social media, and if you’re wondering where that may be, it’s right here you’ll find it:

Tulum’s archaeological zone is incredibly vast, and it’s among the most-visited ancient sites in Mexico, as it comprises a former walled city sprinkled with well-preserved structures dating back to the period of Mayan rule, including the magnificent El Castillo.

It’s A Stop On The Maya Train Route

Male traveler awaiting trainMale traveler awaiting train

Not only has a new international airport opened last December, connecting the once-sleepy Mayan Town to numerous cities in the U.S. and beyond, but a scenic train is soon launching this August, making it easier for Tulum-based tourists to explore the Mexican Caribbean.

Once the train is up and running, Tulum will become a major transport hub for Quintana Roo, as it will serve as an intermediate stop for travelers going from Cancun, the busiest resort zone in the Riviera, to Bacalar and Chetumal in the southern end of the state.

From Tulum, you will be able to travel as far away as Chichén Itzá, the most-visited archaeological complex in Mexico, and a World Wonder, Merida, the safest cultural city in Latin America, and even San Francisco de Campeche, a perfectly-preserved, walled colonial city.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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