Tulum has changed a lot in the last decade. What used to be a rustic beachside escape has transformed into the boho capital of the world, home to one of the most unique (and expensive!) escapes in Mexico. Tulum truly is a vibe, and there are few places in the world like it. Whether you’re visiting for a quick weekend escape or a week filled with day trips to other parts of the Yucatan, Tulum is a destination everyone should visit once. Below is my complete guide to the area including the best places to visit, boutique hotels, jungle restaurants, photo locations, beach clubs, regional cenotes, sculptures, birds nest experiences and more.
The iconic wooden sculpture Ven a la Luz by Daniel Popper is located in the Tulum Sculpture Park.
Absolutely love commuting along Tulum Beach Road by bicycle.
NOVEMBER. November is a great time to visit. The beaches are typically free of seaweed, crowds are minimal and the weather is generally warm and sunny. That said, Tulum is a tropical destination where it can rain anytime of the year. The official rainy season is June through October, and high season November through April.
Tulum Beach Road is lined with elaborate boho jungle sculptures that serve as entrances to restaurants, beach clubs and boutique hotels.
Love is the frequency of magic.
FOUR DAYS. The amount of time you spend in Tulum, really depends on how many days you want to relax. If you confine yourself strictly to Tulum, then four days is the prefect amount of time to enjoy the boho capital of Mexico at a relaxed pace, fill your itinerary with the best eats and enjoy a cenote or two. Note that day trips to Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Coba and dozens of cenotes are easily doable from Tulum. They just warrant a longer stay.
Love the message of the iconic Follow That Dream sign.
Dream catchers are everywhere in this part of Mexico.
Found myself a rabbit in Tulum.
AZULIK UH MAY
Azulik Uh May is a stunning art installation in the middle of the jungle, away from Tulum and ertoute to the Coba ruins. Step into this dome that rises up out of the jungle, filled with fluid sculptures, tree branches, plants and ceramics boasting earthy tones of tan, green, brown and white. Entry is $20 USD per person.
A heart-shaped cenote in the middle of the jungle.
CENOTE DOS OJOS
Translated as the Two Eye Cenote, Dos Ojos is the entry point to a large underwater cave, popular with scuba divers. I’m not a fan of the cenotes that require visitors to wear a life jacket. This didn’t used to be the case at Dos Ojos, but a surge in popularity brought about this new rule.
CENOTE NICTE HA
An underrated cenote that you’ll find on the same road to Dos Ojos (an earlier turn off). The large natural pool sits surrounded by rocks. The water is incredibly clear, filled with lily pads, fish and underwater gardens.
A gorgeous fresh water cenote that has been converted into a day club, surrounded by boho loungers, branch canopies, a sun deck and open air restaurant in the middle of the jungle. There’s no entry fee, just a minimum spend of 500 MX pesos per person (easy to do, their food and drink menu is amazing). Cenote Vesica is a 15 minute drive from Tulum Beach Road. Love this spot!
The Mayan complex of pyramids and temples is about an hour driving from Tulum. The ruins are unique because you can bicycle through the ancient city to the different complexes. If you’ve visited other Incan and Mayan historical sights like Uxmal, Machu Picchu and even Chichen Itza, Coba might be a bit underwhelming. Part of the allure was that tourists could climb the large pyramid, but now it’s forbidden.
A massive wooden hand rises six feet out of the jungle for stunning views of the surrounding treetops. The dazzling structure made mostly of wood is located at The Hun, and can be booked by both hotel guests and non-guests. Experiences include 50 minutes on The Hand, brunch on the Hand and a private dinner on The Hand. Prices start at $250 and go up to $800+.
TULUM BEACH ROAD
This is a given, but make plenty of time for Tulum Beach Road. The six mile dirt path is the beating heart of Tulum, home to the best boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, beach clubs and cafes. It truly is a vibe. I love exploring both by bicycle and on foot, in the morning when it’s quiet and in the late afternoon when the strip is brimming with that pre evening energy.
TULUM ARCHAELOGICAL ZONE
The ruins in Tulum are heavily touristed, and don’t feel particularly adventurous. They are also underwhelming by comparison to Machu Picchu, Ollntaytambo, Uxmal and even Chichen Itza. But they’re worth a visit to get the full Tulum experience if you are staying in the area. My one suggestion is to line up before the park even opens so that you are first to enter, and avoid some of the midday crowding.
The boho beach club scene is plentiful in Tulum, and one of the best is Vagalume. An Instaworthy bridge held up by a pair of hands leads to a stretch of beach filled with wooden loungers, luxe grey cushions and boho white umbrellas. Cost is $25 for a chair rental, plus a minimum spend of $125 on food and drinks.
VEN A LA LUZ
The iconic wooden sculpture created by Daniel Popper towers 33-feet high in the Tulum Sculpture Park. It used to sit on Tulum Beach Road at the entrance to Ahau, but now it’s set a few feet back from the road and requires an “entry fee.” You’re paying for an entry to the Tulum Sculpture Park, but honestly there’s hardly anything in the park aside from Ven a La Luz. Cash only.
