Where to Stay in Tulum: My Ultimate Accommodation Guide

Where to stay in Tulum? 

The gem of Mexico’s Riviera Maya offers a diverse paradise for beach lovers and culture vultures alike. But where should you lay your head at night in this enchanting destination? 

Fear not, fellow travelers! I’ve got you covered. 

Drawing from my personal experience of spending two weeks in Tulum, I’ll guide you through the best areas to stay, highlighting the pros and cons of each. 

Whether you’re seeking vibrant nightlife, family-friendly environments, romantic getaways, budget-friendly options, or even a luxury escape, I’ll help you find your perfect spot. 

So, let’s embark on a Tulum adventure together and discover where you should stay for an unforgettable experience!

👉 Don’t hesitate to read our Tulum guide to plan your vacation and not make any more mistakes. You will find all our articles about this destination. 

Dream makers 😎

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In 2 months, I’ve spent more than 10,000 USD to test the best activities in the Riviera Maya. Stay with me to quickly decide which experiences you should do and learn how to make the most of your trip.

Best places to stay in Tulum: Your takeaway + Map

Bike in Tulum beach-Mexico
  • Tulum Beach Area is home to luxury hotels, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.
  • North Tulum Beach combines jungle and beach with romantic spots and proximity to Tulum ruins and Playa Paraiso.
  • Middle Beach Zone is perfect for partygoers, with easier access to downtown Tulum and lively clubs and restaurants.
  • South Tulum Beach offers a wellness theme, boutique hotels, and closer proximity to the Sian Ka’an reserve.
  • El Pueblo (Downtown Tulum) retains its cool-kid vibe, ideal for budget travelers and planning day trips.
  • Aldea Zama & La Veleta are popular with digital nomads, offering modern apartments and a large expat community.
  • Tankah Bay provides a peaceful getaway with private beaches, snorkeling, and cleaner beaches.
  • Plan your Tulum visit carefully, avoiding high seasons and considering the seaweed situation.
  • Be mindful of Tulum’s growing popularity, book accommodations in advance, and navigate Tulum’s prices and safety considerations.

Pros and cons of staying in each Tulum area

Each part of Tulum truly has its own vibe – and that’s not us just blowing smoke. So, where you decide to stay will heavily influence the type of vacation you’ll experience. 

Tulum Beach Area

Rosa negra Beach Restaurant - Tulum
Credit: @rosanegrabeach_tulum

In general, the beach area is home to most of the luxury hotels and restaurants. You can also find plenty of nightlife options here. Even within Tulum Beach’s different parts, the mood can shift quickly. 

North Tulum Beach

Crowded public beaches and Tulum ruins.

Why you’ll like North Tulum Beach

The area has a delightful mixture of the Tulum jungle and the beach. This makes for some very romantic spots that hotels in the area capitalize on. 

You’re right next to the Tulum ruins, one of the more popular spots for a family-friendly visit. 

Also, you’ve got Playa Paraiso, the only public beach in Tulum. Boats leave from there, leading to a snorkeling spot in front of the ruins.

Everything from hotels to beach clubs is a bit more affordable in this part of the beach. There’s Cinco Tulum beach club, Tulum’s best value-for-money beach club. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a deal in that type of entertainment.

Why you might not like North Tulum Beach

Since you’re near the only public beach, many people who are not staying at a local hotel flock here. It can get crowded at Playa Paraiso during the peak season. Also, since the hotels don’t invest in taking care of the public beach, it tends to be filled with seaweed!

Getting here from Cancun is easy, but moving around to the other parts of the beach isn’t. You’ll spend time and money on taxis to get from your hotel to bars and restaurants—or walk 1 hour.

Middle Beach Zone

Gitano beach - tulum restaurant
Credit: @Gitano.beach

Here you’ll be more in the thick of things. A great spot if you’re coming to Tulum for the party scene.

Why you’ll like Middle Beach Zone

Some of the most famous hotels call this area home. The restaurants and clubs, though, are the real draw. 

Apart from being near the action when it comes to entertainment, there’s also quicker access to downtown Tulum from here. If you want to explore the area throughout your stay in Tulum, this is where you want to stay.

Why you might not like Middle Beach Zone

The downside of being in the middle of the action is that the streets are typically filled with people. It can get noisy at night, so even if you paid a premium for that luxury hotel, sleep can be hard to come by. 

And speaking of paying a premium, expect to shell out more for everything in this area!

South Beach Tulum

You could say that this Tulum Beach South area has a “wellness” theme to it. You’ll find some of the best boutique hotels with amazing spas here.

