Tulum, meaning wall or fence in Maya, is the most picturesque of the local archeological sites as it is located on a ragged cliff overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. This Pre-Columbian Maya walled city was a major port town most active in 1200 – 1500 AD. While it is one of the smallest sites, it is also one of the prettiest and can easily be enjoyed together with a stroll on the adjacent long white-sand beach.
76 miles / 120 km Southwest
Coba meaning ruffled waters in Maya, has one of the most impressive histories of the region with the largest area and tallest structures. Once thought to have held up to 100,000 inhabitants and covering an area of over 80 km2/30 mi2, Coba was an thriving city spanning centuries from its height in 500 – 900 AD to its final collapse in the 12th century. While few of its estimated 6500 structures have been cleared and restored, the site is majestic and peaceful. Rent a bicycle and stroll through the jungle paths. Special note: the Great Pyramid and its 120 steps is one of the last climbable ruins in the area and well worth the breathtaking view from atop.
168 miles / 270 km West
Chichen Itza, meaning at the mouth of the well of Itza, a powerful ethnic lineage of the region, is the second most visited archeological site in Mexico. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recently voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Its uniqueness lies in that in its heyday from around 550 AD – 800 AD, it acted mainly as a ceremonial center for the Maya civilization, however was subsequently taken over by the Toltec people in 1000 AD. Having been largely cleared and restored over the last century, Chichen Itza is a full-day tour rich with sights and historical information. Of particular interest are the Spring and Fall Equinox celebrations when thousands gather to witness the natural light and shadow effects along the pyramid of Kukulcan. Special Note: visitors are no longer permitted to enter nor climb the pyramids as stricter rules are in place to help preserve the site.