Known for being one of the best beach destinations in the world, Tulum is a destination you simply have to visit at least once in your life. It’s a destination that beautifully combines beach vacation with wellness, a place where you’re never too far from the nearest yoga class or açai bowl. If you’re here because you’ll already planning your trip then congrats- you’re going to have an amazing time, but you’re also going to need to decide on the best areas to stay in Tulum. Keep reading as I dive. a little deeper into the different parts of Tulum and explain the pros and cons of each so you can decide for yourself where to stay in Tulum.
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Tulum is a town located in central Quintana Roo State, on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. If your wanderlust gets fueled by Instagram, Tulum will probably already be on your radar; a picture-perfect white sand beach with some of the trendiest and most unique accommodation options in the world. If you’re searching for a beach destination with a boho aesthetic, minimalist style and some of the best plant-based eating options in Mexico, Tulum will no doubt be the place for you.
HOW TO GET TO TULUM?
There is no airport in Tulum so you’ll first have to fly into Cancun International Airport. From the airport, it’s about a 2-hour ride south, along the coastal highway to Tulum.
One of the best (and cheapest) ways to get to Tulum is by bus. The best bus to take is the ADO and it’s available right outside the arrivals terminal which takes you straight to the centre of Tulum town.
Shared or private taxis and transfers to Tulum are also available at the airport. To grab a great deal make sure to book before you arrive. I highly recommend using eTransfers for your trip as they are reputable and offer competitive rates. Check them out here to get a quote.
Another option is to rent a car right at Cancun airport, especially if you already know you’re going to be exploring the surrounding area such as Chichen Itza, Valladolid or Holbox. There are many local car rental agencies at the airport which rent cars and it’s pretty easy to do, just make sure you have your passport and driving license. Try to stay away from deals that are too good to be true as they normally don’t include mandatory insurance, giving you quite the surprise when it’s time to actually pay.
For this reason, I’d highly recommend using City Car Rentals as they are super reliable, transparent, have great reviews and have the best deals around (which include all mandatory insurance). Click here to get a quote for your trip.
BEST AREAS TO STAY IN TULUM
Tulum isn’t a big place but it does have a wide range of areas, each with its own pros and cons. The best area for you will ultimately depend on factors such as your budget, what you look for in accommodation and how close you’d like to be to the beach.
The first thing to know is that surprisingly, Tulum town isn’t exactly close to the beach. In fact, it can take around 45 minutes to cycle from some areas in Tulum town to the beach, so if this isn’t something you’d like to do consider staying closer to the beach.
Another huge factor is your budget. Tulum isn’t cheap, especially when compared to other places in Mexico. Most budget accommodation and restaurants are in Tulum town and it’s there that you’ll get the best deals. If you’ve got a larger budget, you’ll be able to fork out a bit more on fancier, more luxurious beachside accommodation.
In Tulum, there are five areas where most travellers stay. In Tulum town, they are La Veleta, Aldea Zama and Tulum Centro and by the beach, there’s the Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone or Tulum Beach Strip) and the area by Playa Paraiso.
La Veleta is one of Tulum’s newest neighbourhoods and it’s also one of the most affordable making it one of the best areas to stay in Tulum. It’s popular with younger travellers and digital nomads and you’ll find so many amazing accommodation options here and boutique hotels, Airbnbs as well as cute cafes and places to get breakfast every morning. It’s a great place to be if you’re looking to connect with other travellers, discover the trendiest places in Tulum town and eat all the delicious food.
- Stylish and affordable accommodation options
- Close to great bars, cafes and restaurants
- Easily walkable
- Opportunities to connect with other travellers
- Far from the beach (about 45 minutes by bike)
- A little far from Centro (20 minutes walk)
- Noise from nearby construction
My favourite accommodation options in La Veleta:
ERA Hotel and Spa Tulum– A beautifully designed, boutique hotel in the heart of La Veleta with open plan, king rooms, a large pool and an on-site cafe and restaurant. They also have a great spa on the second floor. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel Tiki Tiki – If you’re a fan of really stylish hotels, you won’t be able to pass up a stay at the fabulous Hotel Tiki Tiki. This amazing hotel features a grand pool and beautifully designed common areas, large rooms with balconies and hammocks. Everything is clean, modern and very unique. Check rates and availability here.
Need some more inspiration for where to stay in Tulum? Check out Tulum Airbnbs: Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico
Near La Veleta, you’ll find Tulum Centro, the older, central part of town that was the original town before Tulum started growing at such an alarming rate. Much like in La Veleta in Tulum Centro you’re close to everything you might need during your stay such as bike rentals, cafes, bars, bus stations, pharmacies, supermarkets and restaurants – perfect for when you need to pop out for something you need quickly. Many locals also live and work in Tulum Centro so if you’re looking for a more local experience this is a good option for you. You’ll find a lot of street food here and locals hanging out in the main square.
