Tulum vs Puerto Escondido – A Comparison

Mexico has become an increasingly popular travel destination in the past couple of years, thanks in part to the pandemic in which Mexico was mostly open, allowing a flood of tourists to enter. During this time a few towns became very popular, with Tulum and Puerto Escondido seeing the highest increase of tourists year over year.

Both are popular beach towns known for their breathtaking coastlines and unique charm. In this blog post, we will compare these two paradises, highlighting their similarities and differences to help you decide which destination is perfect for your next vacation.

Tulum vs Puerto Escondido Comparison Table

OverviewPuerto EscondidoTulum
BeachesGolden sand, wide beaches, impressive surf, picturesque coves and sunsetsBeautiful white sandy beaches and blue water, uncrowded white sandy beaches and blue water. Far from the Tulum town
CostQuite cheaper than TulumMore expensive, one of the most expensive beach towns in Mexico
NightlifeLots of bars and nightclubs around ZicatelaExpensive nightlife, more electronic music and festivals, exclusive “Tuluminati” parties.
FoodWide variety, street food and budget options.Lots of high-end restaurants on the beach, also budget options in Tulum town center.
Things to doMore cenotes to explore nearby, better beach clubs, Mayan ruins nearby, Sian Ka’an reserve.
LifestyleMore of a couples, romantic and boho-hippy vibeMore of a couples, romantic and boho hippy vibe

Tulum Overview

✔️ Pros:

  • Beaches are a little less crowded
  • More eco-friendly and less developed than Cancun
  • More relaxing, photogenic and romantic
  • Better, closer day trips including Chichen Itza, cenotes and the Coba ruins.

❌ Cons:

  • Far from the airport
  • The town and beach are far apart, bicycle or taxi is required
  • Typically little pricier than Cancun
Tulum vs Puerto Escondido

Location and Accessibility

Tulum Location and Accessibility:

Tulum is situated on the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, approximately 130 km south of Cancun. Its location along the Riviera Maya makes it a popular destination for tourists visiting the region.

  • Air: The closest major airport to Tulum is Cancun International Airport (CUN), which receives flights from numerous domestic and international destinations. From the airport, Tulum is approximately a 1.5- to 2-hour drive.
  • Ground Transportation: Several options are available for traveling from Cancun to Tulum:
    • Shuttle: Shared and private shuttle services can be booked in advance or at the airport, with prices starting from around $20 per person for a shared shuttle.
    • Taxi: Taxis can be found at the airport, but the fare can be quite expensive, ranging from $80 to $120 for a one-way trip to Tulum. Negotiating the fare is common practice.
    • Rental Car: Renting a car provides more flexibility to explore the region at your own pace. Major car rental companies have offices at Cancun International Airport, and prices start at around $30 per day.
    • Bus: ADO bus company operates a direct service from Cancun Airport to Tulum, with a one-way ticket costing approximately $15. Alternatively, travelers can take an ADO bus from the airport to Playa del Carmen, and then transfer to a connecting bus to Tulum.

Puerto Escondido Location and Accessibility:

Puerto Escondido is located on the southern coast of Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca. It’s about 800 km southeast of Mexico City and is part of the Oaxaca coast known as the Emerald Coast.

  • Air: Travelers can fly into Puerto Escondido International Airport (PXM) from Mexico City or other major cities within Mexico. Another option is to fly into Huatulco International Airport (HUX), which is about a 2-hour drive from Puerto Escondido.
  • Ground Transportation: There are several ways to get to Puerto Escondido from Huatulco or other nearby cities:
    • Bus: Bus companies like ADO and Sur offer regular service to Puerto Escondido from various cities in Mexico, including Oaxaca City and Mexico City. Prices vary depending on the distance and bus class.
    • Shuttle: Shared or private shuttles can be booked in advance or upon arrival at Huatulco International Airport. Prices for shared shuttles start at around $20 per person.
    • Taxi: Taxis are available at Huatulco International Airport, with fares to Puerto Escondido typically ranging from $50 to $80.
    • Rental Car: Renting a car provides the freedom to explore the Oaxaca coast at your leisure. Major car rental companies have offices at Huatulco International Airport, and prices start at around $30 per day.

