Visiting The ruins of Tulum – A MUST on your trip to RivieraMaya.

By Posted in - North America & Travel Blog on November 29th, 2011


If you do one activity on your trip to Riviera Maya make it a visit to Tulum.

Tulum is not only a charming, artsy town with a bohemian vibe but it is mostly known for the large ruins located there.

When we walked onto the grounds I was blown away. I have seen plenty of ruins before but never anything like this- palm trees, green grass, blue skies and amazing views. Don’t forget the 500+yr old ruins/buildings you get to walk around!

The Mayans had it good in Tulum. They built their city on seaside cliffs overlooking the bluest ocean I have ever seen. In fact, don’t forget your swimsuit – while touring the ruins you can actually take a break and hit up the beach for a swim in the beautiful warm water! Have you ever seen ruins that you could also swim at? Before my visit to Tulum I hadn’t.

The good folks at the Riviera Maya tourism board hired a guide when we arrived to the ruins. This was the first visit (of any ruin anywhere) where I had the privilege of having things explained to me. Normally Randy and I just wander around, try to eavesdrop on other tours and make up our own stories. Having a guide for the Tulum ruins changed how I travel. I realized that if you really want to learn about a place you really are better off paying a little extra to hire a guide.

On top of learning about the ruins we also learned how the Mayan lived their lives at Tulum – how they dressed, the gods they believed in and what they believed happened to the soul after death. Ruins look fairly similar around the world – it’s only when you have a passionate guide, as ours was, who can fill you in on the secrets and history of an area does the place really come to life. Our guide (pictured below in all white) was Mayan and loved telling us about the history of his people – the good and bad. A story I remember in particular was about the fateful day that life at Tulum came to an end.

The Mayans were trusting and peaceful people and they flourished at Tulum for hundreds of years until the Spanish decided to take over. During the conquest almost all of the inhabitants of Tulum were slaughtered. The Spanish then went on to kill the chief in a way that I thought was quite cruel. They befriended him by giving him a mirror to look in. The chief had never seen a mirror and had no idea what he even looked like. You can imagine how awe inspiring it must have been to look at his own image for the first time. As the chief studied himself in the mirror for the first (and last) time the Spanish stabbed and killed him. Imagine seeing yourself for the first time and then watching your own face as you are stabbed to death! Ouch.

I took a lot of photos at Tulum and I hope you enjoy them. Of all the activities we did as part of the Riviera Maya press trip this one was by far my favorite. If you’re headed to the Mayan Riviera be sure to schedule in a trip to Tulum – it’s a sight you should not miss.


Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

Right outside the entrance to Tulum these Mayan performers were practicing a harvest ritual that involved tying ropes (not bungee cords) to their ankles and around their waists while spinning above the trees. Scary!

Mayan Ruins, Talum (Riviera Maya) - Mexico

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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website, Nariko’ s Nest Weddings & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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(40) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Denise -

    November 29, 2011 at 11:58 am

    These photos make me dream…

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Tulum is very cool and definitely a place to dream πŸ™‚ @Denise,

  • Micamyx|Senyorita -

    November 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Wow what a fantastic place! I would love to visit the ruins and the beach! PErfect!

  • Dean -

    November 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Gorgeous photos. It looks like paradise, the Mayans definitely chose a lovely spot!

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

      They had it good in Tulum that’s for sure!@Dean,

  • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures -

    November 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    These pictures are absolutely amazing — what colors!!! I have been to that part of the world probably 10X and have yet to see Tulum, craziness!

  • Christy @ Ordinary Traveler -

    November 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Gorgeous photos! I have stayed a half hour away from these ruins and never went! Shame on me. πŸ™‚

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Next time Christy! Whenever I miss something I always tell myself that I had to save something for my next visit. πŸ™‚ @Christy @ Ordinary Traveler,

  • Annette | Bucket List Journey -

    November 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I was at Tulum a few months back, but there were no Mayan performers! Darn.
    Beautiful photos of a beautiful place πŸ™‚

  • Lauren of Spanish Sabores -

    November 30, 2011 at 5:03 am

    These pictures are incredible! My husband and I were there on our honeymoon last summer and your photos definitely do it justice! Gorgeous place…

  • Sophie -

    November 30, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Gorgeous photos, as always! And I agree, an enthusiastic guide can make all the difference.

