Visiting Tulum, Mexico. Where should we stay?
July 5, 2007 12:15 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I are going to visit Tulum, Mexico next January or February, and I have three questions.

1. Does anybody have specific hotel recommendations? We don't want to spend more than $100 a night (preferably much less) and we don't care about fancy amenities. A hut on the beach would be fine, as long as there is a real bathroom and a shower nearby and the management doesn't give us hives. I think our only real desire is that it's right on the beach, but we'd even compromise on that for the right place (as long as the beach is within an easy walk). Give me a website with an online booking option along with your recommendation and I will be forever grateful. We're looking for information from people who have actually stayed at the hotel recommended or nearby; I've been reading reviews on the web plenty.

2. We're also a little concerned about security due to a post here in the past where someone mentioned necessary security patrols on the beaches in the hotel zone. Any reassurance or advice in that area would be welcome. Are there lock boxes at the cabana-type places where we can stash our stuff? Is it just about theft and not about any kind of physical threat?

3. We were originally thinking we'd go in February, but I've noticed a few mentions of that being carnival season. How active does that get in Tulum? So much so that we should go in January? We just want to laze about on the beach, eat cheap and good food, and maybe spend two or three days doing touristy and/or active things.

Any other advice is, of course, welcome. I've read through any old threads I can find here about Tulum (and Playa del Carmen, to a lesser extent).
posted by hought20 to Travel & Transportation around Tulum, Mexico (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I know you asked for specific recommendations but have you checked Trip Advisor? I haven't been to Tulum but on all my other trips to Mexico, I found some pretty terrific hotels on that site. The reviews are very detailed and written by people who have actually stayed at them.
posted by mamaquita at 1:10 PM on July 5, 2007

while i can't answer all your questions i can provide some info....

I have visited the area twice, and have never felt in danger or insecure. Stayed in some nice all-inclusive resorts, but that doesn't sound like what you're looking for.

Any decent hotel should have a lockbox for your valuables. Cabbies, hotel staff, shop owners, etc. tend to be nice to the tourists.

Playa del Carmen is always hopping, but it's pretty touristy and is really only good if you want to do some shopping.

Tulum (the site) is very nice, but Chichen Itza is really awe-inspiring. It's a long bus ride, but worth it.
posted by gnutron at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2007

Best answer: Last time I was there, I stayed at Cabañas Copal. Rustic but decent accomodations. In my experience, nothing in Tulum at your desired price is going to be "right on the beach" (especially in January or February) but will be just a short walk away through the grounds.

Security patrols do walk by from time to time and I suppose it could be a little disconcerting to see uniformed soldiers with automatic weapons making their way down the beach, but no more so than seeing armed National Guardsmen in Grand Central Station. And Tulum is a pretty safe're probably at greater risk for physical violence here in the States.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:21 PM on July 5, 2007

Oh, and if you're looking for an excursion that's a little different from the standard touristy stuff, I recommend Alltournative
posted by mamaquita at 1:28 PM on July 5, 2007

Tulum (the site) is cool, but to me it seemed a little weird because the ruins are in the middle of this green manicured lawn and everything's roped off. The cliffs and the beach are beautiful though.

Personally, for ruins I loved Coba, about 50 km west of Tulum. You can climb some of the ruins, which is really rewarding and cool (and scary - I was terrified climbing down the big temple). It's probably not as cool as Chichen Itza, but it's a lot shorter drive/bus ride.

