where to stay in Tulum
Staying in Tulum – Darren Lawrence (pexels)

Nestled in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is the luxurious town of Tulum. It is lodged with the Tulum Mayan Ruins in the heart of the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean Sea. Only a 90-minute car ride south of Tulum is Cancun, while neighboring Playa del Carmen is a mere 45 minutes away.

Tulum and its neighboring towns and islands are adjacent to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, famously known as the second-largest coral reef system worldwide. This region is known as the ultimate tropical island life thanks to its vibrant turquoise Caribbean waters, warm white sand beaches, and world-famous snorkeling and diving attractions.

Historically and spiritually minded tourism is at the heart of Tulum’s appeal, deeply felt by its ancient Mayan roots, natural beauty, and historical landmarks. These attractive features have carried over into the best hotels in Tulum, where the Mayan spirit combines with new-age luxury. Outlined below is an overview of Tulum’s prominent beach zones, the Tulum Pueblo, and the most notable hotels to book a stay at in each region.

Recommendations on where to stay in Tulum

Beach

Tulum beach zone
Tulum beach zone – Spencer Watson (unsplash)

Tulum Beach is a continuous stretch of coastline roughly 6 miles (10 km) long, divided into three sub-regions: north, middle, and south. Tourists can take in the tropical scenery, sit back with a cocktail drink, and partake in some of the most exciting coastal activities Tulum offers. Of course some of the best Tulum all-inclusive resorts is also found here, along with others that will suit several tastes, including family-friendly, eco-conscious, 5-star, and even adults-only resorts.

The ancient Mayan Ruins border Tulum Beach to the North, with the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve located to the south, making this region one of the most gorgeous tropical landscapes in the world. When the Mayans first inhabited Tulum, they lived by the principle of being in harmony with the land, which is still a theory practiced by Tulum’s inhabitants today. As a result, several eco-conscious hotels have been built on Tulum beach, and three have been awarded the Green Key Certification.

This certification is the premium standard for sustainably operated hospitality and touring businesses. These hotels have founded themselves on green-building practices, keeping food and drink economical by limiting waste, safeguarding the natural environment from damage, and creating new jobs for residents.

North Beach

Stretching from the Avenida Coba intersection on the beachfront road to the Tulum Ruins is the North Beach, home to a single public beach known as Playa Ruinas. Nestled under the jagged cliffs of the Tulum Ruins, Playas Ruinas is bordered by dozens of palm trees and adorned with white velvet sands that overlook crystalline Caribbean wasters. Thanks to its proximity, Playa Ruinas is also a convenient resting point tourists can visit after exploring the Tulum Ruins.

In contrast to South Beach, Tulum’s North Beach has been safeguarded from overdevelopment. As a result, the beachfront in this region is expansive, so beachgoers have sufficient sand coverage to lay out a towel and relax away from the bustling beach club crowds. As a result, not only is North Beach a fantastic location to go swimming, but it’s also where you’ll get some of the most spectacular views from the water in your lifetime.

Unfortunately, the only access to Playa Ruinas is down a set of narrow and steep stairs beginning at the Tulum Ruins, which may be troublesome for people with mobility issues. Additionally, the far north end under the Tulum Ruins is roped off from tourists as a designated turtle nesting ground.

There’s an easy-access public parking structure close to Playa Paraiso, so tourists won’t have to worry about driving out of their way to park. For those who love photography and beautiful scenery, the North Tulum Beach area has a popular vote for gorgeous white sands. Tourists on a budget will also be pleased with the relatively less pricey accommodations.

Those who prefer a more upbeat, lively experience may find North Tulum Beach less than stellar. There isn’t much variety in restaurants, nightlife, or shopping compared to surrounding regions. Navigating comfortably on the public beach may be problematic, considering this area tends to get crowded during its active seasons. North Tulum Beach is a prime destination for couples and honeymooners seeking budget-friendly boutique accommodations on the beach.

