Tulum is the jewel of Mexico’s Riviera Maya! Once you have experienced the beautiful surroundings and beaches, situated on the coastline of the Caribbean, it will become clear why it's such a popular getaway. Once a laid-back beach destination, Tulum has become a hot spot for yoga retreats, dining experiences, boutique shopping, and nightlife. Another major draw is the town's incredibly preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan city. This Tulum travel guide is filled with travel tips to help you plan your trip to Mexico!
What to Expect in Tulum
Tulum is situated on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, in the Riviera Maya district. In recent years, the town has become more high-end, due to wealthier travelers flocking in, so prices in Tulum are more expensive than similar resort areas along the Yucatán.
Language: Spanish is the main language spoken by the locals, although most working in the tourism industry will also speak English relatively well.
Currency: The Mexican Peso is the local currency in Tulum.
Credit Cards and Banks: Upmarket restaurants and hotels will take Visa and Mastercard payments, but your best bet is to always carry cash. While US Dollars are accepted at some restaurants and shops, you’ll typically end up paying more than if you pay with Pesos, so take advantage of the local ATMs around.
Safety: Tulum is extremely safe, but like any destination, don’t leave your belongings unattended. You are fine to walk around at night, just use your street smarts and be aware of your surroundings. If you’re traveling solo, check out my solo female traveler’s guide to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula!
Climate: The average high temperatures in Tulum remain about 80 °F (30°C) throughout the year. The rainiest time of the year is between June and October, while the busiest season for tourism is in the dry period between December and April.
Getting Around in Tulum
Tulum is a relatively small town, but it is divided into three main areas. Most things are a little far to walk between, so consider renting a bicycle or hailing a local taxi!
Tulum Town: The main town area is located right by Highway 307, while the beach is a little further away, and is home to several upmarket spas and hotels. This is where the banks, shops, cafes and the small nightlife district is located, and is the first part of Tulum you will see when you arrive.
Tulum Beach: This beautiful Caribbean beach is where those looking to relax and unwind will head. It’s home to a superb white sand beach, some lovely restaurants, and a few boutique spas and hotels.
Tulum Ruins: The ruins are a short distance away from Tulum Town. There are plenty of taxis that can be found in all three areas of Tulum, but you can also rent a bicycle if you would rather get around by yourself. This is where you can explore the Mayan ruins that date from between the 13th and 15th centuries.
Where to Stay in Tulum
Consider what you’re most interested in doing during your time in Tulum before deciding which part of Tulum to stay in. If you’re interested in relaxation and a beachfront vacation, you’ll want to find accommodation along Tulum Beach! Here, you’ll most likely pay resort prices.
Tulum town had more budget-friendly options, like hostels and budget hotels and you can walk to restaurants, cafes, and shops. There are a few higher-end hotels in town as well, just keep in mind that you’ll want to plan for a bike or transportation to get to the beach or ruins.
I’ve compiled the top hotels in Tulum and my favorite places to stay in Tulum below!
I love the rustic, natural aesthetic of Be Tulum. It is a trendy, boutique hotel that you’ve probably seen on Instagram or Pinterest, but it truly is a gem in the Mayan Riviera. The hotel offers 64 elegant suites, some with private pools, plus three on-site restaurants, bars, and two outdoor pools.
Mezzanine Colibri Boutique is a luxury haven situated on Tulum Beach and offers a peaceful and relaxing resort experience. With only nine rooms, you’ll never feel like you’re at a huge resort, and the staff will take care of all your needs. Plus the onsite restaurant, serving Thai and Mexican food, will blow away your expectations.
Hotel Tiki Tiki is a mid-range design hotel with beautiful features! Chill by the pool, or grab one of the hotel’s bikes to cruise to the town and beach. They have an on-site restaurant with breakfast and great cocktails at their bar.
Encantada is the perfect place to get away and experience extreme beachside relaxation. It is a small boutique “eco-resort” (with only eight rooms) that has incredible ocean views. The service will blow you away, and make your trip even that much better! Be sure to check out their luxury spa while you’re here.
Teetotum offers large and modern rooms, great food, and a very laid-back atmosphere with a unique charm. Perfect for those traveling on a budget! The location is perfect—you’re close enough to walk around Tulum Town, or you can grab a bike and get to the beach!
Azulik is a private, adults-only beach resort and Mayan Wellness Center that looks like one epic treehouse resort! Sitting right on the beach, this is one of the most interesting hotels I’ve seen around the world. They have four onsite restaurants, a beach bar, lounge beds, and an onsite spa. At this property, there are a lot of perks, but you’re definitely paying for the “unique” factor.
