What many first-time visitors to Tulum don’t realize before visiting, however, is that Tulum is made up of three different areas. Staying in the right part of Tulum will make all the difference on your trip.
Imagine getting to Tulum only to find that you are staying in town and are a drive away from the idyllic beaches can put a dampener on your holiday. You want to make sure when picking where to stay in Tulum, you make the right choice before arriving.
When visiting Tulum, people stay either in Tulum Town or Tulum Beach. Because there is quite a distance between the two, you really need to take a taxi or rent a car to get from the town to the beach – it is just too far to walk. We always opt for renting a car, it’s super cheap and gives you so much more freedom. Click here to get the best rates on RentalCars.com, that’s who we book with they offer the best prices and free cancelations.
It can be quite confusing looking up where to stay in Tulum. To help give you an idea of what options are available, we’ve come up with this guide so you can know the pros and cons of staying in Tulum town or right on Tulum beach.
Let’s have a look at what Tulum Town and Tulum Beach each have to offer.
Understanding the Different Areas of Tulum and Which is Best for You!
As mentioned, Tulum is split up into three different parts, although you can only stay at two of them. The third area is Tulum National Park, home to the amazing Mayan ruins which Tulum is famed for.
Tulum Beach is located alongside the long coastal road that runs up the eastern side of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is separated from Tulum Town by dense tropical rainforest. Due to the distances involved, it is usually a ten or fifteen-minute drive from the Tulum beach to Tulum town. You could always rent a bike in Tulum if you feel like working up quite a sweat to get from one to the other!
The beach and town aren’t walking distance from one another. This is why we always rent a car in Tulum, it’s much easier than you think. Make sure to read our renting a car in Mexico guide before traveling.
Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of staying in Tulum town or at the beach. So you can get a better idea of where to stay in Tulum.
Staying on Tulum Beach
Nothing in Tulum is that simple. You even have a choice to make when it comes to your accommodation at Tulum Beach! This is because the beautiful beach is split into a private and public section. Both have their own attributes, which make them worth checking out – it really depends on what you are looking for from your vacation.
Option A: Tulum Beach
The most popular place to stay in Tulum, the Tulum Beach area is home to loads of beautiful boutique hotels. This part of the beach is also sometimes refered to as the “Private Beach” of Tulum because it is mostly occupied by resorts. However, all beaches in Mexico are public (with only a very few exceptions). The beach itself is public, but if you choose to stay somewhere else you’ll need to find a public entrance to make your way to the beach.
Resorts on Tulum Beach are all situated directly on the gorgeous white sand beach that runs alongside the pristine, warm waters of the ocean. It really is an idyllic place to stay in Tulum. Every morning, you can roll out of bed and find yourself immediately on the beach with gorgeous views out over the ocean.
Tulum Beach is perfect for simply lounging on and taking in the sun, wandering along the endless white sand, and taking in the scenery or bathing in the sparkling turquoise waters. There are tons of luxury hotels in Tulum on this part of the beach. They are certainly worth checking out for their spectacular seaside location. If you are looking for a picture-perfect honeymoon destination in Mexico, Tulum is it.
However, hotels in Tulum Beach area can be quite expensive, and some rooms go for up to $1000+ a night! A lot of luxury hotels in Tulum get booked up quite far in advance due to their popularity. You can’t just turn up and expect to find a room if you’re a more laid back type of traveler.
Almost all the hotels are ecologically minded (which is excellent!), as they want to preserve and protect the stunning local environment. This means that some of them don’t provide electricity past midnight and you’re always asked to spare water where you can, as well as take any litter you have with you. Thankfully, it all seems to be paying off: the scenery really is incredible, and there’s not a hint of trash in sight. As this part of the beach is private, anyone wanting to enjoy the gorgeous white sands has to go through one of the hotels or Tulum beach clubs. This also helps keep the beach clean and protected.
As well as the wealth of amazing hotels, you’ll also find some great little seaside restaurants and upmarket shops. Some of the best restaurants in Tulum are found along the beach. Although, like the hotels themselves, most of them are quite pricey. There is loads of great food on offer; eating your breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the stunning beach never gets old!
If you ever decide that you want to head into Tulum Town or manage to tear yourself away from the beach to go and see the majestic Mayan ruins. You’ll almost certainly need to get a cab. Buses are very infrequent along the beachfront. Because some of the hotels and resorts lie up to 15 miles from town, you can end up paying quite a bit on cab fares. Although you’ll certainly have almost everything, you could ever want down at the beachfront and never have to leave.
All in all, for many people looking at where to stay in Tulum, the private beach is the place to be – and for good reason too, it has so much to offer.
Pros: You’re right on the beach overlooking the beautiful ocean! There are numerous shops and restaurants on offer.
Cons: It can get quite expensive.
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Option B: Playa Paraiso
Located closer to the Mayan ruins than the private beach (so to the north of Av. Coba, which is the main road from town to the beach), the public beach is home to several resorts. Anyone can access it if they feel like going for a dip or a stroll alongside the ocean. This part of the beach is generally quieter than the private beach, as there are fewer shops and restaurants.
While the public beach is a bit rockier and has a bit less white sand, the scenery is still stunning. You’ll undoubtedly have your fill of beautiful ocean views, palm tree-lined beaches and, of course, glorious sunshine! It’s less developed than the private side; this means that if peace and quiet are high on your list of priorities when looking at where to stay in Tulum, then you’ve come to the right spot.
