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White Beaches, Nature Reserves and Ruins with Sea Views: Sights in and around Tulum

If you love beach holidays but don't want to miss out on culture, varied gastronomy and sporting activities, you will find all of this in Tulum on the Mexican peninsula of Yucatán. 

Aerial view from beach and hotel

A Holiday Resort for Every Occasion

Tulum, one of the most popular destinations on the so-called Riviera Maya, is divided into the small town of Tulum Pueblo, which lies around three and a half kilometres inland, and the beach and hotel settlement of Tulum Playa with its dream beaches on the turquoise blue sea. What they have in common is the thoroughly relaxed atmosphere that still characterises the place that was once discovered by backpackers and alternative travellers. The best time to visit is immediately after the rainy season, from November to April. 

Street in Tulum
Man enjoying Mexicna food

Vibrant Life in the Hinterland

The former fishing village of Tulum Pueblo has been transformed into a lively little town: There are shops and markets, shops, banks and bike hire - the necessary infrastructure for a comfortable stay. There is also accommodation to suit every taste, from backpacker hostels to luxury resorts. Finally, Tulum Pueblo is also a nightlife hotspot, not to mention the many restaurants and taco spots that fulfil every gastronomic desire. In summer 2024, Tulum will also be connected to the "Tren Maya", a new railway line that will connect Yucatán with its beaches, natural parks and Mayan sites on a 1,500-kilometre circular route.

Beach paradise
Man kite surfing

Beach Paradise with Hammock

Kilometres of dream beaches with fine white sand - this is what characterises the "Zona Hotelera" of Tulum Playa. Hotel and bungalow complexes are lined up along the coastal road, but there are also eco-resorts, yoga retreats and many bars, boutiques and mini supermarkets. Many stretches of beach belong to hotel complexes and beach clubs, but in between there are always access points to the public beaches, such as the ten-kilometre-long Playa Paraiso, rightly named as such and repeatedly voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico in surveys. Chilling out on the sand or sporting activities in the sea? Both are possible here, and the wind not only cools you down on hot days, but also provides perfect kitesurfing conditions. Why not try riding the waves? A course at one of the kitesurfing schools can be booked quickly.

Maya site

Where the Maya Celebrated the Sunrise

You don't have to move away from the ocean for a mild contrast to beach life either: a few kilometres south of Tulum, one of the best-preserved Mayan sites in Mexico is located right by the sea. Tulum means "fortress of the dawn" in the Mayan language. From the central building of the site, the "Castillo" on a hill, you have a breathtaking view of the ocean and the entire, completely walled complex, which experienced its heyday as a trading post between 1300 and 1500 AD. If you want, you can book tours with expert guides. Pro tip: Be sure to visit early in the morning when it's not so hot - and not so crowded. If the crowds swell during the course of the day, simply head to the beach below the fortress.

Cenote with clear water
Woman diving in cenote

Immerse Yourself in Enchanted Worlds

The Yucatán Peninsula is dotted with hundreds of cenotes - limestone caves filled with water, whose ceilings have collapsed so that the sunlight that falls on them creates almost magical reflections and plays of light on the water and the craggy walls. The natural pools, which served the Maya as both sacred sites and sources of drinking water, attract swimmers and snorkellers with their cool, crystal-clear water. The Gran Cenote near Tulum is just one of several of these magical places in the area. If you don't have any equipment, you can hire snorkels and flippers on the spot.

Woman walking through rain forest

Day Trip to the Biosphere

Six kilometres from Tulum is the Sian Ka'an National Park, which was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1986 and is also a World Heritage Site. The protected area can only be reached via controlled and paid access points. The Muyil trail takes you into the jungle-like part of this natural paradise with its mangrove forests, a freshwater lagoon, Mayan ruins and a canal once dug by the Maya. From the starting point at Punta Allen, you can reach the part of the park by the sea, where you can take boat trips to see pelicans and cormorants, dolphins, turtles and, if you're lucky, even manatees. If you opt for a guided tour, you can also hire equipment here and go diving yourself in between.

Woman snorkling and watching lots of fish

Water Ballet with Turtles

If you really want to get up close to the wild fauna, you should plan a trip to Akumal. The word means "turtle" in the Mayan language, and the lagoon of the harbour town has exactly that to offer - because this is where the ancient reptiles lay their eggs. The Carey turtles, which come to the bay between May and September, are of course a protected species - but you can still snorkel with them if you are very careful and considerate! You can also explore coral reefs in the bay and see many tropical fish and even rays as "optical by-catch". Akumal can also be reached from Tulum by shared taxi, the journey takes around half an hour. The same applies here in the peak holiday season: arrive early in the day - the beach can get crowded as early as eleven o'clock in the morning.

Spider monkeys

In the Realm of the Spider Monkeys

Away from the water and into the jungle: the Punta Laguna nature reserve, located around 40 kilometres north of Tulum, has a special attraction to offer: Spider monkeys, also known as spider monkeys! Hundreds of them live in families in the reserve, which you can enter in small groups with specially trained guides. A competent guide is also recommended because the reserve is also home to jaguars and pumas. However, while you won't get to see the big cats, it is highly likely that you will be able to follow the climbing capers of the monkeys, which use their powerful tails as a gripping aid, from the narrow jungle paths. If you want, you can round off the excursion with a kayak tour across the national park's lagoon - you can't do without water after all.

Surfer riding the wave

Ready for the Island

A trip to Tulum is not complete without a visit to Cozumel. The island, which lies 20 kilometres off the coast, can be reached from Tulum first by bus to the port town of Playa del Carmen, then on a 45-minute ferry ride. Cozumel is another natural paradise, but also a diving paradise that offers crystal-clear underwater visibility. The beaches in the west of the island, south of the main town of San Miguel, are particularly suitable - here you are one of the closest to the second largest barrier reef in the world, which stretches from Yucatán to Honduras. The rugged east coast with its cliffs and strong currents is more of a destination for surfers and kitesurfers. A highlight of the island trip can literally be experienced at the southern tip: here, in the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park nature reserve, the Faro Celerain lighthouse watches over Cozumel. The magnificent view over the island and the ocean is only separated from the 130 steps up to the platform ...

Visit Tulum

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Visit Tulum

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