Tulum and Puerto Escondido are both accessible through a combination of air and ground transportation options. While Tulum benefits from its proximity to the major tourist hub of Cancun, Puerto Escondido offers a more off-the-beaten-path experience along the Oaxaca coast. The choice between the two destinations will depend on your travel preferences and the level of accessibility you require.

Tulum Beaches vs Puerto Escondido Beaches

Tulum and Puerto Escondido are both famous for their stunning beaches, which cater to different types of travelers and beach experiences. In this section, we will explore the unique features of the beaches in each destination, providing a more in-depth comparison.

Tulum Beaches:

Tulum’s coastline is characterized by its powdery white sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush palm trees. Some of the most popular beaches in Tulum include:

  1. Playa Paraiso: Often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Playa Paraiso lives up to its name with its pristine shoreline and calm waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Beach clubs are available for those who want to rent sunbeds and enjoy drinks or snacks by the sea.
  2. Playa Ruinas: Located next to the Tulum Ruins, Playa Ruinas offers a unique combination of history and natural beauty. Visitors can enjoy a refreshing dip in the Caribbean Sea after exploring the ancient Mayan city.
  3. Playa Pescadores: Popular among fishermen, this beach is an excellent spot to witness traditional fishing techniques and enjoy fresh seafood at one of the beachside restaurants. The waters here are calm and perfect for swimming.
  4. Las Palmas: This secluded beach offers a more tranquil experience away from the crowds, with swaying palm trees and soft sand. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet, relaxing day by the sea.

Puerto Escondido Beaches:

Puerto Escondido’s beaches are known for their golden sand, impressive surf, and picturesque coves. Some of the most popular beaches in Puerto Escondido include:

  1. Zicatela Beach: Famous for its powerful surf break, Zicatela is a paradise for experienced surfers. The beach is also home to a lively atmosphere with beach bars, restaurants, and shops lining the shore.
  2. La Punta: Located at the southern end of Zicatela, La Punta offers more manageable waves, making it suitable for beginner and intermediate surfers. The laid-back vibe and beachside cafes make it a popular spot for relaxation and people-watching.
  3. Carrizalillo Beach: Accessible via a staircase, this small cove is surrounded by rocky cliffs and features calm waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and beginner surf lessons. The beach’s natural beauty and tranquility make it an ideal spot for a relaxing day.
  4. Playa Bacocho: This expansive, quiet beach is ideal for those seeking solitude and unspoiled natural beauty. With fewer visitors and no beach clubs, Playa Bacocho offers a serene escape from the more crowded areas of Puerto Escondido.
Playa Puerto Suelo in Puerto Escondido

In summary, Tulum’s beaches are renowned for their white sand and turquoise waters, offering a picturesque setting for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxation. In contrast, Puerto Escondido’s beaches boast golden sand, impressive surf breaks, and secluded coves, appealing to surfers and travelers seeking a more laid-back atmosphere. The choice between the two destinations will depend on your personal preferences and the type of beach experience you desire.

Things to Do: Tulum vs Puerto Escondido

Both Tulum and Puerto Escondido offer a plethora of activities for travelers, catering to a wide range of interests. Here, we’ll provide an overview of the most popular things to do in each destination.


  1. Visit the Tulum Ruins: Explore the iconic ancient Mayan city perched on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. A guided tour is recommended to gain insight into the history and significance of the site.
  2. Discover Cenotes: Tulum is home to numerous cenotes, offering unique opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, or diving in these natural limestone sinkholes. Some popular cenotes include Gran Cenote, Dos Ojos, and Sac Actun.
  3. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit for nature lovers, offering diverse ecosystems, wildlife sightings, and pristine beaches. Join a guided tour to explore the reserve by boat or on foot.
  4. Beach Hopping: Spend your days lounging on Tulum’s stunning beaches, such as Playa Paraiso, Playa Ruinas, and Playa Pescadores. Enjoy the sun, sea, and sand at these picturesque spots.
  5. Yoga and Wellness Retreats: Tulum is known for its focus on wellness, offering a variety of yoga classes, workshops, and retreats. Holistika and Sanará are popular options to rejuvenate your body and mind.

