Bahia Principe Coba, Tulum, Akumal & Sian Ka'an, Mexico All-Inclusive Resorts Review

Updated: Sep 28

The Bahia Principe resort in the Riviera Maya of Mexico is the second largest resort complex in the Cancun area with four distinct properties - Coba, Tulum, Akumal and Sian Ka'an all adjoining one another and sharing many amenities.


There are differences in each location and we will dive into the benefits and drawbacks of each. We've consolidated the reviews into one because essentially this is one property broken up into subdivisions.



Bahia Principe Coba Review

The Bahia Principe Coba is the largest of the subdivisions of this massive resort. There is one main lobby, with two other small lobbies located within its footprint. The main lobby is close to the buffet, entertainment theatre, sports bar and other amenities. The Premiere Lobby is located inland and where most of the elderly or couples without children are booked. This is a more quieter part of the resort. And again, another Lobby appears on another side, The Golden Lobby, to provide services to guests as the Main Lobby is about a 15 minute walk from several of the rooms.


Most of the restaurants and pools of the entire complex are located within the Coba area of the resort, including the large kid's water park.


There is one huge draw-back in booking a Coba room. You are far from the beach and about a 30-35 minute walk. To make things easier, the entire resort has a system of trams running back and forth from various lobbies and locations. But this can also be a major drawback, as these trams can run every five minutes or in some cases we timed them coming in at every 20 minutes. During busy times in the morning and in the evening, the trams are usually full capacity, meaning some wait times can double and even triple. If, for example you reach the beach, but forgot your sun tan, it could take you another hour of your precious vacation time of useless transport.

If the beach is not your thing, than Coba is an excellent choice as the price is about 30% cheaper than other rooms at the resort.


All beaches in Mexico are public, so you will be able to use any beach you encounter. The booking agent may want to encourage you to stay in Akumal because the resort has a specific beach designated to it, but do not worry, you can use their beach any time. The only thing that will separate you from those staying at Akumal or Tulum is a different colored bracelet.


In Tulum, you will be able to use their beach chairs and use the resort's bars and restaurants as your own. In Akumal, you are discouraged from using their beach chairs and will be refused service at their bars and snack bars.


Because there are four very large resort subdivisions all descending on a small beach front, the chairs are always taken early in the morning. By 6am, all the beach chairs are usually taken but we will show you a secret in our beach section to get the best beach space.


The Buffet meals at the Coba resort are the same provided at Tulum and Akumal, so there is no difference there. The Buffet meals did not change day-to-day and offer the same meals and choices consistently. On some days one meat choice was changed, but it was rather unnoticeable. One day duck was brought out and carved, but there was only one duck for all guests, so it disappeared within seconds. On another day, lamb was brought out, but it was only one leg, and so, it too, was gone within seconds.


When the food doesn't change you need to make your own recipes. Here is a bacon donut and bacon beer that we created!




The Buffet at Coba was consistently running out of certain foods and even though staff tried to replenish those dish selections, they were understaffed and could not keep up.


Tulum was similar, but they seemed to do much better at preparing food and replenishing popular dishes.


The Buffets at Coba, Tulum and Akumal seemed to have a wide variety of food but also a wide variety of quality. The Buffets offered bacon, for example, that wasn't really bacon. It was pre-formed bacon made from mechanically separated meat and colored to look like bacon. Think "Beggn' Strips" dog treats. We found that the real bacon was available at restaurants and the snack bars located in Coba, Tulum and Akumal. We learned that some of the food is imported from China.


The resort provided fake bacon that looked like dog treats

Coba has a large snack bar restaurant located near one of the large pools and connected to the Italian Restaurant. Here you can get simple foods and well as ice cream and pizza. The desserts here were much better as they are borrowing them from the Italian Restaurant.


Coba also has a large Sports Bar, which was near empty most of the time. Inside you can get very simple snacks and alcohol drinks. There is also a very small game room with one pool table, a Foosball table that was broken and partially dismantled, four arcade games, of which only two worked, an Xbox One connected to a television set and one Ping Pong Table.


Because Coba is the largest of the properties it is also the busiest. Pool chairs are also in high demand and there simply was not enough for all the guests.


Room units throughout the Coba property are all the same. In fact, all the rooms at Tulum and Akumal are the same in layout. The Sian Ka'an property offered a different layout and more luxurious beds and furniture.


