Protected by 12 meter sea cliffs on the ocean side and a 784 meter wall complete with watch towers, one can quickly conclude that Tulum was very important to the Mayas. A major trade hub and the only Mayan city built on the coast, Tulum served as the seaport for the empire, trading mainly in turquoise, obsidian and jade.
With an estimated population of 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants, Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans prior to the conquest – Surviving a full seventy years after the Spanish started their brutal occupation of the country
Nowadays Tulum is one of the only archaeological ruins that begs you to take off your clothes and jump into the same shining sea that it was built to protect against! So don’t forget to bring your bathing suit for the tiny beach behind el Castillo. The water is beautiful and incredibly refreshing after touring in the hot sun. The experience of swimming in the ocean and at the same time viewing the site is truly unique. Be sure to bring a water resistant bag, to put in your camera and personal belongings if you decide to go for a swim. Just place the bag on top of one of the tall rocks to keep it away from the splashing waves and to have an eye on it.
The best way to get there, is via catamaran (from Papaya Playa Project) or a rental car – that way you are on your own schedule. Like most of the Mayan ruins, the earlier the arrival time, the better. An ideal Itinerary is Tulum ruins early in the morning and from there to the Cenote Dos Ojosfor a dive.
Temple of the Frescoes
The ‘Temple of the Frescoes’ was used as an observatory, specifically for tracking movements of the sun
Yes, these are the photos that you have marveled at in National Geographic come to life. Best is that they live up to all expectations of wonder and amazement. You CAN really see hundreds of feet through water clear as glass.!
Cenotes dot the entire Yucatan and each one is unique in its own way. Just 17 Kilometers North of Tulum, Mexico, in Quintana Roo, is the cenote Dos Ojos. This water cave system is one of the top 10 longest in the world with 28 known Cenote entrances and the deepest known cave in the region with a depth of 118 meters (396 feet)! The Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) refers to the 2 main pools that reach the surface near each other.
Cenotes are caves that are formed as the limestone base of the Yucatan peninsula desolves, leaving behind only pure clear waters. Revered by the Mayans, they were viewed as gateways to the afterlife as well as all important sources of freshwater. Upon early exploration many treasures (and skeletons) were discovered in their depths pronouncing their use in the fabled Mayan sacrificial rights.
At a constant 77º (24-25ºc) they are comfortable either in trunks or with a shortie wet-suit provided with a tour. One can either snorkal or scuba dive (with open-water certificate), and both are magical. The tour costs about $40 and includes a cabaña to change and lock-up your personals, wet suit & flashlight. The guide, who like pretty much everyone we encountered was not pushy or overbearing, takes you on a relaxed 1.5 hr swim through the two main Ojos.