There are 2 areas to stay in Tulum: Tulum Peublo and The Beach.
Tulum Pueblo is the town. It’s where you’ll find the cheapest hotels, the cheapest (and best) restaurants, grocery stores, the bus station, ATM’s, and car rentals.
The Beach is, of course, the beach. There are lots of restaurants but very few services along the beach. For clarity I’ve divided the beach into 3 sections: north of the T, the Beach Town, and the South Beach. (Note: no one else uses these terms so if you say “The Beach Town” to a taxi driver you’ll get a blank stare.)
Here’s a simple map where I’ve noted the most important areas.
The “T” is where the road out to the beach divides into north and south sections. North of the T leads to a few hotels and the road runs almost to the Tulum Ruins. The beach is very nice here. South of the T leads to the Beach Town and South Beach.
The Beach Town has a handful of restaurants, a few shops, a dive and snorkel shop, an ice cream shop, and 3 or 4 hotels. The beach is OK here but not as nice as North of the T and South Beach.
South Beach has the nicest stretch of Beach in Tulum. There are lots of hotels (most with their own restaurant) and a handful of stand-alone restaurants. The road from the Beach Town runs along beach with most hotels on the beach side and a few restaurants and hotels on the opposite side of the road. The road has lots of speed bumps so traffic never moves too fast and the road is fine for biking.
The beach at the Tulum Ruins. The ruins are a worthwhile visit (though nothing compared to Coba or Chichen Itza) and the sea beneath them is a great place for a dip.
A view of the Tulum ruins from one of the tour boats.
The beach near the ruins. Great water for a swim but often quite busy.
Beach in south Tulum (looking south). This is around KM 7.5. This is the nicest stretch of beach in Tulum.
Beach in south Tulum (looking north). Around KM 7.5.
The beach in front of Om restaurant, Casa Violeta, and Luv Tulum. It’s a great stretch of beach. Om is one of the least expensive places to eat on the beach (though still not “cheap”).
Playa Mambo in Tulum. The nicest stretch of beach is found in front of this hotel running north and south for a 3 or 4 Km’s. (Hotel i s located at Km 7.5.)
The beach in front of Playa Mambo. (Km 7.5)
Shrimp Tacos at El Capitan in Tulum Pueblo. A great restaurant in Tulum Pueblo. The owners are very friendly and have a very helpful “Tulum mini-guide” they’ll give you for free.
Pollo Bronce in Tulum Pueblo. One of the best places to eat in downtown Tulum. Very cheap and very tasty.
The beach and restaurant found in front of the El Paraiso Beach Club. You needn’t stay at hotel to use its facilities and beach chairs (as long as you’re buying food and drink). This is located north of the T.
There is a “beach town” – a very small center of restaurants, hotels, shops, and a dive shop found around KM 5. This is one of a couple restaurants located along that short strip.
Zamas hotel and restaurant in the Beach Town strip.
Some stretches of beach near “Beach Town” are narrow and not as nice as north towards the ruins or south past Km 5.5 (about).
Beach Town located at Km 5 along. There are 3 or 4 restaurants here, bike rentals, dive shop, an ice cream shop and a few small clothing and knick-knack stores. Mateo’s has a bit of a party vibe late at night, though very tame by Cancun standards.
Ice cream shop in Tulum. Also one located at Km 5 out in “Beach Town”.
Located at Km 5 in the “Beach Town”. Hotel Posada has the most bike rentals of any place near the beach.
The restaurant at La Zebra hotel. The beach and swimming are great here. And there’s a nice play area for kids right beside the restaurant. (Located at Km 7.)
Casa Banana steakhouse is great. Located around Km 6.5.
The mini-grocery store at Km 7.5 has the cheapest beer along the Tulum beach road.
This is probably the cheapest restaurant along the beach road. La Onda serves great pizzas. Once again, not as cheap as eating in the town. (Located at Km 8.)
Swimming at Gran Cenote. It’s about a 5 minute drive from Tulum Pueblo. Some guide books suggest riding a bike but it’s a busy highway out to there with no side roads.
There are lots of cenotes around Tulum. Some big. Some, like this one, just little holes in the ground.
Another shot of Gran Cenote. It’s great for swimming and snorkeling.
… And jumping.
When you’re at a hotel on the beach you’re really at the beach – including breakfast.
The road along the beach is quiet and great for biking – though there is some traffic.
Many hotels rent 2 or 3 bikes to anyone who wants them.
There’s a nice bike path from the center of Tulum Pueblo to the Beach Town at Km 5.
The beach looking north from Km 5.5 (near Beach Town).
The beach looking north from Km 5.5 (near Beach Town).
The same shot as above just a little closer to Beach Town.
Beach bungalows come in all shapes and sizes.
Sian Ka’an reserve is about 20 Km’s south of Tulum.
The beach and lodges in Sian Ka’an Reserve.
Coba pyramid is located about 45 minutes by car or taxi from Tulum.
The climb is steep but doable by kids 5 and up. Hey, if this guy can do it with a baby so can you.
You can rent bikes at Coba to get from the entrance to the Pyramid (about 2 Km’s). You can also get a bike taxi and just relax.
Bike rentals at Coba. Lots of choice and it makes getting to the pyramid a quick trip.
Xel-ha activity/zipline/snorkel water park. It’s a great day trip from Tulum for young families. Xplor is another good day trip option and is much more “active” and adrenaline-fueled.
The bus station in Tulum. It’s located in the center of town and there are lots of places to eat within a short walk.
There are several ATM’s in town including 2 at the bus station.
Good Hotels on Tulum Beach
Good Hotels in Tulum Pueblo