Puerto Escondido:

  1. Surfing: With world-class waves, Puerto Escondido is a surfer’s paradise. Zicatela Beach, La Punta, and Carrizalillo are some top spots to catch a wave, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer.
  2. Bioluminescent Lagoon: Experience the magical phenomenon of bioluminescence at Laguna de Manialtepec. Join a nighttime boat tour to witness the glowing waters, which are caused by microscopic organisms in the lagoon.
  3. Dolphin and Turtle Watching: Embark on a boat tour to observe dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life in their natural habitat. Tours typically operate from November to April, which is the best time to spot these amazing creatures.
  4. Visit Lagunas de Chacahua National Park: This protected area offers a unique mix of ecosystems, including mangroves, lagoons, and beaches. Take a guided tour to learn about the local wildlife and enjoy birdwatching, kayaking, or simply relaxing on the pristine beaches.
  5. Local Markets and Cooking Classes: Immerse yourself in Oaxacan culinary culture by visiting local markets, such as Mercado Benito Juárez, to shop for fresh ingredients. Then, take a cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional Oaxacan dishes.

Both Tulum and Puerto Escondido offer diverse activities that cater to adventure seekers, history buffs, nature enthusiasts, and beach lovers alike. Your choice between the two destinations ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the type of experiences you wish to have during your vacation.

Accommodation and Food Options

Tulum and Puerto Escondido each offer unique accommodation and dining options for travelers with varying preferences and budgets. This expanded section will delve deeper into the accommodations and culinary experiences available in both destinations.

Tulum Accommodations:

  • Budget: For budget-conscious travelers, Tulum offers several hostels and budget hotels with dormitories or private rooms. Some popular options include The Lucky Traveler Hostel, Mama’s Home, and Che Tulum Hostel & Bar.
  • Mid-range: Tulum features a variety of boutique hotels, guesthouses, and small resorts that provide a more comfortable stay at an affordable price. Consider staying at places like Aluna Tulum, Hotel Ma’xanab, or Delek Tulum.
  • Luxury: Tulum is renowned for its luxurious, eco-friendly resorts and boutique hotels. These high-end accommodations often boast private beach access, top-notch amenities, and wellness-focused services. Notable options include Azulik, Be Tulum, and Nomade Tulum.

Tulum Food:

Tulum’s dining scene is diverse, offering a mix of traditional Mexican cuisine, international flavors, and farm-to-table concepts. Here are some recommendations:

  • Budget: For affordable, authentic Mexican cuisine, visit Taqueria Honorio or Antojitos La Chiapaneca for delicious tacos, tortas, and tamales.
  • Mid-range: Enjoy a fusion of Mexican and international flavors at restaurants like Mezzanine (Thai-inspired dishes) or Trattoria Romana Tulum (Italian fare).
  • High-end: Experience gourmet dining at renowned restaurants like Hartwood, Arca, or Kitchen Table, which focus on locally-sourced ingredients and innovative culinary techniques.

Puerto Escondido Accommodations:

  • Budget: Puerto Escondido offers numerous budget-friendly guesthouses, hostels, and small hotels for cost-conscious travelers. Popular choices include Casa Losodeli, Hostel Shalom, and Bonobo Surf House.
  • Mid-range: For a more comfortable stay without breaking the bank, consider mid-range options like Hotel Santa Fe, Selina Puerto Escondido, or Hotel Suites Villasol.
  • Luxury: While Puerto Escondido is known for its laid-back vibe, there are a few upscale accommodations available for those seeking luxury. Check out Villas Carrizalillo, Vivo Resorts, or Punta Zicatela Hotel.

Puerto Escondido Food:

Puerto Escondido’s culinary scene primarily revolves around fresh seafood, traditional Oaxacan dishes, and international flavors. Here are some recommendations:

  • Budget: Savor delicious street food and local dishes at Mercado Benito Juárez or grab a tasty taco at La Olita Taqueria.
  • Mid-range: Enjoy fresh seafood at El Coste Cevicheria or dine on Italian-inspired cuisine at Espadin Restaurante in Hotel Villas Carrizalillo.
  • High-end: Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at Almoraduz Cocina de Autor or indulge in gourmet seafood at Los Crotos.

