The traditional style of a hotel room in Tulum is a “cabana” – a simple hut or cabin similar to the ancient dwellings of the Maya. Most hotels have just a few rooms and basic amenities. Although the number of hotels along the beach are increasing and facilities are developing quickly, Tulum still feels like a bohemian town. The most desirable place to stay is right on the beach but for those looking for a bargain, there is a good selection of hotels in Tulum town.
Although fairly rustic and simple, there are some idyllic little places to stay, especially if you are yearning for a very simple beach vacation. Electricity around the Tulum beach area is limited and supplied by generators, so you’ll often find that it isn’t available twenty four hours a day. Many of the hotels along the beach only have lighting in the evenings and it is fairly unusual to have rooms with electrical outlets. You’ll find that most rooms have ceiling fans but few have air-conditioning. If you are looking for a more conventional style hotel with air-conditioning and televisions, we recommend you stay in Tulum town. It is only around two miles from the beach and there are several beach clubs that provide beach beds and a food and drink service.
The ‘hotel zone’ stretches from just south of the Tulum archaeological site to just north of the entrance to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. The beach is approximately 2 miles from Tulum Pueblo. It is a little far to walk but the hotels will radio for cabs and there’s now a good cycle path to the beach.
There is a small cluster of hotels close to the archaeological site; these include Mezzanine. The southern part of this stretch of beach is rocky becoming sandy further north. There are a few good restaurants within walking distance.
The middle section of the Tulum hotel zone is a group of small bays with just a few cabanas set around each one. This area is pretty lively with a few shops, restaurants and bars.
South is a long stretch of beach which heads right into the Biosphere Reserve. The northern part of this beach has lots of small cabanas lining the edge of the beach. There’s a very good selection of restaurants just a short walk away on the beach. The southern section of the beach is quieter. It feels more isolated; even the hotels are hidden behind a screen of palms, making them almost invisible from the beach. There are a few restaurants within walking distance, but a rental car is recommended here if you want to go sightseeing, shopping, or have more choice of restaurants.
Tulum really is the place to escape and relax and it isn’t for those looking for the luxury and facilities of a huge upscale resort. Staying in a little beach cabana, just steps away from the ocean, you’ll appreciate the simpler things in life, like laying in a hammock under a shady palm tree, exploring the natural wonders of this area and walking along the beach to dinner under a blanket of stars.
We had fun making this video of the drive along Boca Paila road, heading south from where the road meets the coast as far as the arch at the entrance to the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve. You can use it to familiarize yourself with the location of the hotels and distance between them before you arrive.
Also see our Map and Guide to the Caribbean Coast to choose a hotel or cabana by location, whether you want to stay in the north or the south, by the ruins or near to the biosphere reserve.Or use this map of Tulum to calculate distances between hotels on the beach in Tulum, and find websites for hotels and restaurants there.
Here’s a summary of our recommended hotels in Tulum. Factors that you may find important in choosing a cabana or room are:
– availability of electricity
– location – quiet, central, distance from town, proximity to restaurants
– family friendly or adults only
|HOTEL||PRICE RANGE||HIGHLIGHTS||LOCATION||CHILDREN ACCEPTED||ELECTRICITY||FANS|
|BE TULUM||$$$||Luxuriously rustic rooms with plunge pools or Jacuzzi tubs||Beach, south||No||24 hours. Hairdryers.||Air-conditioning|
|CALALUNA||$||Artistic, well maintained, great breakfasts||Beach, central||Yes||Lighting 6-10pm, fans overnight||Ceiling fans|
|COQUI COQUI SPA||$$$||Stylish, luxurious, spa facilities||Beach, south||Yes||24 hours, electrical outlets in room (no hairdryers)||Ceiling fans|
|EL PEZ||$$||Luxury beachfront cabanas and ocean view rooms||Beach, central||Yes||24 hours||Ceiling fans|
