Tulum refers to both the Maya ruins and small town of the same name. The ruins themselves aren't as spectacular as many of the other Maya ruins found in Mexico, but what is spectacular here is the setting. A handful of small old buildings sit perched atop a cliff with stunning views down to the beach and the beautiful azure waters of the Riviera Maya. The beach in front of the ruins of Tulum is quite fantastic, making the site an extremely popular day trip from other nearby resorts on the coast. As such, the ruins and beach can become very busy - best to visit very early or very late to truely appreciate the spectacular setting of Tulum.
The village of Tulum is about 4km South of the ruins themselves, and is an increasingly popular resort, though it remains small and low key by the standards of the Maya Riviera's larger resorts North up the coast. There is a very good range of hotels in Tulum. There's more budget accommodation than luxury hotels here, hence it's a popular place for backpackers to sample Mexico's Caribbean coast. There are many good value cabanas on the beach that can be stayed in. There are also a variety of scuba diving operators.
All in all, Tulum is a great place to sample some of Mexico's lovely beaches, especially for those on a tight budget or who seek a smaller resort on the Maya Riviera.