Tulum is on the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico.
It was the site of a Mayan port which was supported by up to 1000 residents before the arrival of the Spanish. The ruin's tropical beach backdrop is the main attraction of this picturesque, much-visited small ruin on the shore of the Caribbean Sea.
Be prepared for LOTS of people and tour groups at the archaeological site. To avoid the crowds, it is best to stay overnight and visit the ruins early in the morning before the buses arrive, or later in the afternoon. Morning is recommended since you can catch spectacular views when the sun is rising over the Caribbean.
Tulum has three areas: Downtown, Ruins and the Hotel Zone. The hotel zone is some miles ahead of the ruins (on the same way) and there are multiple eco cabañas, restaurants, spas and more. Downtown has local establishments and is not as touristic as the hotel zone. You can find more detailed info below in Three Tulums Area.
It is also important to consider that many establishments do not accept credit cards and there are not many ATM's walking distance from cabañas, so make sure to have enough cash available. Also, wifi access and telephone signal is restricted.
To get to Tulum, you will be landing at Cancun International Airport. The ride from there is about 1 hr 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the chosen transportation method, weather and traffic.
From the Cancun International Airport you can take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen with departures every :30min to 1 hour for around $156 MXN (about $12 USD). Once in Playa del Carmen you transfer to a second bus (ADO, AU or Mayab) to Tulum for an additional $74 MXN (about $5 USD).
Buses from Chetumal run every hour. You can take the ADO bus departing from the ADO bus station. Buses depart from 1am to 6pm costing anywhere from 290 peso to 424 peso. Check the latest prices from the ADO website. There is also a cheaper bus, called Mayab, departing fairly regularly from Chetumal for about 220 peso. You can catch the bus on the main road (Av Insurgentes) at the Liverpool bus stop; just flag down the bus when you see it coming otherwise it won't stop. Duration is about 3 hour 45 minutes.
Buses from Cancun run quite regularly. There is also an ADO bus direct from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
Buses from Playa del Carmen run hourly or so. Bus station is at southern end of Fifth Avenue near Playacar. ADO Bus $74 MXN stops at Xcaret and Xel-ha enroute to Tulum. Mayab bus $42 MXN stops more frequently enroute to Tulum from Playa del Carmen. Both have a/c.
To visit the ruins, get off the bus at the first Tulum stop at the intersection with the access road to the ruins. It's an easy one mile or so flat walk to the ruins from the intersection.
An alternative to the buses is to catch a "collectivo" van. In Playa del Carmen you can find these on Calle 2 towards Avenida 20. A one-way trip costs $40 MXN p.p. (2016-Jul). Buses leave when full (a matter of minutes). Make sure to ask specifically for the ruins, as the town of Tulum is another stop. You will be dropped off and picked up at the side of the Federal Highway 307 (the same intersection where the buses stop), from where you can walk the last 850 meters to the ruins.
Rental cars are priced reasonably and are the easiest way to get around the Tulum area. Shop around rates upon arrival, and feel free to haggle. Check with your credit card company to see if they automatically insure you, most do so you don't have to pay the additional insurance that the rental agency often tries to insist you purchase. If you check prices on internet, make sure to confirm that the price you are seeing if the final, as some companies apply surcharges at the very last minute when you are already signing the contract.
It is a very easy drive to Tulum. To get there you take the only highway south from Cancun Airport straight down past Playa del Carmen, Akumal, etc. About 90 minutes from the airport you will arrive in Tulum. If staying on the Hotel Zone, you will see a sign that says "Boca Paila" and you need to follow it and turn left. From there, you just need to look for your hotel.
Watch out for police speed traps, especially as you are heading out of town, on the 40km/h section just before the highway. It is a point were most cars are accelerating and 40km/h seems innappropriate. The police are looking for money: "this infraction will need a ticket... your license will be detained to guarantee payment and you have to come to the station to collect it... it will cost 1600pesos... or you can pay now and there is no ticket...". Local advice is to not see the police when they try to flag you down. Other strategies: if you have to stop, do so gradually so there is a long unattractive distance to walk, and keep your license somewhere not handy so you can stall giving it to them; or insist on paying the fine in full at the police station which might not an attractive option due to the hassle paperwork and actual work. Carefully watching the speed limit signs helps too.
If you don't want to drive or suffer the hassle of going up and down the buses with your luggage, you can pre-book a transfer from the airport to your hotel or destination. There are many companies offering this service that are reliable, safe and professional as:
Many of the Hotels in Tulum offer a pick-up service from the Cancun International Airport for an additional price depending on the hotel. Check with your hotel and compare rates.
Visiting the ruins
By Car: If you drive yourself to the ruins before opening time, it may be a bit confusing as to where to go and what to do. As soon as you park, a man on a bicycle should find you and charge you for parking ($50 MXN). You must go through a sort of half open-air mall (which is empty before 8AM). From there you can either sign up with a tour guide, pay for a shuttle ride to the ruins ($20 MXN), or walk a mile along a road to the ruins.
