The Cove of Tulum and Maya Trade
Between the Castle and the Temple of the Wind there is a break in the cliff that forms an easily accessible cove with a beach of fine sand. Because of these features, it was most probably where both fishing boats and trading vessels arrived and departed. Facing the cove there is an esplanade and several low platforms that some experts have interpreted as possibly being the market area of Tulum.
Trade was very important to the Mayas, and was carried out both regionally and over long distances. Archaeological exploration has brought to light objects from the interior of the peninsula, Central America and central Mexico and various written sources also mention these trading activities.
The Mayas created an extensive network of trade routes linking different points in the region, which they used for transporting various local products such as honey, tobacco, vanilla, rubber, feathers and jaguar skins. In addition, people living on the coast provided shells, salt, dried fish and pearls for the Chiapas highlands, Guatemala and El Salvador or else for central Mexico and other peoples living in what are today Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia.
Trade was controlled by rich merchants, who belonged to the nobility, and they transported goods using slaves over land routes and large canoes up to 16 meters [53 feet] long for river and sea trade. Products were usually traded for the produce of other areas, although they were also bought using cacao beans as currency.
Some Postclassic cities had areas set aside for markets, Chichen Itza being a prime example. Other cities had large commercial centers, and the Quintana Roo coast was the gateway for the seaborne trade of the time.