Perched on a bluff overlooking the aquamarine Caribbean Sea , Tulum is one of the most scenic Mayan sites in Mexico . It ’ s also one of the most unusual , being one of the only Mayan sites surrounded by a 20-foot wall and the only one directly on the coast . Because of its unique east-facing oceanfront vista , the ancient name of Tulum was “ Zama ,” which means “ place of the dawning sun .” Visit in the morning for spectacular views of the sun rising over this stunning archaeological marvel .
You might already recognize Chichén Itzá as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World for its famous step pyramid of El Castillo . What you might not realize is that this massive temple is just one of more than 20 structures connected by 75 roadways across the site . After admiring the grand temple , you ’ ll have plenty more to explore , from the largest ball court in Mesoamerica to a massive sun dial and several sacrificial sites , such as the Sacred Cenote and the infamous Platform of the Skulls .
A departure from the tourist scene at Chichén Itzá , Coba is a complete Mayan city tucked away in the dense jungle near the Riviera Maya . Its dispersed sites are easily explored with a leisurely ride on one of the available rental bikes . This is also where you ’ ll find the tallest pyramid in the Yucatán and one of the few Mayan structures you can actually climb . Use the rope to scale its 120 narrow steps for sweeping views of the jungle from the top .