Snorkel With Sea Turtles At Akumal Beach
Just a short drive from Tulum, Akumal Beach offers a wonderful opportunity to get up close in personal with green sea turtles. You can snorkel right off the beach and swim alongside the turtles in their natural habitat just be sure to keep your hands to yourself. As a bonus, Akumal Beach’s powdery white sand and crystal clear waters make it a great place to unwind once you’re done.
Era Hotel & Spa Tulum
Built in the authentic Tulum boho-chic style with vintage decoration in natural colors, polished cement and stones, and elegant linen and covers, this 4-star hotel offers a great place to rest after a day out exploring, or to work if you are on a workation in Tulum.
Among the amenities and services, 24-hour front desk and concierge service, air-conditioning in the rooms, and free WiFi.
Papaya Playa Project Design Hotel & Beach Club
Papaya Playa Project has a special place in my heart. Way back when I studied in Mexico in 2008, Papaya Playa, back then a hostel, was the first place I stayed in Tulum.
It was very different then from what Tulum is today. Papaya Playa used to be a very basic hostel which now has evolved into one of the most popular design hotels in Tulum.
Over the years rates have increased a lot at Papaya Playa Hotel. However, sometimes you can find good deals on Booking.com, especially closer towards the off-season when the demand is lower.
You can find fairly affordable garden cabañas at the PPP. They dont come with an ocean view but are a lot cheaper, therefore, and you still get to enjoy the entire property.
Of course, there are also luxurious casitas and entire houses for a group of people at Papaya Playa in Tulum. One time we had the opportunity to stay at a beachfront casita and it was amazing.
Check out room options at Papaya Playa Project here.
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Where Is The Best Place To Stay In Tulum
Though at first glance Tulum might seem like your standard beach town, it is in fact, a bit more complex than that. Thus, requiring a not so simple answer to the question where is the best place to stay in Tulum?
Allow me to explain.
For starters, the layout of Tulum resembles a capital T. Located off of Highway 307 , there is one road that takes you into the heart of Tulum, Avenue Coba. Along Avenue Coba, you will find a selection of different accommodation options, boutique stores, and delicious restaurants.
Despite this being the most populated part of Tulum, this is not where you will find all of those fancy treehouse lodges and beachside villas being posted on Instagram. In fact, all of that is located along the main beach road of Tulum .
The reason this is important is that from the main highway to the intersection where Avenue Coba meets the beach road, it is about a 15-minute drive.
In addition to that, if you make a right at the intersection and continue along the road until you reach the end of Tulum, that is another 20-minute drive. However, that is only if there is no traffic , so it typically takes much longer. With that being said most of the affordable Tulum accommodation can be found near Highway 307 or the beginning of Avenue Coba .
On the other hand, most of the super expensive places are located along the beach road on the opposite end of Avenue Coba away from the main part of town where the cheap accommodation is.
What To Do In Tulum: Dive With Crocodiles
Not your average beach holiday activity, I admit! If you are an adrenaline-seeking backpacker, this is definitely worth the cash to stretch your budget, mainly just to say youve been diving with crocodiles! It actually wasnt as scary as it sounds, although if youre afraid of the dark I wouldnt recommend it! Check out my experience night diving with crocodiles in Tulum to see if it is up your alley!
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Tulum Beach Road South
This is the most popular area in Tulum, but because of this be prepared to pay! Hotels in this area charge on average of $300-$2000 per night! There are some alternatives though for my backpacker friends, so dont worry. I got you covered!
Pros: This is where all of the places you will have read about are located. Harwood, Pablo Escobar house, Azulik etc. If your budget can stretch to it I recommend staying in this area for the real Tulum bohemian experience.
You are right on the beach and its magical.
Cons: The main one is the cost. For many people, especially my fellow solo travelers, staying in this area is too expensive for accommodation, food, and drinks.
It gets very busy in this area of town. If you prefer something a bit quieter I recommend staying on the public beach side.
Top Tip: Although this is the private beach area, the beach is actually public. So if you can sneak through one of the resorts or find one of the very small and well-hidden paths you can get on to the beach no problem. Most of the resorts will let you stay on a sunbed for the day for a minimum spend so even if you cant afford to stay here you can pretend that you can for the day. That is exactly what I did on my first visit to Tulum.
More Tulum Tips And Resources
- Grab my Tulum Packing List to know exactly what to take for your dream getaway!
