5 best spots to visit around Tulum
Tulum has it all. The turquoise waters, the picturesque ruins, the laid-back atmosphere. There’s no such thing as waking up to a yoga course on the beach, before indulging in a visit to an archaeological site at sunset. But Tulum is also the perfect place to stay to make the most of the Mexican Caribbean. If you’re backpacking Mexico, we’ve picked 5 of the best spots to discover within an hour of Tulum.
Few Mayan ruins are as impressive as Coba. And the good news is, the place is much less packed than its historic rival, Chichen Itza. It also welcomes fewer tourists than the archaeological site of Tulum, even though the ancient city is a mere 45 minute-drive away.
Surrounded by lagoons, Coba is an extensive network of stone pyramids. So large indeed, that you might as well rent a bike to cover the entire area. The most remarkable pyramid of all is the Ixmoja. Depending on the circumstances during your visit, you might climb its 120 stone steps and enjoy breath-taking views of the jungle.
Other pyramids haven’t been excavated yet, making you feel like an explorer of old. You can even take the exploration to the next level by paying a visit to some of the nearby cenotes.
Can you visit Yucatan without going to a cenote? Probably, but you’d be missing on a lot of fun. Cenotes were sacred places for the Maya, who deemed them gateways to the underworld. And these water-filled caves are unique to the area. Cenotes come by the thousands, either out in the open or underground.
The Gran Cenote is the top pick for many visitors. A short taxi ride away from Tulum, you don’t even need a car to get there. This large ensemble of caves and open-air craters will suit any taste, whether you’re a swimmer or a diver. To feel like a local, you can even pack a picnic.
If you’re looking for some more excitement, the Cenote Zacil-Ha is the way to go. This open-air cenote is as family-friendly as it gets. Zip-line, jumping platforms, hammocks, it offers all you need for a fun-filled afternoon.
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is the definition of a natural wonder. This World Heritage Site is home to thousands of species. Hit the road south to get to the entrance of the reserve. Better yet, book a private tour to discover the magic of this unique ecosystem.
Most tours include boat rides in the mangrove, as well as snorkelling on the reef. Should luck be on your side, you might catch a glimpse of a manatee or even a group of dolphins. The biosphere also boasts some atmospheric ruins along the ancient Mayan canals, such as Muyil.
Tulum regularly tops the list of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Akumal might not be as dazzling, but this tiny seaside town is the go-to spot for snorkel lovers. If you’ve ever dreamt of swimming with turtles, you’ve come to the right place.
Akumal has a lot more to offer, though. The Akumal Art Walk is a nice little gem for street art enthusiasts. Before you snorkel, you can also enjoy a game of poker at the local Bahia Casino. But if you’re reluctant to leave the comfort of your beach towel, why not settle for an online game? Online casinos allow you to play your favourite games on your phone. Even on a beach in the Caribbean, there are plenty of fun slot machines to keep you entertained. Plus, they’re completely free!
Playa del Carmen
The beaches of Playa del Carmen rival those of Tulum. Yet, this popular resort is second to none when it comes to diving. From June to September, that’s whale shark season. But you can book an excursion on the reef all year long, and swim aside turtles or even manta rays.
En route to Playa del Carmen, you can also pay a visit to the Xcaret Eco Park. This theme park boasts over 50 cultural and natural activities, from boat rides to a traditional Mayan show.
Whether you stay in Tulum for a couple of days or for a week, there’s no way to get bored. Visit Mayan ruins on day one. Then snorkel with turtles on day two, and jump in a cenote on a lazy afternoon. Sounds like the perfect holiday, right?