If you’re coming to Tulum, a visit to the Tulum Ruins is a must. The archaeologic zone is located just outside of Tulum Town, and a short ways from the hotel zone along Tulum Beach. You can get there easily by bike, but if you’re traveling with a baby, that’s likely not going to work for you. Instead, take a car, either by driving yourself or grabbing a cheap taxi ride, and you’ll be at the site within a few minutes.
With Evelyn loaded up in the Ergobaby, our trek towards the ruins was hot and a little tiring, even at 8:30 in the morning. And it wasn’t long before Evelyn wanted out of the Ergobaby to do her own exploring anyway. It’s worth noting that you could take a stroller as the site is handicap accessible, and I believe you’d be able to get around relatively easily (I say relatively, because this is still an archaeological site, after all. Expect a bumpy ride). 🙂
Another note about arriving by car: the actual ruins site is a little ways away from where you’ll park (1.3 km, to be exact). You will need to park your car in the lot near all the tourist shops, just off Highway 307 (the highway that connects Tulum to Cancun). Don’t worry if you miss the parking lot (it’s kind of hard to see from the street), the staff will kindly redirect you if you drive too far towards the ruins (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything here 🙂 ). Parking is not free, but it is cheap (50 pesos, if I remember correctly), and I felt much safer leaving our car in the lot vs. out on the street where you might be able to find a free place to park.
Surrounding the parking lot are all kinds of souvenir shops and tour companies, and you’ll quickly find lots of people ready to sell you on something. Keep walking past all of these folks towards the long road that heads towards the ocean and the ruins. You’ll buy your tickets at the actual entrance to the site and follow a tree-covered path a little while longer before ducking through a small stone passageway and being greeted by these gorgeous views.
Arriving at 8:30, we achieved our goal of getting to the ruins ahead of most of the tourist buses. The ruins open at 8, and the sooner you get there, the better experience you’ll have. It gets hot the later in the day it is, and there’s very little shade around the ruins themselves. We had the site largely to ourselves, but by the time we were leaving around 10 am, the place was plum full, with tourists coming in by the truckloads (literally!).
I must admit, I didn’t really do a ton of research before visiting the ruins, and we kind of went with a “fly by the seat of our pants” kind of approach. There are guided tours you can take to actually learn more about what you’re looking at, but we chose to go on our own. Here’s the basics: Tulum was the last Mayan city built and inhabited by the Mayans. It served as an entry port to Coba (that other famous ruins site about 40 miles inland). Many of the smaller structures along the cliff served as watch towers, while others as temples to the Mayan Gods.
Tulum is unique in that the fortress was built right along the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean. It makes for one of the most picturesque Mayan ruins sites in all of Mexico. A staircase just past the most iconic structure, El Castillo (or castle), leads down to the beach, so you can combine your trip with a swim in the ocean if you’re feeling so inclined!
Our visit to the Tulum Ruins was short and sweet, and I wished we’d taken a little more time to take it all in, rather than rushing to make it through before the rest of the tourists. Because it’s one of the most compact ruins sites in the Riviera Maya, it really doesn’t take much time to explore, so take your time and enjoy. If you can only visit one Mayan ruins site in Mexico with a baby, I recommend making it Tulum.
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