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
42° Raw closed in 2013 & Papaya Playa Project has lost ALL its cool.
Avoid staying at Papaya Playa – it is now overpriced, under-whelming, dirty and haughty.
Original Post from 6/30/2012
Next to the reception at the Papaya Playa Hotel, a member of Design Hotels™, is the super yummy 42°RAW. This is a branch of the raw food bar started in London and Copenhagen by Jesper Rydahl. What a great surprise it is to find modern raw cuisine right in Tulum!
The 42° Raw bar has a botanic selection of fresh juices, and staple mains such as the raw Thai noodles and raw lasagna. This is perfect beach dining, starting with the raw hummus appetizer, one of the big salads and ever-present aguas. As always, the beauty of raw food is the guilt-less dessert! Decadent, rich, full of flavor but instead of bloating that bikini bod you’ve been working on for months for your trip to the beach, they are the nutritional equivalent of a protien supplement!
Unfortunately, we were not able to get inside the Papaya Playa Hotel, but we did get a look at their events schedule. There are all sorts of activities perfect for vacation – from movie nights under the stars, to sunset bar-b-que on the beach, to packages at the well known Spa. The trip we really wish we had time for, was the visit to the Tulum Ruins via catamaran! You arrive by ocean in style, like the 14th century Spanish – except this trip comes complete with champagne! Next time!!
As noted previously, Tulum is a hippy-chic hangout that makes room for all demographics. It is basically one beach road and all the hotels, restaurants and hangouts that fit long its 5k corridor. Sitting about in the middle is the the kitchy Mateo’s Mexican Grill.
Some might complain that Mateo’s is not “authentic” and too gringo friendly, but they would be missing the point. Like modern television, Mateo’s is a comfortable, friendly, easy place to go when you don’t want to think to hard about what you are doing.
They seemed to be open whenever we needed them to be and had the best coffee in the area. Sorry to report, this is not saying much as Mexican coffee in general is almost always like bad camping coffee, over-boiled café con leche. They do have a nice breakfast selection, tasty fajitas, totopos and of course a range of tacos. The kitchen is open and colorful with pyramids of fresh produce displayed in brightly painted crates.
Perched above is a viewing platform that in theory is an evening cocktail lounge for sunset viewing or maybe its a yoga platform? or a tanning deck? While it looked very interesting, it somehow wound up being closed for 3 different reasons over the course of our 3 days in Tulum. Maybe they just have it open in high season? Still it looks like it would be a lot of fun!!
While in Tulum we stopped by Mateo’s almost daily for the excellent smoothies and juices (and coffee fixes). Our favorite smoothie, which we have been recreating at home is the ‘Mayan Power Boost’. A vitamin packed cocktail 0f chaya (spinach), strawberry, pineapple and lemon. A wonderful way to get the day going as you head out to check some cenotes.
We can just about promise you that if you stay in Tulum, at some point you will find yourself at Mateo’s. Enjoy it for what it is and you will be a happy person!
papaya agua and ‘Mayan Power Boost’. A vitamin packed cocktail 0f chaya (spinach), strawberry, pineapple and lemon.