Tulum (Quintana Roo)

Tulum, Quintana Roo

 Tulum Map“Wall” in Mayan

Tulum Coast of ArmsOriginally called “Zama” Dawn in Mayan

“An amazing Caribbean Town with an Ancient City and Contemporary Tourist Center”


Population – 18,233 in the City

Location – Located on the Caribbean Coast on the Yucatan Penninsula

Elevation – 10 meters


12 Meter cliffs provide natural protection from the enemy

The ancients knew real estate. Location, location, location.

Tulum rests on a 12 meter cliff (39 feet) above the coast overlooking the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. The Maya occupied this area around 1200 AD and was occupied until the Spanish arrived.

Considered a major trading center, Tulum enjoyed occupying the center of the waterway trade route and provided an eastern port for land routes from the Yucatan and Tabasco. Many artifacts found here illustrate the vast trade routes from throughout Mexico. Tulum is one of the very few fortified Mayan cities – likely because of the wealth from trade.

tulum stairwayTulum enjoyed trade made possible with the invention of large (13 to 17 Meter or 40-50 feet long) seagoing canoes that revolutionized trade in the Mayan world. Made from mahogany and other hardwoods, these crafts brought goods from around the peninsula and as far away as Panama and Costa Rica.

                      Stairs lead to the Caribbean beach where ancient Mayas traded with sea worthy canoes

The ancient Mayan people were an advanced civilization that were well educated in mathamatics and astrology. They developed a hieroglyphic writing system and believed in a plethora of Gods. In Tulum the diving god or descending god is prominent – perhaps because Tulum is situated near many sacred underground caves or “cenotes.”tulumdesending God

Diving god or descending god

Tulum was first mentioned by the Spanish Juan Diaz in 1518 and later by Juan de Reigosa in 1579 who noted a large fortress. Later John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1842 popularized the site with the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, using Catherwood’s outstanding detailed illustrations and Stephens inspirational text.

Later in that century, Tulum provided refuge at different times to rebels during the War of the Castes (1847 to 1901). The ancient Mayan walls provided some protection for the Mayan forces.

Go here for more about Tulum the Archeological Site


Tulum today is a tourist center catering to the hordes of visitors. Twenty years ago Tulum was a residential center for workers in the tourist industry. Things have changed. While still referred to locals as “El Pueblo” and the home to many workers, it is now also a destination center for tourists from throughout the world. 70 small boutique hotels cater to alternative tourism and a demand for more authentic travel experiences.

The ancient city of Tulum is one of the busiest ancient sites in Mexico. It is crowded and has severely controlled access to pyramids and structures because of the sheer number of visitors and the deterioration that that volume creates.


Stay a night and get up early to photograph the amazing sunrise over the Caribbean and later visit Tulum archeological site. Be there ½ an hour before opening so you can experience the site without 2000 of your closest friends. (Tour busses arrive around 10am.) You may even be able to experience a photo without another tourist,


Tulum Hotels

Tulum has a huge variety of accommodations from simple cabanas on the beach to 5 star hotels. There are no RV parks in Tulum. 

RV Parks

Acamaya Reef

South of Playa del Carmen

Paa Mul – Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo

X Beaches La Playa Restaurant – Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

Laguna Azul

Fredrico’s Laguna Azul



See More Articles About Mexico


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