|ENCANTADA||$$$||Traditional style with luxurious interiors and great views||Beach, south||No||24 hours||Ceiling fans|
|HEMINGWAY ECO RESORT||$||Individual cabanas, some beachfront, very spacious||Beach, central||Over 6 yrs accepted on request in low season||Until 11pm, electrical outlets in room (no hairdryers)||Fans in some rooms|
|MEZZANINE||$$||Modern, stylish rooms, lively bar||Beach, north||No||24 hours (no hairdryers)||Ceiling Fans|
|POSADA MARGHERITA||$||Excellent restaurant, rooms good for triple occupancy, some large family rooms||Beach, central||Over 6 years||24-hour lighting, no electrical sockets in the rooms||Tower Fans|
|POSADA PUNTA PIEDRA||$||Now managing la Conchita, traditional, comfortable rooms including some beachfront||Beach, central||Yes||24-hour lighting, electrical sockets in some of the rooms||Fans|
|SUENOS TULUM||$$||Small swimming pool, spacious rooms, quiet area||Beach, south||In ground floor rooms||24 hours, electrical outlets in restaurant and lobby||Ceiling Fans|
|LA ZEBRA||$$||Stylish rooms, great beachfront restaurant, some larger rooms good for families||Beach, south||Yes||24 hours (no hairdryers)||Ceiling fans|
It can be difficult to find good rooms for families in Tulum. Young children may be too scared to sleep in an individual cabana on their own, and two bedroom cabanas are rare. Factors such as 24 hour electricity and fans are more important when traveling with babies and young children.
If you want more than just a cabana with two double beds, we consider these to be the best choices for families with two or more children.
|HOTEL||SUGGESTED ROOMS FOR FAMILIES||CHILDREN ACCEPTED||ELECTRICITY||FANS|
|CALALUNA||Cabana #2 is a duplex with a king bed on the ground floor and queen bed on the upper floor, and one bathroom.||Yes||24 hours||Fans|
|EL PEZ||Luxury cabanas have a king bed (or two single beds) plus a single bed in one room. An extra rollaway or crib can also be added.||All ages accepted.||24 hours, electrical outlets in room (no hairdryers)||Ceiling fans|
|HEMINGWAY||Beachfront cabanas have a king bed and a queen bed in one room, some garden cabanas have a king and a double.||Over 6 yrs accepted on request in low season||Until 11pm, electrical outlets in room (no hairdryers)||Fans in some rooms|
|POSADA MARGHERITA||Family room #7 has a queen bed and two single beds in the same room. Family room #5 has a queen bed and a single bed, plus a double bed in a loft.||Over 6 years||24-hour lighting, no electrical sockets in the rooms||Fans|
|POSADA PUNTA PIEDRA||Family room is a duplex unit with a king bed and a queen bed. Royal room with two beds has 2 king beds side-by-side. Standard room with 2 matrimonial beds.||Yes||24-hour lighting and electrical sockets in the Royal room with 2 beds and the standard room.||Fans|
|LA ZEBRA||Luxury beach shack – two bedroom rooms, one king, two singles and a sofa for two children or one adult, refrigerator
Master Suite – two rooms (bedroom with a king bed and sitting room with a double bed)
Owners Suite – two rooms (bedroom with a king bed and sitting room with a double bed), refrigerator
Jungle Apartment – one room, bedroom with a king bed and two sofas that can make beds for kids
Garden cabanas – one room with two double beds
|Yes||24 hours (no hairdryers)||Ceiling fans|
Tulum has a surprisingly good selection of little beach bars and restaurants including Mexican, vegetarian and Italian. Here are a few of our favorites.
This is a romantic little beachfront Italian restaurant. It is very popular and advisable to drop by during the day to make a reservation for dinner. The restaurant doesn’t take email or telephone reservations. The restaurant opens for dinner around 6:00 pm and closes at 10:00 pm Monday to Saturday. It is closed on Sundays
All dishes are freshly prepared with local fish and vegetables. There are no meat dishes. Your meal will start with a large board of anti-pasta which includes bruschetta, olives, cheeses and freshly baked bread. There are no printed menus instead the waiter will come and sit by your table and reel off the dinner options. These include Fettuccini with fresh tomato, garlic and Regano. Talierini with shrimp, zucchini, tomato and pine nuts. Fettuccini with broccoli, mushroom, tomato and pine nuts. Fresh Fish with vegetables. Fresh fish in seawater, olive oil, garlic, fresh tomato and lemon. A mix of fish, shrimp, lobster and vegetables on the grill.
