This guide will cover exactly where to stay in Tulum, Mexico, including the best area to stay in Tulum and the best hotels for your adventure.

It’s 2022 and everyone is talking about Tulum, Mexico. What was once a sleepy backpacker town, has quickly changed into a bustling beach town with it’s rise in popularity. Tulum is now a trendy hotspot for American tourists, but it still holds on to much of its original charm if you know where to look.

With the rise in tourism, there are now so many things to do in Tulum, from swimming in crystal blue cenotes and visiting Mayan Ruins, to dining on everything from street tacos to five star meals on the beach. And with it there are so many new places to stay! From boutiques hotel and hostel to all-inclusive hotels and luxury hotels, there is something for every budget in Tulum.

girl at follow that dream sign in tulum mexico
Follow that Dream sign in Tulum, Mexico

Picking an area to stay in Tulum, Mexico

When picking a place to stay in Tulum, you’ll first need to decide which area you want to stay in. Even better, first choose the top activities for your trip, as Tulum can have a lot of traffic, and where you stay can have a big impact on your time in Tulum. Tulum is really divided into two main areas: Tulum town (Tulum Pueblo) and Tulum Beach (Tulum playa).

The vast majority of photos that you see of Tulum are all taken along one main beach strip. It’s where you’ll find the most expensive hotels, trendiest restaurants, and many of the big parties. What this means, is that it is also where you will find most of the traffic.

To get to the beach strip, if you’re not already staying on it, you’ll need to drive or bike. Depending on where in town you’re coming from, biking can take up to an hour. Walking on the other hand is nearly impossible, or at least not recommended if you’re looking to do other things in your day.

girl on private beach at hotel on tulum beach
Staying on Tulum Beach is a great option if you’re looking for luxury and relaxation

Staying on Tulum’s beach strip, the hotel zone

The most popular, and definitely most expensive place to stay in Tulum, is on the beach. So why stay on Tulum beach?

Tulum beach is a good option if you are looking for luxurious accommodations, and have a decent budget. It is perfect for long days of relaxation on the beach, and long nights of fine dining.

You actually have two options for staying on the beach. You can choose a property closer to the main road heading into town on the public beach, or further along the road on a private beach.

On the public beach, you’re more likely to find more affordable accomodations, and getting to the town and out of Tulum with be faster/have less traffic. However, you will need to drive or bike to reach the main beach strip, with many of the popular restaurants and bars.

Some examples of great hotel options along the beach include Be Tulum, Nomade, and Azulik.

Luxury: Nomade

Everything about Nomade is perfect, from the decor to their various restaurants. Not to mention, your room will be only steps from one of the most beautiful portions of the beach!

Nomade is easily one of the best places to stay in Tulum on the beach. Rooms aren’t cheap though as they typically range between $300 USD – $700 USD per night. One of my favorite restaurants, Macondo, is located at Nomade. It is open to the public where you are a guest of the hotel or not.

Luxury: Azulik

Azulik is a luxury, eco-friendly haven. With no wifi or electricity, this hotel boasts some of the most interesting looking rooms.

Whether you stay here as a guest, or stop by for a meal, Azulik should definitely be added to your Tulum itinerary. There are options to visit for dinner, but you should expect a minimum.

Turquoise Petit Hotel in Tulum Town
Turquoise Petit Hotel in Tulum Town

Staying in Tulum town

The first thing to note is that hotels and hostels in the town versus on the beach are going to be much more affordable. I personally always stay in the town! I find it to not only be more affordable, but I enjoy the vibes of the town so much more. In the town you’ll also find a wider variety of budget options, including more Airbnbs and hostels. So why stay in Tulum town?

Tulum town is a good option if you are looking for a more local experience. You’ll find cheaper accommodation, cheaper, more authentic restaurants, and a great nightlife. It will provide you much easier (and quicker) access to the various cenotes, ruins and nearby towns, but it is a bit of trek to get to the beach. Staying in Tulum town is for the more adventurous traveler. But that is not to say that you can’t find some amazing luxury properties in town as well!

Budget: Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel

Located in town, Amorcito is a great option for travelers on a budget. It is one of my favorite places to stay as a solo female traveler.

There is a downstairs common area and a rooftop with a small swimming pool. Dorm beds start at $16 USD/night, while private rooms start at $50 USD/night. Breakfast is included in the price of the room.

Budget: Mama’s Home Hostel 

Mama’s Home hostel is another great option if you’re traveling solo and looking for a more social atmosphere. Dorm beds start at $16 per night and private rooms start around $65/night.

