Over the past year or so, Tulum has exploded. On Instagram, it’s hard to avoid pictures of travellers and influencers enjoying their holiday in Tulum, and there is no difference in reality.
Why is it so popular? Tulum boasts some beautiful beaches with soft-white sand and refreshingly blue water. The combination of the bohemian and luxury vibe is what attracts a lot of travellers, people just have to see what the fuss is about.
Overall Tulum is a pretty expensive place compared to other destinations in Mexico, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit if you’re on a budget. Tulum Town still offers a cheap local feel, but if you are looking for luxury, for sure head to the beach area.
Running parallel to the beach you’ll be spoilt for choice with luxury hotels, restaurants and beach clubs. All of which are beautifully designed and create an irresistibly bohemian vibe.
What can you do in Tulum?
You can easily spend your days lazing on the beach, sipping a cocktail in a beach club, but if you’re up for some exploring, there’s plenty to do.
Tulum has its own set of ruins, right in the centre of it all, overlooking the waves crashing against the cliffs below. It’s quite a backdrop! There’s also numerous cenotes dotted around the surrounding areas ready to be explored.
Another reason why so many people are attracted to this beach town is Tulum’s nightlife. If you’re looking for exclusive beach parties, this is the place. Although less common, cheap bars and street parties are also found here.
Tulum isn’t for everyone, and as the word spreads about this town it’s only going to become busier and busier. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if you’re excited by Tulum’s exclusive vibes, or would rather visit the less discovered destinations along the Caribbean coast.
Location #1: Tulum Town – live cheaply alongside the locals
If you’re a traveller on a budget or prefer a more authentic vibe, then staying in Tulum Town is probably the best choice for you.
In Tulum Town, you’ll be surrounded by locals and as a result, local food at great prices. There’s an abundant amount of street food and local restaurants that are budget-friendly and delicious.
There’s still plenty of places to party in Tulum town too, with parties flooding out onto the street as the night goes on. You’ll also find that drink prices are a lot cheaper compared to the beach area.
A large majority of the hostels can be found in Tulum Town, inviting the younger, backpacker crowd. There are also plenty of well-priced homestays, Airbnbs and hotels in this area.
The town is also the most convenient place if you’re arriving by bus as the station is located within town.
Getting around in Tulum Town
The downside – Tulum Town isn’t located directly on the beach. You’ll have to either hop in a collectivo for 15 MXN ($0.70), ride a bike for around 30 minutes or get a 10-minute taxi.
The problem with taxis is that they charge extortionate fees for the short distance due to the popularity of the area. You’ll be looking at around 150 MXN ($7) – 200 MXN ($9.50) for this short journey.
Location #2: Beach Area – luxury boutique hotels and beach clubs
Tulum’s beach area is separated into two sections, public and private.
No matter where you pick along the beach, you’ll be paying much higher prices than in Tulum Town.
You’ll find the private beaches to the south of Tulum, backed by luxury boutique hotels, expensive restaurants and popular beach clubs.
It’s no wonder this area is so popular, the beach area is picturesque with its perfect white sand beaches.
If you stay in one of the hotels lining the private beach area, you’ll also have access to the beach. If you’re not, you’ll have to pay to enter one of the beach clubs/hotels before you can lay your towel on the sand. Prices start at around $20.
The Tulum you’ve seen on Instagram is probably showcasing Tulum’s private beach area.
When staying in this area, expect to pay from $100/night.
The public beach area is set to the north of Tulum and as the name suggests, you’re able to access this part of the beach for free.
Instead of the boutique hotels found in the private part, here there are a number of large resorts. Prices start at around $120 per night.
The beach is slightly rockier here and not as picture-perfect as down south, but you won’t catch us complaining.
The majority of nightlife can be found in the south (the private beach area), so if you’re looking for some peace and quiet you may be better off here. However, the downside to this, you’ll have to travel to the party.
Put on your complimentary bathrobe and enjoy the tranquility of this hotel. Every aspect of the hotel is so beautifully and intricately designed that you can’t help but be relaxed here.
The decor is truly stunning with splashes of turquoise all around you.
There’s not one, but two pools to take a refreshing dip after you enjoyed your complimentary breakfast. The vibrant rooms are the perfect place to retire to at the end of the day.