Best Hotels In North Beach
  1. Mi Amor Mi Amor is a beachside boutique hotel with high-end decor, featuring private plunge pools in a few of its cabanas. In addition, tourists can browse many creative, handmade treasures from nearby boutiques and craft shops. Mi Amor also allows guests to swim, snorkel, or dive into what the Mayans superstitiously believed to be ancient portals. These are comprised of limestone sinkholes filled with fresh water – a natural phenomenon known as cenotes.
  1. Villa Pescadores Tulum This beautiful beachfront hotel is only a 15-minute drive from downtown Tulum and nestled close to Tulum’s Mayan Ruins. Tourists will love the rustic, chic bungalows with thatched roofs, wooden floors, and private bathrooms. Each bungalow is equipped with outdoor spaces and hammocks. Even though this hotel has no TVs, it does offer free Wi-Fi and overnight air conditioning.
  1. Hotel El Paraiso Just a short trip from the Tulum Mayan Ruins, Hotel El Paraiso provides a relaxing vacation experience with complimentary continental breakfasts, a beach bar, and a coffee shop/cafe. A white sand beach makes this hotel an excellent location to sunbathe while unwinding in beach cabanas. For a luxurious spa experience, Hotel El Paraiso offers various spa services, including hot stone massages. In addition, guests can enjoy free in-room Wi-Fi or visit the Mexican cuisine restaurant El Paraiso Restaurante which features brunch and gorgeous ocean views.

Middle Beach

Located between Avenida Coba and Avenida Kukulkan along the beach road is Tulum’s Middle Beach, which is in the heart of the beach town area close to the Zamas Hotel. Tourists can explore high-class boutiques and trendy open-air nightclubs such as the chic Casa Jaguar and Gitano. Beyond the party scene of Tulum’s Middle Beach is a wide array of festive restaurants featuring fine-dining cuisine and unique menus. Hartwood, Arca, and Safari are the most notable restaurants in this region.

Tulum’s Middle Beach has various yoga studios and casual beach clubs. The Middle Beach is roughly between Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila from the narrow, rocky Sunset Beach to the north to slightly past Arca restaurant to the south. The beach is expansive and mainly composed of sand, although a few rocky patches also dot this area. Navigating the Middle Beach at night may be tricky as there are no street lights, sidewalks, or bike paths, but it’s easy to travel by walking or cycling during the day.

For exciting nightlife experiences around Tulum, look no further than the Middle Beach Zone, easily accessible from the town center. Playa Paraiso is this region’s primary public beach, attracting thousands of visitors annually with its stunning beauty, although it doesn’t get as crowded as Playa Ruinas. The vast expanse of Tulum’s Middle Beach stretches for a few miles along the coast, allowing plenty of room for beachgoers to travel freely. For approximately 200 pesos, equivalent to $10 US dollars, tourists can rent a set of lounge chairs, a parasol, and a table to lounge on the beach.

Tourists who thrive in a fast-paced setting will appreciate that Tulum’s Middle Beach is in the center of the action, with its lively mixture of beach clubs, restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. Tulum’s Middle Beach is home to a premium nightlife scene where guests will find the most convenient access for trips to Tulum town. Unfortunately, hotels within the Middle Beach are pricey, and beach access may be tricky for non-guests. Tulum’s Middle Beach is ideal for groups of friends, retired travelers, couples, and anyone seeking a balanced mix of convenience and quiet settings.

Best Hotels In Middle Beach
  1. Papaya Playa Project Papaya Playa Project is conveniently located close to the town area and is constructed with the beach as its focal point. The chic Caribbean boho style is designed into this hotel’s thatched roofs, with a deck overlooking the beach that’s perfect to lounge on. Tourists can enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop plunge pool, with casitas featuring exclusive beach palapas privately reserved for guests. In addition, hammocks and gazebos on the hotel grounds offer relaxing opportunities for guests to lounge in cozy areas.
  1. Zamas Hotel Located on the beach on the northern edge of Tulum’s hotel zone is Zamas Hotel, a primarily unplugged three-pearl resort that runs on generator-operated power. A dive shop and garden pool are available on-site, with quick access to shopping, dining, and local culture. Eighteen simply furnished yet well-maintained rooms are adorned with thatched roofs, plus balconies with hammocks that overlook the sunset scenery. The hotel restaurant Que Fresco is a cultural highlight of unique Mexican and American cuisine.
  1. Tunich Jungle Cabanas Tunich Jungle Cabanas offers a variety of amenities for guests, such as complimentary continental breakfasts, a roundtrip airport shuttle, and double beach bars. In addition, a white sand beach and beach towels are available for guests to soak up some sun rays during their stay. Tunich Restaurant is an on-site eatery featuring American cuisine with brunch and light fare. Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and a terrace and coffee shop/cafe are available to guests.