I stayed in Playa del Carmen, which was touristy and therefore not cheap. (Although not too bad if you got away from the main drag - we found some great cheap eats by being a little adventurous.) And the beach was gorgeous - I'm not even a beach person and I could have spent several more days on that beach. We stayed at the Blue Parrot hotel there, mostly because we were there for a friend's wedding.
posted by misskaz at 1:35 PM on July 5, 2007

Best answer: I stayed at Papaya Playa last year. It has a decent enough restaurant, a quaint little bar with swings, lots of little huts and a gorgeous view of the beach. Most of the huts are a short walk from the beach. Tulum is a great place to have a really mellow, laid-back vacation. Eat ceviche, drink margaritas and stop to swim anyplace you see "cenote" on a sign. Enjoy!
posted by bonheur at 1:44 PM on July 5, 2007

I will second Alltournative. They took us to Coba and on a semi-related ziplining/cenote-swimming adventure. They even have their own tequila.
posted by mkb at 2:02 PM on July 5, 2007

I second Cabanas Copal but it is SORTA right there on the beach.
The only thing in between you and the beach is steps down to the beach. If you do try for an ocean view - better breeze.
Tuum isnt super cheap. Good food tho. But you'll have to leave the beacj and go into town to get cheap food. Worth it but it's a taxi ride or a bike ride.
Playa is cheaper but pretty fun- a little touristy but pretty funa and great food.. You can stay half a block from the beach right on 5th Ave.
I suggest "Posada Freud" or "Posada Mariposa".
Each is about 60-70 bucks a night.
Everything is walkable there and you have quick easy access to cheap tacos etc (If you walk a block or 2 off the main drag).
If you want to spend a little more money La Tortuga is a great little place on 10 Ave.
I normally fly in Cancun- take a bus to Playa del Carmen (GREAT bus system). Stay for a few days, then bus it to Tulum and do a few days there.
Is it dangerous. Ah- not really but there have been a few murders in Tulum of tourists. If I recall correctly they had to do with tourists being kinda stupid and going off and doing drugs with locals.
posted by beccaj at 6:05 PM on July 5, 2007

Just remembered another great place: further down the road from Cabañas Copal, there's a beautiful place called Esmeralda K. Because it's further down the Tulum road, there was more privacy and the rooms were much higher end than CC. (The owners also have a place closer to the ruins called Diamante K, but there's really no beach at that location.)
posted by JaredSeth at 3:57 AM on July 6, 2007

Best answer: I stayed at Luna Maya in January, in one of their two cabanas, which are actually sort of cement bunkers with palapa roofs. They were fine, at least in January, but the breeze really didn't reach very well (our friends in the bunker next door, closest to the reception/bar/beach, got more breeze than we did, so just try to get that one instead of the one closest to the road).

But it didn't matter, as we spent all day thusly, gazing at the water. The bunker was but a place to lock up our stuff and sleep. The beach is pretty private (shared with the hotel next door but is otherwise a little cove, and kept immaculate by the staff) and quiet and awesome, and the Luna Maya restaurant is Spanish. Have the paella, and the fried goat cheese salad.

Luna Maya is down the Si'an Kaan end farthest from the ruins, but the cab trip to the ruins is $5 (and there are cabs up and down the beach road constantly, which is the other downside of the bunker nearest the road), and Si'an Kaan is pretty amazing. We took the sunset birding tour and it was fabulous. (Take a swimsuit; we didn't realize there would be cenote swimming on the way there and ended up sitting in wet underwear for the rest of the day.)

We walked down to Copal one day for lunch, and lunch was fine (ceviche) but all their huts were right on top of each other and the beach was not nearly as nicely maintained. I'd stay there if it was that or not staying in Tulum at all, but we definitely liked Luna Maya better.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:39 AM on July 6, 2007

Oh, and the Luna Maya cabanas use the beach shower, sinks, and toilets, which are maybe 10 feet away. There is only electricity from about 7-11pm and we found we preferred to shower then when the lights were on, but everything was very clean and the trash constantly emptied.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:43 AM on July 6, 2007

Check out Casa Cenote. My wife and I spent our honeymoon here and it was great!. The cabanas are beachfront and there is a freshwater cenote on the other side of the road that comes underneath the restaurant and comes out of the ocean floor about 15 feet from the beach. It is a little more than you are looking to pay, but breakfast is included and the food there was delicious (mmmmm...banana pancakes). It is located on a secluded cove about 8-10 miles north of Tulum.
posted by swizzlepants at 8:05 AM on July 6, 2007

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