Why you’ll like South Tulum Beach

I already gave you a preview talking about the wellness centers and spas. On top of that, many of the best hotels incorporate wooden structures into their design that typically mixes the beach and the jungle side. 

The area is closer to the Sian Ka’an reserve, a beautiful jungle area by the sea mixed with some cenotes and wildlife galore. This place gives you a unique beach-going experience.

If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic getaway, you can’t go wrong with some of the best hotels in this part of the beach. The theming of the right boutique hotel can perfectly set the mood for your vacation.

Another good point is that you’re still close to the middle zone (15-20 min walking distance).

Why you might not like South Tulum Beach

It’s the most isolated part of the beach

This may not be the spot for people looking to explore the region. 

I’m not going to lie; you’ll need to invest a pretty penny to stay at the best Tulum beach hotels in this area.

Tulum: El Pueblo

Tulum Downtown (3)

This quaint part of Tulum, known as El Pueblo, still retains some of the original vibes of the once-small village by the beach.

Downtown Tulum

Keep in mind that you won’t be close to the beach in this area, but there’s still plenty to enjoy!

Why you’ll like Downtown Tulum

Downtown Tulum is the go-to spot for budget hotels and bars. The hippie or Bohemian vibe Tulum is known for is still alive and well in this part of town. 

Many places are within walking distance, making it easy to get around. Plus, being in the main town means you can plan tours to cenotes or the Mayan ruins and take an ADO bus or collective.

Why you might not like Downtown Tulum

Chaos can be the name of the game in some parts of Downtown Tulum, so it’s essential to be cautious at night. Not much is happening during the day, and waiting for the afternoon to hit the town can get dull.

Aldea Zama & La Veleta

Gorgeous Flowy Space with Wrap-around Private Pool Tulum
Credit: Gorgeous Flowy Space

Aldea Zama & La Veleta are two new neighborhoods in Tulum, very popular with digital nomads looking for a more extended stay.

Why you’ll like Aldea Zama & La Veleta

These modern and spacious apartments offer a stark contrast to most downtown accommodations. 

Staying here won’t be as pricey as most beach hotels, and the large expat community can make it easier to fit in. Plus, parking is much easier in these neighborhoods than elsewhere in Tulum.

Why you might not like Aldea Zama & La Veleta

Having a car is essential for staying in these areas, as relying on taxis can get expensive.

Ongoing construction can lead to noisy days. The dirt beach road with potholes can be a hassle, though these issues will likely be resolved over time.

Outside Tulum Beach

Credit: @thecamillezhou

A few places near Tulum offer the main attractions within a reasonable distance. Tankah Bay is one of my top recommendations.

Tankah Bay

Home to a couple of resorts with private beaches, Tankah Bay is also a popular snorkeling spot near Tulum.

Why you’ll like Tankah Bay

This peaceful spot offers a break from the bustling Tulum nightlife. 

Nearby swimming options include the bay itself and Casa Cenote

You can find an adults-only hotel with a beach bar at a better price than in the main Tulum beach area, and the beaches are typically cleaner—great news for snorkeling enthusiasts.

Why you might not like Tankah Bay

The secluded location means no local buses service this area. If you don’t have a car, getting to other spots, mainly Tulum Beach, can be challenging. 

There aren’t many restaurants or bars nearby, so make sure the resort you choose has tasty dining options, as that’s where you’ll be eating during your stay.

Best Areas to Stay in Tulum: A Comprehensive Guide

In this section, we’ll explore the best areas to stay in Tulum, depending on the type of trip you’re taking. 

Where to Stay in Tulum for the Nightlife

If you’re a party animal looking to experience Tulum’s vibrant nightlife, you’ll want to stay close to the action. 

The downtown area offers plenty of budget-friendly bars and clubs that attract visitors every night. Calle Centauro is the perfect spot for bar-hopping, with popular hangouts like Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar or Nana Rooftop Bar offering fresh mojitos, mezcal, and a lively atmosphere.

Our top pick for a budget-friendly stay in this area is Hostel Che Tulum. This trendy hostel boasts a bar, an outdoor pool, and a lively atmosphere during peak season. Plus, you can snag a bed in one of the communal rooms for around $15 a night.

If you have a bit more cash to splash and want to be in the heart of the party scene, we recommend staying in the Middle Beach Zone

Here, you’ll be within walking distance of chic restaurants and popular clubs like Casa Jaguar (the place to be on Thursdays) and Gitano (where Fridays come alive). Many of these venues combine Tulum’s lush jungle setting with stylish décor, creating a unique party experience.

