Where to stay in Tulum? Beach or town?
- Most travelers to Tulum stay in one of two main areas: the Pueblo (downtown or the town) or the beach. It’s about 5 km from the Pueblo to the nearest stretch of beach.
- The best luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, outdoor nightlife (beach and jungle parties), and boutique shops are on the beach. Most hotels on the beach have limited air conditioning.
- The beach is wide and mostly sandy, though there are a few rocky patches here and there. The beach hotel zone is roughly divided into 4 areas: the North (quiet, romantic, near the ruins), the Beach Town (the most affordable beach area), the Middle (restaurants, beach clubs, and nightlife), and the South (family-friendly, lots of yoga, wide sandy beach, near Sian Ka’an bio-reserve)
- The Pueblo offers a mix of midrange and affordable hotels with a walkable center, offering authentic Mexican restaurants and fantastic nightlife (all-night dance clubs, fun bars, and street parties). All hotels in the Pueblo have 24-hour air conditioning.
- Just south of the Pueblo is a new luxury development called Aldea Zama (about halfway between the heart of the Pueblo and the beach). This is a quiet neighborhood with a suburban feel and a couple of boutique hotels and restaurants. Much of Aldea Zama is still under construction.
Best Places to Stay in Tulum
- Best new hotel in Tulum is the fabulous La Valise (incredible, luxury hotel at the south end of the beach).
- Best luxury hotel on the beach is the Mezzanine hotel (romantic boutique hotel on the beach near the Tulum ruins).
- Best luxury hotel in the Pueblo is Una Vida (urban oasis with a wonderful pool, spacious rooms).
- Best family hotels in Tulum are Cabañas La Luna (Luxury) and Sueños (Luxury).
- Best budget hotels on the beach are Las Palmas Maya (friendly, budget hotel with a shared kitchen, great breakfasts, and bikes).
- Best budget hotel in the Pueblo is Casa Don Diego (amazing, small hotel with a jungle garden, pool, great food, and an apiary.)
Best Areas to Stay in Tulum
The big decision visitors need to make is whether to stay in the Pueblo (affordable hotels, delicious restaurants, fun bars, and dance clubs) or on the beach (posh hotels, stylish party scene, fine dining restaurants, and boutique shopping). The beach itself is made up of 4 areas all with unique feels: the Beach Town and the North, Middle, and South Beach Zones. It takes about 15 to 45 minutes to cycle from the heart of the Pueblo to the Beach, depending on your destination (if walking, this can take an hour or 2). Most hotels offer free or cheap bicycles to guests, making it simple to stay in one spot and enjoy the other (about a 10-minute bike ride from the Pueblo to the beach). There are no street lights or bike lanes on the road that runs alongside the beach, so cycling there is best during the day.
The best places to stay in Tulum for partying are the Pueblo, Beach Town, or the Middle Beach Zone, for families, it’s the South Beach Zone or Aldea Zama, and for romance and honeymoons stay in the North or South Beach Zone (though pretty much every part of Tulum is perfect for a honeymoon holiday).
Staying in the 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 Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila (the beach road) to its intersection with Avenida Coba (the road to the Pueblo) at the tourist police station. Unofficially, the North Beach Zone extends a little farther north to the Tankah neighborhood. This is the quietest 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. Among the best beaches here are Playa Paraiso and Playa Pescadores (picturesque, soft, sandy beaches), Playa Maya (lots of cheap snorkeling trips here), Santa Fe (Tulum’s original hippie hangout – strong swimmers can swim the 500 meters to the ruins from here), and Ruins Beach (the beach right underneath the Tulum ruins). Just north of the beach zone, there are several gorgeous cenotes (natural swimming holes connected to underground river systems) with especially great swimming at Casa Cenote and Dos Ojos.
The Best Hotels in the North Beach Zone
Staying in 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. Most of the restaurants and shops are on the jungle side of the road, including Mateos, a fun 3-story restaurant with hammocks, and Tunich, a fantastic breakfast spot. Beachside dining is best at Zamas and Mina. Across from Zamas are 3 boutiques featuring Mexican clothing, crafts, and gifts: Mixik, Hilo Rojo, and Shalom. 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, the which hosts the wildest late night beach parties.
