reminders of dinosaurs
everywhere lizards were sunning on rocks and crossing the road. I
had never seen so many in one location before, and this was a small one!
Billy, being the chef he is, kept talking about a way to
feast on these ancient critters. Lest you think that was cruel or strange, we
saw iguana on menus in various restaurants in the Yucatan.
The ruins at
Tulum stand on a bluff facing the rising sun giving spectacular
views of the waves and coastline below. While the Maya word "Tulum"
means "Wall," this location was the first city of the
Mayan World to see the rising sun every day. Because of this fact,
this place was also known as "Zama" or "to Dawn."
date lifted from a stela on this site translates to A.D. 564 but
whether or not the stela was transported from another site to be
used here at Tulum or the current ruins were built upon an older site brings
controversy in academic discussions.
Hotel Maya. You can check in but you might never leave
Mayans were and
still are smaller people. With their average height being between 3
1/2 and 4 1/2 feet, their doorways are short and narrow.
Except for the
side of this ruin site that follows the bluffs and is open to the
sea, this entire place is encircled by a low wall. Watchtowers rise
from two corners and each tower houses an altar.
dense this wall is!
On the sea
side, the walls are 26 foot thick and allowed Tulum to be defended against
invasions. Since it was a major trading center, its defense was very
Welcome to the Mayan Golf and beach Resort
You can see how
much shorter the ancient Maya were as compared to my just-over-5
Tulum was one
of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans. It flourished
at its height during the 13th and 15th centuries and survived 70
years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. At its peak, Tulum
had a population of between 1,000 and 1,600 inhabitants.
Upon entering the resort you can see the outline
of homes overlooking the fairway. It's not too early to place a
deposit to hold your retirement house
access to both land and sea trade routes and this made it an
important trade hub. Inside the walls you can see how beautiful this
Maya site really is. The lawns are kept cut and the plants are
Perhaps an ocean view villa is
more your taste. Granted some renovation work will need to be
Copper artifacts from the Mexican
highlands have been found near the site, as well as flint, ceramic,
incense burners and gold objects from all over the Yucatan. From the
sea, salt and textiles were brought in and dispersed inland. Jade
and obsidian have both been found at this site and were considered
prestigious by the Maya as they had to come from northern Guatemala,
430 miles away from Tulum.
But look at the views. Imagine the parties you could host. With a
view like this you may never leave
Tulum offers stunning views of
the sea and beaches below. This is a rare Maya site in which you can
imagine huge hollowed out canoes coming back from trading centers in
the Maya World and landing at this location.
With access to the club's private beach you can spend days frolicking
in the surf.
There are several beaches along
Tulum's coastal side where canoes surely landed with their traded
treasures. From the Castillo you can see for miles in either
direction. Plus those watchtowers on either end of this Maya
city-state provided a lookout to see enemies or canoes returning
home filled with goods from other lands.
There are many sand traps or hazards along the golf course to
challenge the most gifted player
As we mentioned, this was one of
the most well-kept ruin sites we had ever seen. the beaches were combed,
the lawns were mowed, and the gardens trimmed. It really gave a
resort feel to the whole place and the beauty was undeniable.
With the newly finished thatched roof, the club house will soon be
serving up those famous Maya Tai and Maya Colada drinks
This is the City Square at the
center of the Maya city and was probably used for ceremonies and
rituals. The Castillo or Castle is to the west of this building.
Tulum was rediscovered by Juan
Jose Galvez in 1840. In 1841, explorers Stephens and Catherwood
ordered the trees cleared and made sketches of the buildings. These
sketches were later published in their famous book, Incidents of
Travel in Yucatan.
Wide clear paths are already in place for your golf carts to move
You can see how tidy and
civilized these ruins look today. These were the first ruins where
we had such designated walking paths to direct our tour and roped
off sections in which to walk. Most places where we have visited, we have
been allowed to meander between buildings, even if the buildings
themselves have been made off limits to climbing.
This fixer upper with fairway views won't last. This is a hot market
and properties are going fast
In Ancient times, a
vast number of palm and wooden houses which sheltered the masses
were just outside this walled city.
They are currently located in an area that cannot be visited by
tourists at this
time. The area inside was considered to be sacred space,
worthy of the intensified fortification of the massive walls
One of the more difficult golf hazards on the course. You can choose to
go over or test your accuracy by driving your ball through. What
great fun for the family
There are two competing theories
of why the Maya society collapsed here at Tulum. One of the most
popular is that the Spanish brought several Old World diseases with them,
including the malaria-carrying mosquito which decimated the local
population. An alternative theory is that the royal residents inside
the walls were taken over and killed by the common people living
outside in the huts.
Without leaders and their
political and spiritual direction, the multitudes were left to
The most luxurious estate on the property, the Castle as it is
known, has breath taking views
The Castle is strategically
placed and the construction appears to have taken place in stages. A
small shrine here could have been used as a beacon. When two torches
aligned, it showed the way through the barrier reef that is opposite
During the Post Classic period,
the Maya started to use large seagoing canoes that were 40 to 50
feet long and provided the ability to go longer distances. These
hollowed-out Mahogany or other tropical hardwood canoes
revolutionized trading in the world of the Maya.
