The Ultimate Travel Guide to Tulum

Updated: March, 2015

“The Yucatan is statistically as safe as Finland.” – The Economist

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The 15 Best Hotels in Tulum

The hotels below are ordered by location starting with the north end of the beach road (closest to town) and moving south. All of these hotels have a great location on the beach close to several restaurants and biking distance to town.

(The best hotel in Tulum is Ana y Jose.)

  • Hotel Posada • moderate • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-806-4505
    Posada Punta Piedro in Tulum..
  • Zamas Hotel • moderate • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-877-8523
    Zamas Hotel in Tulum
  • Amansala • luxury • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984 100 0717
    Amansala Hotel in Tulum.
  • Playa Kin Ha • moderate • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-871-2321
    Kin Ha Hotel in Tulum.
  • Retiro Maya Tulum • moderate • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-143-1365
    Retiro Maya Hotel in Tulum.
  • My Way Luxury Resort • luxury • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: ++52 984-143-1365
    My Way Luxury Hotel in Tulum.
  • Ana y Jose Charming Hotel and Spa • luxury • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 998-880-6022
    Ana y Jose Hotel in Tulum
  • The Beach Tulum (Ziggy) • luxury • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-873-1223
    Beach Hotel in Tulum.
  • Villa Las Estrellas • luxury • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-879-0772
    Villas Las Estrellas in Tulum.
  • Playa Mambo Eco Cabanas • moderate • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-803-2144
    Playa Mambo Hotel in Tulum.
  • OM Tulum Cabañas and Beach Club • moderate • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-157-7903
    Om Hotel in Tulum.
  • Be Tulum • luxury • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-803-2243
    Be Tulum Hotel in Tulum.
  • Mestizo Hotel Boutique • moderate • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-879-9857
    Mestizo Hotel in Tulum
  • Las Tres Palmas (in town) • budget • Check Prices
    Hotel phone: +52 984-116-4950
    Best Hotel in Tulum Town: Las Tres Palmas

The Best Restaurants in Tulum

  • Best Italian Restaurant in Tulum: Posada Margherita (Beach Road). Delicious. The best pasta in town.
    The best Italian restaurant in Tulum.
  • Best Tacos in Tulum: Antojitos (in Town). 3 minutes south of the bus station (on the same side of the street). Great salsa bar. Only open at night.
    The best tacos and street food in Tulum.
  • 2nd Best Tacos in Tulum (In Town). Delicious pastor tacos. Across the street from the Scotia Bank, you can’t miss it.
    The best Pastor tacos in Tulum.
  • Best Restaurant at Tulum Beach: Hartwood  (Beach Road). Very popular and widely regarded as the best restaurant in the area. Lines start early.
    The best restaurant in Tulum.
  • Best Pizza in Tulum: La Onda (Beach Road). Delicious wood oven pizza. The dessert pizza with Nutella is not bad either.
    The best pizza in Tulum.
  • Best Vegan Restaurant in Tulum: Restaurare (Beach Road). The best vegetarian choice around.
    The best vegan restaurant in Tulum.
  • Best Fish Tacos in Tulum: El Capitan (In Town)
    The best fish tacos in Tulum.
  • Best Steak Restaurant in Tulum: La Estancia (in Town). An Argentinian restaurant with a very fun atmosphere.
    The best restaurant in Tulum.
  • Best Roasted Chicken in Tulum: Pollo Bronco (In Town). Simple, cheap, delicious. Buy whole, half, or quarter roasted chickens with tortillas, rice, and salsa. Take to go as well.
    The best roasted chicken in Tulum.
  • Funnest Restaurant/Bar: Mateo’s Mexican Grill (Beach Road). Good food and fun vibe. Hammocks and great views can be found on the upper floors of this treehouse-style of a restaurant.
    View from Mateos restaurant at Tulum beach.
  • Best Steak Restaurant at the Beach: Casa Banana. (Beach Road)
    Casa Banana restaurant along Tulum beach.
  • Best Coffee in Tulum: Ki ‘book (In town). Great espresso and insanely friendly staff.
    The best coffee and espresso in Tulum.

