LANDS LONG BEAUTIFUL

Mexico 2013 | TOURISM | PHOTO ESSAY: TULUM

Home to what is considered the most picturesque archaeological site in the Riviera Maya, Tulum is a crossroads of ancient civilization, luxury, and rustic charm.

Built in the 13th century, the ruins at Tulum are the remains of the only Mayan city built on the coast. As a seaport, it was used as a hub for the exchange of turquoise and jade, and became one of the last inhabited cities the Mayans built, until disease from Europe overtook the indigenous population and the walled city was abandoned.

However, for the unsuspecting visitor, Tulum is more than meets the eye—the destination has transformed from a touristic beach town into a fashionable, tucked-away haven for those seeking respite from the pressures of modern-day life.

Over the past 10 years, stylish expatriates and locals alike have worked together to establish chic yet rustic hotels, spas, and boutiques. Meanwhile, creative culinary artists have opened fusion restaurants serving dishes from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

However, Tulum may be most well known for its spirituality. Ancient Mayan ruins perched on sea cliffs are unique for their coastal location, and the Castillo overlooks the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean. Today, the same site is home to frequent yoga classes, spas and treatments that incorporate ancient techniques and pre-Hispanic rituals such as the use of indigenous herbs, and hotels offering healing therapies at temazcales, or traditional Mayan steam houses. Some believe that the temazcal experience relaxes and cleanses the nervous system, eliminates toxins from the body, and stimulates the digestive and respiratory systems.

Carved from a jungle landscape over a half-a-century ago, Tulum also invites guests to interact with nature. Freshwater canals, mangroves, and lagoons are home to a variety of wildlife including butterflies, jaguars, and dolphins.

Whether for spiritual healing, the glory of Mayan civilization, or the blend of Bohemia and nature, a trip to Tulum is one that visitors never forget—many of them even stay for good.