Tulum is on the Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico. It is one of the earliest resorts in Mexico, offering a place of worship and solitude for the Mayan kings, clergy and gods in early times. The tropical beach backdrop is the main attraction of this picturesque, much-visited small ruin on the shore of the Caribbean Sea. Shortly after your arrival, you will understand why early Mayans picked this beautiful place to relax.
Be prepared for lots of people and tour groups at the archaeological site. To avoid the crowds, it is best to stay overnight and visit the ruins early in the morning before the buses arrive, or later in the afternoon. Morning is recommended since you can catch spectacular vistas when the sun is rising over the Caribbean.
There are really three different areas referred to as Tulum. There are only minutes away from each other, not close enough though to walk to and from.
Tulum Pueblo sits split by highway 307 running south-north. "El Pueblo", as referred to by locals, is home to most workers of the tourist industry and where many of the stores, supermarkets, two bus stations, budget inns, hostels and small hotels are found. Although the digs are cheap, you are around 3 km from the beach (which is why you came here isn't it?) This section of town has a definite feel of existing mostly to cater to the Tulum ruins. Tulum pueblo is indeed a destination for shopping, great restaurants, a modest night life, studying the language at Instituto Chac-Mool Spanish School, booking tours, banking, shopping for food, local vegetables, fruits, cafes, and local flavor. Do not miss it.
Tulum Playa nests along the coastline that leads into the Sian Ka'an Biosphere [Ecological Reserve], the Caribbean white sandy beaches to the east, an impressive mangrove & wetland reserve to the south. Tulum Playa embraces many of the fancier, ecological, boutique and spa hotels, and it has a decent to excellent selection of restaurants and night spots. There are also a number of affordable beach front cabana-type lodging locations. Walk the beach and step in and inquire about accommodations and rates. You will be surprised and delighted.
Most of these establishments are eco-friendly and do not provide electricity past midnight. Toilet paper can not be flushed and it is asked that water and other resources be used sparingly. The hotels in Tulum aim to keep Tulum as it is and stop the ecological problems that have already taken hold in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.
If you are staying on the beach and trying to save money, it is wise to stock up on food and drinks in the pueblo. There are not too many restaurant options on the beach, and the ones that are operational are comparatively quite expensive.
Taxis have a near monopoly on transport to and from the playa. Buses come from time to time, but hitchhiking can also get you where you need to go.
Tulum Ruinas is the archaeological site where the Maya ruins of Tulum stand. It is conformed by a-mile-long road leading into the ruins from highway 307. The road is flanked by several restaurants, a commercial area geared to one-day visitors, a huge parking lot, a small bus station that operates part-time and a handful of middle range hotels.
Tulum archaeological site is relatively compact compared with many other Maya sites in the vicinity, and is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites. Its proximity to the modern tourism developments along the Mexican Caribbean coastline and its short distance from Cancún and the surrounding "Riviera Maya" has made it a popular Maya tourist site in the Yucatán. Daily tour buses bring a constant stream of visitors to the site. The Tulum ruins are the third most-visited archaeological site in Mexico, after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, receiving over 2.2 million visitors in 2017.
A large number of cenotes are located in the Tulum area such as Maya Blue, Naharon, Temple of Doom, Tortuga, Vacaha, Grand Cenote, Abejas, Nohoch Kiin and Carwash cenotes and cave systems.
The tourist destination is now divided into four main areas: the archaeological site, the pueblo (or town), the zona hotelera (or hotel zone) and the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka'an.
In 1995, tourism came to a brief halt as the powerful Hurricane Roxanne pounded into Tulum, packing 115 mph winds. Damage was moderate.