Mama’s Home Hostel is great for solo traveler dorm beds, but I would recommend one of the mid-range options or an airbnb if you’re looking for a private room as you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Mid-Range: Turquoise Petit 

I recently spent 5 nights at Turquoise Petit and couldn’t recommend it more! Seriously, I have zero complaints about this adorable boutique hotel. At about $75 per night, it is a great mid-range option in La Valeta in town.

The rooms are small but cute, two swimming pools, the best jungle vibes, and free breakfast. They also have free filtered water, complimentary bikes, and great security. Plus the staff is super sweet!

Mid-Range: Una Vida

Una Vida is a more luxury accommodation option in Tulum town. Located in the town center, Una Vida has a large, very Instagrammable pool, minimalist decor, and a great location for exploring the city.

Prices start around $200 USD/night, but can get much pricier during the busier season. I recommend booking in advance!

Luxury: Be Tulum

Be Tulum is one of the top hotels in the area, but with it comes a steep price tag. A night at Be Tulum averages close to $1,000 USD/night for one of their gorgeous suites, for what will definitely be an unforgettable experience.

Staying in Aldea Zama

Aldea Zama is a newer area to stay in Tulum. It is located right in the middle of the beach hotel zone and the town. This is an area where you’ll find a lot of longer-term travelers and expats living in Mexico.

It is super convenient as it offers the best of both worlds, the beach and the town! Prices also tend to be much more affordable than what you’ll find right on the beach.

One downside, however, is that there simply isn’t too much to do right around the hotels in Aldea Zama. However, that seems to be quickly changing as more and more hotels pop in the area! There is even a newer Matcha Mama location in Aldea Zama now.

Budget: Keej by NIIK Tulum

Keej by NIIK Tulum is a great option in Aldea Zama if you’re looking for a bit of luxury on a budget. You can find rooms starting at just $50 a night. Breakfast is not included, but can be added on for just $9 USD. Although, there is no shortage of amazing spots to eat in Tulum, Mexico.

Mid-Range: Orchid House

Although I haven’t stayed at Orchid House personally, I have only heard great things. Suites start under $200/night, which is much better than what you’ll typically find on the beach.

girl at matcha spot in tulum on swing

Tips for Visiting Tulum, Mexico

No matter where you decide to stay in Tulum, there are some basic tips that you should always follow:

How to Get to Tulum from Cancun Airport

The closest airport is the Cancun International Airport, which is located approximately an hour and a half away. You have a number of options to get to here from Cancun Airport, including by bus, private car service, or taxi. The easiest and fastest is definitely by car, but the ADO bus is a super easy option if you’re traveling on a budget. A one-way ticket from the airport on the ADO bus costs just $14 USD (288 MXN pesos) and takes about two hours. I have put together a full guide on how to get to Tulum from Cancun airport.

You’ll find direct flights to Cancun from cities all over the US, as well as from Central America. I found that it is super easy to find affordable direct flights from New York, Miami, Chicago and more, on airlines such as JetBlue, Delta, and United. Direct flights from NYC to Cancun are just under four hours, while flights from Miami are under two hours. 

Planning a trip? Here are some websites that I use to help my own trip planning:

Here are some other articles about Tulum to help with your trip planning:

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Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico pin

If you’re visiting Tulum, visiting the cenotes in and near Tulum should be the top of your itinerary. This Cenote Tulum guide will cover off on all of my favorites, but know that there are still so many more to explore.

What are cenotes? 

The first question you probably have is what the heck are cenotes? Cenotes (pronounced sei-now-tay) are sinkholes that were created by the ceiling of caves collapsing. This results in sinkholes that hold salt-free water, making them great areas of swimming, diving, and scoping out the wildlife. Seriously, these cenotes are some underground magic. The water in any of these cenotes tend to me quite cold, but often a refreshing break from Tulum’s heat. There are actually three different types of cenotes. There are covered cenotes, open air cenotes, and a mix of the two (the best of both worlds). 

Cenotes are extremely popular in Tulum, and throughout the Riviera Maya. I think it would be impossible to visit the region with hearing about these water pools, and they are definitely something that should be on any Tulum itinerary. I usually just stick to swimming, but there is tons of wildlife from fish and turtles to alligators, so grabbing some snorkeling gear or booking a dive session is totally worth it. And of course, after any cenote trip you’ll want to check out my guide to restaurants in Tulum.

Where to stay in Tulum - Turquoise Petit Hotel
Where to stay in Tulum – Turquoise Petit Hotel
Stay in Tulum Pueblo for the best deals
Stay in Tulum Pueblo for the best deals

Where to Stay in Tulum

The first thing to understand about Tulum is that it is broken up into two main parts: the beach and not the beach. Tulum Beach, or the Hotel Zone, is by far the most expensive place to stay. It is difficult to find any lodging under $250 per night, with plenty of hotels that are easily $1000+/night. That said, it is still possible to snag a good deal during the off-season.

