Cabo vs. Tulum: Which Is Better for Vacation?

If you’re looking for an unforgettable Mexican getaway, Cabo and Tulum are two destinations you’ll want to consider! Both these popular tourist areas have beautiful, pristine beaches and budget-friendly accommodations. However, they each offer unique atmospheres and attractions.

Tulum is better for vacation if you want to spend time on Mexico’s Caribbean coast with plenty of warm water, white sand, and luscious jungle scenery. Cabo is better if you want to fish and snorkel, as well as enjoy a more energetic nightlife on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. 

CategoryCaboTulum
Cost Range for 1 Week$942 per person$729 per person
TransportationTaxis, public buses, car rentals, UberTaxis, public buses, car rentals, bike rentals
Notable AttractionsCabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, El Medano, Los Cabos Corridor, Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore, Cabo Wabo, Baja Brewing Company, Chileno BeachTulum Ruins, Sian Ka’an Reserve, El Castillo, Xel Ha Park, Temple of the Frescoes, Playa Paraíso, Templo Dios del Viento
WeatherHot all year round with lower temperatures from December-AprilTropical savanna climate with a pronounced dry season
Food and DrinkMexican cuisine, seafood, international cuisine, numerous lounges and bars, fast food chainsMexican cuisine, seafood, international cuisine, a variety of local restaurants, 
Activities for KidsAqua World Cabo, Cannery Beach, Playa el Suspiro, whale watching, swimming with dolphins, eco touringAkumal Monkey Sanctuary, La Zebra Beach Club, ziplining, swimming, snorkeling, bike tours, spelunking
Nature AttractionsLovers Beach, Playa del Amor, Arch Rock (El Arco), Cabo Pulmo National Park, Divorce Beach, Cozumel Cenote Cristal, Playa Ruinas, Paradise Beach, Tulum National Park, Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote

Tulum is a secluded town on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula; it’s about two hours from Cancun, and it faces the majestic Caribbean Sea. Visitors can expect to traverse some of the best-preserved Mayan ruins, spend time on picturesque beaches, and enjoy a more off-the-grid experience.

Los Cabos (or simply, Cabo), consisting of both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, is a resort city at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula that is known for its unbelievable scuba diving locations and laid back vibe. 

This article will explore these two Mexican tourist sites to help you decide which destination will give you the best vacation experience. 

Cost of Stay

A vacation to Cabo can be very affordable. However, this greatly depends on when you go; expect to save more during the late spring and summer months.

Two choices that might be costlier are the areas around Medano Beach and the Pacific tip, as they are closer to restaurants, the downtown, and an assortment of activities.

Similarly, a trip to Tulum has a range of price options for tourists. In the Tulum town (pueblo), you will find an incredible amount of Airbnb for low prices. The Tulum beach (playa), on the other hand, might be slightly more expensive, but it’s well worth the extra money to be on the beautiful cerulean water. 

Best Affordable Hotels

Cabo has many options when it comes to budget-friendly accommodations.

Resorts in Cabo are an ideal fit if you’re not looking to leave your hotel, and want more of an R&R type vacation; this is especially the case if you stay on the ‘hotel corridor.’ However, if you want to be closer to bars, clubs, and restaurants, the hotels in Cabo San Lucas are a bit more exciting.

If you’re looking for a mid-range boutique hotel with Mexican charm within walking distance to downtown Cabo San Lucas, we recommend The Bungalows Breakfast Inn Hotel. However, there is no full-service restaurant on-site; rates include daily breakfast.

There are also a lot of lodging options in Tulum; you can choose to stay in Tulum’s private beach area, its public beach area, or the town. 

We recommend staying in Tulum town, as there are more affordable options for accommodations and food. You’ll also have the advantage of experiencing the local culture.

The Ginger Hotel is an excellent choice if you are traveling on a tight budget. It is a centrally located and family-owned establishment that has an on-site restaurant, swimming pool, bar, and garden. 

Main Attractions

Tulum is known for having gorgeous tropical beaches, but there is much more to do than just lying on the sand!

You’ll want to check out Tulum’s prehistoric Mayan ruins; it’s FREE to explore on Sundays! Another popular tourist attraction is Xel ha, an underwater park that’s wonderful for kids and adventurous adults! A swim in a cenote (a clear, freshwater sinkhole) is a must. Gran Cenote, which is located west on the road to Coba, is by far the most photogenic!

Cabo is full of breathtaking rock formations. El Arco is one of the most visited, and for a good reason, it’s the perfect spot to snorkel, whale watch, or take stunning pictures. 

It is mostly advised not to swim in the water in Cabo because of the Pacific’s fierce rip currents and undertows. However, there are still swimmable beaches such as the calm Medano Beach and the renowned Palmilla Beach.

Cabo has some great scuba diving with distinct sites like Sand Falls. Keep in mind that the water is considerably colder, which might not be a pleasant experience to some, depending on the time of year.

Activities for Kids

There are several water excursions that kids will enjoy in Cabo. The San Jose’s Estuary and Bird Sanctuary is an especially wonderful place to view all sorts of exotic creatures!

The Akumal Monkey Sanctuary in Tulum is home to adorable spider monkeys, the capuchin monkeys, and ring-tailed lemurs. Kids will be able to interact with an abundance of exotic wildlife!

Food and Drink

Tulum has a wonderful array of authentic Mexican cuisine. There is a delectable devotion to chicken and fresh fish. We recommend Don Cafeto, which is located downtown for flavorful tacos and a wonderful atmosphere. 

Also, while you’re in Tulum, look around for signs that read, “Aguas Frescas.” These are fruity cold drinks made from fruits, seeds, or flowers and blended with sugar and water. 

Travelers can find numerous touristy spots in downtown Cabo San Lucas; however, those that want a more traditional experience should head for San Jose del Cabo. We suggest renting a car to seek out other dining options, as it will give you more freedom to explore.

As a general rule, you should avoid drinking tap water in all areas of Mexico. Bottled water is readily available throughout the country and is generally very affordable. 

Weather

The best time to visit Tulum weather-wise is during the peak season, which runs from December to April

The best time to travel to Cabo is from May to June after the wintertime crowds have left, and before the start of the storm season. 

Safety

Tourist areas in both Cabo and Tulum are considered to be safe; however, visitors must stay alert at all times. Avoid deserted areas at night, and always be aware of your surroundings and belongings.

Transportation

The best way to get around Tulum is by taxi, but you can also walk or bike to beaches and ruin sites.

Buses are a very convenient way to get around in Cabo; it’s an affordable way to get from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo, as well as the beaches and resorts in the Tourist Corridor. You can also ride a taxi, Uber, or rent a car.

Customs

If you plan on visiting Mexico, you will need a valid passport. Upon entering the country, they will grant you a tourist visa that is valid for 180 days

Conclusion: Tulum vs. Cabo

So there you have it — a closer look at two impressive Mexican destinations that would make for a wonderful holiday!

We recommend Tulum for travelers who are interested in plenty of natural excursions such as archaeological ruins and jungle tours, as well as an off-the-grid experience. Meanwhile, Cabo is a great getaway for those who want to enjoy water activities like snorkeling and scuba diving in a Pacific Ocean paradise. 

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