Skip Tulum's crowded, manicured archaeological and head to Coba instead. Less than an hour inland from Tulum, the tiny town is worth a visit, if only even for an afternoon. First off, it's home to some of the most fascinating ruins in the Yucatan.
The archaeological site is giant — 30 square miles in total. You can still climb to the very top of the 130-foot-tall pyramid that dominates the ancient ruins. From there, you'll get an amazing, unfettered view of the two old lagoons that surround Coba town and the Yucatan jungle that spans out as far as your eyes can see. It's mystical.
From Tulum, take the 109 about 40 minutes northwest until you reach the roundabout that signals the turnoff for Coba. Just follow the signs. Alternatively, you can take the ADO bus from Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Valladolid. Once there, we recommend renting a bike to explore the grounds. The ruins are open daily 8am - 5pm. Get there early.