In recent years there has been a lot of development and construction, especially in the town center, Aldea Zama, and La Valeta. as well, a third area to stay in Tulum. Staying in Tulum Beach usually means staying at a beachfront property. While this is obviously the ideal for many, these properties are significantly more expensive. For this reason, I have personally always stay in the town, either in the center or in La Valeta.

Budget: Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel

The rooms are clean and the staff is super friendly and helpful. The property has both a downstairs common area and a rooftop with a small pool. Dorm beds start at $16 USD/night, while private rooms start at $50 USD/night, making it a great option for anyone traveling to Tulum solo or on a budget.  Breakfast is included in the price of the room.

Photo credit: Hostelworld

Mama’s Home Hostel

Mama’s Home hostel is a great option if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget and are looking for a more social atmosphere. The night that I stayed here I was welcomed with an evening of free pina coladas! While this hostel is more social than other places I’ve stayed in Tulum, it still enforces an 11pm quiet policy to ensure that those who need it can get a good night’s sleep! Rooms are basic but sufficient.

Check rates and availability

Turquoise Tulum Hotel

I spent 5 nights at Turquoise Tulum Hotel in 2021 and loved it. I was working remote, so I wanted to make sure that I had a spot that was comfortable, quiet, and cute. It is located in La Valeta, so you’ll be close to tons of restaurants and bars.The hotel has since expanded but reviews are still good!

Check rates and availability

Photo credit: Booking.com

Era Hotel & Spa Tulum

Luxury on a budget, with rooms often below $100 USD. Located in the heart of La Valeta neighborhood. A 4-star hotel with a restaurant on site.

Check rates and availability

Tulum's famous cenote: Gran Cenote
Tulum’s famous cenote: Gran Cenote
The beautiful Grand Cenote
The beautiful Grand Cenote

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote is easily the most famous cenote in the Tulum. I typically try to avoid the overly popular destination spots, but Gran Cenote is definitely worth a visit in my opinion. I mean look at the color of that water!!

Despite the name, Gran Cenote is not actually all that large. There are about 140 square meter for swimming, which includes a large cave, a smaller cavern and a middle area where you can sit and take pictures. There are two sinkholes, separated by a small tunnel. I recommend heading to the second sinkhole first, as it is the best for pictures and tends to be less busy.

There was recently a rule implemented that prohibits you from entering with a camera or tripod. This is most likely to limit the number of photographers and content creators taking photos at this famous Instagram spot in Tulum. However, you are still welcome to snag a photo with your phone.  

Cost of Visiting Gran Cenote

The cost to visit Gran Cenote in Tulum was recently increased, so make sure you’re always checking official websites for up-to-date information. The current entrance fee, at the time of writing this article, to enter the cenote is MX$500 (or about $25). This is a bit pricier than some of the other cenotes in the area. Additionally, it is cash only, but they do accept US dollars as well.

If you’re interested in renting additional gear you can do so for an extra cost. Gran Cenote is definitely one of the most popular spots to snorkel, but the water is seriously so clear that you can see the wildlife without even putting your head under the water. There is also the option to rent some additional gear at Gran Cenote. This includes snorkeling gear for MX$80, a locker for MX$30, and a life jacket for MX$50.There are bathrooms, changing rooms, and lockers on the premises. There is a cost to use the lockers, but it’s worth it if you’re carrying any valuables. 

How to get to Gran Cenote in Tulum

Gran Cenote’s popularity is partially due to its proximity to Tulum city center. Located just 3 miles (5 kilometers) away from Tulum city center, it can be reached by car in approximately 10 minutes. 

If you’re visiting Tulum on a budget, you could also bike in approximately 30 minutes, but be mindful of the busy road. There are some guided bike tours that cover the cenote, so this might be a good option for you if you’re less comfortable biking alone. 

Another option is to take the ADO bus to Gran Cenote. Just make sure to chat with the bus driver and confirm that he can drop you off here.

Cenote Calavera 

Cenote Calavera is one of the most unique cenotes near Tulum. It is located nearby to Gran Cenote, so you could easily visit both in the same morning. Cenote Calavera is for the adventurous type, with two different areas that allow for jumping, along with the swing pictured above.

The entrance fee was recently raised to 350 MXN ($17 USD), similar to Gran Cenote, so it is on the pricier end for its size. You can get from Gran Cenote to here in about 5 minutes by bike or 1 minute by car.

Right next door to Cenote Calavera you’ll find Restaurante Cetli, one of the best restaurants in Tulum.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Sadly I have never visited Cenote Dos Ojos myself, but I have heard so many great things that I couldn’t not include it on Tulum Cenote Guide. Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the biggest cenotes on this lists, and one of the most famous cenotes in the world.