The cove below provides a
landing beach perfect for the trading canoes coming in.
The break in the reef and the
perfect landing site might have been reasons that the city was built
exactly here, and Tulum became a prominent trading port during the
later years of the Maya reign.
More beach access makes the Mayan Resort one of a kind
Prior to the time when these huge
canoes started being used for trade and transport, Mayans could only
move what could be carried on a person's shoulders. The Maya didn't
use any sort of wagon and had no beasts of burden in their culture
because there were no suitable large mammals in the area. After
these large canoes were implemented, trading voyages ranged from the
Gulf of Mexico, the coast of the Yucatan peninsula and all the way
down to what is known today as Honduras. Evidence shows that they
went as far as Costa Rica and Panama.
Christopher Columbus made note
that he saw native peoples in huge canoes measuring over 36 feet
long and over 6 feet wide! So you can get an idea of how large these
canoes really were.
The magnificent views are captured along our private beach
This is one of several beaches at
Tulum. You are able to take swim here if you like, so bring your
bathing suit and some sunscreen.
Viewing the ruins only takes an
hour or so. If you would like to extend your stay here and enjoy the
fact that you romped about in the World of the Maya, take advantage
of the beach and surf.
More ocean view lots available. Imagine, those could be your foot
prints in the sand
Another look at the beach.
Remember, if you go early, you could be the only one on the beach.
After the tour buses arrived, this beach was jam-packed. No more
blissful solitude and the enchanting spell was broken.
These smaller bungalows are perfect for a weekend retreat
In 1518, in an expedition led by
the Spanish, the captain and crew were taken aback by the sight of this
grand walled city with its stucco buildings painted red, blue and
white with a fire on top of the main temple.
Seventy-five years after the
Spanish conquest and after the city was abandoned to the elements, Mayan
pilgrims still visited the buildings. During the famous War of the
Castes, native peoples took refuge here from time to time.
Because of its unique location,
Western scientists took note of Tulum and began excavation and
restoration of this site in the early 20th Century.
Jungle view homes are also available for those seeking relaxation
from the crowds
There is still a jungle area at
Tulum which provides shade, areas for tropical birds to nest and for
mosquitoes to breed (!) Its lush density is a relief from the
pounding sun of the Peninsula.
It was intensely humid this day,
and tropical birds were singing and screeching their calls. Iguanas
were everywhere. It was easy to imagine the life of the Maya
Expanding the head room in our passageways is currently under
Again you can see the thickness
of these walls which average 7 feet around the city. This was a
prior entrance to the city, but it is now closed to the public.
Our upgraded security allows only members to pass into the Resort
which allows you to rest assured no invaders will be plundering your
Several hundred people came in
from tour buses between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. The whole feel of the
place changed and we were grateful to have had it almost all to
ourselves prior to "the invasion."
This lovely couple are happy with
their decision to locate in the
There are 60 well-preserved
buildings on the site at Tulum. With imagination you can visualize
the stucco-covered and brightly painted buildings and see the
majesty of the city at its height.
Fairway lots are clearly marked and will be an asset to anyone's
ancient sites we have previously visited, we could walk anywhere
we liked. But with the number of tourists visiting Tulum daily, this is discouraged.
Time for a break from all this
Tulum is a stunning sight to see
and we encourage you to put it on your list. Yes, it's a bit more
more tranquil sites. But if you get there early (and perhaps
revisit in the afternoon around 3 p.m. when the buses and crowds
have gone) you will be able to get enviable photos and with good
lighting. You will
also have the mental room to fantasize how Maya life must have been.
I think it is time for a swim, Would you join us?
This gives you a better look at
the landing beach where the Mayan canoes came in from the sea. A
perfect natural place to come ashore after a long trip.
The public beaches at Tulum have
talcum-powder white sand and are rated in the top ten beaches in the
world. The wind and the surf are continuous and there is little
shade, but the view is striking. Bring plenty of sunscreen, and if
possible, a shade umbrella. If you don't have one of those, a broad
brimmed hat is welcomed!
Water temperature is divine and
there is no sea grass to obstruct your view or tangle in your toes.
If you like to dive or snorkel, you can hire boats and equipment in
town. Sometimes there will be guides walking the beach selling these
The water is crystal clear!
Our fantastic dinner at El Camello
After a busy
day at the ruins and at the beach we were starving! Some fellow
travelers recommended "the best seafood place in town" called El
Camello. From our hotel it was at the opposite side of the town
so we jumped into a collectivo and rode about 15 minutes until we
arrived. It was just after 4 p.m. and the place was already jumping.
Billy ordered a
medium plate of ceviche and I ordered a grilled fish filet which
covered my entire plate. Both were the best we had ever had, with
the ceviche being sweet, tender and tasty. There was octopus, white
fish, shrimp and mussels galore. My white fish was so juicy and
mouthwatering I had never tasted anything so good. With our drinks
of agua frescas, our total came to 200 Pesos.
There is a lot to enjoy in the town of Tulum so why not
make a point of visiting? You will be glad you did.
stories and photos of Mexico,
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.