Where to Stay in Tulum – Beach or Town? [2023 Guide]
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👉 Jump to: Best Places | Beach or Town? | Best Beach Areas | Best Neighborhoods in Town | FAQ
Figuring out where to stay in Tulum doesn’t need to be hard. The hardest part is deciding between staying in town or on the beach (and, if so, which beach). This guide will explain exactly how to choose. After deciding, use my interactive ranking of Tulum hotels to find the best place to stay in Tulum for you.
I’ve been visiting and writing about Tulum, Mexico since well before its beautiful beaches blew up in international popularity. My partner Clara and I make frequent trips to Tulum to tour, photograph, and rank all the Tulum hotels we can.
We actually visit popular hotels in person. And, no we don’t get paid by the hotels — actually we work for you. We earn money when you choose to use our Booking affiliate links to make your reservation (totally optional, but super appreciated if our work has helped you out!).
Best Places to Stay in Tulum
Just want a quick answer on where to stay in Tulum? Here are the best places to stay in Tulum for different types of travelers:
- ✨ Overall #1 Hotel – Nerea Tulum ($$$, secluded, luxurious, gorgeous)
- ⛱️ Best Beach Resort – Cabañas Tulum Hotel ($$$$, huge beach area, private pools)
- 🛎️ Best for Families – La Zebra ($$$, family-oriented luxury resort)
- 👉 Best Place in Tulum Town – Coco Hacienda ($$, luxury on a budget)
- 💵 Best Budget Hotel – Hotel Biwa Tulum ($, super clean, nice amenities)
- 🎒 Best Hostel – Mayan Monkey ($, party in front, modern rooms in back)
We also have an interactive post ranking 40+ Tulum hotels (with our own original images of each!). Next up, we’ll cover whether you should stay on the beach or in town.
Where to Stay in Tulum – Beach or Town?
When deciding where to stay in Tulum, first decide whether to stay in Tulum beach or Tulum town. Then you can choose from the best beach areas or one of the best neighborhoods in town.
Basically, Tulum consists of a small town (or “pueblo”) that is set back from the beachfront about 3 kilometers into the jungle. The town is connected to the beach by two roads: Avenida Coba (Route 109) and Avenida Kukulkan. The beach itself has just a single beachfront access road (Route 15 or “beach road”) which runs parallel to the beach.
Tulum town is the recommended area to stay for travelers on a budget, long-term stay visitors, or partiers who prioritize proximity to bars and nightlife.
If you are on vacation and can afford it, however, the beach zone offers the most memorable Tulum experience. You are going to Tulum for its stunning beaches after all!
Pros of Staying on Tulum Beach
- Beach Access – Public beaches are limited in Tulum, and many beach hotels in Tulum offer private beach access.
- Avoid Traffic / High Taxi Fares – After sunset there is always a traffic jam of people fighting for taxis along the single beach roach.
- Safety – The beach areas tend to be safer than town.
Cons of Staying in Tulum Beach
- Prices – Hotels are much more expensive than in town, even for a comparable quality.
- Isolated – There are some restaurants, bars, and services, but it’s pretty limited (and expensive) compared to town.
Pros of Staying in Tulum Town
- Convenience – Closer to shops, nightlife, and restaurants.
- Prices – Accommodation is significantly more affordable in town (and, often, bigger than the beach resorts).
Cons of Staying in Tulum Town
- Safety – Tulum town has a checkered safety reputation.
- Hard to Get to Beach – The beach is far, and the handful of public ones get crowded, so staying in town can make visiting the beach feel like a chore.
Now, while the beach and town tend to be pretty similar within themselves, there are some differences within each area, so in the next sections we’ll break down where to stay in Tulum beach and where to stay in Tulum town.
Best Beach Areas in Tulum
Tulum really only has a single 10 kilometer long stretch of beautiful beach, but it’s broken up into several areas. Tulum beach is bounded roughly on the north by Tulum Mayan ruins in Tulum National Park, and on the south by the entrance to the Sian Ka’an National Biosphere Reserve. Here’s a map:
Tulum’s main beach area is called the “Zona Hotelera” because it’s essentially just a line of beach resorts. Within that, there is the north, middle, and south areas. The south is popular with honeymooners, the middle area with partiers, and the north with families and mid-ranged travelers.