The cenote itself, which translates to “Two Eyes Cenote”, is actually made up of two cenote areas. You can purchase a combo ticket which gives you access to two additional areas as well. You can scuba dive or snorkel here.

Many people recommend doing the guided tour for diving to get the full experience of the cenote. Having a guide will give you access to the Bat Cave, which otherwise isn’t open to the public. You can upgrade your ticket while at the cenote for a private tour, or you could book a tour ahead of time with a reputable diving company.

Cost of Visiting Dos Ojos

The current entrance fee, at the time of writing this article, to enter the cenote is MX$350 (or about $18). The entrance fee for Dos Ojos is cash only, but you have the option to purchase a ticket online in advanced as well.

How to get to Dos Ojos in Tulum

Dos Ojos is located approximately 30 minutes from Tulum Pueblo, or 45 minutes from the main beach strip. The easiest way to get to the cenote is by taxi, however you could take a collectivo as well. Due to the distance, I personally wouldn’t recommend getting there by bike.

Swimming platform at Cenote Azul, Mexico
Swimming platform at Cenote Azul
Jungle pools at Cenote Azul
Jungle pools at Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul is one of the most popular cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico due to its proximity to both Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is located in Riviera Maya, directly on the main road. Cenote Azul is known for it’s beautiful, bright turquoise color, with its name translating to “blue cenote”. The large turquoise pools are perfect for swimming and hang out in the sun. Plus, the water is crystal clear and super refreshing! Before we dive too deep into the nitty gritty details, I want to clarify that this cenote is not to be mistaken with Cenote Azul in Bacalar, although I’ve heard that that one is beautiful as well!  

When you first arrive at Cenote Azul you’ll pass the ticket booth, were you can purchase your ticket and any rentals with cash – MXN pesos or US dollars. You’ll be instructed to head to the showers to rinse off before continuing on to the cenotes. You’ll then walk through a beautiful jungle area, passing two small cenotes on either side. While these aren’t as big for swimming, they are perfect for a quick photo and don’t get super crowded.

Things to Know About Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul is known for its large swimming area, which makes it possible to spend hours swimming under the sun. There are both deep and shallow areas where you can actually see the ground. Be careful though, as many of the rocks are covered in moss and can be quite slippery. You’ll find two platforms to jump from, including a cliff jumping spot of about 15 feet for the more adventurous type. I personally stuck with the platform, which was only a few feet from the water.

The cenote is located right next to a number of other cenotes including Cenote Cristalino, Kantunchi and Jardin of Eden. You can easily combine a visit with these cenotes, but you’ll need to pay the entrance fee at each of these.

If you stand still in the water for a few moments, you may notice small nibbles around your feet. Nothing to be worried about! The fish are known to bite at any dead skin on your feet, a spa practice that is quite common in Asia. At one point there were around 15 fish nibbling at each of my feet! The small shop actually sells food specifically to feed the fish, but I think they had quite the feast on my toes!

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Cenote Azul? 

Entry into cenote azul costs 140 MXN pesos for adults and 80 MXN pesos for children ages 4 to 8. Life jackets are not required at Cenote Azul, but you have the option of renting on at the front desk for 40 MXN pesos. You can also rent snorkel gear for an additional 70 MXN pesos. Only cash is accepted, but you have the option to pay in US dollars as well. It is a relatively cheap activity that can easily be visited without a tour, so it is perfect for visiting Tulum on a Budget.

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How to Get to Cenote Azul? 

Located just on the main road of Carretera Federal, Cenote Azul is super easy to get to. If you are renting a car while in Mexico, driving is super easy. It is located on Carretera Federal, the main road between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. There is a large parking lot with free parking, so you shouldn’t have any issues if you arrive early. Rental cars are a great way to get around Quintana Roo if you feel comfortable driving in Mexico.

If you’re arriving at Cenote Azul by taxi, I recommend either arranging for your driver to wait, or to make sure sure that you have a phone number to call for a pickup. I have heard that later in the day there are often drivers sitting around waiting for pickups, however this was not the case when we visited, so best to be prepared. 

If you plan on having your driver wait for you while you swim and hang out, make sure to arrange a price ahead of time, and pay after you’ve completed your trip. 

Because Cenote Azul is located on the main road, you can arrive by colectivo. Colectivos are shared vans that drive back and forth along specific routes. In this case, you will be traveling along the route between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Rides typically cost between 20-40 MXN per person, and can be hailed down on the side of the road if there is space. Just let the driver know that you are going to Cenote Azul, and you will be dropped off right in front. While colectivos lack the comfort of a private taxi, they are a cheap and easy way to get from place to place. 