In this area, DELEK Tulum is our go-to hotel. It offers a great location, comfortable rooms, and decent amenities without breaking the bank. Trust me; you’ll be grateful for a comfy bed after dancing the night away!

Where to Stay in Tulum for Families

Nerea Tulum
Credit: Nerea Hotel

If traveling with the whole family, you’ll likely want to avoid the party scene and opt for a more peaceful location. 

The South Beach Zone offers a fantastic combination of beachside relaxation and jungle adventures while keeping you away from the bustling clubs and bars.

One of our favorite family-friendly resorts in this area is La Zebra. With an array of kid-centric activities every weekend, top-notch amenities, and a pristine beachfront, it’s perfect for some quality family time.

For longer stays, consider renting an apartment or house in Aldea Zama

Casa Wahh is a lovely apartment option featuring a private pool, two spacious bedrooms, and plenty of room for a family of four. Plus, you’ll save money compared to booking a hotel.

Alternatively, Tankah Bay is an excellent choice for families seeking beachfront accommodation without selling one of their kids. 

The area boasts a calm beach perfect for snorkeling, and our top hotel pick is Hotel Nerea. This small resort offers high-end suites, some even featuring private plunge pools. The icing on the cake? They provide all the gear needed for snorkeling and other water activities.

Where to Stay in Tulum for Couples (Romantic Getaway)

Mi amor a Colibri Boutique Hotel Tulum (2)
Credit: Mi amor a Colibri Boutique Hotel

If you and your significant other seek a romantic getaway, North Tulum Beach and South Beach Zone are your best bets. Both areas have a quieter atmosphere and are home to some of Tulum’s most exquisite Adult-only boutique hotels.

In North Tulum Beach, I absolutely adore Mi Amor. This intimate hotel offers a limited number of rooms, allowing guests to relax and enjoy the small pool area and bar truly. They can even arrange a private candlelight dinner for that extra special touch.

In the South Beach Zone, I can’t help but swoon over Encantada Tulum. This resort features private rooms that resemble beachside huts but with all the luxury amenities you could ask for. Add free yoga sessions and a full-service spa, and you have a recipe for a blissful romantic retreat.

Where to Stay in Tulum for First-Timers

Vida Tulum Boho
Credit: Vida Tulum Boho

North Tulum Beach is an excellent spot for first-timers as it offers a more laid-back atmosphere than the bustling middle beach. 

You can soak in the Tulum vibe without feeling overwhelmed by the more intense beach party zone. 

A fabulous place to stay in this area is Villa Pescadores Tulum, with its high palapa roofs and large bay windows that lead to private terraces. This charming hotel provides a high-end experience without breaking the bank.

Another fantastic option for first-timers is Tulum Centro.

 While the top hotels might not be in this area, you can still find great deals at boutique accommodations like Vida Tulum Boho. These apartments offer access to the amenities of the Bardo Hotel, allowing you to live like a local while still enjoying the perks of hotel life. 

Plus, staying in Tulum town makes planning and embarking on day trips a breeze.

Where to Stay in Tulum for Budget Travelers

Casa Abanico Tulum (1)
Credit: Casa Abanico

If you’re traveling on a budget, Tulum Town is the place to be. 

Not only will you find affordable accommodations, but bars and restaurants in this area are also reasonably priced. Plus, you can easily get around using buses or the local colectivos, which are considerably cheaper than taking a cab down the main beach road.

A top recommendation for budget travelers is Casa Abanico. This vibrant, jungle-inspired old house offers modest but clean and safe rooms for just over 30 dollars a night.

Best places to Stay in Tulum for Long-Term Stays

Arthouse Art Residences Tulum (1)
Credit: Art House Residences 

For those planning extended stays, Aldea Zama and La Veleta neighborhoods are ideal. 

Renting an Airbnb in these areas will be significantly more affordable than staying at a hotel. These apartments also provide a more personalized living space, excellent Wi-Fi, and a quieter atmosphere—essential features for more extended stays.

Art House Residences are among the best apartments in the area, offering modern amenities and spacious rooms with private terraces overlooking the pool. While you might find cheaper lodging downtown, those accommodations may feel outdated compared to the contemporary elegance of Art House Residences.

Best places to stay in Tulum for a Luxury Getaway

The Beach Tulum (1)
Credit: The Beach Tulum Hotel

For a luxurious escape, consider the middle or south beach areas. These regions boast the best boutique, chic hotels in Tulum. Keep an eye out for properties with private beach access or stunning pools. 