By Collectivo: Wait at any bus stop along the main road in Tulum and flag down a collectivo heading to "Play del Carmen". For 20 peso you take the collectivo to the Tulum ruina intersection and get off. Walk about 1km down the road to the admission entrance for the ruina. Current price (10 April 2019) is 75 peso. You can with this entry, visit and swim at the famous beach below the famous "El Castillo".
By Walking or bicycle: By all means you can walk or ride a bicycle the approximate 3.2km from the ADO bus station to the Tulum ruina intersection, as well as the 1km way to the entrance, but it's a long walk in the hot sun. On the bike it might not be so bad, but walking...think twice.
The guides are reported to be better story tellers than actual experts on Mayan culture but cost about $20 USD per person. Alternatively you can tag behind a tour group and listen in. I would recommend that everyone wear their swimming gear as you will undoubtedly want to swim in the playa at the ruins. Also don't buy a plastic water bottle, bring your own and refill it before you leave your accommodation. Although the ruina area is a major tourist attraction and has a cleanup crew, some people are throwing their use-once plastic water bottles not in the provided bins, but into the bush along the road. Better still use a refillable aluminum water bottle. Tourism is a double edged sword and we need to be vigilant regarding the environment.
What most folks really need to know, and only manage to figure out once there, is the fact that there are really three different areas all referred to as Tulum only minutes away from each other, not close enough though to walk to and from.
Tulum Pueblo sits split by highway 307 running South-North. "El Pueblo", as referred to by locals, is home to most workers of the tourist industry and where many of the stores, supermarkets, two bus stations, inns, hostels and small hotels are found. This section of town has a definite feel of existing mostly to cater to the Tulum ruins. Tulum pueblo is indeed a destination for shopping, great restaurants, a modest night life, studying the language at Instituto Chac-Mool Spanish School, booking tours, banking, shopping for food, local vegetables, fruits, cafes, and local flavor. Do not miss it.
Tulum Playa nests along the coastline that leads into the Sian Ka'an Biosphere [Ecological Reserve], the Caribbean white sandy beaches to the east, an impressive mangrove & wetland reserve to the south. Tulum Playa embraces many of the fancier, ecological, boutique and spa hotels, and it has a decent selection of restaurants and night spots. There are also a number of affordable beach front cabana-type lodging locations. Walk the beach and simply step in and inquire about accommodations and rates. Always ask to see the available room(s) before committing: cabanas generally look better from outside than inside; bathrooms in particular are often in sad disrepair.
It should be noted most of these establishments are Eco-friendly and do not provide electricity past midnight. Toilet paper can not be flushed and it is asked that water and other resources be used sparingly. The hotels in Tulum aim to keep Tulum as it is and stop the ecological problems that have already taken hold in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
If you are staying on the beach and trying to save money, it is wise to stock up on food and drinks in the pueblo. There are not too many restaurant options on the beach, and the ones that are operational are comparatively quite expensive.
Taxis have a near monopoly on transport to and from the playa. Buses come from time to time, but hitchhiking can also get you where you need to go.
The beach area hotel zone sees considerable trade in and use of illicit substances. Keep in mind that for some visitors this is the area's main attraction, so if you choose to attend a bonfire or rumba party use common sense. The street running parallel to the coast where most of the cabanas are is unlit and curvy. Exercise extra caution after dark. There are no sidewalks.
Tulum Ruinas is the archaeological site where the Maya ruins of Tulum stand. It is conformed by a-mile-long road leading into the ruins from highway 307. The road is flanked by several restaurants, a commercial area geared to one-day visitors, a huge parking lot, a small bus station that operates part-time and a handful of middle range hotels.
Tulum is mostly known for its ruins, which strike an impressive image next to the sea, but were constructed during a time period of Maya culture that was waning. The site is notable for a small cenote (albeit dry during Jan 2009), beautiful beach below the ruin laden cliffs and some well preserved stellae in only one of its structures. After visiting other ruins in the area such as Coba, Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, Tulum's main claim is the sea-side setting. It is best visited on a clear, bright day or at sunrise. Bring your swimming suit. At the time of writing, one of the best sections was closed to visitors and covered with plastic bottles and other refuse.
A standard to telephoto zoom lens does well if you must photograph during times of peak tourism. This strategy will keep people out of your shots of the ruins. Tripods are allowed only with a permit that is exclusively available in Mexico City for a $500 fee. A monopod may be a possibility.