Cenote Oxman near Valladolid, Mexico
Cenote Oxman near Valladolid, Mexico
The famous rope swing at Cenote Oxman
The famous rope swing at Cenote Oxman

Cenote Oxman 

If you get one thing out of this blog post, it is that you should not miss out on Cenote Oxman. It is located just outside of Valladolid, approximately 10-15 minutes by car. By far, the highlight of Cenote Oxman is the famous rope swing. I think I must have swung at least 25 times, and had such a blast. Arriving early meant that we didn’t have the share the cenote with other travelers, with easy access to the swing. Tip: if you’re trying to get the swing, pull really hard to yank it back! It took us a while to nail the rope swing retrieval method. Because the water at Cenote Oxman actually gets a lot of sunlight, the water isn’t too cold. 

Photo credit: Booking.com

Una Vida

Una Vida is a luxury accommodation option in Tulum town that still offers great rates. Located in the town center, Una Vida has a large, very Instagrammable pool, minimalist decor, and a great location for exploring the city.

Prices start around $200 USD/night.

Check rates and availability

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Cenote Oxman? 

There are two different ticket options when visiting Cenote Oxman, but make sure to bring cash. The first option costs 150 MXN ($7.50) and gets you admission into the cenote only. The second option costs 250 MXN ($12.50) but includes a 200 peso credit to the on-site restaurant and access to the pool. This is a great option if you’re already planning on eating at the restaurant. We stopped by to check it out and the food is pretty decent, especially the traditional Longaniza. But if you’re heading back to Valladolid you can get better food for cheaper.

How to get to Cenote Oxman from Tulum

By far the easiest way to get to Cenote Oxman from Tulum is by car, either a rented car if you feel comfortable or a taxi. We hired a taxi driver from Tulum and paid 2800 MXN ($138 USD) plus tip. This included the 1.5 hour drive each way to get to the Valladolid region, two cenotes, and a stop for lunch in Valladolid proper. The full day was about nine hours, so well worth the price in our opinion, especially if you have 2-3 travelers in your group.

If you are traveling to Tulum on a budget, or exploring Tulum solo, then the ADO bus is a great option as well! Tickets start at 140 MXN ($7 USD) each way from Tulum to Valladolid. Once you arrive at the bus station, you should expect to pay around 100 MXN pesos ($5 USD) to get to cenote oxman.

exploring cenote choo ha
Cenotes near Tulum: Cenote Choo Ha
Exploring the beautiful Cenote Choo-Ha
Exploring the beautiful Cenote Choo-Ha

Cenote Choo Ha

Cenote Choo Ha might just be my favorite cenote in Tulum, Mexico. That’s probably not a fair statement becauses Cenote Choo Ha isn’t actually in Tulum, but it’s close enough that I’ll stand by my statement. Also, I say that about every cenote on this list haha. Without a doubt, a visit to Cenote Choo Ha, an underground cenote filled with stalactites and stalagmites, should be on your itinerary for any trip to the Yucatan Peninsula. I only had the chance to visit Cenote Choo Ha, but if you have the time make sure to add Cenote Tamcach and Cenote Multum to your list.

How much does it cost to enter Cenote Choo Ha?

Choo-Ha Cenote has an entrance fee of $100 mxn (apx $5 USD), so it’s a great activity if you’re visiting Tulum on a budget. Make sure to bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.

How to get to Cenote Choo Ha

Cenote Choo Ha, and the other nearby Coba cenotes, are located just a few kilometers down the road from Coba, and just under an hour from Tulum. I would recommend visiting Coba in the early morning, before it gets too hot, and then heading over to the cenotes to cool off.

When you arrive, you will come across a ticket booth just off of the main road.Once you purchase your tickets (remember to bring your cash), continue by car down a dirt path to reach the first two cenotes, including Cenote Choo Ha.

You will need a car to reach Cenote Choo Ha, as there is no public transport available that will take you to the cenote. You have the option of either hiring a rental car or getting a tax, or private driver.

I have not personally rented a car in Tulum, but have heard that it is easy and the roads are quite manageable. The cenote is relatively quiet and it is generally easy to find parking.

Cenote Carwash

On your way back from Coba and Cenote Choo Ha, Cenote Carwash is another great cenote to stop by. Located just 10-15 minutes from Tulum center, it is one of the best cenotes near Tulum. Cenote Carwash is an open air cenote, which makes the water a great temperature for swimming and diving. Similar to Cenote Oxman, there is a rope swing that adds a whole lot of fun!

How much does it cost to enter Cenote Carwash?

Cenote Carwash is one of the cheaper cenotes on this guide, with the entrance fee set at 100 MXN ($5 USD). Similar to other cenotes, this cenote is cash only so come prepared.

