By now you’ve almost certainly heard of Tulum, that leafy green wonderland on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Tulum is eco-friendly and trendy: It’s known for postcard-perfect ruins that sit right on the ocean, hip yoga retreats and a buzzy, upscale restaurant scene

But true travelers will tell you that staying in Tulum is much more than downward dog and cocktails: A visit here affords a slate of off-the-beaten path adventures you may not have heard about in the latest fashion mag. Sure, a few of them require some trekking, but those are precisely the kinds of adventures that let you truly get to know a place.

Here’s why you should visit Tulum, for reals.

  • 1 There’s a hidden nature reserve you’ve gotta see.
    Sam Camp via Getty Images
    Away from the tourist beaches is Sian Kaan biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage site right on the coast with tropical forests, marshes and more than 300 species of birds.
  • 2 Even some ruins are under the radar.
    Harry Kikstra via Getty Images
    You’ve probably heard about visitors taking day trips to the ruins of Chichen Itza. Meet Ek Balam, its lesser-known but equally impressive neighbor. The tower in this temple complex is one of the largest in the Yucatan.
  • 3 The best food looks alive, in the best way.
    It’s (almost) locals only at Chamico’s, a beachfront cafe where the seafood is top-notch. There’s no exact address, so this place is your little secret… yours and the New York Times, of course.
  • 4 You can swim with turtles in Akumal…
    Rodrigo Friscione via Getty Images
    A relatively short drive takes you from Tulum to Akumal, where you can swim with turtles galore in stunning Akumal Bay. Join a tour if you must, but we recommend going it solo and swimming right up to your hard-shelled friends, completely free. (Just don’t pet them, of course.)
  • 5 …or chill at a cenote all day.
    Phil Clarke Hill via Getty Images
    The Tulum region is known for its cenotes, naturally-occurring sinkholes home to some of the clearest water you’ll ever see. Some are more popular than others: Find a less crowded one, like Cenote Azul, and join local families for a picnic by the shore.
  • 6 If you want Cancun, you can have it.
    Demetrio Carrasco via Getty Images
    Cancun’s nightlife is world famous, and it’s less than two hours away. Tack a wild night in Cancun onto the start or end of your tranquil Tulum trip? it’s near the airport! and you won?t regret it.
  • 7 THE OCEAN.
    Olga Melhiser Photography via Getty Images
    Have we mentioned yet that the water here is divine?! If nothing else, Tulum’s crystal-clear water will always live up to the hype.