Travel Tips for Tulum

  • Tulum is divided into 2 sections: the town (pueblo) and the beach (playa). They are about 5 km apart. The town is inland. The beach is, uhm, along the beach.
  • Most hotels – and all of the best ones – are along the beach.
  • The town has cheaper and often better food (especially if you’re looking for authentic Mexican food and tacos). Even with cab fare to town and back dinner will be cheaper in town then at the beach. The town also has more shops and 2 large grocery stores (The Chdedraui is the most convenient for the beach.)
  • Most hotel websites are terrible and difficult to use. Use Booking.com for the best rates and most reliable reservations.
  • It costs about $100 by taxi from the Cancun airport to Tulum and takes about 90 minutes. To get a taxi at the Cancun airport walk out the doors on the arrivals level and book with the transfer desk just to the left (can’t miss it, very easy to find). It’ll be a 5 to 30 minute wait for a car or van (it won’t be a taxi as they’re not allowed to pick up from the airport). You can prebook with SuperShuttle before you arrive. Pre-booked transfers cost about $30 but then you have a car waiting for you as you get through customs. Personally, I don’t pre-book but understand why some would want to.
  • Tulum vs Playa del Carmen: Tulum has a nicer beach, better food, more chilled out and relaxing, and cooler more unique hotels. Playa del Carmen feels like a spring break town. Nice but somewhat tacky. Tulum wins hands down vs Playa del Carmen.
  • The Tulum ruins are found along the beach (north of the hotel strip). They are easy to reach from both town and the beach hotels by taxi or bike but too far to walk from either. These are definitely worth a visit (plan for 1 to 3 hours). There’s a great place to swim just below the main structure on the coast.
  • Bikes are everywhere in Tulum. They’re easy to rent and cost about 150 pesos a day (less if you rent for multiple days). There’s a bike path from town all the way out the beach (near Zamas). From Zamas there is no path along the beach road but traffic moves slowly and it always feels safe to be on your bike as long as it’s not dark. The road along the beach is flat. There’s a slight incline as you start into town but most of that route is flat as well. Along the beach road car traffic can stop for 5 to 15 minutes for seemingly no reason at all. If you’re on a bike you sail right by all the traffic and are happy for not being in a car.
  • Taxi from the beach to town should be about 100 pesos from around Zamas Hotel (one of the closer ones) up to 150 pesos from Mestizo Hotel (one of the farther ones).
  • Tulum is surrounded by Cenotes that are great for fresh water swimming. The Grand Cenote is the most famous but others within easy reach are Manatee (towards Playa del Carmen), Carwash (towards Coba), and Crystal and Escondido (south of Tulum Town). Tell the name of any of these to a taxi driver and they’ll take you there for less than 150 pesos. Most have a charge of less than 100 pesos. Just take a towel, taxi money, and flippers and mask (optional) and you’ll have an amazing time at any of these cenotes. Manatee has a good restaurant right across the road. The rest I mentioned above don’t have much around. It’s just swim for an hour or so then head home.
  • The best day trips from Tulum are Coba, Chitchen Itza, Aktun Chen (underwater cave and cenote with swimming and ziplines) and the enchanting town of Vallodolid.
  • Dreams Tulum is not in Tulum but is located 6 miles north of Tulum and the Tulum ruins (towards Akumal). It’s a huge all-inclusive resort with very little character. If you want to stay at a hotel closer to Akumal then choose the charming Jashita Hotel.
  • The Tulum Beach is beautiful – my favorite in Mexico.
    Tulum Beach
  • And the sand in Tulum is wonderful.
    Beautiful sandy beach in Tulum.
  • Eating cheap is easy in Tulum town (and typically more expensive out at the beach). Antojitos is my favorite taco shop in town and below you can see the menu. Those prices are in pesos so a delicious pastor taco is just $0.45. Cheap and just drop-dead delicious.
    Good inexpensive restaurant in Tulum.
  • Pastor is slow cooked pork that is shaved off directly into a taco.
    Pastor tacos.
  • The pastor tacos from Antojitos. These are my sons – OK, the kids likes the tomatillo sauce.
    Pastor tacos in Tulum.
  • When you buy a chicken they’ll also throw a stack of tortillas and salsa into the bag. It’s quick, cheap, and delicious food. (Once again, you’ll only find freshly roasted chickens in town, not at the beach.)
    Rotisserie Chicken.
  • Mexican soups are awesome and often overlooked. If you see soup on the menu, order it.
    Good soup in Tulum.
  • Chilaquiles are common breakfast food in Mexico and delicious. Usually cheaper than ordering western food too.
    Best breakfast in Tulum.
  • Eating lunch or dinner on the beach is a highlight of staying in Tulum.
    Beer and food on the beach.
  • Panna e Cioccolato gelato shop has the best ice cream in town (better than most restaurants). There are 2 shops in Tulum town and 1 on the beach (near Zamas).
    Ice cream shop in Tulum.
  • But home-made style treats are also popular and very tasty.
    Ice cream in Tulum.
  • Breakfast on the beach.
    Breakfast on the beach in Tulum.
  • Bike Rental shop in town (and neighboring laundromat). There are many rental shops but Kelly’s has the most bikes. A few doors down from the Scotia Bank.
    Bike rental and laundromat in Tulum.
  • Bike’s can be rented at the beach as well.
    Bike rental on Tulum Beach.
  • The bike path between Tulum town and the beach.
    The bike path between Tulum town and beach.
  • Bikes are everywhere in and around town.
    Downtown Tulum
  • Hotels and restaurants in Tulum have bike parking. Cool.
    Bikes in Tulum
  • If you do only one thing during your time in Tulum visit a cenote. This is the Grand Cenote and only about 5 minutes outside of Tulum. Take your own mask and snorkel. There are lockers and restrooms at the Grand Cenote. If you just want to go for a swim then Casa Cenote is great – very few tourists, small entrance fee, restaurant across the street. Ask any taxi driver and they’ll get you here in 10 minutes from the Tulum hotels.
    Snorkeling in the Grand Cenote.
  • Cenote’s are collapsed sinkholes that expose fresh water below.
    Gran Cenote near Tulum
  • Day Trip from Tulum: Chichen Itza.
    Chichen Itza Pyramid.
  • If you go to Chichen Itza or Coba hire a guide. You don’t have to prearrange. Guides will greet you as you enter and offer their services. Their knowledge makes the sights much more interesting and rewarding.
    Tour Guide at Chichen Itza.
  • At Coba you can climb the pyramid. (You can’t at Chichen Itza.)Climbing Coba pyramid.
  • The Coba ruins cover a large area and bikes are a fun way to get to the different sights.
    Bike rental at Coba Pyramids.
  • Valladolid is a wonderful little inland town that makes a great day trip from Tulum. The town is surrounded by good cenotes and there’s even one a short walk from the central square.
    Valladolid Day Trip from Tulum
  • Cenote in downtown Vallodolid. Great for cliff jumping.
    Cenote in Tulum.
  • There are several other cenotes within biking distance of downtown. Pictured is Samula. X’Keken cenote is directly across the road.
    Samula cenote near Vallodolid.
  • The taco stand located on this corner is the best in the Yucatan.
    Best tacos in Yucatan.
  • Hotel Casa Quetzal is a great boutique hotel and the best place to stay in Vallodolid.
    Best Hotel in Vallodolid.
  • El Fogon is the best restaurant in Playa del Carmen. Expect lineups and great food.
    Best Restaurant in Playa del Carmen
  • Bank machines are found everywhere in Tulum, both at the beach and in town. These bank machines are at the bus station.
    ATMs in Tulum.
  • It’s easy to bike along the beach road I find your favorite spot.
    Bike to beach.
  • This is one of the few convenience stores along the beach road. Located at Playa Mambo hotel.
    Convenience store on Tulum Beach (for drinks and snacks)
  • The beach road near Zamas.
    Tulum Beach Road near Zamas.
  • The Tulum Ruins are (sort-of) in between Tulum town and the hotel zone on the beach road. Definitely worth a visit. They’re easy to bike to from both town and the beach hotels.
    The beach at the Tulum ruins.
  • Zebra is a kid-friendly restaurant and hotel with a beautiful beach and play area along the beach.
    La Zebra play area for kids on the beach