Cenote Escondido

The last cenote on this guide is Cenote Escondido. You can reach Cenote Escondido from Tulum Pueblo in just a few minutes from the city center. I stayed at Turquoise Petit Hotel, and you can reach the cenote in 5 minutes by car and 10-15 minutes by bike. I recommend biking over from town for a nice refreshing swim.

By far, the highlight of Cenote Escondido is the rope swing. I think I must have swung at least 10 times, and had such a blast.

The ticket office for Cenote Escondido is actually across the road, by the entrance to Cenote Cristal. You have the option to buy one of three different tickets:

If you would rather visit Cenote Escondido with a tour group, rather than on your own, you can join this fun tour that combines the cenote with a trip to Sian Kaan Lagoon.

The beautiful waters of Cenote Escondido
Celebrating my bachelorette weekend at Cenote Escondido
Celebrating my bachelorette weekend at Cenote Escondido

What to Pack for the Tulum Cenotes

Planning a visit to Tulum, Mexico? Here are some other articles to check out:

Like what you read about the best cenotes near Tulum, Mexico? Make sure to Pin it for later!

Cenote Tulum Guide (Mexico) pin
Cenote Tulum Guide (Mexico) pin

Not going to lie, when I sat down to write this guide the only thing that came to mind was eating. I swear I have spent 90% of all of my trips to Tulum eating and drinking, and I’m not mad about it. But can you really blame me? That said, there are actually so many amazing things to do in Tulum, Mexico. 

What was once a sleepy backpacker town, has quickly changed to a busy city with it’s rise in popularity. Tulum is now a trendy hotspot for American tourists, but it still holds on to much of its original charm. With the rise in tourism, there are now so many things to do in Tulum, from swimming in crystal blue cenotes and visiting Mayan Ruins, to dining on everything from street tacos to five star meals on the beach. 

girl at matcha mama in tulum, mexico

How to Get to Tulum from Cancun

The closest airport is the Cancun International Airport, which is located approximately an hour and a half away. You have a number of options to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport, including by bus, private car service, or taxi. The easiest and fastest is definitely by car, but if you’re traveling solo you can join a group shuttle for as little at $18 USD. If you’re traveling with friends or family, I recommend a private car with Day Trip. I have put together a full guide on how to get to Tulum from Cancun airport.

You’ll find direct flights to Cancun from cities all over the US, as well as from Central America. I found that it is super easy to find affordable direct flights from New York, Miami, Chicago and more, on airlines such as JetBlue, Delta, and United.  Direct flights from NYC to Cancun are just under four hours, while flights from Miami are under two hours. 

How to Get to Tulum from Playa del Carmen

Getting around the Yucatan Peninsula is quite easy, and can be super cheap if you plan to travel by the local buses. There are also colectivos for the more adventurous type, that are even cheaper! There are direct buses from Playa del Carmen to Tulum on ADO bus that take about an hour and cost anywhere from $3-6 USD. There are easy, comfortable, and drop you off right in the center of town. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, you can hop on a colectivo between the two cities for as little as $2 USD. Colectivos are shared minivans that are an extremely common mode of transportation for locals. And then of course, there are always private taxis and transfers.

Tips for Visiting Tulum, Mexico

What to Pack for Tulum

Packing for your trip is relatively easy, as you’ll be probably spending a good amount of time on the beach and in the water (hello cenote adventures). However you’ll also want to bring some nicer outfits, as Tulum has quite the dinner and bar scene that I’m sure you’ll want to partake in. Here are a few items you shouldn’t forget:

Is Tulum Budget Friendly? 

One thing that I hear from so many travelers is how expensive Tulum is, and more specifically how expensive it has become. And they’re not wrong. Within just a year I saw taxi prices from the town to the beach go from $5 USD to $15, the beach clubs all implemented pricey minimums, and the beachfront hotel prices sky rocket. But, despite everything that I just said, I still think that Tulum is a budget-friendly destination if done right.

So what does doing it right entail? Luckily there are so many things to do in Tulum on a budget. You can eat a plate full for tacos for a couple of dollars, bike to nearby cenotes, and enjoy the best beachfront happy hour deals. The first thing that I would recommend if you’re visiting Tulum on a budget would be to stay in Tulum town, instead of on the beach. You can get a whole lot more bang for your buck in the town, plus you’ll be closer to many activities and budget dining options. Now that is not to say that staying on the beach isn’t a magical experience in itself, it will just be more expensive

15 Best Things to do in Tulum, Mexico

Explore the Cenotes

The cenotes of Mexico had to be my very first item on this list because a visit to any cenote is seriously one of the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico. Just in the Yucatan Peninsula you can find an estimated 6,000 cenotes. So no, I don’t expect you to visit them all, but there are a few that you don’t want to miss. I recommend adding at least two of the cenotes below to your Tulum itinerary:

These crystal clear cenotes are known for snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming.

