Tulum Travel Guide – Updated for 2019

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: August 6, 2019

The 87 best hotels, restaurants, shops, nightlife, cenotes, beaches, tours, neighborhoods, and things to do in Tulum, Mexico.

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Tulum Hotels

1. Mezzanine Hotel • North Beach Zone • $$$$

Luxe, oceanfront, boutique hotel with a pool and Thai restaurant. Rooms and suites all come with yoga mats, minibars, and daily delivery of coffee and tea; master suites add soaking tubs and large private terraces overlooking the beach. Located just a few steps from one of Tulum’s best beaches and a short bike ride from the ruins. • Hotel phone: +52 984 131 1596.

2. Jashita Hotel • Soliman Bay, north of North Beach Zone • $$$$

Family-friendly, luxury boutique hotel on a semi-private beach. Jashita Hotel features 3 pools, beachfront service, a Mexican-Italian fusion restaurant, and a spa with shaman ceremonies. All rooms have king-sized beds and private terraces; top tier suites add private pools. The hotel sits on Soliman Bay near Casa Cenote and about 10 km north of the Tulum ruins. • Hotel phone: +52 984 875 4158.

3. Casa Malca • South Beach Zone • $$$$

Stylish hotel with 2 pools, 3 restaurants, and an upscale beach club. Junior and master suites are all spacious and private, while the entire property is filled with contemporary art and eclectic decor. The hotel is family-friendly throughout the year, except for the weeks surrounding New Year’s Eve when it becomes adults-only during Tulum’s EDM festivals. Located on a sandy beach just a 10-minute walk to amazing restaurants and Sian Ka’an Biosphere. • Hotel phone: +52 984 167 7154.

4. La Valise Tulum • South Beach Zone • $$$$

An upscale beachfront hotel with 2 plunge pools and 24-hour air conditioning (a rare luxury in the beach zone). La Valise’s onsite restaurant serves breakfast and lunch on the beach, while their sister restaurant serves Mexican fine dining in the evening under the jungle canopy. The hotel sits on a quiet stretch of wide, sandy beach just a short walk to amazing restaurants, nightlife, yoga studios, and spas. • Hotel phone: +1 305 999 1540.

5. La Zebra • South Beach Zone • $$$$

Perfect for families, this beachfront boutique hotel offers a rooftop infinity pool, luxury spa, and a playground. Suites are designed for up to 4 with a king bed and twin trundle beds; the best suites add private plunge pools. Every Sunday, La Zebra hosts a kid-friendly salsa night with free lessons, an open dancefloor, and a live band.

6. Coral Tulum • Middle Beach Zone • $$$$

Luxury beach hotel with huge rooms, all featuring private plunge pools. Coral’s onsite restaurant offers a blend of Mayan, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine, highlighting local, organic ingredients served in their charming dining area or on the beach. Great restaurants are just a short walk or bike ride away. • Hotel phone: +52 998 880 5629.

7. Ahau Tulum • Middle Beach Zone • $$$$

Ahau offers the quintessential Tulum experience: an outstanding wellness and yoga program, funky-chic rooms, and a sandy beach with a kitesurfing school. The hotel’s restaurants offer fantastic vegan and meat menus with fresh ingredients grown by local, Mayan farmers. Located near many of Tulum’s best restaurants and nightlife. • Hotel phone: +52 984 147 5225.

8. Nômade Tulum • South Beach Zone • $$$$

Eclectic, Bohemian, boutique hotel with air-conditioned tents, suites, and villas, many with private pools and outdoor showers. Their yoga and wellness program is steeped in Mayan traditions with healing rituals and shaman ceremonies. Food is healthy and delicious at both Macondo (vegan/vegetarian) and La Popular (seafood) restaurants. Nômade sits right on the beach about a 10-minute walk to Sian Ka’an Biosphere. • Hotel phone: +52 984 803 2243.

9. Una Vida Tulum • Pueblo • $$$

The most luxurious hotel in the Pueblo, Una Vida features a refreshing pool, daytime restaurant, and free bicycles. Large suites offer up to 3 bedrooms and sleep up to 8 guests; all studios and suites have kitchenettes and outdoor showers or bathtubs. Private dining, tequila/mezcal tastings, and in-room yoga/massage sessions are available on request. • Hotel phone: +52 984 240 5231.

10. Cabañas La Luna • Middle Beach Zone • $$$

Rustic, Robinson Crusoe-style boutique hotel right on the beach. Family-friendly suites offer up to 2 bedrooms, while the villa features 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, and a private pool. Dining is wonderful at their Mexican-Mediterranean fusion restaurant Las Estrellas. Great spot near restaurants, beach clubs, and 2 kiteboarding schools. • Hotel phone: +52 984 146 7737.

11. Sueños Tulum • South Beach Zone • $$$

Mayan-themed, eco-friendly hotel with a pool, yoga studio, and restaurant. All suites feature private decks with hammocks, while the penthouse adds a stone jacuzzi. Sueños sits on a quiet stretch of beach, surrounded by beach clubs and restaurants, just a short bike-ride to Sian Ka’an. • Hotel phone: +52 984 119 3484.

12. Playa Mambo Eco Cabanas •South Beach Zone • $$

Low-key, family-friendly hotel with double and triple rooms plus 2 palapa bungalows just steps from the ocean. The restaurant offers Mexican favorites and cocktails all day. Friendly service and a wonderful location near restaurants, nightlife, and yoga retreats. • Hotel phone: +52 984 185 3403.

Tulum Restaurants

13. Hartwood • Middle Beach Zone • $$$$

Hartwood is Tulum’s premier, fine dining restaurant. Each evening a new dinner menu highlights seasonal produce from local, Mayan farms along with sustainably caught seafood cooked over an open flame. This off-grid restaurant offers open air seating and is lit by candlelight only. Dinner only; open Wednesdays through Sundays. Reservations are accepted one month in advance by email ([email protected]). • Map • +52 555 202 0030.

14. Arca • Middle Beach Zone • $$$$

An upscale, farm-to-table restaurant on the jungle side of Tulum’s beach road, Arca offers an ever-changing selection of local meat, seafood, and produce all cooked over a fire. Recipes draw from local Mayan traditions and contemporary techniques. Dinner only; open Tuesdays through Sundays; reservations recommended. • Map • +52 984 111 5379.

15. Cetli • Pueblo • $$$

Serving elevated, traditional Mexican cuisine in an art-filled hacienda, Cetli is the best restaurant in the Pueblo. Mole (the sauce, not the animal) is the specialty here, with several varieties all prepared in pre-Hispanic style with fresh, local ingredients ground with a metate stone. The restaurant is open all day, but dinner service is when the restaurant shines. Reservations are recommended for dinner but are not necessary during the day. • Map • +52 984 108 0681.

16. Safari • Middle Beach Zone and Aldea Zama • $$

Campfire cuisine with an innovative, rustic menu and open-air seating in the jungle. Safari serves Yucatecan-Mexican dishes all prepared in an airstream trailer kitchen and cooked outside over a fire pit. The food pairs perfectly with their signature cocktails, Mexican craft beers, and aguas frescas. The beach location is the original restaurant, but they have recently opened a second spot in Aldea Zama. The Aldea Zama spot is indoors, but the food is still fire-cooked. The beach location is open for lunch and dinner, cash only. Aldea Zama adds a breakfast service and accepts credit cards. • Beach Map • Aldea Zama Map • +52 984 745 2340.