67 questions and comments

  1. Airport to Tulum

    This is the best thing I read about Tulum! I am traveling there in end of May with 3 others. Was wondering if still taking a taxi is a good idea withings that many ppl. I priced Canada transfers and it was $160 roundtrip for a private shuttle. Also we have 7am returning flights (scary) what time should we leave our hotel to make it to the airport in time.

    We are staying at Ahau hotel. Are you familiar with this hotel? How is the beach here? Also do you know where that is located in comparison to biking to town and the ruins also are the cenotes close enough to bike to?

    What are some of the best bars to go to with live music in the beach and in town?

    Where is the best beach with the least amount of seaweed?

    How bad are the mosquitos in Tulum?

    Any affordable spa recommendations?

    Okay I think I’m done :)

    Courtney

    Reply
    1. Dave

      $160 sounds pretty good for a shuttle from the airport to Tulum. I’d book it. For the return I’d leave about 4am.

      Ahau is a great place with a beautiful beach. Lots of good restaurants are within a short walk, say 3 to 15 minutes. You can definitely bike to town from Ahau – it’s about a 30 minute leisurely ride. Several cenotes are another 10 to 20 minute ride in different directions – some on the opposite side of town, some on the road to Coba, and some on the road to Playa del Carmen.

      The beach can have seaweed but it changes every day with the current and can come and go in very little time. If you show up on arrival and see seaweed on the beach don’t despair, you’ll likely wake up the next morning and have a beach without a spot of seaweed. Some hotels and restaurants dig holes in the beach and then bury the seaweed. For live music check out Mateo’s and Zamas. Mosquitoes are present in Tulum but not terrible, the breezes on the beach keep them away for the most part. They can be a little worse in town but still not awful. For spas in Tulum try Maya Tulum, Maya Spa, Coqui Coqui, or Ana Y Jose.

      Reply
  2. Location of Villa Pescadores

    Thanks for putting this together. Great list! I will be in Tulum 1st week of April… Looking forward to this trip. Tulum seems like an amazing place! Staying at Villa Pescadores. Would you happen to know how far this is from the main beach road? :-) Thanks!
    Patty

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Villa Pescadores is between Playa Maya and Zazil Kin and about 3km from the main beach road that leads from town out to the beach. But it is on (a different) beach road that leads from the ruins to the main stretch of beach in Tulum. (Does that make sense?) It’s about 1 km south of the ruins, if that helps.

      Reply
  3. Snorkeling near Tulum

    Hey man, awesome site. I’m gonna be in Tulum around October and I was wondering where the best places to snorkel are- so far it looks like people speak highly of the Mayan Reef tour on the VisitSianKaan site, and the Yal-Ku lagoon near Akumal. Do those seem like good picks? I’d like for it to be beginner-friendly, but still have really great varieties of fish and coral without toooooo long of a journey from Tulum itself.

    Reply
      1. J

        Great, thanks. I hadn’t even really considered snorkeling in the cenotes, will definitely keep that in mind.

