Updated: September 26, 2015
“The Yucatan is statistically as safe as Finland.” – The Economist
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Tips and Recommendations
- Tulum has the best beach along the Yucatan coast.
- Book far in advance for the best hotels on the Tulum beach.
- High season is December, January, July, and August when it’s even more important to find hotels early.
- Tulum does not have any mega-resorts or all-inclusives. The places listed below are small boutique-style hotels with lots of character.
- The food in and around Tulum is amazing and one of the highlights of the town.
- If you’re worried about the seaweed on the Yucatan coast then Tulum is a better choice than Cancun because there’s so much more to do here (swim in cenotes, boat tours of Sian Ka’an Biosphere, swim with turtles in nearby Akumal, great Mexican food in Tulum Pueblo).
- Tulum is great for families. These are my favorite hotels for kids in Tulum.
The 12 Best Hotels in Tulum
The hotels below are ordered by location starting from the north end of the beach road (closest to Tulum town) and moving south. All of these hotels are walking distance to several restaurants and biking distance to town.
- Hotel Posada • moderate • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-806-4505
- Zamas Hotel • moderate • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-877-8523
- Amansala • luxury • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984 100 0717
- Playa Kin Ha • moderate • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-871-2321
- Retiro Maya Tulum • moderate • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-143-1365
- My Way Luxury Resort • luxury • Check Prices
Hotel phone: ++52 984-143-1365
- Ana y Jose Charming Hotel and Spa • luxury • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 998-880-6022
- The Beach Tulum (Ziggy’s) • luxury • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-873-1223
- Villa Las Estrellas • luxury • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-879-0772
- Alaya Tulum by Ahau • luxury • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984 108 2127
- Playa Mambo Eco Cabanas • moderate • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-803-2144
- OM Tulum Cabañas and Beach Club • moderate • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-157-7903
- Be Tulum Beach & Spa Resort • luxury • Check Prices
Hotel phone: +52 984-803-2243
The Best Restaurants in Tulum
- Best Italian Restaurant in Tulum: Posada Margherita (Beach Road). Delicious. The best pasta in town.
- 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.
- 2nd Best Tacos in Tulum (In Town). Delicious pastor tacos. Across the street from the Scotia Bank, you can’t miss it.
- Best Restaurant at Tulum Beach: Hartwood (Beach Road). Very popular and widely regarded as the best restaurant in the area. Reservations are taken in person after 3pm for the coming evening. Good pics of Hartwood.
- Best Pizza in Tulum: La Onda (Beach Road). Delicious wood oven pizza. The dessert pizza with Nutella is not bad either.
- Best Vegan Restaurant in Tulum: Restaurare (Beach Road). The best vegetarian choice around.
- Best Fish Tacos in Tulum: El Capitan (In Town)
- Best Steak Restaurant in Tulum: La Estancia (in Town). An Argentinian restaurant with a very fun atmosphere.
- 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.
- 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. Live music many nights here and across the road at Zamas.
- Best Steak Restaurant at the Beach: Casa Banana. (Beach Road)
- Best Coffee in Tulum: Ki ‘book (In town). Great espresso and insanely friendly staff.
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.
- Ana y Jose is the best hotel in Tulum and is located on the beach.
- 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 (from the beach, as the bike path starts) 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. The bike ride from the beach to town takes 20 to 35 minutes depending on where you’re staying along the beach road.
- 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 Gran 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 the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Coba, Chitchen Itza, Aktun Chen (underwater cave and cenote with swimming and ziplines) and the enchanting town of Vallodolid.
- The best tours for Sian Ka’an are Community Tours, Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CESiaK), and Yucatan Outdoors. All do small guided tours of the reserve.
- 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.
- And the sand in Tulum is wonderful.
- 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.
- Pastor is slow cooked pork that is shaved off directly into a taco.
- The pastor tacos from Antojitos. These are my sons – OK, the kid likes the tomatillo sauce.
- 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.)
- Mexican soups are awesome and often overlooked. If you see soup on the menu, order it.
- Chilaquiles are common breakfast food in Mexico and delicious. Usually cheaper than ordering western food too.
- Eating lunch or dinner on the beach is a highlight of staying in Tulum.
- 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).
- But home-made style treats are also popular and very tasty.
- Breakfast on the 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. If you need a better quality bike, trailers, baby carriers, or scooters then try iBikeTulum. If you book in advance they’ll even deliver the bikes to you at your hotel.
- Bike’s can be rented at the beach as well.
- The bike path between Tulum town and the beach.
- Bikes are everywhere in and around town.
- Hotels and restaurants in Tulum have bike parking. Cool.
- If you do only one thing during your time in Tulum visit a cenote. This is the Gran Cenote and only about 5 minutes outside of Tulum. Take your own mask and snorkel. There are lockers and restrooms at the Gran 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.
- Cenote’s are collapsed sinkholes that expose fresh water below.
- Day Trip from Tulum: Chichen Itza.
- 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.
- At Coba you can climb the pyramid. (You can’t at Chichen Itza.)
- The Coba ruins cover a large area and bikes are a fun way to get to the different sights.
- 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.
- Cenote in downtown Vallodolid. Great for cliff jumping.
- There are several other cenotes within biking distance of downtown. Pictured is Samula. X’Keken cenote is directly across the road.
- The taco stand located on this corner in Vallodolid is the best in the Yucatan.
- Hotel Casa Quetzal is a great boutique hotel and the best place to stay in Vallodolid.
- El Fogon is the best restaurant in Playa del Carmen. Expect lineups and great food.
- Bank machines are found everywhere in Tulum, both at the beach and in town. These bank machines are at the bus station.
- It’s easy to bike along the beach road I find your favorite spot.
- This is one of the few convenience stores along the beach road. Located at Playa Mambo hotel.
- The 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.
- La Zebra is a kid-friendly restaurant and hotel with a beautiful beach and play area along the beach.
- Las Tres Palmas is a great budget hotel in Tulum Town (Pueblo). Good location, large rooms (good for families), and friendly owners.