17. La Gloria de Don Pepe • Pueblo • $$

Cozy tapas restaurant serving Spanish-Mediterranean fare and excellent wines. La Gloria is best loved for their their paella (takes about 30 minutes, so order appetizers for the wait), though their fideuà (seafood pasta), chistorra sausage, and various tapas are all amazing. Lively atmosphere in the evenings. Open for lunch and dinner; cash only. • Map • +52 984 152 4471.

18. Mateos • Beach Town • $$

Four-story, treehouse-style bar and grill with live music almost every night of the week. The top floor bar is one of the the best sunset viewpoints on the beach as it sits above the jungle tree line; another lounge terrace is filled with hammocks. Great fish tacos, ceviche, cocktails, and a fun atmosphere, though the menu overall is a tad Americanized and overpriced. • Map • +52 984 179 4160.

19. Clan-Destino • Middle Beach Zone • $

24-hour hamburger restaurant and bar set in the jungle with a private cenote. The simple menu offers meat or veggie burgers, strong cocktails, and beer. Virgin Cenote at the restaurant’s heart is illuminated at night by a chandelier and supposedly restores the virginity of anyone who swims in it. Offering a jukebox, karaoke, and live music, this casual spot offers a fantastic break from the chichi restaurants lining the beach. • Map • +52 984 169 5353.

20. El Asadero • Pueblo • $$

El Asadero is the best steakhouse in Tulum, offering perfectly cooked cuts, a romantic ambiance, and live music nightly. The house specialty is arrachera (marinated skirt steak) served with chorizo, potatoes, and grilled cactus. Open for dinner only; reservations recommended. • Map • +52 984 157 8998.

21. Casa Banana • South Beach Zone • $$$

This upscale, Argentine restaurant is the best steakhouse in the beach zone. The stars of the menu are the flame-grilled steaks and homemade chorizo along with a selection of smoky, mezcal-based cocktails and local beer. The restaurant is open all day, though dinner is their strong point. • Map • +52 984 806 2871.

22. NÜ Restaurant • South Beach Zone • $$$$

Contemporary, upscale Mexican restaurant in a stylish, jungle setting. The menu focuses on traditional ingredients with a modern spin; all dishes are prepared with care and artistry. NÜ is ideal for romantic occasions and special celebrations. Dinner only; reservations strongly recommended. • Map • +52 558 060 2747.

23. Posada Margherita • Middle Beach Zone • $$$$

Posada Margherita is a picturesque, beachfront Italian restaurant. All pasta is made to order by hand, the pizza is a family recipe passed on through the generations, and a the well-curated wine list changes regularly. The restaurant is open all day, though the lunch/dinner menu is best. Cash only; no reservations. • Map • +52 786 472 3438.

24. El Vegetariano Mar y Tierra • Pueblo • $$

Fantastic vegetarian and vegan restaurant on a little side street in the heart of the Pueblo. El Vegetariano serves a Mexican-international menu, with especially great falafel, burgers, stuffed chilis, and vegan ice cream. Open all day long. • Map • +52 985 108 0530.

Tulum Tacos

25. Taqueria El Carboncito • Pueblo • $

The best pastor tacos in Tulum, though their chorizo and beef tacos and tortas are also stellar. Order the tacos con piña (with pineapple) and with a glass of jamaica (sweet hibiscus tea) or horchata (sweet cinnamon rice drink). This super casual, affordable, open-air restaurant is popular with locals and travelers alike, so there is often a wait for a table. Ordering to go is often faster. • Map • +52 984 256 6451.

26. Los Antojitos la Chiapaneca • Pueblo • $

Amazing street tacos for only 10 pesos each (15 pesos with cheese), plus killer empanadas, panuchos, and salbutes. This bustling little snack shack offers covered or outdoor seating, but it’s always packed, so be ready for a wait or order to go. Hours vary, but Los Antojitos la Chiapaneca is usually open after 5:00 p.m. Cash only. • Map • +52 984 112 3249.

27. Tacos y Tortas El Tio • Pueblo • $

Fantastic little street vendor with cheap, delicious tacos, tortas, and gringas. There are only 5 chairs around the countertop at this popular spot, so plan on taking everything to go. The cart parks in front of the Oxxo at the intersection of Avenida Tulum and Calle Geminis Sur. Cash only. Nights only, usually on the weekend. • Map

28. Charly’s Vegan Tacos • South Beach Zone • $

Outstanding taco shop on the jungle side of the beach road serving a mouthwatering range of 100% vegan tacos and snacks. The mock meats are especially well-done – hearty and flavorful enough to satisfy meat-eaters (especially the porkless cracklings), while their spin on guacamole, Guaca-Mango, is legendary. Charly’s charming setting with hanging lights and candles under a canopy of palm trees give this the best atmosphere of any taco shop in Tulum. • Map • +52 998 102 0523.

29. Taqueria Honorio • Pueblo • $

Semi-famous, family-run taco stand serving tacos and tortas stuffed with Yucatecan specialties, including conchinita pibil, lechón al horno, poc chuc, relleno negro, and more. Seating is at the small bar in front of the cart, plus there are a few long tables and plastic chairs under a tent. Honorio’s tacos are in high demand, so expect to wait and to pay a little more than at other taquerias in the Pueblo. Open from 6:00 a.m. until they run out of food, usually around 1:00 or 1:30 p.m. Cash only. • Map • +52 998 102 0523.

30. Burrito Amor • Pueblo • $$

OK, burritos aren’t tacos, but Burrito Amor offers an outstanding menu featuring homemade tortillas (flour, gluten-free, or grain-free) filled with delicious stuffings (meat, vegetarian, vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, or paleo-friendly fillings). With a focus on clean eating, this restaurant serves fresh, healthy meals that still deliver a ton of flavor. There is also a full bar boasting a variety of signature cocktails, plus aguas frescas, coffee, and fresh juices. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. • Map • +52 984 160 2989.

Tulum Cafes, Bakeries, and Sweets

31. Ki’bok Coffee • Pueblo • $$

The best coffee in Tulum. Ki’bok’s signature espresso drink, the Hemingway, is their version of a cortado, though the iced latte is their most popular order. For breakfast, try the huevos rancheros or the divorced eggs (cooked in two different salsas). Ki’bok has a walk-up bar under a thatched awning and a covered garden out back open all day. At night the rooftop bar opens with wonderful cocktails, music, and a chilled out vibe. • Map • +52 984 135 9509.

32. Campanella Creamerie • Pueblo • $

Outstanding gelateria and cafe known for their gelato-topped Belgian waffles. The gelato itself is top-notch, on par with the best in Italy – ask for the hazlenut or pineapple basil. Great coffee and sandwiches, too. Open until 11:00 p.m., but arrive early before they start running out of flavors. • Map • +52 984 871 2992.