        Do you have any experience with the VisitSianKaan people?

        Reply
  4. Weather in Late September, Early October/ Xel-Ha

    This post has been extremely helpful!
    I plan on going in late September to Early October, do you think this would be a good time to go? I plan to spend a lot of time in the water……. :o
    Would you recommend going to Xel-Ha? I want to swim in the cenotes, go zip lining, snorkel, and go cliff jumping.
    I’m not sure if xel-ha would be the best option though – what do you suggest?

    Thank you in advance!
    Ashley

    Reply
    1. Dave

      September and October are hurricane and tropical storm seasons and technically part of rainy season (though less rain than July and August). Generally the weather is good unless a storm hits in which case there can be heavy rain. If you’re looking for hotel deals September, October, and November are great months. (The weather in November is ideal.) Xel-Ha is worth a trip and has lots to do. Snorkeling is the highlight but there is also tubing, rope swing, and zip lining, etc.

      Reply
      1. When To Go To Tulum?

        Would you say it’s a bad idea to go in late September then? I would be there from 09/30 – 10/04.. but if it’s going to be raining I’d rather go in November.

        Would you say Xel-ha is the best option then? Seems a bit pricey

        Ashley

        Reply
        1. Dave

          If you have a choice then go in November. If you don’t, personally, I would still go – just be prepared for the potential of rain.

          Xel-Ha is pricey but you get a fair bit (and the price includes all meals). If you’re only looking for a cenote/snorkeling experience then the Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos are way cheaper and great. But Xel-Ha is a full day experience with lots to do.

          Weekends are less busy than weekdays at parks such as Xel-Ha, Xcaret, and Xplor and they sometimes have discounts for weekend visits if you purchase in advance.

          Reply
  5. Shopping in Tulum

    Thanks for all the great info. I will be in Tulum for a week and have rented a house. I was just wondering about shopping. Would you stick to Tulum or venture out to another city?

    Thanks,
    Javi

    Reply
    1. Dave

      The shopping in Tulum town is pretty good. The main strip has a number of funky shops. It’s pedestrian friendly and fun to walk up and down in the evening. If you’re looking for a grocery store the Chedraui, just outside of town on the way to the beach, is the best in the area.

      Reply
  6. Cozumel vs Tulum/Cenotes

    Good morning Dave,
    Thanks for the info! My wife and I are heading to the Yucatan for 5 days in June, time to take a well deserved break from the kiddo. We were thinking of either a couple days in Tulum and a few in Cozumel or just making Tulum our home base with a day trip to Cozumel. Can you think of a good reason to stay in Cozumel? Right now we’re leaning towards just getting a cool place and staying in Tulum. Also, what is your favorite cenote? Anywhere off the beaten path where we can possibly go cliff jumping?

    Also, rumor is renting a car is less expensive than taking taxis. True?
    Thanks!
    Aaron

    Reply
    1. Dave

      I would recommend staying in Tulum unless you have a big interest in snorkeling or scuba diving – that’s the main reason to go to Cozumel. The beaches in Tulum are much better than Cozumel and there’s lots to do within an hour’s drive of Tulum to keep you busy for 5 days (if you want to be busy). You can visit cozumel as a day trip, but once again, is it worth a 4 to 6 hour return trip (from Tulum) to drive around the island? I’d spend my time doing something else. The only cenote I’ve done cliff jumping from is Zaci in downtown Valladolid. It’s great. There are several different levels to jump from including one that has to be 30 or 40 feet. Samula (near Valladolid) and Gran Cenote (near Tulum) are my favorite cenotes but neither have cliff jumping. Other cenotes with cliff jumping: Jardin del Eden, Cristalino, and Azul. The Xel-Ha attraction also has jumping but that’s part of an adventure park.

      Renting a car vs taxi comes down to how much you’ll use it. A trip to Tulum town from the beach and back again will be cheaper by taxi. But if you set out in the morning with the goal of visiting 4 or 5 cenotes around the area then that would be cheaper to get a taxi. I prefer the ease of taking a taxi most places and never seem to do more than 1 or 2 things on any one day. But if you’re someone that packs more into a day then the math will change.

      Reply
      1. Aaron

        Awesome, thanks Dave! We decided to stay in Tulum, will be there 6/17-6/22. If we see you around, we’ll treat you to a drink!

        Reply
          1. Dave

            One of the few places I’m not familiar with but just looked it up on AirBnb and it looks great. Have fun.

  7. Lynne

    My husband and I are in the middle of our stay at Villa las Estrellas – a wonderful place to stay and just relax! Have enjoyed reading your suggestions and recommendations – they are spot on!!!

    Reply
  8. Breakfast and Dinner on the Beach

    Hi there!

    I was wondering if you could tell me where your breakfast/dinner on the beach photos were taken? Looks like a great place to visit! We’ll be traveling down to Tulum for a week in April with our toddler!

    Thanks!
    Lydia M

    Reply
    1. Dave

      In the pictures above, breakfast was at Playa Mambo, lunch/beer at La Zebra. Breakfast can be tricky to find along the beach (most people eat at their hotel). There are many places to eat lunch and dinner.