Visit the Coba Mayan Ruins

Visiting the Coba Mayan Ruins from Tulum is one of my favorite day trips, and one of the most popular things to do when visiting Tulum, Mexico. Coba can be reached from Tulum in just under an hour. While there are plenty of tours that will take you, I definitely recommend hiring a driver for the day or renting a car if you feel comfortable driving. This will give you more flexibility to arrive early and beat the crowds. Plus, you’ll be able to pop over for a swim at some of my favorite cenotes, like cenote Choo Ha, afterwards.

Cost: 75 pesos

Hours: 8:00AM-5:00PM daily

Coba ruins in mexico
Coba ruins near Tulum

Take a Cooking Class

If it wasn’t already obvious, eating is a huge priority for me when traveling, especially in Tulum! Another way to enjoy the incredible cuisine is by cooking it yourself. I highly recommend booking an evening at Lily’s Home, an experience that I found on AirBnb. Classes are a bit pricey at $80 USD/person, but they are absolutely worth every penny. The food that you’ll cook during this class is seriously so good. And who knew that making homemade tortillas could be so easy! Plus, there is some mezcal and grasshoppers thrown into the mix to spice things up.

Eat at Every Restaurant

So this is an impossible bucket list item, but really do eat at as many amazing restaurants as you can. I have visited Tulum four times at this point, but on my most recent four day trip I made a list of 35 restaurants that I wanted to eat at. This was particularly ambitious because breakfast was included at my hotel (Turquoise Petit hotel). Nevertheless, I managed to make it to 25 different spots on my list of restaurants in Tulum, and I feel pretty good about that.

What I love about dining in Tulum, and why I consider it one of the best things to do in Tulum, is because there is much a massive variety. You can eat the most delicious tacos from a street cart for next to nothing, or a fancy latte and smoothie bowl from a cafe. You can even find upscale restaurants with next-level food presentation.

cheap tacos and empanadas in tulum
Eating cheap tacos is one of the best things to do in Tulum

Visit the famous Tulum Instagram Spots

Tulum, Mexico is quite literally an Instagram influencer and travel blogger’s dream. I swear every inch of this beach town is photo-worthy. And I have thousands of photos to show for it. Here are just a few photo spots to add to your list of things to do in Tulum:

But honestly these are just a start. I encourage you to explore and find your own unique spots to photograph. Note, many hotels and beach clubs have strict camera policies.

girl in green dress as escultura ven a la luz
Escultura Ven a la Luz in Tulum Beach

Enjoy Beachfront Cocktails

Whether you’re staying in Tulum town or Tulum Beach, beachfront cocktails are absolutely a must. Cocktails on the beach can be pricey, with prices comparable with that of a New York City bar at $15-20 USD per drink. One way to drink on a budget is to take advantage of week day specials and happy hours. For example, the Mulberry Project does 2 for 1 cocktails all day on Tuesdays.

girl sitting in a boat with a cocktail on the beach in tulum
2 for 1 cocktails from Mulberry Project on Tulum Beach

Visit the Tulum Ruins 

If you’ve already read some of my other blog posts on Tulum, then you might know that I don’t love the Tulum Ruins. However, I think my experience was tainted by the crowds and heat on the day that I visited. I would recommend visiting in the early morning or late afternoon/evening instead for a better experience.

The beach in front of the ruins is also one of the best, especially if you’re not staying at a beachfront property already.

Discover the Holistika Art Walk

Most of the trendy zen spots are located in on the more jungle-y beach side, but Holistika in Tulum Pueblo is an exception to that. From soundbaths and yoga classes to a cafe with matcha lattes and vegan dishes, Holistika is your trendy zen escape in town. Wander through the property to discover their awesome art walk of jungle artwork and sculptures.

Go for a Bike Ride

Biking is my absolute favorite way to get around the city. Walking is possible, but streets often lack proper sidewalks unless you’re in the middle of town. Of course, nothing beats a beach walk with your toes in the sand. Taxis are also readily available but they can be pricey due to the traffic in the city. If you’re adventuring locally, biking is the best (and most fun option) for getting around efficiently. Plus, it makes a great photo prop!

girl on a bike in front of the follow that dream sign
Biking in Tulum by the Follow That Dream sign

Spend the Day at a Beach Club

Many beach clubs do require a minimum spend, so I recommend allocating a day to chill and enjoy the beachfront food and drinks. There are a wide range of options to loud DJs and dancing, to much chiller vibes. I won’t even pretend to be the expert on the best beach clubs, so I’ll let you do some separate research here!