- Taxis are an inexpensive way to get around but for the most part, Tulum 'Pueblo' is so small that walking is a simple, though often dusty, option. Taxis from 'Pueblo' to the coast is ~$110 MXN. It is advisable to either take a taxi or rent a bike when traveling between the 'Pueblo' and the beach, as the walk is rather long, dusty and unattractive. Taxis within pueblo is $50 MXN (as of May 2019) - this is particularly useful when you go to the supermarket...
- Bikes are a convenient way to get around town and to/from cenotes and the beach. Please be careful when riding a bike on the highway. Bring a headlamp/flashlight if biking at night. You can rent them from many places for about 50MXN / day. Many hostels also rent their own bikes.
- Center Bikes - Main Street / Saturno Norte (near Subway) - 85MXN / 24 hours, 80MXN if return in the same day (Feb '18)
- Kelly Bike Rental - (Calle Acuario at Cancun - Chetumal, Tulum) - 100MXN / 24 hours (Feb '18)
- Iguana Bikes in Tulum 'Pueblo' - $150 to 250 MXN for 24 hours
- Many collectivos (shared van) leave Tulum Pueblo:
- to Playa del Carmen (and all cenotes / beaches / resorts in between), they leave every 5 minutes from the main street, near the ADO bus station (price depends on where you stop: $20 MXN for the ruins and some cenotes, $25 MXN for Akumal, etc.)
- to the beach, they leave about once per hour from Venus Ote / Orion Sur - $10 MXN (you can actually see the timetable in Google streetview!). They might refuse to take you in at around 3pm because it's for workers first.
- to Coba in the main street near the ADO bus station, but they only leave when there's enough people to fill the van/car, so you might wait for hours...
- Tulum Ruins - Tulum Ruins is the biggest ancient building that is standing on the Riviera Maya shore. If you want to avoid the big tour crowds, go before 9:30. The park opens at 8:00 and closes at 17:00 (costs 75MXN), however they also have "special hours" from 5:00 to 7:00 and 17:00 to 19:00 (costs 255MXN).
- Sian Ka'an Biosphere - The reserve features acres upon acres of pristine mangrove swamp and wetlands. Just past the information center pull into the dirt lot on the left and walk out to the beach. There are a few fishermen that dock here and are willing to take you on a tour that is much cheaper than the organized tours offered in the area. The fishermen will take you on an hour to two hour boat tour of the reserve any time of day. Near sunset is a great option. They will often work for hire for $100 to 200 MXN (about $10 to 20 USD).
- Coba ruins - Be sure to visit the Coba ruins. They are not in as pristine shape as the Tulum Ruins, however they feature "El Castillo" the tallest of the Mayan ruins that juts up above the treetops in the jungle. You can still climb el castillo in Coba and the sight from the top is spectacular. A fun and efficient way of exploring the ruins is renting a bike ($40 MXN); just go to the rental place inside the ruins. You can also rent bikes to get around Coba. Coba is only a 30 minute drive west of tulum on the main road off 307. Just follow the signs to Coba!
- Muyil archaeological site - Smaller and less developed than the Tulum ruins, but also quieter. Entry is 50MXN. At the opposite side of the site is a board walk (another 50MXN) through the jungle, with a rickety and steep tower that provides a great view. The walk leads you to a lagoon, where for 600MXN you are taken by boat through a tour of part of the Sian Ka'an biosphere - a couple of lagoons, and a couple of canals - one natural and one Mayan-made. Then you get to put on a life jacket as a sort of diaper (if a good swimmer), and float along a canal (well worth bringing a snorkel or at least a mask). To get there from Tulum either take a taxi (250MXN), Mayab bus (26MXN, from ADO station), or collectivo (20MXN). To get back, just wait at the bus stop by the ruins and hail a passing collectivo or bus. (Feb '17)
Swimming at Tulum Ruina Playa
The best place to swim is at the ruina play, below "El Castillo". However, to swim here you do need to buy an entry ticket of 75 peso to the Tulum Ruina Archaeological park. This is not a public beach. There is however another way if you are desperate to swim there but don't want to pay the 75 peso admission to the park, but to do this you do need to be a good swimmer. You can, instead of entering the park, continue walking down the road a few hundred meters to playa Santa Fe. From there, you walk up the beach toward the rocks, get in the water and basically wade/swim close along the shore line until you get to the ruina playa (about 345m). The only issue you may have is the thick seaweed, hence you need to be a good swimmer. The water along the shore isn't more than 2m deep but for the first 100m or so the rocks on the floor can be sharp in some places, so float carefully. After the 100m mark, the rocks are covered with sea weed and the remaining 100m is a sandy bottom where you can actually walk along easily.
Tulum Sports Festival - A sports event held annually at Tulum Beach and is open registration. Fun and sports for everyone with live music, beach volleyball, paddle boards, kayaks, swimming, kite boarding and more. A great weekend of fun activities to celebrate the beauty of the beach and wind. There's something for everyone!