Straw Hat Hostel is a fun, beach-bum vibes hostel with a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a bar, and lounge. They have a mix of dorm rooms and private rooms—plus, rooms have air-conditioning, patios, and the property has a sun terrace!
Where to Eat in Tulum
Tulum has a wide range of eateries—from luxurious resort restaurants to authentic, taco shops on the side of the road. If you want authenticity, look off-the-beaten tourist path!
If you are traveling on a budget, it is worth noting that the cheapest food is usually to be found in the Tulum town area, and there are plenty of cafes offering meals at a great price when compared to hotel and hostel restaurants. Here are my favorite places to eat in Tulum!
You know you’re on to a good place when the locals dine there, and here you will find generous portions of authentic and tasty Mexican dishes for a good price. You’ll also often find live music in the evenings.
El Milagrito Restaurante Bar MezcalMezcalaria
Located in Tulum Town, this place serves up delicious Mexican food and amazing mezcal cocktails. If you’re staying in town, be sure to hit this place for lunch or dinner!
Casa JaguarModern Mexican
Casa Jaguar is one of the more popular nightlife spots for tourists—hidden away in a quirky, jungle ambiance, they serve stunning, inventive dishes and creative (though somewhat sweet) drinks all night long.
Situated in a nice location overlooking the beach, this boutique hotel has a stunning beach bar, pizzeria, and Italian restaurant! It is a great place for authentic Italian pasta and seafood, plus a great wine list and a selection of cocktails. Their rosemary focaccia is a stand-out!
El Camello Jr.Seafood
Founded by a local Mexican fisherman, at El Camello is all fish, all the time. Your main choices focus around ceviche, pulpo, and whole fish, all of which can be ordered literally by the boatload, feeding a huge, hungry group without flinching. It’s no-frills, but worth a visit.
GITANO started as a Mezcal bar & kitchen, but now has three locations throughout Tulum. The original location, the “Gitano Jungle” has the most beautiful ambiance at night, when candles light up the tables. The food is well-presented and fresh, and the addition of a mezcal bar means you can spend the whole evening there.
Sabor De MarMexican, Seafood
If you’re a fan of tuna or tacos, this is a must. Sabor De Mar prepares fresh seafood and absolutely delicious small plates. The tuna tostadas are a must. Plus, the service is awesome!
Mateos Mexican GrillMexican
The bright and open-air layout of this bar + restaurant makes for a fun atmosphere. Seafood is the highlight of the cuisine along the Mexican coast, and Mateos is considered one of the best places for fish tacos in Tulum.
What to Do in Tulum
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its beautiful beaches, adventure activities (like scuba diving and zip-lining), Mayan ruins, cenotes, as well as fabulous resorts. Tulum definitely attracts a more Western crowd, but there are so many local experiences you can have in the region!
In addition, Tulum has also been a destination for those seeking wellness and yoga retreats for years. Check out my wellness travel guide to Tulum before you go!
I’ve compiled the top things to do in Tulum below, and if you’re looking to take some day trips out of Tulum, I’ve outlined ten amazing things to do in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
These natural freshwater pools called “cenotes” offer stunning swimming holes around the Yucatan Peninsula! There are a few main cenotes (Gran Cenote, Jardin de Eden, and Dos Ojos) nearby where you can swim, snorkel, and even dive.
Whether you choose to join one of the organized snorkeling tours or explore yourself, there are some great wildlife areas to see just a short distance off the beautiful beach.
Tulum’s ruins are an interesting place to visit, and as well as the buildings themselves, it is the decorative touches that are particularly good, while if you travel to the Coba ruins you can climb ‘El Castillo’ and enjoy the views.
There are several venues that offer yoga classes in Tulum, particularly in some of the hotels around the beach area. Look in advance to see if there are any yoga retreats offered as many resorts organize them.
Just off the coast of this part of Mexico are some wonderful diving sites and, whether you are a novice or an experienced diver, there are some great natural sights to see while you dive.
Sian Ka’an is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1987) that is located south of Tulum Town. Because it is a biosphere reserve, you can spot wildlife as well as 23 archeological sites and Mayan Ruins, the most well-known being Muyil.
Yaan Spa is a lovely spa in an idyllic location, this is a great place to relax and be pampered, with yoga classes among the treetops of the forest, and great treatments and massages available.
A short drive from Tulum, the vibrant beach resort of Playa del Carmen is a popular day trip with a lovely pedestrianized shopping center and some wonderful scuba diving and charter fishing on offer.
Take a colectivo or taxi to Akumal, a popular tourist destination, where you can literally walk into the water from shore and swim with giant sea turtles, eagle rays and countless fish. Be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen!
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