33. Del Cielo • Pueblo • $$

The best brunch spot in the Pueblo. Del Cielo serves up a full menu of local, organic Mexican, Carribean, and international dishes all with picture-perfect presentation. Famous for their breakfast and brunches (especially the tartine and French toast), Del Cielo has recently added a dinner service with handcrafted cocktails and a Mexican-Mediterranean menu. • Map • +52 984 160 0770.

34. Raw Love • Middle Beach Zone • $$

Stylish, raw vegan restaurant serving a gourmet menu of gluten-free superfoods in a boho setting with a rope swing, hammocks, and a sandy floor. Menu standouts include the açai bowl and raw pad thai. The restaurant is located inside Ahau Tulum’s property where the jungle and beach meet. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. • Map • +52 984 130 2013.

35. Tunich • Beach Town • $$

The best breakfast and brunch on the beach road. Tunich boasts a solid menu of brunch and lunch items all day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The menu features Mexican favorites, like chilaqueles and breakfast burritos, alongside stellar eggs benedict, pancakes, and French toast. Hearty portions are served up in a friendly, casual atmosphere. • Map • +52 984 112 1335.

36. El Gourmet • Pueblo • $$

A charming little cafe with fantastic veggie and meat paninis, great coffee, fresh juice, and rich desserts. El Gourmet bakes their bread fresh daily, and all paninis can be made with focaccia on request (you can also order bread on its own to go). Salads are made with high-quality, fresh, local produce and cheeses. The dining patio sits in a cheerful garden with rows of rainbow umbrellas overhead. • Map • +52 984 202 7048.

37. La Fourneé • Pueblo • $

The best bakery in Tulum. La Fournee offers a wide selection of French pastries, breads, and cakes. They also offer all-day dining on their back patio with an especially great brunch and lunch menu of crepes, sammies, salads, and great espresso drinks. Open all day, usually into the late evening. • Map • +52 984 130 9928.

38. Panna e Cioccolato • Pueblo • $

Sweet little gelato shop with a range of traditional Italian and signature Mexican flavors, served in fresh, handmade waffle cones. Not much seating, so plan to take it for a stroll. Two locations in the Pueblo, both on Avenida Tulum, open all day until 11:30 p.m. •  Map of the western location • Map of the eastern location • +52 984 140 9531.

Tulum Bars and Nightlife

39. Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar • Pueblo • $$

Batey is the heart of the Pueblo’s nightlife. The bar is known for their hand-crafted mojitos made with fresh sugarcane juice pressed in a converted VW bug. Live music most nights. Tacos and tapas are on the trendy/expensive side. The bar gets packed at night but is more relaxed during the day. On Tulum’s weekly party rotation, Batey is the place to be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. • Map • +52 984 745 4571.

40. Casa Jaguar • Middle Beach Zone • $$$

Chic Carribean restaurant and bar with a boutique and chai house attached. Casa Jaguar is Tulum’s hot spot on Thursday nights with jungle parties on their sexy, candlelit back terrace, featuring local and international DJs with dancing from 11:00 p.m. into the wee hours. Thursday is the main party night here, but they also host jungle parties on Tuesdays and select Saturdays. • Map • +52 984 202 2464.

41. Gitano • Middle Beach Zone • $$$

Contemporary Mexican restaurant in the front and mezcal bar in the back, located on the jungle side of the beach road. Gitano is the place to be on Friday nights, with DJ sets, dancing, and drinks – the signature cocktails are slow to make but worth the wait. Gitano opens for dinner nightly at 6:00; reservations strongly recommended. Fridays and Saturdays are lively DJed dance nights starting at 11:00; Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays Gitano hosts live music starting earlier in the evening with a more chilled out vibe. • Map • [email protected]

42. Papaya Playa Project • Beach Town • $$$

Papaya Playa Project hosts the biggest, wildest parties in Tulum every Saturday, but their Full Moon Parties are totally over the top, held monthly on the Saturday closest to the full moon with top-name DJs and dancing until 3:00 a.m. or later. Cover charges vary, but expect to pay at least $25 to get in. Parties usually start around 11:00 p.m. but don’t really get going until after midnight. For the major parties (usually in December and January and especially on New Year’s Eve), there can be 1000 to 3000 attendees easily, so buy tickets in advance and arrive early to avoid the line, which can be up to 3 hours long. Groups should consider reserving a table. • Map • WhatsApp: +52 1 984 179 8516.

43. Sunday Salsa Night at La Zebra • South Beach Zone • $

Every week La Zebra Hotel hosts a salsa dance party. Free salsa lessons are held from 6:30 to 7:30, after which a live band takes over and guests can enjoy over 3 hours of dancing. The main restaurant and bar remain open for drinks during the party, but the best drinks are found at their beach bar The Mulberry Project, serving handcrafted signature cocktails with mezcal, tequila, and rum. No cover charge; family friendly. • Map • +52 1 984 115 4726.

44. Kin Toh • Beach Town • $$$$

Kin Toh is by far the best looking restaurant in Tulum, but the food is for adventurous eaters only. However, the bar/shisha lounge is cool as fuck: outstanding mixology, sultry ambiance, treehouse design, and sunset views over the jungle canopy. The layout features outdoor “nests” above the treeline and indoor islands of oversized papasan-like tables. Between the tables are catamaran nets suspended in the air and covered in pillows for lounging. Reservations recommended for sunsets, dining, or groups but not necessary for visiting the bar. • Map • +52 984 980 0640.

45. Kiki • Pueblo • $

Kiki is the one and only nightclub in Tulum and attracts a good mix of locals and travelers alike, with a crowd that skews young thanks to the nearby hostels. Drinks are strong and affordably priced and the DJs are fantastic. Doors open at midnight, and the party gets going around 1:00ish until 6 or 7 in the morning. Kiki is always open Wednesdays through Saturdays and is sometimes open other days, too (check their Facebook page for updates). Usually no cover charge and often 2 for 1 drinks from midnight until 2:00 a.m. • Map

46. Pasito Tun Tun • Pueblo • $

Awesome little bar specializing in mezcal cocktails plus plenty of well-made classics and a great menu of light bites. The atmosphere is friendly and laid back in the early evenings. After 10:00, Pasito Tun Tun hosts live bands and DJs spinning deep house and electro-cumbia. A popular hangout for locals, expats, and travelers alike. • Map • +52 984 688 8550.

47. I Scream Bar • Middle Beach Zone • $

Combination bar, vegan/gluten-free/sugar-free ice cream shop, and meat and seafood-based taco shop. The specialty of the house are ice cream shots: scoops of their handmade ice cream with tequila or mezcal poured over the top. I Scream Bar is located in a beach-chic shack made of recycled VW bus parts complete with working headlights. Quiet in the day, spirited at night, good vibes anytime. • Map • +52 984 169 5353.

Tulum Shopping

48. Caravana • Middle Beach Zone • $$$$

Chic, Mayan-inspired clothing and accessories with dramatic flair. All items are handcrafted by Mexican artisans in Vallodolid using traditional methods and materials. • Map • +52 985 119 0361.

49. Zak Ik • Beach Town • $$$$

Handmade, jungle-inspired designer clothing and accessories made with fair trade practices and eco-sourced materials. Attached to Azulik Hotel, the boutique features stunning design with footpaths over shallow pools, walls made of woven branches, and soft lighting – more like an art installation than a shop. Definitely worth a look, but be advised they do not allow children at all, no exceptions. • Map • +52 984 236 0935.