Resorts with private beaches often excel at sargassum removal, providing a superior beach club experience and various enjoyable activities.

The Beach Tulum Hotel is one such establishment that ticks all these boxes. Luxurious rooms with private plunge pools, rooftop suites, and personal beachfront spaces are just a few of the standout features. The hotel is also home to one of the best beach clubs, Ziggy’s, and the delightful on-site restaurant Fresco’s, perfect for breakfast.

Where to Stay in Tulum to Spend Your Days at the Beach

Sueños Tulum (1)
Credit: Sueños Tulum Hotel

If your primary goal is to bask in the sun on gorgeous beaches, South Tulum Beach is the place to be—especially if you’re willing to splurge on a resort with private beach access. As mentioned, hotels that maintain their beaches usually guarantee pristine white sands.

A superb option in this area is Sueños Tulum, offering uniquely adorned rooms with al fresco paintings and private terraces, many of which boast spectacular beach views. This hotel provides a one-of-a-kind experience without an exorbitant price tag.

Another option is Tankah Bay, a secluded area known for its less crowded beaches and excellent snorkeling opportunities. 

Nerea Tulum is an exceptional choice for travelers seeking private plunge pools and access to sandy shores.

Where to Stay in Tulum for All-Inclusive Fans

Kore Tulum
Credit: Kore Tulum

Amigos: Tulum might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of all-inclusive resorts. There is just one option, the KORE Tulum Hotel. Before you get too excited, though, I should tell you a little secret: it’s a tad outdated, and its culinary offerings leave something to be desired. And there is no sand beach. Pass your way 😉

For those still craving that all-inclusive experience, you’ll need to venture further afield to Playa Coba or Akumal

The TRS Yucatan Hotel is widely regarded as the best all-inclusive resort in the vicinity of Tulum. With an enormous outdoor pool as its centerpiece, a whopping 18 on-site restaurants, and its very own cabaret club, you’ll miss nothing. Sure, it may not offer the quintessential “Tulum experience,” but when it comes to beach resorts, it’s tough to beat.

The Safest Area in Tulum: A Haven in Tankah Bay

Safety is a top priority for travelers, and in Tulum, Tankah Bay takes the crown as the safest area by quite a margin. 

Lacking the clubs and bars found elsewhere in Tulum, Tankah Bay steers clear of the drug-related issues that can lead to violence. 

That being said, it’s still essential to exercise caution—especially during late-night escapades. Always be mindful of your surroundings, even in the most idyllic locations.

FAQs and Practical Tips for Your Tulum Adventure

Mexico’s beach town gem, Tulum, is a popular destination for travelers, and like any good adventure, it comes with a few questions. No worries, amigo! I’ve got you covered with some expert answers to the most common Tulum queries.

Tulum vs. Playa del Carmen: A Tale of Two Beach Towns

Playa del Carmen

Tulum and Playa del Carmen are like two sides of the same tropical coin. 

Tulum is the bohemian, laid-back sibling, catering to those who want to embrace their inner flower child while still enjoying luxurious amenities. It’s perfect for an older, more discerning crowd who appreciate unique dining and accommodation experiences, even if they can be a tad overhyped and pricey.

Playa del Carmen, on the other hand, is the lively, party-loving sibling, known for its all-inclusive resorts and vibrant nightlife, particularly along the famous 5th Avenue. It’s a favorite among younger travelers on a budget, but don’t be fooled into thinking there aren’t unique experiences. With Cozumel just a stone’s throw away and abundant cenotes nearby, plenty of adventure can be found.

Tulum vs. Cancun: Small Town Charm or Big City Vibes?

Cancun hotel zone (9)
Cancun Hotel zone

Tulum offers an intimate, small beach town experience, making it perfect for romantic getaways or those seeking a more secluded vacation. Cancun, in contrast, is a bustling city by the beach, complete with chain restaurants and hotels, making it an ideal destination for families or those who want their holiday to feel a little closer to home. Read my complete comparison between Cancun & Tulum.

How Long to Stay in Tulum: An Itinerary for the Perfect Getaway

A three-day stay in Tulum is just enough to sample the town’s best offers. 

Start by exploring the Mayan ruins early in the morning, before the crowds and heat take over. Then, cool off by visiting a nearby cenote, all while cruising around on your trusty bike rental. Fill your second day with downtown bar-hopping, and conclude your trip with a fancy dinner at a beachside restaurant.