- More of a local experience
- Easily walkable
- All services within reach
- Lots of street food options
- Noise from nearby bars and clubs and the occasional drunk people
- Traffic noise if you’re right on the main road
- Far from the beach
My favourite accommodation option in Tulum Centro:
Casa Agape Boutique Hotel – For one of the best options in the heart of the centre of Tulum, look no further than Casa Agape. With spacious rooms with large bed and sofa, these beautifully designed rooms also come with a balcony or front garden to relax in after a long day at the beach. There’s also a lovely rooftop and pool to watch the sunset from. Check rates and availability here.
Aldea Zama is Tulum’s newest neighbourhood- most of which is still under construction. Here you’ll find a wide range of exclusive accommodation and small apartment buildings as well as unique, boutique hotels and cute neighbourhood cafes. There isn’t too much around here just yet but it is a very short cycle or drive from Tulum Centro or La Valeta. If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful, safe and quiet at night Aldea Zama is a great area to stay in.
- Closer to the beach than any other area in Tulum town
- Little traffic noise and noise at night
- Luxury, boutique feel
- Noise from nearby construction during the day
- Further away from restaurants, bars and other services
- Not a lot going on as most of the area is still under construction
- Need a bike or a car to get around comfortably
My favourite stay in Aldea Zama:
Copal Hotel, Tulum – For one of the newest and most extraordinary hotels in Aldea Zama make sure not to miss Copal. This small, boutique hotel has a courtyard layout and is surrounded by jungle vegetation. Rooms range from simple double rooms with patios and plunge pools to large self-catering apartments for longer stays. They also have two pools and one of the most beautiful hotel spas in Tulum. Check rates and availability here.
TULUM BEACH: ZONA HOTELERA
If you’re in Tulum for nothing more than to relax and enjoy one of the world’s best beaches, then staying on the beach strip might be the best area to stay in Tulum for you. Along Tulum’s beach strip you’ll find many beautiful, unique, boutique-style resorts that offer accommodation, restaurants, beach clubs and some even have their own open-air yoga studios. You’ll find accommodation suiting a range of budgets, but in general, things are on the expensive side- even the mini-markets and pharmacies on the beach strip are more expensive than in Tulum town. Staying in the zona hotelera is a great option for anyone looking to just relax on the beach, do yoga and enjoy their time at the various beach clubs.
- You are right on the beach
- Amazing sunrises
- Beautiful choice of luxury, unique accommodation options
- Not as many restaurant/bar options as in town
- Further from cenotes/ Tulum ruins
My favourite stays in the Zona Hotelera:
Sanará – Sanará is definitely one of the best options in Tulum for wellness-focused travellers as they focus on nourishing and healing throughout your stay. They offer boho-minimal styled rooms which face the sea or a beautiful inner garden, an oceanfront yoga studio allowing you to flow to the sound of the ocean and one of the best plant-based restaurants around- The Real Coconut. Check rates and availability here.
Nômade Tulum – For a chance to stay in a room, tent or even treehouse, head straight to the end of the beach strip to Nômade. Surround yourself with nothing but nature and fill up on holistic cuisine, practise yoga, meditation and even join a Temazcal ceremony- for those wanting to take wellness and experience to the next level don’t miss Nômade. Check rates and availability here.
If you’d like to stay on the beach but don’t quite have the budget to stay at one of the hotels on the strip, then it’s also a great idea to check out Playa Paraiso and the surrounding beaches. They are just a few kilometres further north from the main beach strip, towards the Tulum ruins.
At Playa Paraiso, you’ll find a few great accommodation options right on the beach, yet they are much more affordable than the IG famous resorts. Check out Ikal Hotel Tulum and Cinco Tulum for some unique and stylish options.
As you can see each one of Tulum’s areas has it’s own pros and cons and the best areas to stay in Tulum will also depend on your own needs. If you want to be on the beach then make sure to choose the Zona Hotelera if you have the budget or Playa Paraiso for cheaper options. Perhaps, if you’d prefer to save money further and don’t mind renting a bike to get to the beach then you may want to choose Tulum Centro or La Veleta. If you’re someone who fancies quiet nights in, in beautiful accommodation then perhaps look into Aldea Zama.
I hope this post has shed some light on Tulum’s different areas and given you more of an idea of where to stay and base yourself.
If you have any comments or questions about the best areas to stay in Tulum then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
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