      Reply
  9. Bikes in Tulum

    My question about the bikes, how safe is it to leave your bike at places? Should we take our own locks? What is the protocol? Thank you! Carolina

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Every bike rental comes with a bike lock so you’re fine taking and leaving it anywhere. (They’re not high end bikes.)

      Reply
  10. Cost of Meals/Save Money

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks so much for hosting this forum. This is some of the most practical travel information I’ve read about Tulum. My husband and I will be going down there in early May and are staying at the southern end of Tulum beach. Our hotel has bikes to rent and we were thinking this could be our means to get from the beach to the town. I’ve read that you estimate the ride to be pretty manageable (a 20 – 40 minute, flat ride). I’d really like to spend the evenings in town, to take advantage of the delicious (and more affordable) restaurants. Do you estimate the ride back to the hotel at night would be safe? (It’s our first time in Tulum so don’t know the town layout, if the roads have streetlights, etc…). Also, what is the average cost of a dinner at Tulum Beach versus in town? Thanks so much for any advice you could offer!
    Beth

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Meals are definitely cheaper in Tulum town (pueblo) than at the beach but in both places there is a wide range. Breakfast at the beach can cost 80 to 120 pesos (per person), lunch from 100 to 150 pesos, and dinner 200 to 300 (and up). In town lunch and dinner can be half the cost – or less if you only eat tacos (which I love). Though there are a few expensive places in town where costs can approach those on the beach. Biking back from town at night is doable but I don’t think I’d be comfortable with it. There’s a sidewalk/bike path for a good ways but seeing as you’re at the south end of the beach you’ll have to ride along the main road for several miles in the dark and there’s not much lighting. Traffic doesn’t move too fast along here so it’s not a crazy idea but still I wouldn’t recommend it.

      Reply
      1. Beth

        This is such great info, Dave! Thanks so much again for hosting this forum and providing your valuable advice!

        Happy Travels!

        All best,
        Beth

        Reply
  11. Bus to and from Cancun Airport

    I disagree about taxis to and from the airport; the ADO bus is very comfortable and affordable. You have to transfer at PDC on your way to tulum but there are direct buses back 4 or 5 times per day.

    Nicole

    Reply
    1. Dave

      I agree, taking the bus is cheap and easy in the Yucatan. We usually take it everywhere we go – except to and from the airport. To get from the airport to Tulum you usually need to switch buses in Playa del Carmen, then another bus to Tulum, then a taxi to your hotel (unless you’re staying in Tulum town). If you’re a couple this will still be cheaper than a taxi directly from the Cancun airport to a Tulum hotel but I don’t think it’s worth the extra 1 to 2 hours travel time. If you’re a family of 4 (like us) then the bus won’t be much cheaper, if at all. Here is an excellent post on taking the bus from Cancun airport to PDC. From there it’s pretty straight forward getting a bus to Tulum.

      Reply
  12. La Zebra with Kids

    Hi Dave,

    Any tips on travelling to Tulum with young kids (2 and 4 years old)?
    We’ve booked last minute room at La Zebra for end of March and wonder if our kids will find it pleasant. I guess biking the Beach road to town is out of question for us since our kids can’t ride bikes yet. We’re left with taxi. What about the collectivos, any experience with those? Thanks a lot!
    Dan

    Reply
    1. Dave

      La Zebra is great. Really good food, good location that’s walking distance to some other good restaurants (La Onda for thin crust and nutella pizza). La Zebra has a kids play area with swings and climbing structure on the sand. Small but fun. There are also hammocks hanging in a couple different spots. Be sure to get to a cenote for swimming. Grand Cenote if your kids can wear snorkel and mask, Casa Cenote just for swimming. Taxis are easy to find.

      Reply
    2. Lara belle Schneider

      Thanks Dave for your wonderful information! We will be in Tulum (from snowy windy cold Maine, USA) in one week. Wohoo! I have been to Tulum 3 years ago (solo) and this time will be traveling with my partner and 5-year old son. We will be staying at Uno Astrolodge (next to Shambhala Petit) about mid-way down the beach. We are on a budget and plan to tent it, then stay in a cabana part-time. I stayed there the last time – and really appreciated the location and the beach. Someday we’ll do a fancier spot! But this way we’ll have more resources for even more yummy food, biking, some day trips, etc..

      Bikes! In 2012 I rented a beater beach cruiser (an old one they pulled from out back for me :) from Amansala and had a complete blast. I didn’t need to step in a car after my arrival for 9 days – it was heaven! I biked up and down the beach road and would head into town for food and to catch music, etc..I have a few question.

      1. Do you know of a bike shop that rents a child’s seat or tag-along or bike trailer? I know you can pick up beach cruiser just about anywhere, but it’s the child’s seat/trailer I’m concerned about. My hope is to ride to the ruins, into town, and up and down the beach. Our son isn’t a rider yet, but we are so excited to be relatively car free (except for possible longer day trips).

      Unrelated but…
      2. In the bioreserve it sounds like the community tours are great! Do you have a suggestion for a good trip for a couple and 5-year old?