- Extreme Control The original Kiteboarding school of Tulum, teaching since 2005 with bilingual IKO certified instructors to all levels. Also offering Diving courses and fun dives, Paddleboarding rentals and tours. Extreme Control headquarters are located on the main Tulum public beach in front of Hotel Playa Esperanza and beside El Paraiso Beach Club.
- Ocean Pro Kite - kiteboarding school located on Tulum beach. It provides kitesurf lessons following the most professional and safest method of teaching, known as IKO (International Kitesurfing Organisation). From a one-hour lesson to "ready to go" packages.
Snorkeling - There are great guided snorkel tours from the public beach near the ruins, which cost 200 pesos each in Nov 2009 and lasted about two hours.
Scuba Diving - Scuba diving in the Cenotes around Tulum is an experience not to be missed. There are multiple dive operators based in Tulum that to both Cenote and ocean dives.
- La Calypso Dive Center - Professional, family size dive center, PADI certified instructors and dive masters, highly enthusiastic and with great knowledge of the various cenotes. Snorkeling tours, Cavern diving (cenote diving), PADI courses, Discover Scuba Diving, reef diving. As they almost only manage private groups, they don't have a dive shop open to the public so bookings and information have to be done by email or phone (00521) 984 106 80 02 or (00521) 984 100 73 85
- You can also take your own self guided tour of the reefs right off the beach from the Hotel Zone. Tulum sits on the second largest barrier reef in the world. Be sure to take a tour yourself, or a guided tour of this fantastic reef system. You will be sure to see over 30 species of fish and some spectacular Coral as well. If you must take a guided tour, the cheapest in the area is located at Zamas Hotel. Zamas is located about 10 establishments in from the beginning of the hotel zone.
- Aguaclara project: Diving, Snorkeling & Eco tours, Calle Luna poniente MZa 2 lot 1 loc 2 (two blocks back from Cancha maya), ☎ 984 105 40 47, . Outstanding tours to the natural surrounding of Tulum in very small groups with great personal service.
- Koox Diving and Tours Various adventures in the company of skilled, fully certified guides and instructors. Scuba diving in cenotes, PADI and cave diving courses available. Free GoPro to record the adventure. Tours planned thoroughly to let visitors fully admire the local wildlife and nature. Kite surfing and paddle boarding lessons, day trips to Sian Ka'an and Isla Blanca are also on offer - 3 hours of kitesurf or paddle board practice, all gear and equipment provided, even lunch and drinks. Ground tours to Punta Laguna and Coba, Sian Ka'an, Muyil and Tulum Ruins are also available upon reservation. Instructors are: PADI certified Dive Masters, senior level 2 (IKO, KISS, PASA, IBO) kitesurfing instructors and local guides speaking English, Spanish and Italian. Tours start every day - at 8 and 11 o'clock - for diving; 9am-4pm for private kite surfing and paddle boarding trips. All gear, equipment, transportation are provided. Prices: $85-$250, vary by trip, duration and location. Address: Avenida Tulum, manzana 2, Lote 4, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Open hours: 8-21. Contact the Shop: +52 984 980 0544.
Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park - Offering unique jungle adventures to suit everyone, Hidden Worlds is situated on the most extensive system of underwater caves and caverns on Earth. The park is home to some of the most incredible cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, as featured in the critically acclaimed 2001 IMAX movie Journey Into Amazing Caves and the 2007 BBC Planet Earth series.
Maya Spa - Holistic spa specializing in Mayan treatments.
- See also: Cenotes of the Yucatán
In much of the Yucatan, rainwater collects in a system of underground caves and tunnels. Where these tunnels reach the surface is known as a cenote (pronounced seh-NOH-teh). Cenotes usually allow swimming and diving, and at some you can rent related equipment. They contain fresh water, which is often cool since they are shaded in most cases. Cenotes allow close-up access to fauna such as fish, turtles, and in some cases, bats. Some cenotes are mainly enclosed with only small openings on the surface and a larger above-water cavernous area that extends under the rock covering. Others are more open and allow more natural light.
- El Gran Cenote. Admission: $150 MXN (September 2015). This is the most popular cenote (and therefore the most crowded) in Tulum. A good combination of a deep, cavernous portion, a couple of shallow open-air portions and ample wooden decking with stairs down to the water at several entrance points. This is recommended for first-time cenote-goers. Snorkelling gear is available for rent although prices are a bit steep. As of June 2014 prices were $80 MXN for snorkel and mask rental (snorkels appeard to be non-valved), $30 MXN to rent a locker to store your bags, $50 MXN to rent a life vest and $250 MXN to buy a waterproof camera.
- Casa Cenote, in TanKah III Bay is a magic spot. Here the Cenote goes underground some 100 yards before the beach, only to emerge as an 'underwater' water spring about 20 yards of the beach, right in the ocean. Must see. Tanka III Bay is just over 7 kilometers (5 miles) north of the intersection to the ruins. Take a cab. Great places to eat and stay or scuba too. Admission: about 120 pesos. Extra charge to rent a snorkel or kayak.