- Check out Tulum weather from Holiday-Weather.com
- Tulum restaurant tips from Eater.com
- Renting a car? Get my best tips for Driving in Mexico
- Check out my review of Hotel Tiki Tiki, a Tulum mid-century style gem
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Affordable Tulum Step : Get Creative On Getting Around
The most affordable Tulum ground transportation option from the Cancún airport is taking a bus to the Tulum Pueblo. Even if youve never been there before, many tourists do this each day. For this option, be sure to get cash at the airport for the buses and for a taxi from the bus station to your hotel. Check out this guide to different transportation options which includes a video of how to take the bus.
Cancun airport has ATMs right after exiting customs, in the alcove by the public restrooms.
You can also pre-book a private transfer like Paradise Transfers, so that a car is waiting for you upon exiting the airport, but this is usually over $100 each way.
When I visit Tulum, I typically rent a car. I find it to be about the same price as airport transfers and taxis, and as long as youre comfortable driving, it gives you much more flexibility.
If youre considering renting a car, check out my article on Driving in Mexico for all the info you need on car rentals in Cancun.
Things To See And Do In Pueblo
- Rent bikes and explore the best of Tulum on two wheels, a convenient option for navigating the city.
- Take a short drive to the Cenote Calavera, an otherworldly underwater cave of turquoise water that you can swim in and explore.
- Dine on cheap, delicious and authentic Mexican fare at El Camello.
- Dont miss this chance to try the best tacos al pastor in Tulum at La Chiapaneca, an authentic and inexpensive Pueblo restaurant.
- Dive into the azure waters of Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum and spend a day swimming and exploring this natural wonder.
- Eat delicious empanadas at El Sudaca, an authentic Latin American restaurant in the heart of Tulum.
- Take a relaxing stroll through Parque Tymben Ka, an oasis at the centre of Tulum.
- Browse original paintings, sculptures, and ceramics at the unique MiNiAtUrE art Gallery.
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Casa Don Diego Budget
Within walking distance of the restaurants of downtown Tulum, this colorful hotel features free breakfast, an outdoor pool, restaurant and bar, spa, free parking, laundry service, and bike and scuba equipment rentals. Rooms have air conditioning, terraces, private bathrooms, and no TVs. Located 5 km from the Archaeological Zone and the beach.Hotel phone: +52 1 984 745 9305
Tulum Town Budget Hotel Suggestions
My first trip to Tulum, I stayed in town for 3 of my 6 nights. For the first few days, this let me have easy access to the ruins and cenotes for snorkeling. Plus I saved a little money to splurge on the beach part of the trip.
I TOTALLY recommend this method for a more affordable Tulum trip. We enjoyed a few days of cenotes and ruins and then retired to a beachfront cabana for 3 nights. Tulum town has many boutique hotel options if you still want to feel a little posh.
PRO TIP: USE BEACH CLUBS TO GET BEACH ACCESS WHEN STAYING IN TOWN. If you stay in Tulum Pueblo for your entire trip and want to hang out at the beach, find a hotel or restaurant that advertises as a beach club. This usually means that they rent daily lounge chairs for a fee, or allow non-guests to use their beach by agreeing to a minimum food and drink spend. On the north beach road, try Villa Pescadores. Or south, try Papaya Playa Project, Ziggy Beach Bar, Villa Las Estrellas, or La Zebra. Taqueria La Eufemia restaurant is the cheapest beach access Ive found and a fun spot with lots of friendly people!
Based on my own Tulum trips and hobby of hotel stalking, I suggest scoping out these budget Tulum Town hotel options around $100/night or less.
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Check Out The Street Art In Tulum
While you are wandering around the town of Tulum, keep an eye out for lots of street art adorning the walls. There are colourful murals all over the downtown area, so just take a walk and enjoy. A popular stop for Instagrammers is the scultpure Ven a La Luz, at the Ahau Hotel in the beach zone. The sculpture was originally part of an art festival, but now has a permanent home here. A lot of Tulum is certainly Insta-worthy, but I prefer the town area over the beach as its cheaper and is much less touristy.
Best Tacos In Tulum Stand $
Now I didnt give this place its name, but when I saw it come up on Google Maps, I knew that I had to try. I was staying just two blocks down the road at Petit Turquoise hotel, so it was an easy dinner choice. I got the impression that it is just about always busy. Even on a Monday night there was a constant flow of customers.
The owner of the stand was super friendly and served up two large tacos, some grilled veggies on the plate, and a fresh watermelon juice for 60 MXN . The tacos themselves are flavorful, but theyve also got an array of sauces from mild to spicy to add on top. There are a few tables, but many people take it to go. I dont usually eat a ton of chicken in Tulum, as it is a less popular meat. However, with the popularity of this spot it felt like a safe choice.
