The Ultimate Travel Guide to Tulum

Updated: February, 2015

“Yucatán, the quietest state, 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.
  • The beach in Tulum is amazing. One of the best along the Yucatan coast and the sand is as nice as anywhere I’ve ever been.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Vallodolid Day Trip from 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.
    Snorkeling in the Grand Cenote.
  • Cenote’s are collapsed sinkholes that expose fresh water below.
    Gran Cenote near Tulum
  • 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 bike path between Tulum town and the beach.
    The bike path between Tulum town and beach.
  • Bike’s can be rented at the beach as well.
    Bike rental on Tulum Beach.
  • Bikes are everywhere in and around town.
    Downtown Tulum
  • 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

19 questions and comments

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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 !!

  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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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