- Cenote Calavera. Admission: $100 MXN (September 2015). This is named "calavera" or "skull" because the entrance has one circular opening of about 9 meters in diameter into which one can jump or descend down a ladder, plus two smaller openings of about 1 meter in diameter. The cenote is mostly enclosed and only partially lit by daylight - there is a large cavernous area that is home to many bats.
- Cenotes Cristal and Escondido. $120 MXN buys admission to both (200MXN if you have diving equipment). These two cenotes are across the highway from each other, 3km south of the beginning of the Pueblo. Both are open-air, relatively shallow water, and unlikely to be crowded. Cristal has a diving platform about 3 meters above the surface of the water. The shape of the cenote is semi-round. Escondido is longer and contains an interesting floor of algae-covered rock and wood. Many fish eat the algae off the surfaces. There are small islands around which one can swim, and flexible straw-like tree roots jut into the water. Escondido is a 10-minute walk or a 2-minute bicycle ride down a bumpy dirt road from the entrance gate to the highway.
- Dos Ojos Cenote. $350 MXN for entrance only, as of April 2017 (good if you bring your own equipment and are ready to walk 3km to the cenote), or $600 MXN for the entrance plus a guide, ride to the cenote, snorkel equipment, lamp, and wetsuit if you want. Set aside around 2 or 3 hours total.
- Zacil-Ha. Admission: $60 MXN (November 15). Beautiful open-air cenote. It looks like a natural swimming-pool, but there are also underwater caves that go very far away. There's a zip-line for $10 MXN, snorkeling gear and life vests rental, deck chairs, tables for picnic, a bar and restaurant. Mostly Mexicans go there.
If staying for more than just a couple of days, you may want to experience taking some Spanish lessons at the beach or at the Spanish school.
- El Camino Tulum - Spanish lessons in one, and two week intensive sessions, six week - three days a week classes and private instruction.
- Meztli Spanish Language School Tulum - Meztli features morning yoga classes before their Spanish lessons begin. Fresh air classrooms and emphasis on learning through interactive lessons.
- SAAMAL Spanish Language School in Tulum "SAAMAL is a language school offering Spanish courses and activities in Tulum and the area for all levels of Spanish from beginners to intermediate and advanced in a relaxed setting.
Markets catering mainly to the bus loads of tourists are situated on the road leading to the entrance of the archaeological site.
There are also markets in town on 307 in the main stretch of town. Many cater to tourists however be sure to give them a look anyway. There are a lot of beautiful hand crafted Mexican pottery and fabrics. If you turn off of 307 and vere into town away from the main strip you can discover tons of tiny establishments and get a feel for the truly sleepy town of Tulum.
- For the budget minded, try Pollo Bronco (Pollo Bronco), ☎ (984) 871-2656. and Pollo Asada which both offer chicken that is roasted to perfection that can be ordered by the 1/4, 1/2, and whole. (20.2112603,)
- Don Cafetos features authentic mexican and is one of the most popular restaurants on the strip
- El Camello, (On the main road in the southern outskirts of the pueblo). (and El Camello Jr) "The Camel" has great (and cheap) seafood (the ceviche is excellent!). Unpretentious but packed with locals as well as tourists. Take a cab to get there unless you are in the southern part of town. (20.208067,-87.4736775)
- Cetli, Polar at Orion, . 5-10pm. Probably the best food in town. Somewhat expensive but well worth it. The young chef-owner Claudia has been trained at Mexico City's premier culinary academy. Unfortunately few tourists ever notice this place since it's not on the main strip.
- La Picadita Veracruzana, (Very nice and cheap place located on the opposite of the ADO busstation, corner jupiter street). local food, cheap and delicious.The service is warmly and friendly.Probably the best (and cheapest) enchiladas in town.
- Co.Conamor Restaurante (Vegetarian Healthy Restaurant), Road to the Beach (In front of Chedraui), ☎ 9848712600, . 10:00-19:00. Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Meals in an open chill environment. Super Foods, Home Made Bread, Germinated Seeds, Aloe Vera, Slow Food, Smoothies, Cold Press Juices and a Biodegradable Bulk Food Store. 12usd.
- Pizzeria Manglar (Pizzeria Manglar), Calle Asuncion, Manzana 38, Lote 2. No. 6, ☎ (984) 120-0770, . Wed-Mon 5pm-11pm. One of the best pizza in town. They have delivery. The menu is in one of the photos on the Facebook page. $100 MXN.
- Antojitos La Chiapaneca (Antojitos La Chiapaneca), Main Street / Beta Norte. Best tacos al pastor! And very cheap ($7 MXN as of November 2015). Try also the sopes. $7 MXN.