But we’ll start with my favorite area in Tulum beach: a secret beach area most don’t know about called Tankah Bay.
Tankah Bay (Best Beach Area)
⭐ Best Hotels in Tankah Bay: Nerea Tulum | Mereva Tulum | Casa Altamar
Isolation is the draw of Tankah Bay, but it’s also the biggest downside. Apart from the hotel restaurants, there’s almost no services here. You’ll either need a rental car (get one with Discover Cars), or you’ll need to budget to spend a fair bit on taxis to and from town.
📍 Where: Tankah Bay is a private gated-area with a 24/7 security guard. That’s perfect if you’re concerned about safety in Tulum. That exclusivity also means its thin but gorgeous white sand beach is nearly empty most days. [Google Map]
- exclusive gated beach area free from crowds (and crime)
- nice shallow water perfect for swimming and kayaking
- the bay sometimes protects this beach from the sargassum
- far from Tulum town, so you’ll need a car or frequent taxis
- apart from hotel restaurants, almost no services
👉 Best For: luxury travelers looking for a tranquil and safe beach retreat away from the crowds of Tulum.
🛏️ Best Hotels in Tulum North Beach:
- Nerea Tulum [Check on Booking] – Our overall pick for the best place to stay in Tulum. It has an expansive pool that flows through the property. Best for couples.
- Mereva Tulum [Check on Booking] – A family-oriented resort that’s perfect if you have kids.
- Casa Altamar [Check on Booking] – Another boutique resort, with a great restaurant and nice clean rooms.
North Beach (Public Beach Area)
⭐ Best North Beach Hotels: Mezzanine | Villa Pescadores | Mi Amor a Colibri
📍 Where: From the intersection of Avenida Coba and the beachfront road, stretching to the Tulum ruins. This area is centered around the white sands at the public beach of Playa Paraiso. [Google Map]
- walking distance to the Tulum Mayan ruins
- public parking lot near Playa Paraiso
- best white sand beaches in Tulum (in my opinion)
- relatively less expensive accommodation options.
- only a handful of restaurants
- very little nightlife or shopping
- public beach area can get crowded at times
👉 Best For: couples and honeymooners, travelers looking for the most affordable (a relative term in Tulum these days) boutique accommodation on the beach.
- Maia Restaurant [Map] – one of the few places open from breakfast to dinner, Maia offers a variety of seafood and other fare at marked up prices.
- Common Ground Playa Tulum [Map] – a fun pop up beachside bar that’s open during the high season only.
🛏️ Best Hotels in Tulum North Beach:
- Mezzanine [Check on Booking] – a very small boutique hotel, oriented towards honeymooners.
- Mi Amor [Check on Booking] – a higher-end boutique hotel that is as close to the beach as you can get. Some cabanas even have private plunge pools.
- Villa Pescadores Tulum [Check on Booking] – highly-rated and moderately-priced boho chic style beachside accommodation.
Middle Beach Zone (Party Area)
⭐ Best Middle Beach Hotels: Dune Boutique | Casa Teka
📍 Where: the stretch of beach roughly between Avenida Coba and Avenida Kukulkan along the beach road. Centered around the beach town area near the Zamas Hotel. [Google Map]
- Center of the action, giving you the best location in town
- Good mix of beach clubs, restaurants, bars, and boutique shops
- Best nightlife on the beach (check out party schedule at Casa Jaguar or Gitano)
- Most convenient beach base for trips to Tulum town
- Hotels can get a bit expensive
- Beach access can be difficult if you aren’t a guest here
👉 Best For: groups of friends, older travelers, couples, and anyone looking for a good mix of convenience and quiet.
- Boccanera Pizzería y Cervecería [Map] – Highly reviewed pizza joint offering some of the more affordable meals along the beach.
- Kin Toh [Map] – High-end jungle treehouse overlooking the ocean. Prices match the quality of the views. (Notes: customer reviews praise this restaurant as one of few in Tulum to fastidiously observe social distancing protocols).
🛏️ Best Hotels in Tulum Middle Beach Zone:
- Dune Boutique [Check on Booking] – right in the middle of the beach party zone, with a large pool.
