If I had a dollar for every time a client asked me if they should stay in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, I would be living there in a luxury beach front eco lodge by now.
I’ve been to all three locations multiple times and in my opinion they all suit different people, budgets and travel styles. If you have the time, I recommend visiting all three so you can experience each destination and make up your own mind as to which suits you, but if you’re short on time and have to pick one… This is my run down of where to go based on YOU. Click on each of the titles to link to a blog dedicated on that location with all my recommendations.
I personally use Cancun to fly into the airport and as a gateway to other areas in Quintana Roo – Isla Mujeres is one of my favourite islands in Mexico and only a 30 minute ferry ride from Cancun, Playa del Carmen is under an hour drive and Tulum is around two hours drive.
Cancun reminds me of an American Gold Coast in Mexico (In other words… way too touristy for me) but if you are after an all inclusive resort and love to follow the tourist trail while having access to all the big malls, American chain restaurants and plan on doing a lot of day trips… Cancun ticks all of those boxes as your perfect base.
This is my happy medium between Cancun and Tulum.
Not only is it centrally located between the two, It also has a more authentic Mexican vibe while still housing all of the cool hotels, bars and restaurants you want while you’re on holiday.
Playa as it is fondly known is easy to navigate and the perfect base to day trip over to the island of Cozumel to dive, Visit one of the many adventure parks and cenotes in the area as well Mayan ruins in a few directions that are under a couple of hours away.
Playa is the best value out of the three for me as there is a huge range of accommodation pricing and with such a large multicultural community there are endless food options to suit any budget.
Tulum owns my heart and is my favourite of the three for its sheer beauty and energy… It is where I go to recharge.
Set yourself up in an eco resort on the beach, do a daily yoga class, swim in one of the hundreds of cenotes, visit Mayan ruins overlooking the ocean, immerse yourself in dining heaven and lay in a hammock with a good book.
Make sure you check out my other blogs under MEXICO too as I have plenty of other recommendations to take you out of these three places and see more of Mexico that you may not yet have explored or heard of.
As always, I would LOVE to hear your feedback or questions in the comments below. When you comment, like and share my articles it helps me to grow my business and bring you even more fresh content.
You can also book all aspects of your travel with me by contacting me directly HERE, With over ten years experience in designing travel experiences, you know I have the contacts to enrich your next adventure and make it seamless.
Playa Del Carmen Beachfront says
I personally prefer Tulum and would rather stay there than in Playa. Someone else suggested Akumal. I think it’s cool for swimming with turtles, but Tulum is better for relaxing.
Dana Brown says
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I completely agree with you, Tulum is my favourite too. I still need to get Akumal, another trip 🙂
Stephanie Northen says
Thank you for this break down! We really love the sound of Tulum but are traveling with 2 small children … Would you recommend going for it in Tulum or finding a boutique place in Playa del Carmen? PLaya sounds like it may be more family friendly. We are not the Cancun type!
Dana Brown says
Hi Stephanie, I don’t think my last comment was showing up (it should now) but if you love the sound of Tulum… go for it, I’m sure you know how to entertain your kids well. If you need any help locking anything in, I’d love to help. Dana
Jon Rivera says
how is the nightlife in tulum? do you have any itinerary suggestions to plan out a 5 day stay for a first time visitor?
Dana Brown says
Tulum is very chill but they do throw some great events. Papaya Project on a Saturday night is one of my favourites. I can see you sent me a DM about putting together an itinerary too, I’ll reply to you there. Dana
Hi!! What vibe do you think is best for a bachelorette? Recently I’ve seen tulum throws some fun parties. I am between tulum and playa del carmen. I want a vegas style pool party haha. Thanks!!
Dana Brown says
Hi Izzy. I am so excited for you to have your bachelorette in Mexico! My friend Millette actually did hers in Tulum and she has a brilliant blog about it that I’ll link below. I would reach out to her on IG too, she’s super sweet and I’m sure she would be just as excited to help you. There are definitely awesome parties in Tulum – you’ll just need to double-check what is happening so you can fit your dates around it. It definitely won’t be a Vegas pool party (I’d go to Vegas for that) but it will be an epic Mexican beach party. Check out Tantra too – they have a cool beach club with a pool. Dana x