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Thanks Sophie – it will definitely be tough to go sans guide now at future ruins. @Sophie,

  • Andrea -

    November 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Man I’ve been jonesing for some warm beachy relaxation – your photos are gorgeous and making it even worse!! =)

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:31 am

      We have too! We’ve been imagining drinks on the beach and warm sand ever since I got back. πŸ™‚ @Andrea,

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic -

    December 1, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Soooo gorgeous – your photography is just stunning. πŸ™‚

  • tailor made holidays -

    December 1, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Thank you for sharing these pictures, there incredible! What My wife and I went here for our honeymoon, we haven’t had our pictures developed yet so these pictures are reminding us of our amazing honeymoon that we went on, thank you so much!

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

      Oh good! I’m so happy they bring back such great memories for you. πŸ™‚ @tailor made holidays,

  • Amanda -

    December 1, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Everything is so vibrant and colorful! Beautiful shots.

  • Erica -

    December 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    It is so weird to see the same location through Bethany’s eyes. That and her style is so close to mine sometimes lol! <3 Looks great guys!

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:48 am

      When I was there I thought of you! πŸ™‚ I remembered that you went to Tulum! @Erica,

  • ayngelina -

    December 4, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Okay I love you guys but I have to say I completely disagree. While the Mayan Riveria is awesome, these ruins are so boring. Beth did a great job but honestly I would say they were the most disappointing (although fortunately the first) of all the ruins I saw in Latin America.

    But gorgeous photos, the tourism board should use them.

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

      That’s so interesting that you didn’t like them. Aesthetically with the beach and the palm trees it was gorgeous! What other ruins did you really like? @ayngelina,

      • Ayngelina -

        January 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

        @Bethany,Yes you are absolutely right there, the area is gorgeous and I have fantastic photos of the beach and water. This is my least favorite of the Maya ruins and I’d say nearby Chichen Itza blows it away in comparison. Fortunately it is so cheap to get in it’s worth a walk if you’re already in the area but not a destination spot for me.

      • Ayngelina -

        January 10, 2012 at 11:14 am


  • Oscar -

    December 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    These photos are just amazing, you really did a nice work!

  • Rebecca -

    December 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    These photos brought back such great memories! I thought Tulum was absolutely gorgeous.

    • Bethany -

      January 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Thanks Rebecca! I thought Tulum was beautiful as well. πŸ™‚ @Rebecca,

  • Charu -

    January 29, 2012 at 6:48 am

    You hit the nail with the bohemian vibe and the color of the ocean is flawless. My photography is improving but still a ways to go. I may be in mExico soon–Viva!

  • Maggie -

    February 27, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I think having a guide when visiting historical sights is so interesting! I love to learn about how people lived and what they used each place for. When we visited Tikal we went with a small tour group and it was so great to be able to learn about the Mayans. Their attention to detail when charting the movements of the planets is amazing. Their calendar is more accurate than the one we use.

    Also, your pictures are beautiful. The ocean is so inviting!

  • Ellen Keith -

    October 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I was in Cancun last week, and had to make the tough decision whether to make a day trip to Chichen Itza or Tulum. I ended up going with the former, mainly because of its enormous reputation, but I’ve heard that the combination between beach and history at Tulum is unparalleled, something that these photos clearly prove! I guess it’s #1 on my list for my next visit!

  • shelly -

    July 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Taking our 2 sons and daughters-in-laws to Riveria Maya in November to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Based on your recommendation- will definitely plan a trip to Tulum

  • Ross -

    January 7, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Great photos. I also thought the Tulum ruins was in such a perfect place. They are very small but so idillic

  • Ross -

    March 13, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Super photos. I thought Tulum was the most idyllic ruin I had ever been at. The Mayans really did pick their spot well. It must have been more like a spa resort than a town!