Tip: Visit during the week for cheaper (or waived) minimums. And if you’re just looking to snap some photos, come in the early morning!

girl at a beach club in tulum, mexico
Beach club hangs on Tulum Beach

Take a Day Trip to Valladolid 

Valladolid has been on my must-visit list for years, and I finally made it there on my most recent trip to Mexico. I was determined to visit Cenote Oxman (one of the best things to do in Tulum) and combined this with lunch in this colorful town. Valladolid is about 1.5 hours away by car, but absolutely worth the visit. If you have the time, I’d recommend spending a night or two. You can check out my full Cenote Oxman guide here with travel details.

Some people also combine this with a trip to Chichen Itza as well, since they are in the same direction.

two girls in front of blue house in valladolid, mexico
Day trip to Valladolid, Mexico

Take a Yoga Class 

One of my favorite things to do in Tulum is to take a yoga class. From jungle vibes to beachfront studios, there are plenty of options. Sanara has an awesome beachfront option, but my favorite is definitely the dome studio at Azulik pictured below. Classes typically cost between $15-20 USD, similar to what you’d expect to pay in the US for a class.

yoga at azulik yoga dome

Enjoy a Fancy Meal 

As much as I love my street tacos, Tulum also have some amazing upscale dining experiences. These meals come with a hefty price tag, but they are well worth it! Here are a few of the popular spots:

nest at kanan hotel in mexico
Breakfast in the nest at Kanan

Where to Stay in Tulum

The first thing to note is that accomodation in the town versus on the beach are going to be much more affordable. I personally always stay in the town, but of course the beach area is a great option as well if you’re willing to splurge!

Budget: Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel

Located in Tulum town, Amorcito is a great option for travelers on a budget, especially solo travelers. There is a downstairs common area and a rooftop with a small pool. Dorm beds start at $16 USD/night, while private rooms start at $50 USD/night. Breakfast is included in the price of the room.

Budget: Mama’s Home Hostel 

Mama’s Home hostel is another great option if you’re traveling solo and looking for a more social atmosphere. Dorm beds start at $16 per night and private rooms start around $65/night. Great for solo traveler dorm beds, but I would recommend one of the mid-range options or an airbnb if you’re looking for a private room.

Mid-Range: Turquoise Petit 

I recently spent 5 nights at Turquoise Petit and couldn’t recommend it more! Seriously, I have zero complaints about this adorable hotel. At about $75 per night, it is a great mid-range option in La Valeta in Tulum Town. The rooms are small but cute, there are two pools, the best jungle vibes, and free breakfast. They also have free filtered water, complimentary bikes, and great security. Plus the staff is super sweet!

Mid-Range: Una Vida

Una Vida is a great, moderately priced accommodation option in Tulum. Located in Tulum center, Una Vida has a large, Instagrammable pool, minimilist decor, and a great location for exploring the city. Prices start around $90 USD/night, but can get pricier during the busier season.

Luxury: Be Tulum

Be Tulum is one of the top hotels in Tulum, but with it comes a steep price tag. A night at Be Tulum averages close to $1,000 USD/night, for what will definitely be an unforgettable experience.

Luxury: Nomade

Everything about Nomade is perfect, from the decor to their various restaurants. Not to mention, your room will be only steps from the beach! Rooms typically range from between $300 USD – $700 USD per night. One of my favorite restaurants, Macondo, is located at Nomade. I recommend visiting whether you stay here or not.

Getting Around Tulum

Getting Around Tulum By Bike

My favorite way to get around Tulum is by bike. Over the years there has been more and more traffic, so biking can often be the fastest way to get from place to place. If you’re staying in Tulum Town or La Valeta, I recommend biking to Tulum Beach when possible to avoid pricey taxis.

Many hotel include complimentary bikes. Otherwise, there are plenty of spots around town where you can rent a bike for a few bucks a day.

selfie in the mirror at turquoise petit hotel tulum
Staying at Turquoise Petit Hotel

Tulum by Taxi

Taxis are readily available throughout Tulum at any time, however it is important to always agree on a price before your ride. There is no way around, taxis in Tulum are expensive. But you also want to make sure that you’re getting the best price. While some drivers may accept US dollars, I recommend always paying in Mexican pesos. In early 2024 we were paying as much as 850 pesos ($50) for a taxi for 5 people on the short ride between La Valeta and the beach hotel zone.

Walking Around Tulum

Depending on where you are staying, walking is a great way to get around Tulum, at least for the area that you’re staying in. What I mean by this is that if you’re staying in Tulum town, you can easily reach tons of restaurants and bars on foot. However, if you are trying to reach the cenotes you’ll want to find a faster method of transportation.

Taking Colectivos in Tulum

Colectivos are shared vans that drive back and forth along specific routes. They are by far the cheapest way to get around the city or the neighboring cities.You typically pay between 20-40 pesos ($1-2 USD) per person.

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