Explore the ruins of Chichén Itzá
One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this well-preserved Mayan city was once the center of economic and religious life in the region. Boasting numerous temple structures, Mayan ball courts and El Castillo, a huge central pyramid, the complex takes at least a few hours to explore. We recommend you visit during the spring or autumn equinoxes. During the late afternoon, the northwest corner of the pyramid casts a series of shadows that creates the appearance of a snake descending down the staircase, an image which some scholars associate with the feathered-serpent god Kukulkan. If you can’t make those dates, the phenomenon is also visible at the regular “Light and Sound Shows,” the famous night tours in which colored lights are propelled onto the buildings.
Swim in the stunning Lagoon Kaan Luum
This stunning lagoon just south of Tulum is the perfect place for a swim. The gorgeous destination boasts clear, calm waters and is often completely deserted. Arrive in the early morning if you really want to make sure you are the only person in paradise. The lagoon contains at least two different shades of blue because its center contains a cenote, or sinkhole, reaching a depth of around 260 feet (79 meters). You won’t find food vendors or restaurants in the immediate area, so bring a picnic and eat on the tables next to the lagoon.
Spend the day at Xel-Há Park
Taking its name from the nearby Mayan ruins, Xel-Há is an aquatic theme park and natural aquarium that offers an incredible range of activities. Whether you are looking to snorkel with tropical fish, swim in a cave, try zip-lining, or take a trip down the river, Xel-Há is the place for you. A fantastic day-trip for families, the park is also extremely beautiful and can be explored on foot, bike or mini-train. Xel-Há also has an impressive range of amenities, including free wi-fi and four restaurants serving Mexican and international dishes.
Take a dip in the Gran Cenote
The area surrounding Tulum is famed for its cenotes, which were once revered as sacred by the ancient Mayans. Formed when limestone is gradually eroded over hundreds of years, these cenotes attract a diverse crowd of divers, swimmers and adventurers. Gran Cenote is a particularly impressive example and takes only 15 minutes to reach by bike from central Tulum. Swimmers flock to the destination because of its sandy bottom and sunbathing decks, while serious divers are attracted to the site because it provides access to the world’s second-largest cave system.
Zip-line through the jungle
Zip-lining has exploded in popularity in Mexico in recent years. Adventure and sports companies such as Aventura Mayas offer thrill-seeking travelers the chance to soar over the Mayan jungle. The company offers a range of tours that take around six hours and include other activities such as snorkeling, rappelling down a rock face, swimming with dolphins or exploring an underground river. The perfect way to get an adrenaline rush while also enjoying the local wildlife.