Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tulum at a Glance

We have received some comments that Tulum is a challenge to navigate for the first time visitor. I have to admit, over 7 years ago when I first arrived, I had no idea that the town of Tulum had so much to offer. Publications talk aobut the inherent diversity of the Town of Tulum but it seems, after some searching, that there is no comprehensive explanation of what Tulum actually is or how to navigate it easily. There seems to be confusion over the Tulum Ruins, being earmarked as the Town of Tulum and after you visit the Ruins, well that would be it. This assumption or should we say bit of knowledge would by our standards, leave people scratching thier heads after reading that Tulum has a lot to offer. We have witnessed this confusion many times and have decided to talk about Tulum as the city it is, not the city people think it is.

So let us be the first to clear up the Mystery. There is no Mystery by the way, it is only writers who dont understand the lingo we use down here...lets call it Tulum Talk...and I am now going to cast some light on this mysterious town we call Tulum.

Tulum is a pueblo (town) that has three areas of interest. There is the Town Center or what we refer to it as the Pueblo. The hightlights in the pueblo are stores, great restaurants and any services, though limited, that local shop keepers provide to the public and local residents. There are full electricity services and hence internet cafes. This area stretches along the main highway as you enter the town. It is defined by the first roundabout at the crossroads after the beach road and AFTER our only chain grocery store, Super San Fransisco. The town is where a majority of residents live. There are concrete homes, and palapas that line the back streets of the main Tulum Avenue. Though Tulum Avenue is littered with international restaurants, there are many small taco stands and eateries thatt are run in the evenings by the residents of Tulum. If you are looking for a great authentic Mayan or Mexican dish, this is where you need to venture.

Now the other two areas, and this is where people get confused, are the Tulum Beach or the Beach Road and then the infamous Tulum Ruins. Lets talk about the Beach Road first.

Now the Tulum Beach road can be excessed by turning left at the Super San Fransisco. If you go right you will be heading to Coba, though not a bad choice, but if you want to continue to explore Tulum, or in this case the Tulm Beach, head left. This road will take you to a t-junction where you can go either north about 4 km or south about 45 kilometers and end up in another obscure town called Punta Allen. Hotels are located all along the road to the north and south, all beach side and with varying prices. There is no rhyme or reason..it just is. A 500 USD per night hotel can be beside a 10 USD night hotel. All co-exist happily and all give a variety of options to travellers and visitors. Hence the confusion. Electricity does not filter to the beach so all the hotels run on generators. The road is dark at night and if you choose a hotel to the south you could be far from amenities. We do recommend rental cars if you want to explore and have flexibility. There is no public transport down the each rode so you are at the mercy of the taxi drivers and their prices....we do have to say the further south you go the more prestine and exclusive the beach becomes....it is precious the further south you go and the beach stretchs for miles....but be prepared for a lack of services...seclusion is what you get here, fashion and chic is also the trend and prices can get high.

Finally we have the infamous Tulum Ruins. The Ruins, a recommended stop for those who wish to experience a Mayan Ruin and in this case the only Mayan Ruin on the ocean, so that they can understand in a different way how Tulum began. The Ruins are at the far north of Tulum. If you are travelling from Playa Del Carmen it is the first sign of civilization as you pass Akumal. There are three hotels at this crossroad and they all have parking and restaurants for visitors. Our sister dive Center, the Abyss, is located at this cross road and can answer any questions you may have including the location of Cenote Dive Center in the Town of Tulum. if you park here then you have a small walk to the Ruins of a measely 800 meters...

So here is our first introduction to what we know, as locals, as the town of Tulum. It is bigger, more involved then just the Tulum Ruins. If we were Mayans, comoing here over 10,000 years ago, yes, the Ruins would have been the Town of Tulum, but the town has evovled since then and there is more to it then what most talk about...hence why we love it so much...

Questions can be answered at our emial. We will try and assist in defusing any myths or recommmending hotels for those who are visiting for the first time or those who want a different experience on their third or fourth visit. info@cenotedive.com and within 24 hours we will provide you with the information you need...

3 Comments:

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