Tulum, Mexico is a destination like no other. Whether you are visiting for the amazing beaches, abundant shops and restaurants, or to see the ancient ruins, you are bound to end your vacation there already plotting your next visit.

Tulum is renowned for its soft, white sandy beaches and casual atmosphere. Visitors should know that Tulum is actually divided into two distinct areas: Pueblo (town) and Playa (beach). The original quiet town has recently morphed into a vibrant destination with restaurants offering authentic Mexican food, shops and affordable lodging. The beach strip is home to the best hotels and restaurants. Here you can enjoy all of the pleasures of the sand and sea, including gorgeous, sandy beaches for sunbathing, and a warm sea ideal for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. Which area you choose to stay in is a matter of personal preference and budget. Regardless, wherever you choose, you can easily access the other. The two areas are approximately three miles apart and travel between the two is easy enough via taxi or rental bicycle.

There is no shortage of things to do, see and experience in Tulum. Of course, visiting the pristine sandy beaches tops any to do list, as evidences by the crowds that flock to them. But for those looking to enjoy the water away from the crowds and blazing sun, a visit to a cenote the answer. A cenote is a pool of mineral rich water found in caves and quarries. It is believed that these were the secret underworld of turquoise pools where Mayans communicated with the gods. While Tulum offers numerous options, Grand Cenote, Dos Ojos Park and Cenote Dos Osos are perpetually listed as visitor favorites.

A visit to Tulum wouldn’t be complete without exploring the gorgeous cliff-top Mayan ruins. It is believed that they are some of the last ever inhabited. The grounds of the ruin contain a mix of palaces, temples, and pyramids, all overlooking the magnificent Caribbean. The ruins at Tulum are also unique because it’s the only Mayan site absent any signs of human sacrifice. A visit here is a must for anyone even mildly interested in history, anthropology and/or archeology. If you do go, be sure to arrive early, as tourists pour in by the busload, making this popular destination extremely crowded by afternoon.

Tulum is a paradise in so many ways, offering a selection of natural highlights, from beaches, to cenotes, to ruins, as well as a variety of authentic Mexican dining and shopping opportunities. There really is something for everyone there.