Tulum reminds me of an eclectic mix of hipster Portland and 60’s San Francisco with a beach bum vibe. Boutique hostels line the main street, dream catchers and drugs are sold nearly everywhere, and vegan/gluten free options abound.
The Tulum ruins are most notable for the dramatic scenery. The ruins sit atop a cliff overlooking the Caribbean sea. It was thought to be called Zama, or “city of dawn,” as it faces the sunrise. Tulum was likely one of the last Mayan cities built between the 13th and 15th centuries, just before the Spanish began their conquest throughout Mexico.
We spent an afternoon at La Buena Vida, a restaurant along the beach with swings, hammocks, and plenty of shade. It was a true paradise found, complete with tables amidst the palm trees.
We also visited Casa Tortugas, home of four cenotes. They are incredible and spanned a variety of types including closed, open, and partially open. Swimming in a cave with stalactites overhead and crystal clear turquoise waters is an unreal experience. There was an open lagoon at the end that had a few great ledges for jumping in. I found some photos on a google search for the cenotes since I didn’t want to risk my camera getting wet.
Punta Esmeralda is a unique cenote that lies next to the beach with only a narrow strip of white sand to separate the two bodies of water. It is a locals’ hang out, but we luckily had a chance to dip our toes in too.
An unfortunate aspect of our time along the coast was the insane amount of sargassum seaweed that makes most beaches unswimmable and leaves a rotten egg smell. Sargassum seaweed normally blooms in the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic. With climate change causing a change in water currents, there have been higher ocean temperatures and increased carbon dioxide, which both increase the seaweed’s growth. The large swaths of seaweed accumulate along the coast in a seemingly never ending pattern.