There are too many great things to mention about Casa Santiago. It’s an eco-sustainable hotel with a refreshing pool and sun-loungers, perfect for relaxing around. An added bonus, all rooms offer balconies with pool views.
The star of the show though? The staff! They’re always there to help you out. Whether it be answering a question or helping you to organise a tour in Tulum.
The creative murals that you’ll find throughout the entire hotel, give La Palmita a vibrant and artistic feel.
The beds are massive and incredibly comfortable, offering a great night's sleep after a busy day in Tulum. You can also chill on your own private balcony or the big roof terrace. Plonk yourself in one of the many hammocks and enjoy the sunset.
Tulum has a great food scene, from cheap street eats and local restaurants to beautifully designed restaurants run by some of the world’s top chefs.
Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it in Tulum.
Loco Tulum – treat yourself to some fancy Mediterranean food
If you’re not travelling on a budget and want to indulge in some perfectly prepared food by a top chef, then head to Loco Tulum.
The restaurant’s seasonal menus bring the Meditteranean to Mexico in a way that you can’t help but be wowed.
Navito Tulum – the best seafood tacos and ceviche
It’s easy to just walk straight past this little local restaurant, but make sure you don’t. Nativo Tulum proves Tulum restaurants are not only for travellers with a big budget. Located in Tulum Town, you’ll be able to get some of the best Mexican seafood dishes for a really low price. The ceviche and marlin tacos are a must-try here!
Burrito Amor – healthy (ish) burritos
Once you visit Burrito Amor, you’re guaranteed to go back at least one more time during your stay in Tulum. The couple who own the restaurant started it with the aim of creating healthy but delicious food.
This means you can enjoy as many burritos as you want and not feel bad about it!
If you’re staying in Tulum Town, then exploring the area can be done easily by foot. No matter where you’re staying in the town, you’re likely to still be surrounded by great local restaurants and supermarkets.
Walking around is a great way to explore the town, plus it’s free and you can burn off some of the tacos you’ve been eating.
Walking from Tulum Town to the beach area is possible, but you’re looking at least an hour’s walk. This may be fine for some people, but do remember it’s likely to be hot.
Wherever you are in Tulum you’ll easily be able to flag down a taxi. They’re a convenient way to reach some of the surrounding sites such as cenotes and ruins.
The taxis have definitely taken advantage of the area’s recent growth in popularity, as well as the distance between the town and the beach.
By this we mean that taxis are pretty expensive! The 10-minute trip between the town and beach will cost you around 150 MXN ($7) – 200 MXN ($9.50), and that’s during the day. At night they like to increase the prices even more and if it’s raining, you may as well say goodbye to your budget. If you want to save your budget, a colectivo will be a better option.
Always make sure to haggle before getting in the taxi though as they’re more than likely to start with an extortionate and unreasonable price.
A popular way to get around Tulum is by bike. It’s actually one of THE things to do whilst in the town.
If you’re in Tulum Town then this can be a convenient way to reach the beach area, but do keep in mind it’s about a 5km cycle. You’ll have definitely earnt some tacos by the end of the day!
Biking around Tulum has been made easy by the relatively flat and well-paved sidewalk that runs along the main road.
You can hire a bike for around 100 MXN ($4.90) – 150 MXN ($7) a day or if you’re lucky, your accommodation may include bikes for free.
Colectivos are white minivans that act as buses for the locals. They’re by far your cheapest way to get around Tulum as a ride only costs 15 MXN ($0.70).
Getting from the town to the beach by colectivo is a relatively easy task, all you have to do is find a nearby bus stop or flag one down from the road.
Getting back from the beach area is another story. Unless you’re a local, the colectivos don’t really like to pick you up and instead prefer to reserve seats for the locals instead. This means you’re forced to get a taxi instead.
You can also use Colectivos to get to a number of Tulum’s cenotes, as well as the ruins.
If you’re planning on just spending your time in Tulum and not exploring the surrounding areas, then you probably won’t need to hire a car.
But if you want to explore lots of Tulum’s cenotes and enjoy a day trip to Coba ruins, then renting a car could be a good idea. A car allows you to explore the area at your own convenience and can work out cheaper depending on where you’re planning to go.