- Tamales, (Main Street / Centauro Norte). Tamales stand on the street. Very tasty and cheap. $12 MXN.
- Hartwood (Wood-fired sustainably sourced local ingredients), Located on the jungle side of Tulum Beach Road 7.6 km. Featured in many publications, this is high quality food served in a rustic atmosphere fitting to the region, and a great place for a romantic meal. Everything is top notch. It's not cheap, but lives up to the price.
- Suculenta, (Just off the main road in the center of town on Calle Orion Sur). Small vegan restuarant that sells various different premade tamales, carrot cake, green juice as well as smoothies, smoothie bowls, ice cream and popsicle bags all with frozen bananas as a base. (20.208067,-87.4736775)
- Taquería Honorio, Satélite Sur, Tulum Mexico. 6am-2pm. Some of the most delicious and cheap tacos you’ll find in Mexico, this used to be a steet stall and is still a favourite with the locals. Check out their amazing habanero hot sauce.
It should be noted that most of the restaurants in town are infinitely cheaper than those at the resorts. Most places, with the exception of the italian and japanese restaurants feature entrees for well under 100 pesos, or 10USD. There are countless little cafes and establishments to get a great bite to eat for cheap.
You can also go to one of the two big supermarket at the entrance of Tulum to stock up on food and drinks: Chedraui and San Francisco. You can also buy a cooler here which is great for having cold drinks on the beach each day. The mini-vans and taxis will get you there. Chedraui is more English-friendly than San Francisco (and it's also closer to the beach).
- Check out Mezzanine on the cliffs (only 40 feet high but nice) overlooking Playa Paraiso. Superb Thai food and great ambiance and a super view. They even make decent drinks too and have good shows on Friday and Saturday nights.
- El Tábano, Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km.7, ☎ 984 134 8725, . Family warmth, exquisite taste, fresh and creative food prepared right in front of you.
- Canopia, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila KM 7.5 (By the Yogashala hotel on the road to Punta Alen.), . 8AM-10PM. Great juices, their organic, every day brunch menu is to die for. Lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options to choose from along with the nest eggs benedict you have ever tasted. Friendly service along with a relaxed atmosphere makes this restaurant true gem. They also serve lunch and dinner with an amazing and diverse menu. $$.
- Hechizo Restaurant (Hechizo Restaurant), Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila KM 10, ☎ (984) 879-5020, . Featured in Food and Wine magazine. Only open during the high season. Reservations must be made prior. $$$.
Road to Playa del Carmen
- Oscar & Lalo Restaurant, Bar & Grill (Oscar y Lalo), Carretera Federal 307 (Playa Del Carmen-Tulum KM. 241), ☎ (984) 115-9965, . “Oscar & Lalo Restaurant - Bar - Grill Welcomes you! We have been serving excellent Specialty Seafood, Mexican and Yucatecan Cuisine since 1984. Have a look at our site, browse our menu, and discover that Oscar & Lalos is your dining destination in the Riviera Maya. Come and enjoy our beautiful tropical Jungle Garden, have a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail, and taste the delicious fresh Seafood, Mexican and Yucatecan Cuisine that has made us the pride of the Riviera Maya!
Habana Cafe - If you're craving a taste of Latin life with a touch of Cuban spice, the atmosphere at Habana Café in Tulum Pueblo will satisfy. Habana’s Cuban inspired design is permeated with beats from Latin-infused reggae, Son, Latin house and Merengue. The street level bar brings a style reminiscent of the elegance and opulence of "The Havana 50s" to Tulum. Upstairs in the Sky Bar The scene is even more impressive on the massive, rooftop bar. With its elaborate rooftop garden, 10 foot palm trees, a huge palapa bar, lanterns, and attractive bartenders, the Sky Bar may be the swankest place in Tulum for imbibing outdoors.
Also try a few other cool spots in Tulum that offer fun drink specials with a hip tropical flair:
- Acabar offers live music and djs in a trendy atmosphere.
- Teetotum offers weekend rooftop movies, a cool lounge and drink specials, try the Razzleberry Daiquiri!
- Ak'iin offers weekend parties with live music or djs, no cover and drink specials on a beautiful stretch of beach.
- Divino Paraiso, (Ave Tulum). On a Wednessday evening they have Salsa Lessons from 9 PM and DJ playing assorted mix of Reggae, Reggaeton, Bachata, Salsa, Merenge and Cumbia.
- Casa del Sol, (3 blocks south of the ADO bus station, off the main avenue), . Rustic hostel with huge rooftop terrace and common areas with shared kitchen. Breakfast is provided. Dorm rooms, doubles, and singles. Most of the double rooms are in Mayan style palapas. Garden atmosphere. Great for rainy season. Rooms can be loud at night. $120 MXN.