      Really thank you! Such relevant, clear, and helpful (and fun!) information and tips.

      Warmly, (well almost… :)
      Lara

      Reply
      1. Dave

        I don’t know for sure but I’d be surprised if you could find a bike seat or kid trailer for your child. I’d consider taking a trailer along with you. You could probably find a used one (if you don’t already have one) for pretty cheap. It would be great for getting around and they’re wonderful for transporting a lot of stuff. For tours of Sian Kaan check out Community Tours.

        Reply
  13. Ana y Jose, Be, or The Beach Hotels

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Tulum in July for 7 nights. I want to make the correct hotel choice. I am torn between Ana Y Jose, Be and the Beach. What would be your choice and why.

    Thanks,
    Dave

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Ana y Jose and The Beach are in the central strip of Tulum and have more beach traffic and activity and more restaurants within a short walk along the beach road. Be is more isolated and not nearly as much within walking distance. The beach gets a little nicer as you move south so Be might have a slight advantage but all 3 have great beaches. I tend to think Ana y Jose has more of a resort feel (centered around the pool back from the beach) while The Beach is more focused around the beach area and has more beach front rooms.

      Reply
  14. Private/Public Beaches in Mexico

    My traveling companions have heard that beach access is restricted unless you stay at a beach hotel? Has anyone found this to be the case.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      All beaches in Mexico are public and access can’t be restricted to non-guests. Resorts can, however, charge people to use their beach chairs, umbrellas, and pool – and this can have the effect of making non-guests feel unwelcome. But in theory you can walk, sit, or lay your towel on any free spot of sand you find.

      Reply
      1. April

        Have you personnally had any issues with this? Just bringing a cooler and a couple towels and finding a spot?

        Reply
  15. Best Beach in Tulum/Taxis

    We stay 3 nights in Cancun before coming to Tulum to stay at Ana Y Jose. We would like to explore the full stretch of beach along Tulum’s coast. where is the best swimming and the best sand in Tulum? And how hard is it to get taxis into Tulum? I’ve been told you sometimes need to walk up to Zamas to get a taxi, is this true? How much is a taxi from Cancun beach to Tulum?

    Reply
    1. Dave

      The beach south of the ruins is great (around El Paraiso) and then the stretch further south where most of the hotels are (starting just north of Ana y Jose and all the way south for several miles – all great beach). Ana y Jose has a great beach club on the sand but if you’re looking for a different destination ride a bike south to OM – good restaurant, great beach. Taxis are easy to find along the hotel strip but you can get caught in traffic and just sit there without moving for 5, 10, 15 minutes. Walking a bit north (towards town) isn’t a bad idea but I wouldn’t say you “have to” walk to Zamas. If you’re only going as far as Mateo’s or Zamas then just ride your bike – no taxi necessary.

      Reply
  16. Tulum Bikes/Rentals/Transfers

    Hello Dave…
    First of thank you for all your amazing info. My husband and I are traveling to Tulum October 23-29. Our first visit to this area. We have traveled several times to the PDC area, and always have sayed at an all- inclusive resort. This time we are booked at CalaLuna on the north end of the beach. Our first time to a Eco resort. I’m very excited. I really want this trip to be low key, and live like a local if that’s possible. When I booked our trip I included a car. The more I think about it, I’m not sure if I want to mess with having one. Especially reading on traffic issues. IF you can, please tell me what transfer you would recommend, and approximately how much that would cost us. The bike rentals sound great. If we want to go a bit further, we can call a cab. Also, how much money would you exchange at the airport to get us started. I really don’t want to running to the bank machine to much.
    Thanks, Becci Schutte

    Reply
    1. Dave

      The Cataluna is a cool hotel (formerly Cabanas la Conchita) with a great location. Check out Zamas and Matteos – a very short walk away, good food, live music most nights. Getting into town is a 15 minute bike ride and you can rent bikes either from your hotel or several others just out the door. There’s also a small market nearby where you can buy essentials. You’ll love your choice as long as you’re not expecting anything like a all inclusive resort – not sure the current policy but there likely will only be power for a few hours every day (probably from 5 to 10pm). No need to rent a car especially where you’re located. Beach is right there and Tulum ruins are easily reached by bike. I’d probably change $1000 before arriving in Tulum. You can do that at the airport or your bank at home (a little more expensive changing money in the US but not a huge difference in currency rates and fees). At the Cancun airport walk out the doors and get the taxi service to your left (no need to book in advance) – it will cost about $100 from the Cancun airport to Tulum hotels.

      Reply
      1. Where to Buy Alcohol/Airport Transfers

        Thank you Dave :) I think we are going to be happy with our hotel choice. I think there will be pretty much everything we will need to grab very close to us. What about alcoholic drinks? Are they sold at the little convience stores? I understand the Calaluna provides coolers for drinks ect.

        I read somewhere that the cenots may close to the public soon, is this true? I hope not, we would really like to see the area.

        On transfers, I was checking the difference between a shared van v/s a cab. Big difference in price, my guess is we will get to our hotel faster in a cab. One review mentioned making sure we have a set price from the cab driver, so they won’t take advantage of us. Have you ever experienced this?