50. Josa Tulum • Middle Beach Zone • $$$

Well-known women’s clothing boutique for simple, elegant dresses and accessories. The dresses are all long with caftan-inspired cuts, one-size-fits-all, made of either jersey or chiffon, and designed to effortlessly move from day to evening. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. • Map • +52 984 115 8441

51. La Llorona • Middle Beach Zone • $$

Wonderful artisan boutique jam-packed with clothing, crafts, and decor, all locally made, a lot handmade, and all carefully curated by the artist owners. The traditional Mayan and contemporary Mexican designs feature bright colors and bold patterns. The shop also offers local antiques upstairs. • Map • +52 984 116 3048.

52. Mixik • Pueblo and Beach Town • $$

Fantastic little gift and souvenir shops offering authentic, affordable crafts and trinkets that are 100% made in Mexico. Plenty of beadwork, glass art, embroidery, jewelry, and more. The Pueblo location is the larger of the two with a broader selection. • Pueblo Shop Map • Beach Town Shop Map • +52 984 871 2136.

53. Mr. Blackbird • South Beach Zone • $$$

This small shop offers handmade jewelry (for men and women), sandals, accessories, and home goods. Small production runs and one-of-a-kind pieces are all created by the owners and local artisans in an eclectic, graceful style.
• Map • +52 984 114 3796.

54. teepee • Middle Beach Zone • $$$

In the busy mid-section of the beach road across from Ahau Hotel, there’s a charming boutique in a white teepee. Inside, there is a spare selection of handmade clothing and accessories: caftans and dresses made from re-purposed vintage fabrics, eclectic jewelry, and rustic slippers and sandals. The shop has no name, no phone, and no website. Hours vary, but the boutique is generally open at least from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. • Map

55. Northeast Tulum Shops • Avenida Coba, northeast of the Pueblo • $-$$

Several open-air shops line Avenida Coba on the way to the Cobá ruins, selling rustic-chic home decor, garden furnishing, and art – everything from rough-hewn tables to hanging nest chairs and from brightly painted bathroom sinks and toilets to life-sized Day of the Dead statues. The first of the shops sits about 21 km from the Pueblo in the village Macario Gómez running northeast along the road for about 3 km, ending just outside of the village Franciso Uh May. Most shops here accept cash only. • Map of Starting Point • Map of Ending Point

Tulum Beaches

56. Playa Paraíso • North Beach Zone

Playa Paraíso aka Playa Maya is a white, sandy beach lined with palm trees and a few beach clubs scattered around. Several affordable snorkel tours depart from here throughout the day, no advanced reservations necessary. One of the quieter beaches in Tulum. • Map

57. Tankah Beach • Soliman Bay, north of Tulum

Quiet, well-maintained, white sand beach off the beaten path north of Tulum. Protected by its proximity to the reef and Cozumel Island, Tankah Beach has gentle surf with hardly any waves, perfect for beginning swimmers. The clear waters, coral reef, and native sea turtles make this a popular spot for snorkeling and kayaking. The beach sits on a private road, and even though all beaches in Mexico public, the security team at the entrance may ask where you plan on visiting. Tell them “Chamico’s,” the name of the only beachfront restaurant there. Supposedly 50 pesos for parking, but payment is not always enforced. • Map

58. Akumal Beach • Akumal, north of Tulum

Akumal Beach is a long, wide stretch of white sand fronted by a coral reef and teeming with sea turtles. But this beach has become super popular with tourists and dishonest tour guides trying to scam travelers. For the best chance of seeing the turtles, go before 9:00; the tourist hordes have not arrived yet to kick up sand and scare away the turtles and the tour guides have not shown up yet to try their scams. If arriving later in the day, here’s how it goes down: the guides will say that you have to snorkel in a designated area where they say all the turtles are (not true – the turtles roam free all throughout the bay), that everyone has to wear a life jacket (also not true – that’s only for the corralled area), and they will ask $35 per person for access to this special area (not true – entrance is free if you order anything from one of the restaurants or it’s 50 pesos to enter from the visitors center). The guides will also try to flag cars down at the front parking lot and overcharge for parking. Just ignore them; drive straight past them down the road. Parking here is only 20 pesos per hour, 50 pesos for the day, or free if you eat at a restaurant and use their parking. This all sounds like a hassle, but it’s really not; just ignore anyone trying to sell anything at the entrance. Once on the beach, it’s nice and calm. • Map

59. South Beach • South Beach Zone

The southern end of the South Beach Zone (from about km 8.5 to km 10) offers long, wide stretches of powdery sand and moderate waves. This area has a more relaxed atmosphere and fewer beach vendors than the North and Middle Beach Zones, because, though the South Beach is public, there are no public access points to reach it. Access is gained through the beach clubs and hotels there or by entering from farther north and walking down. For a truly luxurious beach experience, rent a cabana at Casa Malca or Nest’s beach clubs (reservations recommended). For a more low key beach experience, visit Om or Maalix’s Beach Clubs. • Map (starting point) • Map (ending point)

60. Ruins Beach and Santa Fe Beach • North Beach Zone

Just below the Tulum Ruins archaeological zone is a small beach with white sand and crystal blue water (sometimes a little choppy). Though located at the base of Tulum’s most popular attraction, Ruins Beach is surprisingly relaxed. The occasional tour group comes through, but most people just see the beach from the cliffs above. Access to Ruins Beach is gained by entering the archaeological site and taking a wooden stairway down, or strong swimmers can reach it by swimming up from Santa Fe Beach, about 500 meters south. Santa Fe Beach was one of Tulum’s original hangout spots before the tourism boom. Along with soft sand and turquoise water, there are a handful of casual beach clubs and affordable snorkel tours here. • Ruins Beach MapSanta Fe Beach Map

61. Ziggy’s Beach and Coco Tulum Beach • Middle Beach Zone

The Middle Beach Zone is the liveliest part of Tulum’s beachfront, lined with hotels, restaurants, beach clubs, and bars. This long, uninterrupted stretch of sugary white sand with turquoise water and moderate waves is considered one beach with no particular name. The best 2 spots to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea in the
Middle Beach Zone are Ziggy’s Beach and Coco Tulum, both fantastic all-day beach clubs serving top-notch food and drinks with plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas. Ziggy’s is better for families and groups, offering quiet days and live music nightly, while Coco is better for couples and singles, with a more lively vibe and EDM music all day. • Ziggy’s Beach MapCoco Tulum Map

Tulum Cenotes and Lagoons

62. Cenotes Dos Ojos • Tankah, northeast of Tulum • $$$

A visit to Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) is a must when in Tulum. The cenote group is named for its 2 largest cenotes, the Blue Eye (open-air, crystal blue water, great for snorkeling) and the Black Eye (a pitch black cave, no visibility, dive with flashlights and a guide). These cenotes are part of Sac Actun, the world’s longest underwater cave system. Dos Ojos offers public access to 2 of the 5 total cenotes; a guide is required to visit the other 3. Dos Ojos is expensive compared to other cenotes (350 pesos for the 2 public cenotes; rates vary for snorkeling or diving tours), but it is well worth the cost. • Map