The King Sized bed was actually two twins pressed up together. Front Desk Staff was apathetic.

Rooms along the north section of the Coba property may hear highway noise as the property is right along the major roadway. Rooms in both Coba, Tulum and Akumal all had a musty smell to them due to poor design. Rooms do not have any windows and the sliding doors do not have screens. The bathrooms have no windows and no exhaust fan making for a very humid environment.


The Coba property is large and is not situated on the beachfront. The only positive it holds above the other properties is that the majority of the restaurants are located here as well as the majority of pools.


As a result a Coba room is about 30% cheaper than the Tulum property.


In the video below you can take a 360 walk around with us as we go from the Tulum Lobby, through the pools and onto the Tulum Beach. Next, you can walk along side us in 360 video as we go from the Coba Lobby, through the pool area to our room and then we do a walk around at night with live entertainment. Use your mouse to look around, or put on your VR headset for a full experience.



Below is a 360 Video of a walk through of Tulum, Coba and Coba at night:




Bahia Principe Tulum Review

The Tulum property is the second largest of the properties at Bahia Principe in the Riviera Maya and is located on the eastern portion of the beach. The property shares all resource and amenities with the Coba property. The major advantage is that the Tulum rooms are located within a short walk to the beachfront.


There seemed to be enough pool chairs for everyone at Tulum except for directly near the pool.


The snack bar is also located near the beach and overlooks the ocean. The beach front is long, but it is narrow, so the majority of beach chairs and shade is reserved at 6am. The beach only has a small area in which you can wade or swim as the majority is very, very rocky.


It appears erosion is problem on the beach front and to counter it the property constructed giant cement blobs in the water. They appeared like beached whales and obstructed the natural beauty of the ocean.


Rooms, Buffet, Bars and Snack Bars are identical to Coba. Tulum is located on the beach and that appears to be the only advantage and with that, Tulum is on average 30% more than Coba.



Bahia Principe Akumal Review

Akumal is the 3rd largest property at the resort complex and is located on the beach front. Akumal is sold as a more luxurious resort property, but there is little to distinguish it from Tulum or Coba besides having more beach chairs, a quieter pool area and a designated beach bar with beach swings.


Akumal also has an small beach area that is surrounded by the cement whales we spoke of before. It looks unnatural and the bay here is totally sheltered and is good for wading or for little ones. The beach is not exclusive and if you are staying at Coba or Tulum you can use this beach too.


Akumal shares restaurants with Coba and Tulum and the Buffet is very similar to both as well. Akumal, however has six restaurants that are exclusive to the property, but they offer virtually the same menu items as Coba and Tulum's restaurants.


Akumal is on average 40% more than Coba and about 10% more than Tulum.




Bahia Principe Sian Ka'an Review

The Sian Ka'an property is located across the highway in the middle of the properties huge golf course. Here rooms are designed with more care and beds and furniture are high-end.


The property is the smallest available but is designed for those looking to golf and relax. It is an adults-only resort and pools and the grounds are very quiet.


The Buffet is similar to Coba, Tulum and Akumal and it shares restaurants at all properties.


The Tram service here is much, much longer if you want to go and from the beach as this property is a fair distance. Times may be 10 to 15 minutes to wait for a tram and about a 25 minute ride one way.


If you are here to golf, this is the resort you desire. Sian Ka'an is on average 35% more than Coba, 8% more tan Tulum and 3% less than Akumal.


Bahia Principe Beaches in Mexico

All resort properties from Coba, Tulum, Akumal and Sian Ka'an are able to use all the beaches no matter what the booking agent says. All beaches in Mexico are public so you cannot be told where and when to wade, swim or suntan.


Coba and Sian Ka'an properties have no beaches and one must be trammed to either Tulum or Akumal to enjoy the ocean.


Unimpressive Tulum & Akumal Beaches

The Akumal Beach is very small and is bordered by large man-made cement heaps. The water here is pretty tame and little ones will enjoy swimming and playing here. Beach chairs and the beach bar are reserved for Akumal guests only, which have a back wrist band as identification.


Tulum has a larger beach front, but it is narrow and does not allow for adequate beach chairs from guests descending each day from Tulum, Coba, Akumal and Sian Ka'an. The Tulum Beach also has unnatural cement blobs in the water which helps with erosion, but does not provide an aesthetic, natural view. The majority of the beach, especially the Eastern portion is extremely rocky and we do not recommend swimming here.