Of course, if you have a week or more to spare, there’s so much more to see and do. Venture to the southern tip of Tulum Beach and spend a day in the Sian Ka’an biosphere, home to cenotes, wildlife, and lush jungle landscapes. Or take a day trip to the awe-inspiring Chichen Itza or Coba ruins.

Getting to Tulum: Navigating the Journey from Cancun Airport

airport transportation in Cancun
I took a private transfer service

Upon arrival at Cancun International Airport, you’ll quickly realize that a taxi to Tulum can be pretty expensive. 

Don’t fret! 

The ADO bus is a comfortable and cost-effective alternative, with a terminal in downtown Tulum. 

If traveling with a group, consider booking a private transfer service for a door-to-door, hassle-free experience.

Discover the best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum

The Best Time to Visit Tulum: When to Soak Up the Sun

La Zebra (2)
Credit: La Zebra Hotel

To avoid the sweltering heat, plan your Tulum visit between December and May

However, be warned that December can be crowded, and March sees an influx of spring breakers

Summer vacations may sound enticing, but Tulum’s summer months are often plagued by rain and crowds.

Mid-November is a sweet spot for Tulum travel, offering pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower pricing. Plus, it’s the low season for pesky seaweed, making beach days even more enjoyable.

Seaweed in Tulum: Navigating the Sargassum Situation

Sargassum, a form of algae, has been an unwelcome guest on Tulum’s shores in recent years. 

Some theories point to global warming as the culprit, but the important thing for travelers is knowing how to deal with it. 

If you stay downtown, you’re lucky – seaweed won’t be an issue. But for those venturing to the beaches, it’s wise to remember the sargassum situation when choosing your accommodations.

The seaweed season is from April till the end of September.

Tulum Prices: A Reality Check

Mexican Pesos

Tulum, picturesque as it may be, holds the title of the most expensive town in Mexico

This doesn’t just mean that a Tulum hotel will set you back more than one in Puerto Vallarta; it also implies that restaurants charge a premium and sometimes even try to squeeze extra pesos out of unsuspecting tourists. 

For instance, many establishments add a 15% service fee, which is actually illegal in Mexico, but widespread in Tulum. 

Also, while they’ll gladly accept your dollars, be prepared for unfavorable exchange rates—my advice: pay in Mexican pesos whenever possible.

Watch out for another common trap: menus that seem to list prices in pesos but are actually in dollars. Falling for this ploy can lead to a heart-stopping bill for an otherwise mediocre meal. I’m not saying everyone in Tulum is out to scam you, but do pay attention to the prices and how they’re reflected on your final bill.

Famous Doesn’t Always Equal Quality

Trendy Tulum hotels and restaurants aren’t necessarily the best options for your trip. Here are a few well-known spots that might be worth skipping:

  • AZULIK: While it’s a great place for Instagram photos, the service leaves much to be desired, and there’s not much else on offer.
  • Papaya Playa Project: This popular spot hosts DJs and other renowned performers, but if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, the loud music and party atmosphere might not be for you.
  • Coco Unlimited: Another event-focused venue, guests staying in the rooms here may quickly tire of feeling trapped in a never-ending club scene. Plus, it smells weird.
  • Ahau Hotel: Though it looks fantastic in pictures, the neighboring Alaya Tulum offers a more relaxed and overall better experience for guests.

High season = Overbooked Tulum

Tulum Ruins (12)

The holiday season, from mid-December through January, is one of the busiest times of the year in Tulum. July and August also see crowds flocking to the area. 

In fact, even the low season can get busy, so we recommend booking your Tulum hotel up to 6-9 months in advance.

Tulum’s Growing Pains

The traditional beach road is struggling to accommodate the increasing traffic, and Tulum town faces infrastructure issues. Despite this, new Tulum hotels are constantly being built, resulting in a continuous influx of visitors.

Unfortunately, you cannot do much to avoid traffic woes, even if you book the swankiest luxury hotel on Tulum Beach. 

The best strategy is to be smart about getting around and choose the earliest possible start times for your day tours to avoid getting stuck in the crowds.

Staying in Tulum: In a Nutshell

Before you embark on your Tulum adventure, consider factors such as your desired atmosphere, budget, proximity to attractions, and travel goals. Compare each area’s pros and cons, and plan and book accommodations in advance. Whether you’re seeking nightlife, family fun, romance, or relaxation, Tulum has the perfect spot for you. So, pack your bags, plan wisely, and get ready for an unforgettable experience in this tropical paradise.

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I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.

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