63. Cenote Zacil Ha • Avenida Coba, northwest of Tulum • $

Wonderful, family-centric cenote with a zip line running above it, a snack bar, and 2 pools. This open air cenote is small and only about 3 meters deep, but its zip line and diving platforms make it incredibly fun, popular for local and traveling families alike. There is a small snack bar, though guests may opt to bring their own food. 80 pesos to enter and 10 pesos for a turn on the zip line. • Map

64. Jardin del Eden Cenote • Xpu Ha, northeast of Tulum • $$

Large, gorgeous, open-air cenote surrounded by jungle with blue and turquoise water, some tiny underwater caves, diving platforms, and a few different hangout spots. Popular for diving lessons and snorkeling, though there are not a ton of fish to see. This cenote offers few services, just a small snack bar (or guests can bring food) and restrooms. 200 pesos to enter. • Map

65. Cenotes Cristal y Escondido • Near the Pueblo • $

These 2 open-air cenotes are not as well known as others nearby, so they’re usually pretty quiet. The water is unbelievably clear, since fewer people visit to kick up the sediment. Cenote Cristal is round and wide with a high diving platform; Cenote Escondido is long and skinny, with a rope swing and lots of fish. The 120 peso price includes admission to both cenotes. The main entrance and pay point for both are at Cristal; Escondido is right across the street. Parking is available at either spot. • Map

66. Cenote Chaak Tun • Playa del Carmen • $$$

Spectacular cave system with 2 underground cenotes filled with ancient stalagmites and stalactites. Chaak Tun is only available to visit with a guide. The excursion includes snorkeling in low-lit caverns and pitch black caves (underwater flashlights provided), a shaman’s blessing at a Mayan altar, and a light meal topped off with tequila. The whole tour takes about 2 hours with more than one hour spent in the water. Tours are available in English and Spanish and leave every 30 minutes between 8:00 and 2:30 (the park closes at 4:30). 550 pesos covers the tour, wetsuit, snorkel equipment, and food. • Map

67. Cenote Azul • Xpu Ha, northeast of Tulum • $

Sprawling open-air cenote with sparkling blue water surrounded by lush jungle. Cenote Azul offers shallow and deep pools all connected by little walkways with a few diving platforms scattered around. Most people congregate at the main pool in the center. Several smaller, quieter pools branch out along the pathways, many with shady grottos and tiny fish that nibble people’s toes. Great for snorkeling and swimming for all skill levels. Popular with families. Small store with snacks or BYO. 120 pesos to enter. • Map

68. Casa Cenote (formerly Cenote Manatí) • Tankah, northeast of Tulum • $

A wonderful, open-air cenote with turquoise water, Casa Cenote is popular for swimming, snorkeling and scuba training. This saltwater/freshwater cenote has a current, so it moves like a lazy river, and it’s surrounded by wildlife, including coati, birds, and butterflies. Colorful fish and blue crabs hang out near the mangrove roots. Lucky swimmers may meet Panchito, a small crocodile who lives near the back end of the cenote. Don’t worry; Panchito keeps to himself. 120 pesos to enter, no guide required. There is a security checkpoint on the road in; tell them you are headed to Casa Cenote, and they will let you pass. • Map

69. Cenotes Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multum-Ha • Cobá, northwest of Tulum • $

About 6 km from the Cobá ruins, there are 3 underground cenotes with refreshingly chilly water: Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multum-Ha. Choo-Ha is the most dramatic-loking, filled with stalagmites and stalactites and shallow blue waters. Tamcach-Ha is the deepest and has 2 diving platforms at 5 and 10 meters high; this is the largest and most popular of the 3. Multum-Ha sits farther into the jungle than the others, so it tends to be the quietest with the clearest water. Multum-Ha is an almost perfect dome with a small opening up top that lets hanging vines and a little sunlight through. Each cenote costs 100 pesos to enter. •  Choo-Ha Map •  Tamcach-Ha Map •  Multum-Ha Map

70. Yal Ku Lagoon and Cenote • Akumal, northwest of Tulum • $$

Gorgeous freshwater/saltwater lagoon teeming with parrotfish, angelfish, rays, sea turtles, barracudas, and more. The larger fish, rays, and turtles tend to hang out closer to where the lagoon meets the ocean, while the small, colorful fish stay toward the opposite side of the lagoon in the mangrove roots near the cenote. There are 2 entrances to Yal Ku run by 2 different companies. The entrance near the cenote (with blue and white signs) has less shade and fewer facilities, but they do not require life jacket rentals, so its best point of entry for snorkeling. The second entrance (with pink signs) is at the ocean end of the lagoon and has more upgraded facilities with palapa rentals, but they do require life jackets even for certified divers. Once in the lagoon, you can swim to any part regardless of where you entered from. Both companies charge 280 pesos to enter. • Map

71. Kaan Luum Lagoon and Cenote • West of Tulum • $

Kaan Luum is a family-friendly lagoon popular with locals and off the tourist track (though getting more popular every day). The lagoon has a unique pale turquoise color in the shallows with an abruptly dark blue circle where a deep cenote begins. Most of the lagoon is less than 1.5 meters deep, perfect for beginning swimmers and even non-swimmers, while the cenote is much deeper with access for scuba diving only. Facilities are minimal here with just a pier, a palapa, and an outhouse. Entrance is 100 pesos; if you bring a drone it’s an extra 150 pesos. • Map

Tulum Yoga

72. Yoga Dicha • Pueblo • $

The top yoga studio in Tulum, Yoga Dicha offers classes 7 days a week, teacher trainings, workshops, and yoga retreats. Private and group beach yoga sessions are available on request. Offerings vary, but most classes are rooted in vinyasa, yin, or their signature Aligned Flow. Partnering with Help Tulum Dogs, a dog welfare non-profit, Yoga Dicha regularly offers donation-based yoga sessions with rescue puppies. • Map • +52 984 165 9800.

73. Tribal Yoga • Pueblo • $

Top-notch yoga studio boasting a wide range of styles, including vinyasa, hatha, yin, iyengar with wall ropes, and more. Tribal regularly offers single-day workshops and multi-day retreats as well as combo yoga and diving retreats in partnership with the adjacent dive shop and lofts. Classes are available 7 days a week. • Map • +52 984 871 2508.

74. Yäan Wellness Energy Healing Spa • South Beach Zone • $$$$

Luxury yoga and wellness center in a jungle setting. Yoga and meditation sessions are held in their open-air, tree-top shala with hatha and vinyasa yoga offered 7 days a week and Himalayan meditation sessions available 3 days a week. Yäan Wellness also offers temazcal ceremonies, healing water therapies, and a full-service spa featuring handmade, organic treatments made daily from herbs harvested from their rooftop garden. Amazing boutique onsite, too, with eclectic clothing, accessories, and gifts. Reservations recommended – classes fill up fast. • Map • 52 984 980 0676.

