Skipping the ruins can ruin your Mexican vacation. Cancun is great, but once you are there you are a mere two-hour drive from what might be one of the most scenic destinations in all of Mexico, and the Riviera Maya's latest hot spot for tourism: Tulum.  Tulum offers breathtaking views in a tranquil setting

Home-Based Travel Agent went there this past year and the ride was painless, so don't let it dissuade you from visiting what we expect will be one of Mexico's biggest resort destinations. And, as plans are already in the works for an international airport in Tulum, you'll soon be able to fly there directly.

Once in Tulum, you can see some of Mexico's most fascinating archaeological sites without even leaving your resort. Granted, it's from a pretty good distance, but even from afar, Mayan ruins add ancient beauty to an already exotic Mexican Caribbean view. Visiting several ruins is one of this destination's highlights

Tulum's Mayan ruins are, in fact, home to the third-most visited archaeological site in Mexico, behind Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. The ruins, coupled with Tulum's beaches and a plethora of cenotes (underwater caves), make it one of the most aesthetically pleasing spots in the country.

And after our visit to Dreams Tulum Spa & Resort (www.dreamsresorts.com), we could vouch for this.

What To Do

Dos Palmas (www.dospalmas.info) features a Mayan Ceremonial Night, during which the community offers visitors an experience in the heart of the Riviera Maya jungle as they take part in ancient Mayan rituals at the temazcal (sweat lodge).

If you're the type of traveler who loves to mingle with the locals as we do, this is the spot for you. Make sure you check out the website for full details and times, and then plan for a party you'll never forget.

This is great for eco-friendly travelers. It maintains a commitment to ecotourism and ensures that guests experience the traditions and customs of ancient tribes in their natural environment while supporting the communities and preserving their existence for generations to come.

Mayan Sites and Ruins. Okay, we said it before, but it bears repeating: Tulum's sites and ruins are some of the best places to experience Mayan history and culture. The well-preserved walls, temples, foundations and other structures were built by the Mayans out of rock from about 1200 to 1500 A.D., and are set on a cliff right next to the beach. That pretty much describes any beach in Tulum. Ask your home-based agents about operators that offer tours to the ruins.

Xel-Ha theme park (www.xel-ha.com) has the most spectacular natural aquarium of the world for travelers looking to experience a real aquatic adventure. Here you can explore this theme park and enjoy adventure activities, as well as natural, ecological attractions and water activities. Among the latter, try diving or snorkeling in the creeks, lagoons, natural wells and ancient caves fed by subterranean rivers that flow to the beautiful Mexican Caribbean Sea of the Riviera Maya. In fact, we have been told that this is one of the greatest spots to snorkel in the entire world.

On top of all this, the Riviera Maya is known for its lush tropical landscape, which can also be explored in Tulum.

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