One of the finest restaurants in Tulum offering international/fusion cuisine. The restaurant is located on a bluff above the beach and does not have direct ocean views. Reservations are required and there are 3 seatings daily 6:30pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm daily. Reservations can be made by phone or email. The restaurant is closed on Mondays
There are no menus. The chef will visit your table and give you details of the dishes of the day which are decided up on by the best and freshest ingredients available that day.
Please note that the restaurant opens from mid-November to mid-May. Credit cards are not accepted.
A new favorite, located opposite Coqui Coqui Spa. Fresh ingredients and imaginative dishes make this restaurant well worth a visit. Try the habanero margarita!
La Zebra’s beachfront cantina provides a great setting to enjoy authentic Mexican dishes. Menu favorites include fresh lime ceviche, tender beer-marinated lamb slow cooked in banana leaves in a brick lined BBQ pit,home-made shrimp tamales and blackeded fish tacos. On Sundays the restaurant has special pit roasts
After dinner you can enjoy cocktails in La Zebra’s Tequila Bar. Try one of their fresh juice margaritas.
Zamas has an informal beachfront restaurant. The restaurant has an extensive menu. There is a good selection of traditional Mexican favorites such as tacos and enchiladas. The restaurant also has a wood fired oven producing great pizzas. The speciality is locally caught fresh fish.
The restaurant usually has a lively atmosphere and opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner
El Tabano is located on the jungle side of the Tulum hotel zone. The hotel serves mainly traditional Mexican dishes such as Chile Relleno and tamales. The menu changes daily and is displayed on a chalk board. Bread is baked freshly
The restaurant has an eclectic design and opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Charlie’s is a traditional Mexican restaurant which is located on the main street in Tulum town. It opens from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm Tuesday to Sunday. On Saturday nights there is live music. The menu includes: chiles rellenos, enchiladas and tacos.
The restaurant has indoor seating and a pretty outdoor patio area with tables.
La Nave is located in Tulum town. The restaurant opens from 7:00 am – 11:00 pm from Monday to Saturday.
The restaurant has great pizzas from its wood oven and home made pasta. There is also a selection of salads and fish dishes
Mezzanine’s restaurant faces the ocean and is a chic and stylish place to hang out. The restaurant opens from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week.
The menu is Thai and includes deep fried fish cakes and green or red Thai curry.
There are a great range of activities available including snorkeling, diving and fishing tours. Bicycles and snorkeling equipment can be rented down by the beach. Tours to the archaeological sites at Tulum and and Coba, expeditions into the Biosphere Reserve and visits to the cenotes and Xel-Ha are what make this area so special.
If you are looking for an organized tour of the area Edventure Tours is a small family run company with excellent local knowledge. The company offers private tours and tours for small groups (up to around 14 people). These include tours to the archeaological sites and exploring the natural wonders and wildlife of the area. The company also provides guides to accompany you if you have car rental. They know some great lesser known restaurants to call in on for lunch.
You can see more information at:Edventure Tours
Scuba diving and snorkeling
There are several companies offering scuba diving tours and equipment in the area. There is a choice of ocean diving at the reef, just of the coastline or cave and cenote diving. Most offer courses for beginners and advanced diving qualifications. For the less adventurous who want to explore the water, many dive shops also offer a selection of snorkeling tours.
The Great Maya Reef is a chain of shallow patch reefs which extend for approximately 600 miles. It is home to over 500 species of fish, 4 species of turtles and 65 types of coral. These include rainbow fish, reef fish, trumpet fish, manta rays and hawksbill turtles.
The Peninsula has an extensive system of underwater caverns and caves. Giving divers the opportunity to explore ancient rock formations with spectacular stalactites and stalacmites.
From November to June the area has great wind conditions for kite surfing. There are several companies offering courses for beginners and experienced kite surfers.