75. SUP Yoga Tulum • Sian Ka’an and Muyil, south of the South Beach Zone • $$$

Fun and challenging standup paddleboard yoga excursions. Classes meet in the morning at Del Cielo bistro in the Pueblo then ride together to that day’s location, either a lagoon in Muyil or Sian Ka’an or a private cenote at the edge of the biosphere. SUP Yoga sessions include round-trip transportation, equipment, 1.5 hours of yoga on the water, a photo session, and light, vegan refreshments. SUP Yoga retreats are also offered semi-regularly. • Map • 52 984 134 9721.

76. Sanará • South Beach Zone • $$$

Renowned beachfront yoga studio offering a wide variety of yoga styles (vinyasa, hatha, jivamukti, kundalini, and more) and meditation. Regular sessions are offered 3 times a day, 7 days a week. Special events include full moon yoga, new moon meditation, weekly sound healing, weekly gong bath, and wellness workshops. The studio is a covered, indoor space with floor to ceiling windows that open entirely and face over the ocean. • Map • 52 984 134 9721.

Tulum Things to Do

77. Mayan Ruins • Tulum, Cobá, Chichén Itzá, and Ek Balam • $$

Tulum is home to the ruins of a Mayan walled city and is near 3 other significant Mayan sites: Chichén Itzá, Cobá, and Ek Balam. The Tulum Ruins date back to the 13th century A.D. when it served as a trading hub and the main port for nearby Cobá. Cobá (a 45-minute drive from the Pueblo) is a much older site, dating to the 1st or 2nd century A.D., known for having the largest road network of the ancient Mayan world. Chichén Itzá and Ek Balam are about 2 hours’ drive from Tulum near Valladolid. Chichén Itzá, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back to the 5th century A.D. and was once the most influential spiritual, economic, and scientific center of the Mayan region, revered for its refined architecture. Ek Balam is the oldest of these Mayan sites, established in the 1st century B.C., and is known for its intricate sculptures, massive main tower, and its incredible El Trono temple with a doorway shaped like a monster’s mouth, believed to be a gateway to the underworld. Hiring a guide is strongly recommended for these sites, but you don’t need to book in advance; just hire one at the entrance. •  Tulum Ruins Map • Cobá Ruins Map • Chichén Itzá Map • Ek Balam Map 

78. Rivera’s Kitchen • Pueblo • $$

The best cooking class in Tulum. Hosted by the charismatic, talented Lily in her own home kitchen, the class explores Mayan, Yucatecan, and Oaxacan cooking traditions, including her family’s recipes. Lessons begin with a brief introduction to Mexican ingredients, food history, and food culture. The menu changes with the seasons, but classes always include tortilla-making, mezcal-tasting, and finish with a hearty, delicious meal. • Map • +52 984 129 2690.

79. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve • South of the South Beach Zone • $-$$

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sian Ka’an boasts 120 km of coastline and beaches, 300+ bird species, 100+ mammal species (including monkeys, jaguars, manatees, and tapirs), Mayan ruins and ancient canals, tropical rainforest, a coral reef, hundreds of forested islands, and much more. Though anyone may enter on their own through the visitors’ centers in Punta Allen (the beach side) or Muyil (the jungle side), it is best to take a private or small group tour to see all the highlights. The best tour operator is Community Tours Sian Ka’an, a Mayan-run co-op with knowledgeable, local guides and nature experts. • Map

80. Punta Laguna • Nuevo Durango, near Cobá • $$

Wonderful nature reserve off the beaten track. Punta Laguna is home to a few hundred spider monkeys, a few dozen howler monkeys, and a couple of hundred bird species. Guided excursions include a jungle walk (monkey-watching, botanical tour, and a dip in the lagoon), birdwatching (and exploring caves, Mayan ruins, and the lagoon), or the full package (Mayan ritual, jungle walk with monkeys, canoe ride and zip line over the lagoon, and rappelling and swimming in an underground cenote. Reservations strongly recommended. Contact them via Facebook or WhatsApp. • Map • WhatsApp: +52 1 984 145 9347.

81. Mesoamerican Reef • All of the coastline – from the Yucatan to Guatemala • $-$$

The world’s second largest coral reef runs right past Tulum, just a few hundred meters from the beach. Expect to find parrotfish, sergeant majors, surgeonfish, butterflyfish, barracudas, and (if you’re lucky) sea turtles and rays. Cheap, hour-long snorkel tours leave all day from Playa Paraíso in the North Beach Zone, no reservations necessary. Tankah Beach at Soliman Bay a little farther north offers a shallow entry point, making it possible for strong swimmers to reach the reef without hiring a boat. Another great option is to take the ferry to Cozumel and do a snorkel tour of El Cielo (the sky), named because of the starfish covering the seabed like a second sky.

Tulum Neighborhoods

82. North Beach Zone

The North Beach Zone is the strip of beach running along the edge of Tulum National Park, where the Mayan ruins are. This generally means from the ruins in the north down 4 km south along the beach road to its intersection with Avenida Coba (the road to the Pueblo). Unofficially, the North Beach Zone extends a little farther north to the Tankah neighborhood. The North Beach Zone is the quietest beach area in Tulum, with just a few boutique hotels, restaurants, and beach clubs. Most hotels are on white sandy beaches, though there are a few areas of rocky coastline. Just north of the beach zone, there are several gorgeous cenotes, most notably Dos Ojos.
Best stuff: Mezzanine HotelJashita HotelMi Amor HotelKitchen Table (gourmet Mexican restaurant in the jungle) • Boa Beach Club (stylish beach club) • Loyal Order Beach (refined Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant) • Playa Paraíso (sandy beach with cheap snorkel tours) • Tankah Beach (semi-private beach, shallow water, great snorkeling) • Tulum Ruins (13th-century Mayan ruins) • Mesoamerican Reef (hire a snorkel or dive tour or swim to the reef) • Cenote Dos Ojos (spectacular cenote and enormous cave system) • Casa Cenote (open-air cenote with fish and wildlife).

83. Beach Town

Beach Town is a cluster of hotels, restaurants, and shops from kilometer 4 to about kilometer 5.5 between the North and Middle Beach Zones. The beach is sandy and swimmable in the north end, with rocky patches for the southern 500 or so meters. In general, dining, drinking, and shopping are more affordable here than in the other beach areas. A little bit north of the Beach Town, you’ll find Kin Toh (a treetop restaurant/lounge) and Zak Ik (fashion boutique), both at stylish Azulik Resort. North of Azulik is Papaya Playa Project, which hosts wild, late-night beach parties every Saturday and full moon.
Best stuff: Zamas HotelAzulik HotelMateo’s (Fun restaurant and bar with sunset views)• Tunich (best breakfast and brunch on the beach road) • Papaya Playa Project (crazy weekly beach parties) • Kin Toh (upscale bar and restaurant with sunset views and creative design) • Zak Ik (design-forward clothing boutique) • Mixik (wonderful gift shop with local and handmade crafts).