- Hotel Casa Rosa, (1 block west of ado bus terminal). King size bed, a/c, wifi, wifi is best in the center rooms. Recently renovated rooms looks brand new inside, very clean, worth every peso. 3 story pink hotel. Friendly staff but don't speak English. $400 MXN.
- Hostal La Cigana, Beta Sur / Venus Oriente. Hostal La Cigana is an adorable hostel with a maze of nicely kept gardens. The caretaker is a chilled out middle aged hippie who has lived in the area for more than 20 years. He has great suggestions and knows the area really well. Also, he has a knack for initiating philosophical conversations when the beer flows (which it usually does after 8 oclock or so). There are hot showers, and guests are allowed to use the expresso bar (including free freshly ground coffee) all day. Also one of the cheapest hostels around, you can get him down to 125 on low season. $125 MXN.
- Day Tripper Hostel, Calle 4 Pte between Satelite and Centauro Nte, ☎ +52 (984) 160 0744, . Semi-private dorms with curtains / personal light / outlet / locker, A/C. Full kitchen, hammocks, outdoor terrace, rooftop lounge, free purified water. Clean, cool staff, chilled-out vibes! 11 USD (Nov 15).
- El Jardin de Frida, Main Street / Chemuyil, in front of El Camello, . El Jardin de Frida offers shared rooms with communal bathrooms for 200 Pesos a night. You can also get private rooms and/or studios. Quiet, relaxed place to hang out. with a fantastic large central garden area with hammocks, chairs, etc. perfect for relaxing. In house Bar/Restaurant that serves excellent, healthy food and makes the best Mojitos in town. Simply the best showers (hot water, awesome water pressure) of any hostel in this author's experience. $200 MXN.
- Lobo Inn. Recommended only if you are in a real budget (they offer beds for 130 pesos; private double 450 as Feb 2012). Otherwise look for different options; they offer cramped, smelly dorms with equally smelly and cramped bathrooms with cockroaches. However, they offer free use of rather old bikes. $130 MXN (Feb 12).
- Una noche más en Tulum, (From the ADO bus station, across the street, then half a block in the Jupiter street), . Nice staff, free water, rooftop terrace, kitchen. $150 MXN (Dec 15).
- The Weary Traveler Hostel. Now in new location 10 mins walk from the ADO bus station. Relaxed hostel with outdoor communal area and kitchen. Breakfast (DIY), water, cooking facilities, beach shuttle bus and internet provided. A nice place for young people that wants to party. All rooms are facing out to the common area, so lots of noise at night until 11pm. There have been complaints about cleanliness and bedbugs in the past, unsure if this applies to new premises. Dorm room single beds: 150 pesos with Fan and 175 with A/C. Dorm room double beds: 325 pesos. (200 pesos deposit for blankets, or give your ID as a deposit). Discounts available for stays longer than one night, up to 20% off a 5 night stay. $150 MXN.
- iTour Mexico, Avenida Coba Crucero Avenida Tulum, Col. Centro C.P., ☎ (0052) 984 80 25 593, . iTour Mexico is located at Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico. It offers 6 air-conditioned rooms with cable television, Internet, and shower with bath. Some of its offered activities include kiteboarding school and rental, car and bike rental, and massage service. Best rates on official website start at USD 35.00.
- Teetotum Hotel. Teetotum is a boutique hotel situated between Tulum town and the beach offering: king sized beds, a/c, ipod docks, continental breakfast, free bicycle use, free high speed wi-fi and a restaurant open from 8AM-11PM daily.
The sleeping options have a poor price-performance ratio. In the zona hotelera (at the beach) really simple rundown cabanas with shared bath and without seaview are sold for $50 USD. If the place doesn't have a proper reception desk, don't stay there or, at least, don't trust the anonymous gatekeeper with your credit card.
- Playa Condesa. Playa Condesa offers private cabañas on the waterfront. Located near Diamante K, but considerably cheaper. About 3 kilometers from the ruins. $200 MXN.
- Diamante K, . The Diamante K features cabañas ranging in quality from 2 all the way up to 5 stars on a private beach front. An interesting feature of the Diamante K is the hanging beds in the cabañas. A restaurant is on site, and you can relax in a hammock and just soak up the tranquility. Electricity is supplied by a generator and hence is switched off after around midnight. Candles are supplied in the cabañas.
- EcoTrotters Tulum Page', . Check out eco hotels, spas resorts and lodges. Share your reviews!
- Hemingway Eco Resort. Hemingway Eco Resort Features 8 rooms on a secluded section of beach about a mile down the road from EcoTulum Resorts. The beach is pristine and the sea is a bit calmer here offering snorkeling right off the beach. Stop by the restaurant for some of the best Italian food out there!
- Cabañas La Luna, . Cabañas La Luna is a magical collection of romantic eco boutique ocean front cabañas, hidden away on the beach near Tulum. Just sit back, unwind and enjoy the Caribbean experience at Cabanas La luna!
