Getting There --By Car: Highway 307 runs straight from Cancún through the town of Tulum. By Bus: Several buses a day leave Playa del Carmen for Tulum.

--A rental car will make everything much easier. From the north, you pass the entrance to the ruins before you enter town. When you come to an intersection with a traffic light, the highway to the right leads to the ruins of Cobá. Turn left to reach Tulum's beach Hotel Zone, beginning about 2km (1 1/4 miles) away; the road sign reads BOCA PAILA. When you come to a T junction, there will be hotels in both directions. If you turn left (north), you'll be heading toward the back entrance to the ruins. If you take a right, you'll pass a long line of small hotels until you reach the entrance to Sian Ka'an.

In the town of Tulum, Hwy. 307 widens and is called Avenida Tulum. A particularly handy resource is the travel agency/communications/package center called Savana (tel. 984/871-2081), on the east side of Avenida Tulum between calles Orion and Beta. Most of the staff speaks English and can answer questions about tours and calling home.

Getting to the Beach -- If you're staying elsewhere but want some beach time in Tulum, the easiest way is to drive to El Paraíso (tel. 984/113-7089; about 1km (2/3 mile) south of the ruins (take a left at the T junction). This is a great place with a long, broad beach that is pure sand, and access is free. The owners have a restaurant on the sand and make money by selling food and drink, so they ask you not to bring your own. They've also opened an 11-room hotel with A/C and plasma TVs; rates range from $85 to $155 depending on season and demand. A few tents are available for camping. For true isolation, check out the small hotels in Sian Ka'an and Punta Allen.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.