84. Middle Beach Zone

The Middle Beach Zone is the heart of Tulum’s beach area, with upscale dining, high-end boutiques, and stylish open-air nightclubs. Outside of the party scene, there are tons of ambitious restaurants serving fine-dining and creative menus. Plenty of yoga studios and casual beach clubs also dot the strip. The Middle Beach Zone sits roughly between kilometers 5.5 and 8 on the beach road, from the narrow, rocky Sunset Beach at the north end to just past Arca restaurant in the south end. The beach is long, wide, and mostly sandy though there are some rocky patches between km 5.5 and 6. Though there are no street lights, sidewalks, or bike paths, most people get around this area by walking or cycling, though it’s also fairly easy to flag down a taxi here.
Best stuff: Coral Tulum HotelAhau Tulum HotelCabañas La Luna HotelHartwood (renowned, fine-dining restaurant in the jungle) • Arca (upscale farm-to-table restaurant) • Safari (creative campfire cuisine) • Clan Destino (24-hour bar and burger restaurant with a private cenote) • Casa Jaguar (stylish bar and restaurant; jungle parties on Thursday nights) • Gitano (hip mezcal bar and restaurant with jungle parties on Friday and Saturday nights) • Caravana (chic, Mayan-inspired clothes and accessories) • La Llorona (local, handmade clothing, art, and gifts) • Ziggy’s Beach (laid-back, family-friendly beach club with great food) • Coco Tulum Beach (trendy bar and beach club with daily DJs).

85. South Beach Zone

The South Beach Zone is great for kids and offers a long, wide stretch of sandy beach with no rocky parts. Located near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, hotels in the south end tend to be more eco-conscious than hotels to the north, which is reflected in the bohemian vibe and abundance of yoga and wellness studios here. The South Beach Zone tends to be quiet, away from the central party zone but still within walking/cycling distance to fantastic restaurants and nightlife. This is a great place to stay for active families and couples who want to explore more of Tulum’s natural wonders, from beaches to jungles to cenotes.
Best stuff: Casa Malca HotelLa Valise HotelLa Zebra HotelNômade HotelCasa Banana (best steakhouse in the beach zone) • <a href="NÜ Tulum (inspired, Mexican dining in the jungle) • Charly’s Vegan Tacos (vegan taco shop with great mock meats) • Sunday Salsa Night at La Zebra (free salsa lessons and dancing with a live band) • Mr. Blackbird (handmade jewelry, sandals, and accessories) • Yäan Wellness (luxury wellness center and yoga studio) • SUP Yoga Tulum (standup paddleboard yoga in Sian Ka’an) • Sanará (beachfront yoga studio in a luxury hotel) • Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (nature reserve with beaches, lagoons, Mayan ruins, and hundreds of species of birds and mammals).

86. Pueblo

The Pueblo is the vibrant downtown area of Tulum, brimming with wonderful restaurants, bars, and clubs. Hotels tend to be in the budget or moderate range, though there are a handful of luxury hotels here, too, at a fraction of the cost of the beach resorts. The Pueblo is easily walkable and bikable with a grid layout, sidewalks, bike lanes, and street lamps in most parts. Food in the Pueblo is more authentic and affordable than what you’ll find at the beach. Though the Pueblo is a vibrant, urban area, it is completely surrounded by jungle, with lots of nature to explore just a short bike ride away. Several amazing cenotes are within a 5 to 25-minute bike ride north along Avenida Coba.
Best stuff: Una Vida Tulum HotelCoco Hacienda HotelHotel Tiki TikiCetli (art-filled spot serving traditional Mexican food) • La Gloria de Don Pepe (Spanish-Mediterranean tapas restaurant) • El Asadero (best steakhouse in the Pueblo) • El Vegetariano Mar y Tierra (vegan/vegetarian restaurant) • Taqueria El Carboncito (best pastor tacos) • Antojitos la Chiapaneca (awesome tacos, panuchos, and empanadas) • Taqueria Honorio (rich tacos with Yucatecan fillings) • Ki’bok Coffee (best coffee shop) • Campanella Cremeria (waffles with gelato on top) • Del Cielo (best brunch in the Pueblo) • El Gourmet (best sandwich shop) • Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar (best bar, best drinks, live music nightly) • Kiki Tulum (the only nightclub in Tulum, dance ’til the sun comes up) • Pasito Tun Tun (fun mezcal bar, DJs and live music late) • Mixik (gift shop with local, handmade crafts) • Cenote Zacil Ha (tiny cenote with a zipline) • Cenotes Cristal y Escondido (beautiful, quiet, open-air cenotes) • Yoga Dicha (best yoga studio, someimes has puppy yoga sessions) • Tribal Yoga (great variety of styles and combined yoga/scuba experiences) • Rivera’s Kitchen Tulum (best, funnest, most delicious cooking class)

87. Aldea Zama

Aldea Zama is a new luxury development in between the Pueblo and the Beach Zone. This neighborhood is primarily high-end homes and condos, though there are a couple of boutique hotels, restaurants, and a playground connected by walking and cycling paths. Much of the development is still under construction, but there are plans to add luxury boutiques, restaurants, and bars. At the moment, this area has a bit of a sterile feel and hasn’t found its own personality yet. However, the location is perfect, offering easy access to the Pueblo and beach, while remaining calm and quiet at night.
Best stuff: Naay Boutique HotelSafari Comedor Zama (flame-cooked meats and seafood, stellar drinks) • Chacabar (casual, Italian-Mexican restaurant) • La Pebeta (Argentine-Mexican breakfast and brunch spot).