- Mayab Center, . Mayab Center offers unique yurt palapa accommodations right on a secluded beach just half a km inside of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, located at the far end of the Tulum beach area. They have built the small retreat center with high eco-standards- composting toilets, grey water treatment system and low impact structures. Breakfast is included in nightly yurt rental, which is as low as $70 US (double occupancy) in the summer months. $70 USD.
- Om Tulum Hotel Cabanas & Beach Club, Carretera Tulum-Punta Alen, KM. 9.5, ☎ (+52) 1-984-157-7903, . Minimalist in design, the private cabanas are quiet, beach-inspired, and furnished with the following common features; Deck/ balcony – opens up to a garden panorama a Private toilet and bath.
- Playa Azul Tulum, . Playa Azul Tulum Hotel is a group of cabañas located between the jungle and the Caribbean sea in one of the most wonderful beaches of Tulum Mexico.
- Retiro Maya Tulum, Carretera Tulum-Punta Allen, KM 5, . A sacred space for couples & families, conscious people and fellow seekers, Retiro Maya is a grassroot Eco-haven for the nature loving traveler. Private cabanas with terrace, hammocks and private bathroom, free wi-fi, delicious restaurant, daily yoga classes and charming attention.
- Tankah Inn Bead and Breakfast, ☎ http://www.tankah.com. Offers 5 neatly furnished rooms, all with ultra silent A/C and ocean view, a great upstairs airy restaurant and terrace, free breakfast, wireless internet, great ambiance, quiet and quaint. Situated on beautiful Tankah III Bay, only seven minutes from the ruins and just 200 yards from world famous Casa Cenote (sink-hole).
- Zamas Hotel, . ZAMAS' thatch roof bungalows are right next to the beach. The hotel is 10 minutes from Mayan Ruins, Cenotes (fresh water pools), Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and deep-water sportfishing. Snorkeling is available in the ZAMAS cove.
- Azulik Villas, . Azulik Villas is a series of beachside villas sea-fronting, rustique built specially designed for honeymooners and couple seeking a romantic retreat in the wilderness. It has many relaxation alternatives like different types of massages, esthetic treatments (body and facial scrubs), reiki, the temazcal (copal sweat lodge- is based on traditional healing methods used by indigenous Mexicans to purify the soul and body) and the chamber of flotation. It is clothing optional.
- Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, . Dreams Tulum is on one of the most unique beaches in the Riviera Maya surrounded by lush tropical acres, sugary white sand, two beach-adjacent pools, and magnificent colonial architecture. Five minutes from Tulum, it is one of the only resorts in the Riviera Maya where you can view (several miles away) the ancient ruins of Tulum from the beach.Services offered (all-inclusive) include the Explorer's Club, a top notch kids activity center with mini climbing wall, mini stage, games room and more. Luxury Spa. 5 Star PADI Dive Center  on site offering daily Tulum area diving and snorkeling excursions to local reefs and cenotes as well as all levels of scuba diving courses. Access to off-site golf.
- Sueños Tulum. You truly cannot experience Tulum staying in an all inclusive. Try staying at a hotel along the beach or even in the pueblo. Upscale resorts with rustic but elegant rooms.
Road to Playa del Carmen
- Posada los Mapaches Hostel, (Located on the main highway in front the entrance to Tulum Archaeological site.), ☎ (984) 871-2700, . Bed and Breakfast hostel with new deals for groups, shared bathrooms, delicious breakfast, nice bikes to get around, cozy cabins for maximum 4 or 5 people. Nice place with garden and hammocks.
Catalonia Royal Tulum, ☎ 1-877-226-7495. It is just 25km from Playa del Carmen and Tulums archaeological site, and 85 km south of Cancun International airport, in Quintana Roo State, Mexico. All guest rooms and suites offer brand premium amenities.
- [email protected] - At the entrance of Tulum. State of the art internet technology at $14 pesos por hora.
Note: You may encounter problems if you try to make phone calls from the beach. Payphones are sparse and often broken, and they are all owned by one company. These phones require you to purchase a special proprietary card of at least 100 pesos, and the cards cannot be used at regular payphones. A better alternative is to use a normal payphone in the pueblo, or use a Mexican cellphone (There is reception on the beach, but make sure to recharge in the pueblo beforehand).
ADO and Mayab buses leave Tulum to Chetumal on a regular basis. The last Mayab bus is at 8:20pm and the last ADO bus is at 12am. Both buses take approximately 3 hrs 45 minutes to arrive in Chetumal. If you have an early morning flight from Chetumal, I would recommend the overnight bus.
- Costa Maya
- Sian-Kahn Ecological Reserve vast and empty, find a sea kayak and explore the lagoon side
- Xcaret Eco-archaeological park in the Riviera Maya