The Best Hotels in Beach Town
Staying in the 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, especially chic Casa Jaguar and Gitano. Outside of the party scene, there is a plethora of ambitious restaurants serving fine-dining and creative menus. Among the best restaurants here are Hartwood, Arca, and Safari. 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 Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, 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. There are no street lights, sidewalks, or bike paths, but even still most people get around this area by walking or cycling, and it’s fairly easy to flag down a taxi here.
The Best Hotels in the Middle Beach Zone
- Tago • (Hotel phone: +52 984 871 1310)
- Ahau • (Hotel phone: +52 984 147 5225)
- Dune • (Hotel phone: +52 984 238 9529)
- El Pez • (Hotel phone: +52 984 116 3357)
- Cabanas La Luna • (Hotel phone: +52 984 146 7737)
- Coco Zen Zone • (Hotel phone: +52 984 688 8592)
- The Beach Hotel • (Hotel phone: +52 984 157 9645)
- Cabanas • (Hotel phone: +52 984 871 1132)
Staying in the South Beach Zone
The South Beach Zone is great for kids with 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. Amazing restaurants in the South Beach Zone include Nü, Charly’s Vegan Tacos, and Taqueria La Eufemia. The best yoga studios here are at Yäan Wellness, Sanara (beachfront yoga), Alaya, and SUP Yoga Tulum, with classes held in various locations in and near Sian Ka’an.
The Best Hotels in the South Beach Zone
- Casa Malca • (Hotel phone: +52 984 167 7154)
- La Valise • (Hotel phone: +52 305 999 1540)
- La Zebra • (Hotel phone: +52 984 115 4726)
- Nômade • (Hotel phone: +52 984 803 2243)
- Encantada • (Hotel phone: +1 650 212 6782)
- Alaya • (Hotel phone: +52 984 159 1696)
- Playa Mambo Eco Cabanas • (Hotel phone: +52 984 185 3403)
- Sueños • (Hotel phone: +52 984 119 3484)
- Be Tulum • (Hotel phone: +52 984 132 6215)
Staying in the Pueblo
The Pueblo is the lively 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 at a fraction of the cost of the beach resorts. The Pueblo is easily walkable and bikable with a grid layout, sidewalks, and street lamps in most parts. Food in the Pueblo is more authentic and affordable than what you’ll find at the beach; among the best are Taqueria El Carboncito, Antojitos la Chiapaneca, and La Gloria de Don Pepe, though there are many amazing spots to try. The nightlife is anchored by Batey Mojito Bar, with several great bars and clubs on that same block or along the main street, including Pasito Tun Tun and Kiki. Two of Tulum’s best yoga studios are here: Yoga Dicha (yoga with puppies every Monday morning) and Tribal Tulum (a yoga studio/dive shop). 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, including Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote, Cenote Santa Cruz, and Cenote Zacil-Ha (with a zip line).
The Best Hotels in the Pueblo
Staying in Aldea Zama
Aldea Zama is a new luxury development in between the Pueblo and the Beach Zone. This neighborhood is primarily high-end homes, condos and Airbnbs, though there are a couple of boutique hotels, restaurants, and a playground – all 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.
The Best Hotel in Aldea Zama
- Naay • (Hotel phone: +52 984 231 1241)
Hotels on Map: 1. Jashita 2. O’ Tulum 3. Bardo 4. Una Vida 5. Casa Don Diego 6. Coco Hacienda 7. Hotel Tiki Tiki 8. Naay 9. Mezzanine 10. Mi Amor 11. Papaya Playa Project 12. Azulik 13. Punta Piedra Beach Posada Hotel 14. Zamas 15. El Pez 16. Tago 17. Coco Tulum 18. Dune 19. Cabañas La Luna 20. Cabañas Tulum 20. The Beach Tulum 21. Ahau 22. La Zebra 23. Alaya 23. Playa Mambo Eco Cabanas 24. Las Palmas Maya 25. Sueños 26. Encantada 27. La Valise 28. Be Tulum 29. Nômade 30. Casa Malca
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