- Casa Teka [Check on Booking] – set back from the beach, but with a private cenote. More affordable than other beach hotels, and a good option for groups of friends (many rooms have multiple beds)
South Beach (Honeymooner Area)
⭐ Best South Beach Hotels: Encantada Tulum | Radhoo Tulum
📍 Where: the long stretch of beach road running south of Avenida Kukulkan towards the Sian Ka’an biosphere. Center point near La Zebra. [Google Map]
- Best mix of beautiful beaches and lots of restaurants, bars, and shopping options
- TONS of great restaurants in this area
- Best nightlife on the beach (check out party schedule at Casa Jaguar or Gitano)
- Lots of (albeit pricey) boho chic accommodation options
- Traffic can back up along the beach road at peak periods, making journeys to town annoyingly long.
- Prices are high (this is the place to stay, after all!)
👉 Best For: luxury travelers, honeymooners, families
- NU Tulum [Map] – high end restaurants in a relaxed outdoor environment.
- Rosa Negra Tulum [Map] – lively Latin atmosphere and succulent bites (with prices to match).
- Raw Love [Map] – beachside vegetarian joint with jungle vibes. Many come just to see the artistic statue of a giant.
🛏️ Best Hotels in Tulum South Beach Zone:
- Encantada Tulum [Check on Booking] – 8 exclusive rooms right on the beach, offering luxury and intimacy. One of the best places to stay in Tulum for honeymooners.
- Radhoo Tulum [Check on Booking] – A bohemian hotel on the jungle side. The pool is large, and you have access to the beach club at Encantada.
Best Tulum Town Neighborhoods
Many travelers choose to stay in Tulum town to save some cash. You can always whip down to the playa in a taxi, bike, or by foot. Plus, the town is a better base for getting out and checking out all the day trips from Tulum.
The town “or pueblo” offers lots of great bars and restaurants and everything from high end boutique hotels with stunning swimming pools to budget hotels and hostels.
There is also a separately named part of the town called Aldea Zama, which is a booming residential area with luxury condominiums, high-end Airbnbs, and a handful of luxury hotels.
Downtown (Home to Most Tulum Hotels)
⭐ Best Downtown Tulum Hotels: Coco Hacienda | Layla Tulum | Biwa Tulum
📍 Where: The main settlement in Tulum Mexico, bisected along the middle by Route 307. [Google Maps]
- Most affordable accommodation and boutique hotels in Tulum
- Easy access to shopping, grocery stores, restaurants, and bars
- Close to bus station, making trips to Coba, Valladolid, or Chichen Itza easier
- Getting to the beach can involve long waits in traffic at peak periods
- Possible security concerns (Tulum is generally safe, but the town is definitely not crime free)
👉 Best For: budget travelers and backpackers, large groups or families, party animals
- La Fonda [Map] – popular Italian restaurant serving fresh seafood and pasta in a relaxed backyard ambiance.
- El Camello Jr. [Map] – a renowned local seafood joint so popular that you’ll likely have to wait in line.
- Burrito Amor [Map] – A great place to eat in Tulum on a budget. I still to this day swear that I had the best burrito of my life at this place. Tons of vegan and vegetarian options.
🛏️ Best Tulum Hotels in Town:
- Coco Hacienda Tulum [Check on Booking] – A tranquil retreat from the chaos of Tulum town, with two stunning pools set in a lush jungle. Very luxurious considering the super reasonable prices (if this place was on the beach, it would easily go for 5x what they charge per night).
- Layla Tulum [Check on Booking] – A very Instagrammable design hotel, with Moroccan-inspired design and a stunning rooftop pool. The manager told me many Instagrammers come here for just one night to snap a ‘gram!
- Biwa Tulum [Check on Booking] – If you’re on a budget but can’t sacrifice quality, stay here. Biwa has spacious and clean rooms, a nice pool, and a great rooftop.
Aldea Zama (New Developing Area)
⭐ Best Aldea Zama Hotels: Arthouse | Naay Collection
📍 Where: Aldea Zama is a newer development on the south part of Tulum town, towards the beach. [Google Maps]
- Arguably one of the safer areas in Tulum town
- Lots of luxury hotels and modern apartment rentals
- Location means easier access to the beach
- The area is still under construction
- Frequent power outages
👉 Best For: families, long-term stays
- Matcha Mata [Map] – A refreshing place to get açaí bowls or smoothies.
- Bejuco Restaurant [Map] – Steak, seafood, and more. Tulum-style ambiance and highly reviewed service.
