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 that 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 much more freedom. Click here to get the best rates on DiscoverCars.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 developed this guide so you can know the pros and cons of staying in Tulum town or right on Tulum beach.
If you are traveling with kids, make sure to read our Best family resorts in Tulum article. Here, we will go through all the best hotels in Tulum for families.
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 into three parts, although you can only stay at two of them. The third area is Tulum National Park, home to the amazing Mayan ruins that 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 a dense tropical rainforest.
Due to the distances involved, it is usually a ten or fifteen-minute drive from 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 within 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. Here is everything you need to know about the drive from Cancun to Tulum.
Let’s look at some pros and cons of staying in Tulum town or the beach. So you can get a better idea of where to stay in Tulum.
Have ultimate freedom and save tons of money on tours with your own rental car! Don’t worry – It’s safe (we’ve rented 20+ times), the roads are good, and it’s easier than you think! We always rent from Discover Cars, it’s easy & they have the best prices.
*When looking for the best price and the biggest selection of hotels in Tulum, check prices on Booking.com. We’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*
Staying on Tulum Beach
Nothing in Tulum is that simple. You even have a choice to make regarding your accommodation at Tulum Beach! This is because the beautiful beach is split into private and public sections.
Both have their own attributes, making them worth checking out – it 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 referred 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 bathing in the scenery or 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 the Tulum Beach area can be quite expensive, and some rooms go for up to $1000+ a night! Due to their popularity, many luxury hotels in Tulum get booked quite far in advance. 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 and take any litter you have with you.
Thankfully, it all seems to be paying off: the scenery is incredible, and there’s no 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. However, 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 a 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.
Related Article: Bacalar – Mexico’s Hidden Gem
Option B: Playa Paraiso
Located closer to the Mayan ruins than the private beach (to the north of Av. Coba, 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 fewer shops and restaurants exist.
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 the rooms and bathrooms 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 downside to the secluded and peaceful public beach is that you’ll almost certainly take several taxis to and from the private beach. Here, 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.
Related Article: Why Isla Holbox Should be on Your Bucket List
Best Hotels on Tulum Beach
We like booking on Booking.com. They have the most hotel options and great rates we’ve found. 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.
If you are trying to travel to Tulum on a budget, most likely, you will take the ADO bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum. It is the cheapest way to get to Tulum, click here for all transfer options on how to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum.
While a lot of life in the town is geared toward 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, chilled little bars and cafes, and some fantastic local restaurants serving 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, 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 in Tulum 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, making it quite dangerous even if you attempt it.
Many first-time visitors to Tulum assume that the beach will be within walking distance from the town, but it isn’t feasible unless you want to spend all day walking back and forth.
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 cheaper than the beach, with more accommodation options, restaurants, and bars. In any case, the beautiful beaches are only a cab journey away; in no time, 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. Taxis in Tulum aren’t cheap. They now, on average, charge $25 to go from Tulum town to Tulum 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, cenotes, 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 and things to do in Tulum.
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 Mexican 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 need to know what you want from your vacation before booking a place blindly and ending up disappointed.
Let us know what you think about whether you stay at Tulum Town, on Tulum Beach, or Playa Paraiso Beach. Tulum is an incredible place, so you’re sure to be in for a great time!