South Beach

From the south of Avenida Kukulkan, towards the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Tulum’s South Beach is home to luxurious beach clubs and high-class Riviera Maya hotels. Unfortunately, this exclusive area of Tulum limits private beach access primarily through one of the nearby hotels.

Adorned with a chic bohemian vibe, tourists who are health enthusiasts will enjoy the abundance of yoga and wellness studios here, such as Yäan Wellness, Sanara (beachfront yoga), Alaya, and SUP Yoga Tulum. The sands and waters of Tulum’s South Beach are just as beautiful as those of North Beach, making the scenery in this region worth visiting. There are various unique options for guests to lodge overnight, including boutique Tulum hotels or beach resorts and day beds available for rent at a relaxing beach club.

A famous public beach in Tulum’s South Beach Zone is known as Las Palmas, featuring a gorgeous stretch of white sand that expands along the coastline with calm and tranquil waters. Las Palmas is a secluded getaway perfect for tourists who want peace away from lively crowds yet prefer to remain within walking/cycling distance of exquisite restaurants and nightlife.

Tulum’s South Beach is a fantastic location to explore this region’s natural wonders, including jungles and cenotes. Notable restaurants in this region include Nü, Charly’s Vegan Tacos, and Taqueria La Eufemia. Families with kids and couples who desire quality time together will find Tulum’s South Beach an ideal choice, as it’s also an excellent location for kitesurfing.

However, minimal public access and poor parking are notoriously problematic for Tulum’s South Beach, so tourists should consider planning before visiting. Tourists should also expect to pay hefty cabana and beach club access fees.

Best Hotels in South Beach
  1. The Beach Tulum The Beach Tulum is a highly desirable upper-middle-range hotel located in the heart of the Hotel Zone, featuring 28 adults-only beachfront rooms with plenty of personalized attention from staff members. Two restaurants are shared with The Beach Tulum’s sister property, Cabanas Tulum, and serve well-portioned complimentary breakfasts. Additional property features include a lovely meandering pool, outdoor whirlpool, and daily yoga classes. Although year-round mosquitoes are problematic for The Beach Tulum, free parking and Wi-Fi make the experience worthwhile.
  1. Nativus Glamping Nativus Glamping is a campground hotel that offers complimentary water park access, a 24-hour fitness center, and complimentary breakfasts for guests. Also provided at Nativus Glamping is complimentary self-parking and Wi-Fi in public areas. Seven accommodations are provided on the campground with fans in each room, and showers with rainfall showerheads are featured in the bathrooms.
  1. Selina Tulum Nestled between the port ruins and the gorgeous Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve lies Selina Tulum, a beachfront hotel with an exceptional variety of art, music, wellness, and culture. Guests can choose from four different accommodations – the classic choice provides a private room for two guests. Additional amenities include a private bathroom, balcony, air conditioner, complimentary toiletries, and Wi-Fi. In addition, guests can enjoy the aesthetically pleasing interior of Selina Tulum during the day and lounge in the canopy-topped glamping tents or bamboo teepees under the stars at night.

Town/Pueblo

Tulum town/pueblo
Tulum town/pueblo – Lesniewski (depositphotos)

Brimming with the rich experience of restaurants, bars, and clubs is the Pueblo region of Tulum, with walking and bicycling an easy means of transportation, and includes sidewalks and street lamps in most areas. Hotels within Tulum Pueblo range from budget-friendly to moderately priced, with a few luxury hotels available much cheaper than Tulum beach resorts.

Tourists desiring affordable, highly authentic cuisine will find a restaurant that suits their tastes. Taqueria El Carboncito, Antojitos la Chiapaneca, and La Gloria de Don Pepe are among the most highly rated restaurants in Tulum Pueblo. However, there are many other fantastic spots to try as well. Batey Mojito Bar is at the heart of Pueblo’s nightlife scene, while Pasito Tun Tun and Kiki are among the exceptional nightclubs and bars in the area well worth a visit.

Located within the Pueblo region of Tulum are two highly rated yoga studios – Yoga Dicha, which offers sessions with puppies every Monday morning, and Tribal Tulum, a combination yoga studio and dive shop. Tulum Pueblo is recognizable by its distinctive dualistic environment – a vibrant, bustling urban town surrounded by jungle where tourists can explore the wilderness just a short bike ride away. Cenotes are among the most exotic wonders of nature here, just a 5 to 25-minute bike ride north along Avenida Coba. Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote, Cenote Santa Cruz, and Cenote Zacil-Ha (with a zip line) are among the most notable to check out in the Pueblo region.

