It’s easy to stick with the fun-loving backpacker throng in Tulum, Mexico, but for a more authentic experience stay in one of these places.
Living like a local in Tulum is all about embracing the free-spirited vibe. Here long-time locals and the newer international population have fashioned a forward-thinking town where beach yoga, fresh food and eco-friendly activities are the order of the day. Its most authentic hotels and boutiques embrace that philosophy, providing easy access to the town’s many attractions and its Mexican-Caribbean beauty. Here’s where to stay.
Stay in Tulum’s epicenter where locals and tourists mingle at bars and roadside taco stalls. Just off Tulum’s main road, Pacha is at the heart of it. This friendly boutique comes with a pool, breakfast and free bikes to help you sightsee. Perhaps most helpful of all, however, is the forever-open reception where a friendly smile and local tip is always available.
Downtown or beachfront? At Coco Hacienda, you can have the best of Tulum’s two worlds. The main property – an intimate pueblo unto itself – is around the corner from the center’s restaurants and bars. A shock of pink topped by thatched roof and enveloped by lush oasis, it has two pools, a relaxation garden and a private Zen Zone spa. When it’s time to sunbathe under a palm tree, guests have access to its sister property, the beach-front Coco Tulum.
Entering Maison Tulum feels like you’ve stepped into an enchanted forest. Surrounded by natural greenery and the faint tinkling of wind chimes, you’ll forget this hotel is located in the city’s downtown area. Its stone walls are decorated with multicolored glass while beaded light fixtures hang from above. Its muted rooms are accented with wooden furniture and Mexico’s ubiquitous Talavera tiles.
Experience Tulum’s world of wellness at Holistika, a spiritual retreat in the middle of the Maya jungle. Its 24 rooms of adobe walls and Art Deco flooring have been designed to recharge spirit, body and mind. If that doesn’t work, the daily yoga classes, art walks and meditation dome will finish the job. When it’s time to replenish your gut, enjoy a trio of vegan tacos from the restaurant’s toxic-free and plant-based menu.
Biwa takes its name from a secluded lake in Kyoto, Japan. Everything else is pure Tulum. Its decor was handcrafted by local artisans and captures the natural simplicity that runs through the town. Its 14 rooms come with ocean blue walls and a marine theme. On the rooftop, you’ll find a bar serving Mexican, Cuban and Spanish dishes plus a dipping pool surrounded by wooden sun loungers.
For the design-conscious traveler, Kaab is everything you’d want from a Tulum stay. Its bedrooms have a minimalist eco-chic vibe, adorned with hanging macrame and handmade decor. The property’s thatched roof and all-white design give it an elegant, simple feel. Use it as your base for a wider exploration of Tulum. It’s just over 2mi (3km) to the beachside ruins and 15 minutes from the bus garage.
One of Mexico’s leading wellness retreats for more than 30 years, Maya Tulum is an institution. Its spa offers more than 20 treatments ranging from anti-stress and revitalizing massages to spiritual cleansing led by traditional Maya healers. The resort also has a meditation labyrinth. Find your way to the center and back to unravel your thoughts. Guests stay in thatch-roofed cabanas with a Zen-promoting minimalist design. There’s also a beachside restaurant serving Mexican dishes made with fresh seafood.
Located in Turtle Cove, a nesting site for endangered sea turtles, el Pez is an escape from Tulum’s crowded beaches and buzzing hotel zone with fewer tourists and more authenticity. As one of Tulum’s most exclusive resorts, there’s plenty to love. Their eight room styles are beach-cool with all-natural materials and salty-air breezes. Even better, the sands are just a few steps from each. Come dinner, head to the Gran Palapa for imaginative cocktails and seafood plucked straight from the waters in front of you.