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Budget Hotels In Tulum
Tulum town also has a number of budget-friendly options for locals and tourists alike. One location that offers unbeatable price is Ginger Tulum. Its located between a bust station and the main strip. The rooms are comfortable and come with a décor that is hard to find in other properties. Water lovers are not left behind theres a pool at the entrance. If youre on a tight budget, you can be sure youll enjoy both worlds.
Families with kids traveling to Tulum will love the Una Vida Hotel. It has meticulously maintained grounds and is quiet. The lighting around the pools provides a relaxing atmosphere.
Other Budget Travel Tips For Tulum
Visit Tulum During The Low Season
Like many other beach destinations in Mexico, prices can vary wildly between seasons. During low seasons, prices in Tulum are much more on par with what youll find throughout Mexico. During high seasons, hotels, hostels, and even bars and restaurants will jack up their prices. Sometimes, the price hike can be up to 400%. Seriously, I got a dorm room on the beach for $23 a night. I saw their price chart, and during high season, the same crappy dorm bed would cost $70. Its insane. If you want to experience Tulum without spending crazy amounts of money, youll want to go outside of peak seasons.
Take Advantage of Weekly and Monthly Discounts on Airbnb
Weekly discounts on Airbnb usually can net you about 10-15% off the usual price. Monthly discounts? Ive seen it take as much as 60% off the usual price. Put it this way. A $30 per night Airbnb with a 50% monthly discount will total to about $500 a month after all the fees.
Check Facebook Marketplace For Cheaper Monthly Rentals in Tulum
Airbnbs are great and convenient, but if you plan on sticking around Tulum long-term, youll want something cheaper. The apartments on Facebook marketplace tend to be much cheaper than Airbnb, and often of great quality if you start your search a few months in advance.
Dont Be Tempted By All The Cute Boutiques. Shop Elsewhere.
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Tulum Beach Middle Best Place To Stay In Tulum For Luxury
Heading further south of Tulum Beach and Tulum Beach North, Tulum Beach Middle is where accommodation, leisure, dining, and nightlife take a turn for the fancy!
Picking up where the main Tulum Beach zone left off, Tulum Beach Middle is the location of a number of the as well as some of the hippest boutiques, coolest beaches clubs, and most appetizing restaurants and cafes in the area.
Tulum Beach Middle is brimming with places to stay and is the best area to stay in Tulum if the skys the limit and you are seeking the full barefoot luxury experience.
While prices are high, the quality of the hotels is out of this world and youll be sure to get the full celebrity treatment. That being said, there is a scattering of more affordable hotels and plenty of markets if you want to watch your expenses.
Pros and cons of staying in Tulum Beach Middle
Best Hotels Inside Downtown Tulum
If you dont have the budget to stay in the playa area or if youre a more active type of traveler and youre planning to explore the surrounding area and to do day trips instead of laying on the beach, then I recommend staying in the town itself.
The pueblo is the actual village and its a great place to explore the local vibe of Tulum town and the Mayan ruins, experience the typical nightlife, and to indulge in traditional Mexican food.
Youll find many souvenir shops, food stands and, last but not least, TONS of budget-friendly accommodations for your stay.
By the way, if you want to find out more about Mexico, I recommend checking out my article about 9 Unforgettable Things to Do in Riviera Maya!
The main con here is that youll have to take a taxi if you want to get to the beach. If that doesnt sound that bad to you, here is the list of luxury hotels, budget hotels, and everything in-between for a great stay in Tulum Town:
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La Palmita Budget Boutique Hotel
La Palmita is a boutique hotel in downtown Tulum with various guest room options on offer. The unique thatched-canopy roof of La Palmita sets it apart from the restaurants and shops its surrounded by, and the rooms feature original artwork by many talented artists, as well as tasteful decor and interiors to give them a touch of aesthetic.
You will find more than enough amenities in the guest rooms for a comfortable stay throughout your vacation. Sliding glass door balconies, rooftop sitting areas with hammocks, wifi, air-conditioning, desks, mini-fridges, and lots of other features are part of the rooms.
There are also studios available in La Palmita, which come with sofabeds, kitchenettes, and even original hand-painted murals reflecting La Palmitas dedication to sustainability and supporting the community.
The hotel has a 24-hour front desk, daily housekeeping service, and transportation services for the guests as well. Additionally, snorkeling gear and beach towel rentals are all provided to the guests staying here.
La Palmita has room options that are perfect for families, groups, as well as couples.
There is a shared kitchen on the roof, so you can use that if you feel like making yourself something. The staff is also really nice and accommodating, so you can ask for anything you need and theyll do their best to provide it.
Check rates and availability on Booking.com