Best Hotels in the Town

  1. Coco Hacienda Tulum Coco Hacienda Tulum provides a charming boutique hotel experience with two pools, a jacuzzi and spa, and an all-day Mexican restaurant serving delicious brunch. King-sized beds and 24-hour air conditioning are provided in each room, while casitas with jetted baths and private patios with hammocks further add to the luxurious lounging experience. Coco Hacienda also provides discounted entrance fees to Coco Tulum, their sister property beach club, and complimentary bike access.
  1. Mimosa Tulum Mimosa Tulum is infused with traditional Mexican culture and adorned with a wild coastal jungle vibe – it is also a hotel that offers a unique teepee sleeping experience equipped with queen mattresses and air conditioning. In addition, Mimosa Tulum provides six private beds downstairs, private closets, safety deposit boxes, privacy curtains, USB ports, electric sockets, personal lights, fans, and air conditioning. With access to a tranquil turquoise pool and outdoor shower, guests can unwind on sofa seating at the cozy on-site bar. Just above the bar is the Palapa Lounge, where guests can read, indulge in snacks, or order a drink and relax in the breeze.
  1. Maka Hotel Boutique Maka Hotel Boutique is a hotel located in the Tulum City Center and offers an array of amenities, such as a poolside bar, rooftop terrace, and a coffee shop/cafe. Guests can quickly make themselves home thanks to the hotel’s free in-room Wi-Fi, dry cleaning/laundry services, and scenic garden. An outdoor pool adds to the relaxing experience at Maka Hotel Boutique, while luggage storage and a front desk safe provide security for guest belongings. Sixteen individually furnished rooms are available, with daily room cleaning and portable fans for warm weather comfort.

Explanation of Tulum’s Visitation Seasons

  • November and December are the ideal months to visit Tulum when the weather isn’t too hot and the hurricane season has passed. This is just before Tulum’s peak season when the concentration of tourists is at its highest.
  • Tulum’s peak season is from December to April. During this time, tourists can expect resorts and hotels to be packed and major attractions crowded with people.
  • Tourists who prefer to avoid crowds should consider visiting Tulum from May to September during its off-season. Although Tulum tends to get rainy during this time of year, it also offers excellent accommodation deals.
  • October is Tulum’s hurricane season. Therefore, it’s best to avoid traveling during this month unless necessary.

Best Local Tours in Tulum

  • Tulum Ruins Without The Crowds: Experience the wonder of the famous Tulum Ruins with an experienced, knowledgeable guide ready to enlighten you on the ancient Mayan culture. No crowds will distract you from enjoying this educational opportunity.
  • Artisanal Mezcal and Mixology Class: Enjoy this premium food tour with a knowledgeable local guide introducing you to mezcal tasting. Learn how to create mezcal-based cocktails using four unique varieties from different regions in Mexico.
  • Tulum Cooking Classes: This fun, highly-rated cooking course will show you the ropes in creating your favorite Mexican cuisines using traditional tools such as metates and molcajetes. This tour takes place in a classic, beautiful Mexican-style home where you will also learn of Mexico’s most essential ingredients and flavors.
  • Best Mayan Taco Tour: An experienced, knowledgeable food guide will introduce you to the most exquisite tacos in Tulum with Mayan and traditional Mexican stews and teach you about authentic and traditional ingredients/preparation.
  • Professional Tulum Photographer: Capture memories of your memorable Tulum adventure with a local photographer who uncovers the most breathtaking spots around the region. This tour promotes creative expression with unique images centered around your personality and sense of style.
  • Tulum Ruins, Cenote, and Snorkeling: A knowledgeable local guide will lead you through the mysterious, beautifully-preserved temple ruins surrounded by a primal jungle landscape. Through enlightening stories, you will also learn about the historical depths of the Mayan culture.

Conclusion

Experiencing Tulum’s wonders firsthand will be a memorable experience for travelers from all walks of life. From the spiritual and historical origins of the Mayan culture to the paradise fantasy world that captures the essence of Tulum’s beaches, a richly diverse experience is sure to inspire a passion for exploration, beauty, culture, and tradition.

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