🛏️ Best Hotels in Aldea Zama:
- Arthouse [Check on Booking] – More like serviced luxury apartments. Rooms are huge, and the pool is too. Good for longer stays.
- Náay Tulum Curamoria Collection [Check on Booking] – Another good option for luxury at a reasonable price.
Want More Hotels? See our interactive list of hotels in Tulum.
FAQs About Where to Stay in Tulum
Should you stay in Tulum or Playa del Carmen?
Tulum is usually the preferred destination for travelers looking for a beach-focused vacation. The white sand and turquoise waters mean the beaches are better in Tulum. Playa del Carmen, by contrast, is more affordable. Because it is larger than Tulum, you’ll find more nightlife and all inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen.
Is it better to stay in Tulum or Cancun?
Since it has an airport, Cancun is a better choice for travelers who only have a few days or a long weekend. It is also usually the preferred destination by families and groups. Tulum offers better beaches plus the chance to experience Mayan ruins.
How long should you stay in Tulum?
We recommend staying at least 3 days in Tulum, which gives you enough time to visit the Mayan ruins and enjoy the beaches. With that said, many travelers stay in Tulum, Mexico much longer.
Does Tulum have an airport?
Tulum does not currently have an airport, but the Tulum International Airport started construction in 2021 and is purportedly expected to be finished in 2023. In the meantime, the closest airport to Tulum is Cancun International Airport. See our article on going from Cancun to Tulum.
When is best to go to Tulum?
The best time to visit Tulum is November through January, when hurricane season has subsided but before prices spike during Tulum’s peak tourist months of February through April.
Is downtown Tulum safe?
Tulum is generally safe, however there are occasional incidents of crime targeting tourists. Additionally, note that the state of Quintana Roo has recently experienced an uptick in drug and cartel-related crime. Exercise reasonable precautions and get trip insurance for Mexico.
Is it better to stay in Tulum town or beach?
If you are on a budget, it is better to stay in Tulum town. If you can afford it, staying on the beach provides the most memorable Tulum experience. See our full guide for more info.
✨ Next, read All Our Mexico Hotel Guides:
- Best Hotels in Valladolid
- Best Hotels in Mexico City
- Best Hotels in San Miguel de Allende
- Best Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
- Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
- Where to Stay in Mexico City
That’s it for this guide on where to stay in Tulum, Mexico. I hope I’ve helped you find the best places to stay in Tulum for your trip.
Get planning your trip to Mexico with our related guides:
Enjoy your visit to Tulum!
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Awesome article. I will be traveling to Tulum alone mid June and REALLY love being on the beach but also a foodie and nightlife guy. Any suggestions on where to stay? Will be there a month.
For a longer stay, you might like Coco Village! It’s built for digital nomads and walkable to town. It’s not on the beach, but for that long you’re going to have to really shell out some cash if you want to stay on the beach. Have fun in Tulum!
Hello! Any reviews on Delek Hotel?
Thanks bunches for the article, Nate. My wife and I will be staying in Tulum for a week towards the mid-end of July before going to Holbox for 5 days. we’re looking at hotels now, and we’re aiming to stay along the beach. However, we are a bit worried about the seaweed situation. I know it’s a bit unpredictable, but would you perhaps consider staying in the Pueblo rather than on the beach to avoid being disappointed by the potential seaweed buildup?
Seaweed is indeed very likely in mid-July in Tulum, though you never know. Holbox is more likely to be spared, but it’s still a toss up based on how the currents are going during your trip. Staying in town to save money makes sense. Get somewhere with a good pool. Naala Tulum is a good choice, or one of the ones with private pools at KASA depending on your budget. If seaweed is a problem during your stay, there are always cenotes and the biosphere.
Hi Nate! Thank you so much for tonnes useful information!
I want to rent a car and stay in down town Tulum, but i heard parking is very tough and expensive in the south beach area, where i will be going each day. Do you have any tips how to park a car in the south beach of Tulum?
Parking can be tough in the Tulum south beach area during peak periods (Nov-Feb, Spring Break). During other times of the year, it’s a little more manageable. The main issue is that usually you’ll need to pay for parking. If you’re willing to pay, you can usually find a lot for around 200 pesos (11 USD) per day. But sometimes you can patronize a business that has parking for guests (like Ziggy’s).