Mexico is a dream. It’s quickly rising to the top of my favorite countries and without a doubt, Tulum is my favorite cities! I’ve visited Mexico 5 times in the last few months and Tulum has been included on several of those trips. I didn’t think it was fair to half-ass this list for you so I drank every spicy margarita, ate every shrimp taco, and ran up and down this town a million times to prep this guide for you. Such a tough job but someone has to do it. 😉 Cheers!
I highly recommend staying in Tulum Beach, rather than the Tulum town. All three options I’ve suggest below are along the Tulum Beach.
Most affordable: Villa Pescadores Tulum – Located right on the beach, these gorgeous individual villas are eco-friendly and peaceful. Friendly staff that offers welcome drinks and coffee delivered every morning to your villa. These villas are on the far end of the Tulum Beach right next to the Mayan Ruins. Each villa has a large front deck and plenty of hammocks to enjoy throughout your stay.
Mid-Range: Kai – Located right next to Villa Pescadores Tulum, this resort is the upgraded version of the two. You will be paying for larger rooms with an additional bed, high ceilings, very cool décor and aesthetics, plus a wonderful restaurant onsite. Oh and an outdoor shower… Yes, please!
Splurge: Papaya Playa Project – I stayed in the Oceanfront Casita with Private Pool. It was truly perfection with plenty of privacy. This resort is very ecofriendly with the added perks of rooftop pools and open showers in the casitas. Overall, great amenities including free yoga every morning at 8 am and a DJ playing chill house music at the beach during the day and night. I highly recommend stopping by this resort even if you do not stay here, as it has some of the best vibes and beach parties in all of Tulum.
Day Activities… which happen to be really good picture spots:
- Cenotes – This is a must! A cenote is a natural pit resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath… and the water is usually breathtakingly teal. Tulum is known for these. I recommend going early in the morning to beat crowds. The cost ranges from $10-25 USD. You can book a tour or explore on your own by swimming, snorkeling, diving, and enjoying the nature, etc. We hit several and Dos Ojos was my favorite. The mosquitos are bad near the cenotes so remember bug spray!
- Rent bikes and ride around town! Most resorts have these to use for free.
- Mayan ruins of Tulum – These are located on the far end of the Tulum Beach. The ruins are so close that it is worth the visit and they are very beautiful. I recommend going right before closing at sundown to avoid most of the crowds. Imagine a beautiful beach, coastal ruins and the blue ocean.
- Playa Paraiso and Playa Maya – The famous leaning palm trees! Very beautiful beach spot and you can grab drinks and coconuts from the local stands.
- Grab a drink at Coco Tulum. They have really cute swings on the beach and it’s a good place to hang out for an hour or two.
- Hop around all the other hotels and resorts. Each one is known for something different and they rotate who is hosting events each day. For example, DJ at Papaya Playa Project, Salsa Dancing Classes at Zebra Hotel.
- Have a boat day! You can take a boat ride out to Isla Mujeres.
- Raw Love – My favorite breakfast spot in Tulum! Amazing smoothies and bowls in an incredible beach setting. You will NOT regret this! Get the vanilla bowl, add peanut butter. Cash only.
- Mivida – Good spot for breakfast.
- Zamas — Breakfast outside with a cool look out.
- Matcha Mama – You will most likely recognize the iconic outside as a spot many people get pictures at. Snap one, and you might as well enjoy a delicious acai bowl while you are there! Cash only.
- Habitats – Good spot for lunch.
- Nomade Restaurant – Awesome spot for lunch. Bohemian beach vibes mixed with Moroccan inspired dining.
- Mateos – Good lunch spot for typical Mexican in the center of the main beach strip.
- Posada Margherita — Italian. Yes, Italian in Mexico… GO! Walk in only.
- Gitano – This Latin bar and restaurant is located on the jungle side of the Tulum beach and gives me all the good vibes! Great design, fun drinks, cool atmosphere. It’s a must. Good spot for late night drinks and socializing if you want to skip on a semi-expensive meal.
- Casa Jaguar – Equally amazing ambiance to Gitano with more of a hipster feel. It’s located on the jungle side. Intimate dinner setting that is an experience in itself. This is the spot for a lot a late night parties, as well.
- Hartwood – Great spot for dinner. Suggest the empanadas and grilled octopus. Cash only.
- Kin Toh at the Azulik hotel – I would just go for drinks. I wanted to go so badly to get the amazing pictures in the huge hammocks overlooking the jungle, yet, the staff was stuffy and it was hard to enjoy the experience. If you want this picture then go but if you are just looking for a good time then skip this one. Reservation required.
Logistics and Other Tips:
- Fly into Cancun. Tulum is a little over an hour from Cancun so either rent a car or book a driver to take you. I rented a car through Easy Way both trips and did not have any issues. For 3 of us for 4 days it was about $75 a person including gas. To get a ride from the airport to Tulum it is about $75 each way. It is cheaper, yet riskier to rent a car… your call.
- Always have some cash on hand (USD works most places but you will get a better deal with Pesos). Some restaurants only accept cash, same with local fruit stands, parking, etc.
- If you want to save some money then go to the local store, Chedraui, to stock up on snacks, water, alcohol, bug spray, etc.
- Always keep a copy of your passport and backup money or credit card in a separate bag.
- Have fun!!
All photos were taken by myself, Emma Johnson, and John O’Nelio.
Thanks for adventuring along!