To visitors, TULUM can mean several things. First, it’s one of the most picturesque of all the ancient Maya sites, poised on 15m-high cliffs above the impossibly turquoise Caribbean. Tulum also refers to a stretch of broad, white beach, dotted with lodging options that range from bare-bones to ultra-swank; many of them, as well as many ultra-casual beach bars, still show their backpacker-friendly roots in style, if not in price. Finally, it’s a booming town (often called Tulum Pueblo to distinguish it from the beach) that has evolved from roadside waystation to real population centre, where visitors can arrange tours into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, among other things.

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