Cenote Vesica is a day club where you can eat, swim and sunbathe. This place is such a vibe!
Sun beds surround the deep turquoise natural pool at Cenote Vesica.
Open air restaurant that boasts one of the best bars on Tulum Beach Road – cocktails are a must. Most dishes are cooked on an open fire, and plates are meant to be shared. The menu changes, but samplings include grilled avocado, seared prawns in chili butter, pan-fried fish, soft shell crab, scallop crudo and grilled heirloom green beans. Reservations highly recommended.
A popular classic on Tulum Beach Road. Casa Banana’s Argentinian roots appear throughout its menu – hand-cut skirt steak empanadas, wood-fired ribeye, roasted short ribs and grilled chorizo, mixed with other offerings including wood fired artichokes, fresh fish carpaccio, sauteed mussels, grilled calamari and more. Reservations recommended.
Popular, delicious breakfast spot in downtown Tulum. Highlights are the huevos rancheros, pancakes, avocado toast and passion fruit smoothies. Arrive early to avoid a long wait (the restaurant is tiny).
Set in a white hacienda, Gitano Meze is very picturesque. The restaurant has all the feels of an Aegean taverna – an open air courtyard filled with wood tables, large white pottery, white chairs and white stone bar and fountain. The menu of tasty Greek dishes includes hummus, Greek salad, salt baked fish, tumeric chicken, fire grilled prawns, tzatziki, ribs and eggplant.
Hartwood is hands-down the best restaurant in town. It sits on a bustling stretch of Tulum Beach Road, serving up a selection of fresh dishes that change daily. The menu is hand written on a giant chalk board that gets shuffled amongst the tables, detailing a mix of 20 dishes that includes everything from fresh sea bass ceviche to the tastiest grilled shrimp. The restaurant’s specialty is seafood, but there are a few meat items on the menu as well. Reservations highly recommended to secure a table here.
An amazing dining experience in Tulum! It feels like dinner in the jungle, as the restaurant tables are scattered amongst the trees. Kitchen Table hardly uses any electricity, so most of the light comes from the dozes of candles scattered throughout the open-air space. Service is amazing, as are the artful dishes. Highlights are the jungle bread, fresh fish tostada, charcoal grilled fish and slow cooked brisket.
The boutique hotel’s restaurant is always a solid choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner – can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The breakfast and lunch menus are filled with more casual (but delicious!) options including chilaquiles (my favorite in Tulum), fish tacos, ceviche, huevos rancheros and a delicious selection of smoothies, while dinner offerings are a bit more upscale.
Matcha Mama has two locations – one in downtown Tulum, and the other on Tulum Beach Road. The beach location is the most popular, especially for Instagram photos – a white wooden hut accented with swings, a surf board and turquoise cues. Matcha Mama is most famous for their smoothies and acai bowls loaded with all kinds of fruits, seeds and superfoods.
For a change in flavor, head to Mezzanine for authentic upscale Thai cuisine over views of the ocean. Menu offerings include vegetarian spring rolls, chicken satay, tom yum soup, a selection of curries, cashew shrimp, padkrapao and fish fillet in banans leaf.
Posada Margherita serves wood fired Italian pizza and pastas, a nice break from the fanciful seafood and meat dishes that are so common to Tulum. A plant-lined pathway leads guests to the restaurant, and the relaxed beachfront vibe is the perfect setting for their delicious pies.
RAW LOVE CAFE
The Tulum Beach location serves a selection of superfood smoothies and bowls – incredibly refreshing on a hot day. The boho setting also offers up a handful of other dishes and drinks including avocado toast, coconut curry, raw pad thai, passion elixir and vegan deserts.
Cheap, delicious taco spot located in downtown Tulum. The line is always long, but moves fast, and is worth the wait. It’s also possible to order to-go if you don’t want to wait for a table. Taco options include pork, suckling pig, carne asada, breaded chicken and turkey. They sell out of popular meats, so arrive early to get your first choices. Taqueria Honorio is cash only.
Beachside restaurant that is one of my favorite breakfast spots on Tulum Beach Road. The menu offers a bit of everything including tasty banana pancakes, chilaquiles, smoothie bowls, ranchero style eggs, omelettes, breakfast enchiladas and fresh juices.
The tastiest tacos at Taqueria Honorio.
Mouthwatering grilled shrimp at Hartwood, my favorite restaurant in Tulum.
Chilaquiles, banana pancakes and fresh smoothies at Ziggy’s for breakfast.
I ate chilaquiles for breakfast almost every day of the trip (La Zebra’s were the tastiest).
Fish tacos for lunch with cenote views at Cenote Vesica.
Mango bowl at Matcha Mama.