Tulum Travel – More Info and Photos

  • Tulum is divided into two areas: 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 – especially the luxury 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 (Chedraui is the most convenient for the beach.)
  • The best luxury hotels in Tulum: Mezzanine HotelJashita HotelCasa MalcaLa Valise Tulum
  • It costs about $100 USD 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 10-minute to 1-hour wait for a car or van (it won’t be an actual taxi as they’re not allowed to pick up from the airport). You can prebook with Cancun Airport Transportation (there are other companies, but that’s who I use) before you arrive. Pre-booked transfers cost about $120 USD but then you have a car waiting for you as you get through customs. Transfers include a private air-conditioned van – no one will share the van with you. Complimentary children’s seat upon request.
  • Tulum or 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.
  • Tulum or Cancun: The big difference between Cancun and Tulum is that Cancun sucks: lousy food, boring all-inclusive resorts, and few fun things to do nearby.
  • The Tulum ruins are found along the beach north of the hotel strip. They are easy to reach from town or 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 to the beach (near Azulik). From Azulik there is no path along the beach road, but traffic moves slowly – 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. 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 La Valise Hotel (one of the farther ones).
  • 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.
  • Eating cheap is easy in Tulum Pueblo (and typically more expensive out at the beach). Antojitos la Chiapaneca is one of my favorite taco shops in town. Cheap and delicious.
  • Pastor is slow-cooked pork that is shaved off directly into a taco. The best pastor places are open only at night – and the later you go the tastier the meat gets.
  • This is a plate of pastor meat (with cheese) which you can order instead of individual tacos.
    Pastor Meat in Tulum
  • La Eufemia is the best taco restaurant on the beach – but still not as good as you’ll find in town. La Eufemia 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.)
  • 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.
  • These are two traditional Mexican drinks you’ll find in the Yucatan: Jamaica and Horchata. Both really tasty and most restaurants will have them even if they’re not on the menu.
    Horchata and Jamaica Mexican Drinks
  • Eating lunch or dinner on the beach is a highlight of staying in Tulum.
  • Campanella Cremerie in the Pueblo has the best ice cream. Campanella Cremerie in Tulum
  • But helado (Mexican style treats) are also popular and very tasty.
  • The best bike rental shop is Ola Bike Tulum in the Pueblo on the road to the beach. There are many rental shops nearby, but Ola has the most well-maintained bikes in all sizes, plus accessories like baby carriers. If you book in advance, they’ll even deliver the bikes to you at your hotel.
  • Bikes can be rented at the beach as well, but it’s usually just a hotel with a handful of janky bikes to rent, so you won’t have much choice.
  • The bike path in the Pueblo is brand new and well-marked. The bike lane in Tulum Pueblo.
  • Once the bike lane turns onto the road toward the beach, it becomes a shared walking/cycling path. The bike lane runs from town all the way to the small collection of hotels, shops, and restaurants at the start of the main strip of beach hotels. (I call this Beach Town, but no one else does). The bike lane on the beach road in Tulum.
  • The bike lane ends just past Azulik Hotel. For hotels south of here (which is most of them) you have to ride on the beach road for 1 to 5KMs. The road can be busy and patchy, but traffic doesn’t go very fast so it’s fine for all but the very beginners. The road (not the bike path) is pretty dark at night so biking to town for dinner is not a great plan. The bike lane ends in Beach Town.
  • Bike riders heading back to the Pueblo from the beach. Biking along the beach in Tulum.
  • If you do only one thing during your time in Tulum visit a cenote. Cenotes are collapsed sinkholes that expose fresh water below, and there are thousands of them around the Yucatan. The Gran Cenote is only about 5 minutes outside of Tulum. Take your own mask and snorkel. There are lockers and restrooms. Gran Cenote is the most famous but very crowded. Other cenotes close to Tulum are Casa Cenote (towards Playa del Carmen, great if you’re only interested in swimming), Zacil Ha with its zip line (towards Coba), and Cristal and Escondido (west of Tulum Town). Tell the name of any of these to a taxi driver and they’ll take you there for less than 200 pesos. I recommend getting the taxi to wait for you which will double the price but beats waiting on the highway (like I’ve done) trying to hail a taxi. (They’ll wait for an hour or two.) Most cenotes have a charge of 80 to 150 pesos. Just take a towel, taxi money, and snorkel-mask (optional), and you’ll have an amazing time at any of these cenotes. Casa Cenote has a good restaurant right across the road. The rest I mentioned above don’t have much around besides a basic kiosk that sells refreshments. Just swim for an hour or two, then head home.
  • The best cenote nearby is Dos Ojos (Two Eyes), a system of 5 cenotes named for the 2 largest ones: the Blue Eye (open-air, sparkling blue water) and the Black Eye (a pitch black underwater cave). Part of Dos Ojos is open to the public, but the best parts require a guide and gear (helmet, flashlight, wet suit, etc).Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum
  • You can easily visit cenotes on your own but if you’re really keen (or don’t want to worry about arranging transportation there and back) I highly recommend this cenote snorkeling tour (with hotel pickup and drop off).
  • This is Zacil Ha Cenote on the same road as the Gran Cenote but about another 10 minute drive (just beyond Carwash Cenote). It’s one of the best if you like open top cenotes that don’t have a cave-like feel. It also has a small zip line that you can use to float out over the top and jump down into the cenote.
    Best Cenote for Swimming near Tulum: Zacil Ha
  • The second best thing to do in Tulum is take a cooking course at Rivera Kitchen. It’s a fun and informative 3-hour session that teaches some basics about Mexican cooking and finishes with a delicious meal. Another great thing about it is that it’s a great source of information about the Tulum area so if you take the course on your first or second day you’ll leave with a list of great restaurants to try and places to visit.
    Best Cooking Course in Tulum
  • The best day trips from Tulum are the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Coba, Chichen 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, and Yucatan Outdoors. All do small guided tours of the reserve.
  • The Coba ruins cover a large area and bikes are a fun way to get to the different sights.
  • 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.
  • 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, Zaci Cenote, a short walk from the central square.
  • There are several other cenotes within biking distance of downtown. Samula is my favorite. 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.
  • The best restaurants in Playa del Carmen are Oh Lala! (fine dining, international menu), Las Hijas de la Tostada (killer seafood tostadas), and Ah Carbón! (best pastor tacos). Expect lineups and great food.
  • Bank machines are found everywhere in Tulum, both at the beach and in town. There are bank machines at the bus station.
  • The Scotia Bank in Tulum Town has the best exchange rates in the area. There are 2 bank machines here too.
    Best Place to Change Money in Tulum
  • It’s easy to bike along the beach road and find a spot on the beach (usually at a restaurant).
  • There are a few convenience stores along the beach road. The longest-running one is located at Playa Mambo hotel.
  • 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 Tulum Ruins
  • La Zebra is a kid-friendly restaurant and hotel with a beautiful beach and play area along the beach.
  • Posada Yum Kin is a great budget hotel in Tulum Town (Pueblo). Good location, large rooms (good for families), and friendly owners.
  • Seaweed on the Tulum Beach: This has increasingly been a problem. There tends to be less seaweed as you move south. This is the beach in front of Alaya Hotel, Playa Canek, and Playa Mambo. This is my favorite stretch of Beach on Tulum. (A little farther south is Be Tulum – they also do a great job of keeping they beach seaweed free.)
    Seaweed on Tulum Beach in front of Alaya Hotel.
  • This is the beach in front of Zebra Hotel and Restaurant.
    Seaweed on Tulum Beach
  • Seaweed on beach in front of Nueva Vida Hotel.
    Seaweed on Beach near Tulum Hotels
  • Seaweed on the beach in front of Ana y Jose Hotel. The hotel is good at clearing the seaweed (you can just make out the workers starting to clear it up the beach) but I wanted to post a picture showing it at it’s worst.
    Seaweed on Tulum Beach
  • The beach in front of Zamas. The worst spot on Tulum Beach. The shape of the small bay here really collects the seaweed. The coves just north of here (by Tulum Bay, Piedro Escondido, and Hotel Posada) were perfect at the same time I took this photo.
    Seaweed on Beach near Zamas Hotel
  • Mateo’s is one of the few places with draft beer in Tulum, Dos Equis Amber and Lager.
    Draft Beer in Tulum
  • The hotels and beach go all the way down to the entrance to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. From there onwards the road is unpaved and bumpy.
    Road to Sian Biosphere in Tulum
  • Taxis go up and down the beach strip. They often form a short line outside of Be Tulum (one of the farthest hotels south).
    Taxis on Tulum Beach
  • This is a collectivo – basically a shared mini-van/bus – and the cheapest way to get out to the beach (besides riding a bike).
    Collectivo in Tulum
  • Motmot is the best place in Tulum to get a tasty cookie, treat, or pastry. The banana bread is particularly good.
    Best Bakery, Treats, Desserts in Tulum
  • Pool is the grocery store with the best selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. Chedraui (a huge modern grocery store) is on the road outside of town on the way to the beach and is the best place to buy beer, wine, alcohol, beach balls, and towels. Best Place to buy fresh produce in Tulum
  • This is Nacho. His kiosk is located on the main street in Tulum and he has tons of information on tours around the area.
    Best Place to Book Tours in Tulum
  • See Also

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