        Thank you again… Becci

        Reply
        1. Dave

          Beer and alcohol are available at the couple of little stores along the beach. For cheaper prices and more selection go to the Chedraui grocery store – about 5 minutes by cab or 15 minute bike ride from your hotel. I have not heard about closing of cenotes – hope that doesn’t happen. There are thousands of them so I bet there will always be something accessible. The shared van would stop at a number of different hotels along the way, so yes this can take a lot longer. You pay for the taxi at the airport before you get in the cab. But yes, on any other trip you should agree on a price before you get in.

          Reply
  17. Grand Bahia Principe Tulum

    Hi Dave, great info. Prior to seeing your site we made reservations and have already paid for our stay at Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, any advise while we are there? Travelling in mid march. Never been to the area or even mexico before.

    Tim

    Reply
    1. Dave

      The Grand Bahia Principe Tulum is not in Tulum. It’s about 15 miles north of Tulum (and the ruins) and 30 miles from Playa del Carmen. If you like resorts then you’ll be impressed by the GBP – but, you know, it’s a resort, so you’re not getting a lot of character or seeing Mexico. Try to get to Coba (the ancient Mayan city), Tulum town (to walk around, shop, eat dinner), Tulum beach (the best in the area – lots of restaurants along the beach will let you use their beach chairs when you eat and buy drinks – OM Tulum is a good one), and swim in a cenote or two (there are many close to the resort or head towards Tulum for more choice).

      Reply
  18. Rental in Tulum

    Hi Dave. This is the best info I have found on Tulum! Thanks. Hey we are coming there is Oct with 5 close friends and we are thiniking about renting and Air Bnb instead of hotels. Any advice on this? We love being part of local culture and not shut off in a tourist enclave/ resort.
    April

    Reply
    1. Dave

      I think it’s a great option. But it is different. It’s not a hotel which can be both good and bad. You usually don’t just show up and walk into reception. You have to organize when and where to meet – which is often very easy but it does have to be arranged. When something goes wrong you have to know how to contact the owner – not just walk downstairs. And rentals are typically not any cheaper than hotels for what you get. But that said, it is a great way to get outside the tourist bubble. I’ve had good experiences whenever I’ve used AirBnb. Most accommodations are in Tulum town but there are a few rentals out by the beach.

      Reply
      1. April

        Thanks so much for your response. We have rented vacation rental houses a lot in the states so we are familiar with the various aspects of them. I think we decided it would be best to have a hotel by the beach for 2 nights when we first arrive and then an AirBnB for the next 5 days in town so we have time to work out the logistics. Thanks again.

        Reply
  19. Renting Bikes vs Taking Taxis/ Getting to and from Biosphere

    Great info you have shared !! The wife and I have been staying in Akumal the last couple of years. We rent a villa there for 10 days or so. Last year we decided on taking the colectivo to Tulum beach for a day trip. Loved it so much we did it again and did the bar hopping along the beach. Any rate we are going back this May for 10 days and we are staying at “The Beach”. Of all the places we visited during the day we liked Ziggy’s and The Beach. We are pretty out going and I have worked internationally for many years. We like to do as “locals” do when it comes to eating etc.
    Would you suggest getting bicycles over just taking a cab to town from Ziggy’s? I can see us hanging out in town a day or two but 2 bikes will be around 20 bucks a day plus I have to pedal…do you know what the current cab rate is to town from Ziggy’s? Thinking it will be just as cheap without the worry of having to return before dark. What are you thoughts?
    Another question is how would we be able to go to the biosphere to hang out on beach? We do not want to rent a car and deal with that. Can a cab take you there? How the hell would you get back ???
    Any suggestions for this 10 day trip to Tulum would be greatly appreciated !!

    Kenny Barkley

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Yes, if you’re just comparing one return bike trip to one return taxi trip per day and basing expenses on that it’s pretty comparable. But you’ll likely use the bike many times throughout the day zipping here and there. It’s a lot of fun, especially when the traffic on the beach road backs up and you zoom by on your bike.

      If you did take a taxi to the biosphere then you’d need to hire it for the day/morning/afternoon. A tour would probably be your best bet. Check out Community Tours – they have an office in downtown Tulum. Tours are pretty small and not the huge bus tours you’d get from a resort.

      Reply
      1. Kenny Barkley

        Thanks for the info. I guess we will do both some. Cab if we are going to be after dark and bike during the day. On the Biosphere we were not looking at going with any group, just ourselves to explore the beach for the day.
        I know this has been asked a thousand times but…..where is the best exchange rate when changing money? I have done it at the airport ATM and bank at home in the states. Both comparable. I now have a American Express card that does not charge an extra fee for foreign exchange. We usually do the airport because of convenience.
        This is def the best site for info. Thanks for putting this up !

        Reply
        1. Dave

          We usually get a little at home before we arrive and then use an ATM to get more when we’re there. And I agree, there’s not much of a difference. Not sure how your AMEX will work in practice (I imagine there will still be bank fees related to the ATM) but that sounds like the best route. There are HSBC and Scotiabank ATMs in town and a bunch of independent ATMs scattered around the town and beach.