Whether you prefer budget-friendly accommodations or luxurious resorts, and whether your taste buds crave traditional Mexican flavors or international cuisine, both Tulum and Puerto Escondido offer a range of options to cater to your preferences and budget.

Tulum vs Puerto Escondido Nightlife

Tulum offers a unique nightlife experience with beachside bars and clubs that blend into the natural surroundings. Some popular spots include Gitano, Papaya Playa Project, and Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar. While the vibe is generally relaxed, there are occasional full moon parties and special events that attract a more energetic crowd.

Nightlife in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido’s nightlife is more low-key, with a focus on laid-back beach bars and live music. Many travelers enjoy watching the sunset at one of the beachfront establishments, followed by a night of dancing and mingling with locals.

Popular spots include Bar Fly, Casa Babylon, and Palapita Bar. For those looking for a more vibrant party scene, Zicatela Beach has several clubs where the atmosphere is lively and energetic.

Cultural Experiences

Tulum’s rich Mayan history offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the ancient culture through guided tours and visits to the numerous archeological sites. Additionally, travelers can take part in traditional Mayan ceremonies or learn about the local flora and fauna on a jungle tour.

Tulum ruins from above

Puerto Escondido provides a more authentic Mexican experience, with fewer tourists and a stronger connection to local traditions. Visitors can participate in cooking classes, learn about Oaxacan crafts, or explore the nearby indigenous communities. The town also hosts annual events such as the Fiestas de Noviembre, which showcase the region’s music, dance, and culinary traditions.

Safety and Security

Both Tulum and Puerto Escondido are considered safe destinations for travelers. However, it is always important to exercise caution and follow common-sense guidelines, such as avoiding poorly lit areas at night and securing personal belongings. As with any travel destination, it’s recommended to research local safety advisories before planning your trip.

Cost Comparison

When planning a trip, the cost is often a significant factor to consider. In this section, we will compare the average expenses you can expect in Tulum and Puerto Escondido, helping you choose the destination that best suits your budget.


Tulum is known for its upscale, eco-chic accommodations and dining scene, which often translates to higher costs. However, budget-friendly options are available as well. Here’s a general breakdown of the expenses you can expect:

  • Accommodation: Budget options start at around $15 per night for hostels, while mid-range hotels range from $50 to $150 per night. Luxury resorts can cost anywhere from $200 to over $1,000 per night.
  • Food: Meals at casual eateries can cost between $5 and $15, while dining at upscale restaurants can range from $20 to $60 per person, excluding drinks.
  • Activities: Entrance fees to archaeological sites and cenotes typically range from $3 to $25. Guided tours and other activities can cost anywhere from $30 to $200, depending on the activity and duration.

Puerto Escondido:

Puerto Escondido is generally more budget-friendly compared to Tulum. Here’s an overview of the costs you can expect:

  • Accommodation: Budget guesthouses and hostels can start as low as $10 per night. Mid-range hotels are available for $30 to $100 per night, while upscale options can range from $100 to $300 per night.
  • Food: Street food and local eateries offer meals for as little as $3 to $10. Mid-range and higher-end restaurants can cost between $15 and $40 per person, excluding drinks.
  • Activities: Surf lessons and board rentals typically cost around $20 to $40 per day. Guided tours and other activities, such as snorkeling or visiting the bioluminescent lagoon, can range from $25 to $100.
  • If you’re looking to buy real estate in Puerto Escondido, property and land is currently much cheaper than Tulum.

In conclusion, Puerto Escondido tends to be more budget-friendly overall, making it an attractive option for cost-conscious travelers. However, Tulum offers a range of options for various budgets, especially for those willing to splurge on accommodations or dining experiences. It’s essential to plan and prioritize your expenses to make the most of your chosen destination.

Tulum vs Puerto Escondido Conclusion

In conclusion, both Tulum and Puerto Escondido offer stunning beachfront experiences, each with its own unique charm. Tulum caters to those seeking luxury, eco-friendly accommodations, and a rich Mayan history, while Puerto Escondido is ideal for surf enthusiasts and travelers looking for a more authentic, laid-back Mexican experience.

Ultimately, the decision between the two comes down to personal preferences and priorities. No matter which destination you choose, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories on your Mexican adventure.

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