At Tulum’s public beach, the hotels are a bit more resort-like. As such, you can usually find better deals and cheaper prices than at the fancier boutique hotels on the private beach. You can also find some cabana-type accommodation options, although these vary in quality. If you have just turned up without booking somewhere beforehand, you may want to check what the rooms and bathrooms are like before parting with your cash!
We stayed at Mi Amor on our last trip to Tulum. It’s an adults-only property with amazing views.
Prices are $250+, you can sometimes get some great last-minute deals. Click here to check rates.
One slight downside to the secluded and peaceful public beach is that you’ll almost certainly end up taking several taxis to and from the private beach. It is here that you’ll find more shops, restaurants, and places to go out at night. You can also always stock up on food and drink at one of the supermarkets in town if you don’t feel like making the trip every evening.
A more affordable and secluded spot than Tulum Beach, Playa Paraiso beach has a lot going for it, and the scenery is breathtaking!
Pros: It’s more secluded, quieter, and affordable than the private section of Tulum Beach.
Cons: There is less going on, and the beach isn’t quite as idyllic.
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Best Hotels on Tulum Beach
We like booking on Hotels.com they have a great rewards program. Stay 10 nights get one free. They add up the total of your ten nights stay and the average amount is given back to you in a free night. We have cashed in on several free nights. They also have the best customer service across all hotel booking sites.
- Mi Amor | Check Prices Playa Paraiso Beach – Adults Only
- Ikal Hotel Tulum | Check Prices Playa ParaisoBeach Eco-Friendly
- Posada del Sol Tulum | Check Prices Tulum Beach Best Deal right on Tulum Beach prices as low as $49
Staying in Tulum Town
At around three miles from the beachfront, Tulum Town is known as ‘El Pueblo’ by locals. It has all the facilities you would expect from a small town, such as pharmacies, banks, and supermarkets. While a lot of life in the town is geared towards the tourist industry and the Mayan ruins. It is an authentic place to stay and will give you a better feel for the local culture.
Alongside the usual souvenir shops and tour operator stands, you’ll find delicious taco-stands and chilled little bars and cafes, as well as some fantastic local restaurants serving up amazing Mexican food. The prices are a fraction of what you’ll find along the beachfront. As such, staying in town is a much more affordable option if you want to eat well without worrying about the damage it’s doing to your wallet. There are also a couple of supermarkets and local markets if you’re going to buy food and drinks and take them down to the beach for a picnic.
Accommodation is also a lot cheaper and more varied in town than at the beach. You can find campsites and hostels alongside budget hotels and more upmarket options, although these will still cost a fraction of the beachside hotels.
While there isn’t a massive amount going on, Tulum Town is a welcoming and friendly place to stay. There is some fun nightlife on offer and, depending on where you go; you’ll often find a mixture of locals and tourists. In town, it is very easy to take a trip to go and see the Mayan ruins for which Tulum is renowned, or book a tour and head a bit further afield to Playa del Carmen or the ruins of Chichen Itza. You can also easily book to go scuba diving, kayaking or kite surfing with any of the tour operators. Many people make sure to check out the fantastic cenotes nearby, which you can often go swimming in.
When considering where to stay in Tulum, the town has loads going for it, although it has one massive downside: you’re always a cab ride (or sweaty cycle ride!) from the beach. The distances involved mean that it is just too far to walk and a lot of the time there is no sidewalk, which makes it quite dangerous even if you do attempt it. Many first-time visitors to Tulum assume that the beach will be within walking distance from the town, but unless you want to spend all day walking back and forth, it really isn’t feasible.
If you don’t mind not waking up with the beach right in front of you, Tulum Town is a great place to stay. It is a lot cheaper than the beach, and there are more accommodation options, restaurants, and bars. In any case, the beautiful beaches are only ever a cab journey away; in no time at all, you’ll find yourself on an idyllic white sand beach!
Pros: There are more affordable accommodation and food options, and you’ll get to experience the local culture.
Cons: You’re a cab journey away from the beach.
Best Hotels in Tulum Town
- Elements Tulum Boutique Hotel | Check Rates Affordable 4 Star Hotel Tulum Center As low as $86
- Coco Hacienda Tulum | Check Rates Boho-Chic in Tulum Center
- Maison Tulum | Check Rates Budget Hotel with great reviews in Tulum Center
With its incredible Mayan ruins, amazing beaches and beautiful rainforest scenery, Tulum, Mexico is a gorgeous place to visit. It’s an increasingly popular destination due to all the spectacular sights it has to offer. Lounging on the beach with a drink in hand after a busy morning exploring the fantastic archaeological sites is a magical experience. You’ll almost certainly come away raving at how awesome Tulum is!
Places in Mexico to Visit Before or After Tulum
If you’ve got more time to explore Mexico there are some amazing places in Mexico nearby you should check out. If you can’t fit it in on this trip consider them on your next trip. Make sure to check out some of our other Mexico articles to fuel your wanderlust.
So, there you have it!
As you can see, deciding where to stay in Tulum can be a little confusing the first time you go. You really need to know what you want from your vacation before booking a place blindly and ending up disappointed.
Whether you end up staying at Tulum Town, on Tulum Beach, or Playa Paraiso Beach, let us know what you think. Tulum is an incredible place, so you’re sure to be in for a great time!
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