By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: As part of our Caribbean cruise package we'll have a chance to take a day trip into Mexico. We'll be docking at Playa del Carmen. Do you have any tips on things to see?

A: The ancient Mayan coastal city of Tulum about a 45 minutes bus ride south of Playa del Carmen is listed as a primary visit among many Caribbean cruise liners that dock here. Perched on the edge of limestone cliffs overlooking the azure waters of the Caribbean, Tulum has spell-bounded visitors since the 1840s. Considered Tulum's first tourist, American author and adventurer John Lloyd Stephens penned, "We had found this one of the most interesting places we had seen in our whole exploration of ruins." Although archeologists don't deem the archeological site as important as other Mayan ruins, it remains significant for its location.

Rising like a precious jewel high atop a 40-foot bluff, El Castillo served as a temple and a lighthouse, navigating Mayans to this once important trading hub. Today, busloads of tourists come from Cancun and cruise liners like yours to traipse among the ruins and dip in the warm clear waters. Consult your cruise liner for the itinerary of planned day trips.

Often this information can be obtained at their web sites. When I ventured here via a Caribbean cruise, our bus drove to Tulum making a quick stop at el crucero "the crossroads" where booths of colorful handcrafts culled from local craftsmen are neatly displayed. Also be prepared for an 8-minute jaunt once you disembark the bus, as the parking lot is distant from the archeological site's entrance. For about 8 pesos, you can take a tram to the entrance.

For other information on Mexico, visit the Mexican Government's official web site at


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