Rustic beachfront luxury that sits at the heart of Tulum Beach Road surrounded by the best restaurants, bars and beach clubs. Ahau‘s selection of beach huts, beach houses and suites present guests with an array of accommodation options to chose from with features that vary by room including outdoor showers, large private terraces and hammocks. Tulum hot spots Raw Love and the sculpture Ven a la Luz are both located on property.
The OG of Tulum that started it all. Azulik is the most famous hotel on Tulum Beach Road. Built entirely from wood, branches and eco friendly materials, the villas, restaurants, bridges and birds nests that rise out of the jungle are pretty spectacular, and make the hotel more than just a place to stay. It’s an experience. That said, everyone wants to stay here, and resort is able to charge a lot of money for minimalist accommodations. Also, the property restricts all cameras, a bit annoying if you’re a guest footing a bill for thousands of dollars.
Absolutely beautiful property located at the end of Tulum Beach Road, away from the chaos. La Valise is a two wing property with 11 beachfront rooms, and another 11 jungle side rooms across the street. The resort is beautifully designed featuring thatched palapa rooftops, a saltwater pool, private beach deck and luxury spa. Rooms are minimalist, but luxurious, dripping in white and neutrals. Love the thatched airy ceilings, luxury linens, spa-like bathrooms and beds that roll out to the balcony for views (and photos) over the jungle.
La Zebra is always my go-to in Tulum. It might not be the most Insta-famous hotel on Tulum Beach Road, but it’s always a solid option. The prices are generally reasonable (by Tulum standards), the location is perfectly central, there’s a parking lot and the restaurant is amazing. I also love the rooms – high ceilings, spacious, white & neutral tones and clean. I’ve stayed here a few times.
A sister property to La Zebra, Mezzanine sits at the opposite end of Tulum Beach Road. If you’re on a budget, this is one of the more affordable properties in the area. Rooms and bathrooms are a bit smaller than other places, but still plenty of space. And it’s located at the opposite end of the busy beach boulevard where it’s quieter, but requires a few minutes of extra biking to reach the main bars, restaurants and beach clubs.
Nest offers guests a selection of 12 guest rooms and one villa, at the quieter end of Tulum Beach Road. Similar to most upscale properties in the area, Nest is all about boho luxury, minimalist design and lots of light. Nest is also home to exquisite fine dining at on-site restaurant NÜ Tulum. This property is a gem!
Another luxury boutique property located at the quieter end of Tulum Beach Road. It’s a two minute bike ride to reach the main restaurants and bars, but far enough to feel like a secluded retreat from the crowds. The property’s 14 rooms are outfitted with natural woods, chukum plant resin-washed walls, bed canopies, luxury linens and natural woven ceilings, as well as some with suspended hammocks and oversized jungle facing terraces. An amazing luxury option.
If you’re looking a private villa stay, Zorba is one of the best options on Tulum Beach Road. The property is an oasis of boho luxe beachfront homes. The six villas sleep anywhere from six to 12 people with a mix of sea views, private pools, rooftop patios and private terraces. Zorba‘s spaces are perfectly dreamy & aesthetic – handcrafted tiles, whites & tans, high ceilings, hand woven bedding, open kitchens, natural light and lot of wood and branch decor.
Cheers to beach days at La Zebra (guests get free access to their beach club)
For commuting to bars, restaurants, beach clubs and hotels along Tulum Beach Road, the most convenient mode of transport is bicycle and walking. Most hotels have bicycles available to rent. Additionally, Ola Bike rents bicycles from their Ave. Coba location. If that’s too far of a distance from your hotel, they have an adorable tuktuk that will deliver to your location anywhere within Tulum. If you have plans to visit any of the area cenotes, Coba ruins or take a day trip out to Valladolid, then it’s convenient to have a car (most hotels have a designated parking area).
We rented our bicycles for the week from Ola Bike, and they delivered them to our hotel on this cute tuktuk.
There are plans to open an airport in Tulum, but until it happens the closest airport is the Cancun International Airport, approximately two hours away. From there it’s possible to book private transfer through your hotel in Tulum, or book a rental car. Major rental car brands have locations at the airport, but be weary of mystery fees that aren’t included in your original booking. Additionally, you can book private airport pick-up through Bob’s Transfers, e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org (should be approximately $200 USD roundtrip for two people).
Tulum Beach Road is such a vibe.
The currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso, but most places accept US dollars. And while it’s always handy to have cash, most places accept credit card. I only used cash for the entrance fee to some ruins, cheap eats at local restaurants in town and the gas stations.
The official language of Mexico is Spanish, but I don’t think I heard any Spanish spoken along Tulum Beach Road. It’s all tourists, and everyone speaks English. That said, Spanish is very useful for any day trips you might take outside of Tulum.
Tulum is expensive, especially anything along Tulum Beach Road. Expect to pay top dollar at hotels, restaurants, boutiques and beach clubs. Dinner and drinks for two people at the best restaurants along the popular beach road is almost certain to be over $100 USD, which adds up if you’re staying four or five nights.