Extreme Control offer beginners lessons daily at Playa Paraiso. There are multi-lingual and professional IKO instructors. Safety gear and equipment are provided.
Check with Extreme Control for paddleboarding (SUP) tours, including a SUP/snorkeling tour to a local cenote, and downcurrent tours down the coastline, or even yoga on paddleboards! SUP long and short term rentals also available – rent a board and paddle out to the reef for snorkeling!
Renting a cycle allows you to explore Tulum and surrounding areas at a leisurely pace. This region is mostly flat and good for cycling. From the beach area you can easily cycle from your hotel into the Biosphere Reserve, Grand Cenote or to the archaeological site.
Iguana Bike Shop is located in town and has all types of cycles available for rent, including mountain bikes, tandems and trailers for young children. Safety helmets, local maps and bike locks are also available. The shop also offers daily cycling tours around the area.
From May to August turtles come ashore to nest. These include endangered species, such as loggerhead and leatherbacks.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
The reserve is a tropical ecosystem that covers 1.3 million acres. There are over 800 plant species which provide a habitat for 350 types of birds, as well as jaguar, puma, ocelot, spider and howler monkeys, crocodiles and many types of turtles. The area includes tropical forest, mangroves and coral reef. Within the reserve are over 20 Mayan archaeological sites.
There are a few companies which offer tours into the reserve. These include bird and nature spotting, fishing, snorkeling and kayaking tours. For more information see:
Xel-Ha was an ancient Mayan port. Today it is an eco-park which has an array of land and water activities, ecological attractions and restaurants which will appeal to children and adults. The park offers a wide range of water activities including swim with the dolphins. kakaying and snorkeling. There is an inlet which is home to over 70 varieties of fish. There are several cenotes; some of which are home to some endangered species of fish and birds.
There are also land attractions. These include the remains of the old Mayan city which can still be seen. Jungle trails which give visitors the opportunity to observe the wealth of flora, fauna and wildlife of the area. The area can also explored by cycle or by Jungle Train
Xpa Spa offers traditional Mayan beauty and relaxation techniques combined with 100% natural ingredients.
This is just north of Tulum Town on the road to Coba. This underground lake has some impressive stalactites and stalagmites. You can swim and snorkel in the crystal clear water.
Tulum – the archaeological site is approximately 3 miles from the main beach area. The site is very picturesque with its Caribbean Sea backdrop. There are shops and restaurants. You can see more information in our Tulum Guide.
Coba – is less visited and is set deep in jungle. It is approximately 50 minutes drive from Tulum. You can see more detailed information in our Coba Guide.
Cancun is the nearest airport, although there are plans to build a new airport just north of Tulum. Tulum is approximately 2 hours drive away from Cancun and there are a number of options for getting there.
All of the major car rental companies have offices at Cancun Airport. The drive from the airport to Tulum is very easy and follows the coastal highway #307. This is a modern 4-lane highway which for the most part is well lit and well signed.
Having a car will give you more flexibility to get around and explore the area at your own pace
If you do want to rent a car for just a few days; there are car rental companies in Tulum. Ana y Jose offer car rentals down by the beach. Alamo, Hertz, Payless and Buster car rental all have offices in the town.
There are many companies offering private transfer services from the Cancun Airport to Tulum. For larger parties suburbans and vans are available.
Collectivos are shared shuttle buses; these usually carry up to 10 people, making frequent stops. The charge is per person and it is usually less expensive than buses or private transfers.
There is an infrequent bus service direct from the airport to Tulum so it doesn’t usually work well for arriving passengers. If you want to take a regular bus, you have two options. You can take a cab from the airport to the bus station in downtown Cancun. There is a regular daily service between the two cities You can see schedule and check prices at: Ticketbus
Alternatively there is a bus which runs directly from the airport to Playa del Carmen. Playa is approximately midway between Cancun and Tulum. There are regular hourly services starting at 10.30 am and finishing at 8.45 pm. The cost is approximately 65 pesos per person. From Playa there are regular local services to Tulum.