          The biggest difference money wise is be sure to pay in pesos whenever you can (and not simply not-exchange your money and pay in dollars – you nearly always get a terrible exchange rate when you pay in dollars).

          Reply
          1. Kenny Barkley

            We have been to mexico 6 times in the past 4 years and you are right. The most important thing to do is use Peso’s and not dollars. On small roadside places etc it is usually rounded to 10 Peso’s to the dollar. Easy to count that way. Use Peso’s for everything. Makes it easy on them also to use peso’s. Thanks again !!

  20. How To Save Money in Tulum?

    Best site I’ve seen for Tulum, thanks!

    My fiancé and I are leaving next week for our 2nd Tulum trip and want to be more conscious about spending $ this time. Last year we stayed at a great beachfront hotel with a great restaurant and basically never left that spot. It was fantastic but we spent way too much $. We used a credit card for everything. I recently read that if you use a credit card at these hotels you actually end up paying 20% more than if you use cash, a jacked up exchange rate. Do you know anything about this?

    Any advice on how to keep our costs down would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

    Anikka

    Reply
    1. Dave

      5 Ways to save money in Tulum:
      • Stay in town – hotels are much cheaper, food is much cheaper, still fun biking to the beach every day.
      • Even if you’re not staying in town, try to eat in town. The riddle is that most people will take a taxi into town which cuts into your savings, but if you can share a taxi or bike into town then you’ll find very inexpensive food. When in doubt, eat tacos.
      • Use booking.com to find the cheapest hotel rates.
      • Negotiate everything. Never get in a taxi without deciding on a price first.
      • Pay in pesos, not dollars (not just hotels, restaurants and shops too).

      Reply
  21. Derek

    Great list! Thanks for putting this together. We opted for an airbnb joint over a hotel… look forward to exploring this March and will provide feedback.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Look forward to hearing back from you. Just wish AirBnb had more listings for Tulum beach area – they’re mainly in town, I believe.

      Reply
  22. Tulum Town or Beach

    We have ten days in Tulum and are trying to decide whether to spend all of our time at beach hotel or split our time and spend 3 days in Tulum town. Any thoughts.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      I love both though they have a very different feel (as you’d expect). The beach area is spread along 5+ kms of beach road with hotels on one side (along the beach) and in some places there are restaurants and small shops on the other side, in other places there’s nothing but forest/jungle. Everything is very spread out. If you’re walking you might have only 4 or 5 restaurants within a 15 minute walk from your hotel.

      The town is filled with restaurants, cafes, and shops. Most hotels in town are budget or mid-range. On our most recent trip we stayed in town and took bikes to the beach every day. It’s about a 20 to 40 minute ride depending on where you stop and how fast you go. I did it with my boys (ages 8 and 11) and wife and we had no problems. It’s an easy, flat ride. (Obviously you can take taxis to and from the beach too. They’re cheap and plentiful.)

      So doing both would probably be great for you. I’m hesitant to say that with more certainty as I think for some people they would be disappointed with staying in the town. But if you love Mexican food, are into riding bikes to the beach, and don’t mind staying in a non-luxury hotel then you’ll probably love staying in town.

      Reply
  23. When Should I Book Hotels

    We will be visiting Tulum in early July. When should we book hotels? Do rates increase or decrease over time?

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Book hotels as soon as possible. The best rooms get booked, the rooms with the best rates get booked. I recommend using booking.com and they won’t have hotels more than 10 or 11 months in advance (which doesn’t apply here) but other than that book as early as you can.

      Reply
  24. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum?

    We have 2 weeks and are flying from New York to Cancun. We are trying to decide where to stay, whether to move around or find a base, and where that base should be. We do not want an over active vacation but we do want to see some of the historical sights and those cenotes look great.

    1) What beach town would you recommend, Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum?
    2) What’s the best way to get from the Cancun airport to these beach towns?
    3) Which one of these 3 towns has the best beach?

    Thanks,
    Elsie

    Reply
    1. Dave

      1) I far prefer Tulum to either PDC or Cancun. PDC has a spring-break party feel. I don’t dislike it but a few days there is as much as I can take. Cancun is largely mega-resorts and all inclusives. The beach is great but it lacks a town or center along the beach (where the hotels are located). Tulum has a very different feel than both. It’s got a very relaxed atmosphere, bike is one of the main forms of transport, and the hotels are small boutique or family-owned. The beach is also great.
      2) Taxi is the best way to get to and from the airport. There are shuttles that are cheaper for a single traveler. But for 2 or more people the shuttles aren’t much cheaper (and you likely will have to make stops at other hotels). Booking in advance isn’t necessary. Just walk out the Arrivals door after you pass customs and queue for a taxi. There is usually a wait but not terribly long.
      3) All have really good beaches. It’s more what’s behind the beach that is different. At Cancun you have giant hotels fronting the beach. In PDC the town is right on the beach and there are bars and a few hotels (and the beach area is quite active and busy). In Tulum there are low-rise hotels and restaurants spread along the length of the beach. It’s never too busy in any one spot but not deserted either. There are far fewer hawkers in Tulum too.

      Reply

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