Tulum, located at the southern extreme of the Riviera Maya, is a great base for groups interested in combining time at the beach with visits to Mayan ruins and colonial cities. Tulum is the perfect option for a boutique incentive trip that rewards employees with a combination of sea, sun and gourmet cuisine, or planners looking to host a destination wedding.
Hotels: Tulum offers a variety of hotel choices from exclusive and upscale like the Encantada Beachfront Boutique Hotel to the popular and affordable inn Posada Luna del Sur. We recently attended a 150-person beachfront wedding at the at the aptly named Ana y José Charming Hotel & Spa. The hotel’s open air palapa comfortably accommodated a plated dinner, and offered solid food. Most hotels in Tulum are small, with fewer than 30 rooms. However, the hotels are located very close together along the main road in the hotel zone, and with enough notice, planners can cluster guests within walking distance in adjacent hotels, creating a campus atmosphere along the beach. Click here for a list of Tulum hotels.
What to do in Tulum: Visiting the Tulum archaeological site is a must. It’s one of only two in all of Mexico that is on the beach and accessible to the public (the other is Copalito in Huatulco on the Oaxaca coast). The site, an important Mayan trading post in pre-Columbian times, is not as large as many of the inland sites, but the setting – the ruins are located on a rocky bluff overlooking the bluest of Carribbean waters– is spectacular.
Forty-five minutes north, heading toward Playa del Carmen, visitors can get a one-stop immersion into Mexico’s culture and natural diversity at the Xcaret Archeological Park. Xcaret offers an up-close look at animals native to Mexico, including jaguars, pumas, scarlet macaws, flamingos, howler monkeys, manatees, and tapirs. Water sports availableto guests include snorkeling and swimming with dolphins, and craft demonstrations and recreations of Mexican villages, a rodeo show and pre-Hispanic dance demonstrations offer visitors a peek at the country’s rich history and culture. Don´t miss the Xcaret Mexico Spectacular, which takes place each evening in the Xcaret amphiteatre. The two-hour musical performance brings Mexican history to life, from pre-Hispanic times to modern day. Most impressive is the athletic reenactment of the Mayan ball game, something of a cross between soccer and basketball (though the stakes were much higher than those of modern sporting events). Xcaret is perfect for pre-and post-event famiy enterainment. Xcaret´s sister park Xplor offers exciting outdoor activities such as zip lines and rafting through underground rivers, and its other location Xel-ha, which calls itself “the biggest natural aquatic park in the world.” is renowned for its snorkeling. Park operator Grupo Xcaret is launching a new attraction called Xenotes, located in nearby Puerto Morelos.
The beautiful, tree-shaded ruin of Coba lies about forty-five minutes northwest of Tulum.This sprawling archaeological site can be explored on foot, by bicycle, or even from a seat on a bike taxi on roads built about 1,500 years ago. The site covers more than 30 square miles and boasts one of the tallest temples in the Yucatán peninsula (138 feet). Coba's jungle canopy make it a perfect place for birdwatchers.
Just a few kilometers south of Tulum, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife of the Sian Ka´an Biosphere Reserve. Group activities such as bird walks, kayak tours, and fly fishing excursions are available.