The Secret Beach of Bahia Principe, Riviera Maya

If you don't like crowds, want peace and relaxation, a place to snorkel and enjoy a natural beach environment, we have the place for you.


To get to this secret area, walk East along the Tulum Beach where it is very rocky. You will note, that virtually nobody ventures past the outcrop of land. Continue walking past the rocky beach, and stop in to see the shallow pools to see small fish darting about.


Walk for another 10 minutes past a sandy beach wall and forested area and look in the distance to see what looks like abandoned Palapas that will offer you shade. Once you find the Palapas, throw down you beach towel and now this entire stretch of beach is virtually yours. Behind you is another resort owned by Bahia Principe which includes pools, rooms, washrooms and bars, but for some reason the resort is not operational. It appears to either be a future development, or one that opens seasonally or even one that is not open due to damage from Hurricane Wilma.


The Secret Beach!

East of this beach you will see private homes and rental properties, but do not worry, the beach is yours to play on. You may see a few people out this way, but generally it is natural and there is no ugly cement obstructing your views of the ocean waves.


This part of the beach is totally safe with large sandy areas and some rocks harboring fish that can be viewed by snorkeling. Behind you a life-guard tower is manned during the day.


Remember to bring your own drinks and snacks as there are no facilities here. The walk to and from this portion is beautiful, and if you don't want to walk along the beach another trail can be taken partially though a forested area.


If you want an authentic beach experience this is where you want to enjoy the sun!


The Secret Beach is all yours! No crowds here!

The Restaurants of Bahia Principe, Riviera Maya

There are 9 restaurants in Bahai Principe , Riviera Maya that you can reserve if you are staying at Coba, Tulum, Akumal or Sian Ka'an. Akumal has exclusive restaurants for their guests, but the recipes and offerings are exactly the same as you would get at Coba and Tulum. The names and locations are the only thing that are different.


The reservation system of these restaurants is done when you check in, via a tablet screen on a wall away from the check-in counter. It seems the hotel is looking to stream-line the system of reservations, but by offering a computer screen with very little input, the human interaction and personal touch a concierge provides when reserving a restaurant is lost.


Time slots fill up fast and most restaurants are booked solid because all resort properties share the same system of reservations and restaurants. Front Desk staff indicate you need to book your reservations 1-2 weeks ahead to make sure you get what you want. What is even more frustrating is that the screen tells you what you booked, but in some cases, there is no print out, so you either have to write it down, take a photo of the computer screen or remember it.



On our vacation to Bahia Principe Coba we got odd times for dinner but managed to reserve three restaurants (the max you can do).


The first restaurant was Cozemel, where traditional Mexican food is served. Cozemel service was slow and unpredictable but the food was good. The Duck and Lamb were delicious as were the appetizers.


The next restaurant we attended was Le Gourmet, where French food is served. This restaurant was a complete disaster and the food here was utterly disgusting. For our main meal we ordered Filet Mignon and what was provided was a meat-glue blob. The meat, admittedly came from China, and the texture and taste was alien. It was not beef, it was not chicken, or pork or anything recognizable. I would highly recommend that you skip this so-called Gourmet restaurant.


The final restaurant we attended was Mediterraneo, a Mediterranean Restaurant which provided the best meal we have had at Bahai Principe in Mexico. Here the food is created fresh and is delicious. Service was also top notch and there was pride in what the delivered.


Here is a list of the other restaurants available at Bahia Principe, Riviera Maya:


Mashua Nikkei Restaurant

Delight in a new blend of Asian and Peruvian cuisine. Our experienced chefs combine the traditional recipes that you love with innovative culinary techniques. Their dishes are sure to take your breath away.


Mikado Restaurant

The fun continues from day to night with a delectable dinner in the Japanese restaurant. Enjoy a selection of dishes from various Asian countries without leaving Riviera Maya.


Portofino Restaurant

Not your grandmother’s Italian. The avant-garde style restaurant has taken rustic recipes and placed a high-end flair on them creating an incredible dining experience.


Don Pablo Gourmet Restaurant

Experience flavors like you never have before. Chefs have created unique dishes that will change the way you look at gourmet food forever.


Gran Tortuga-Rodizio Restaurant

Take a bite of Brazil.  Sit back and relax as our talented waiters serve you perfectly cooked meats table-side.


Tequila Restaurant

Embrace the culture to the fullest.  Taste the vibrant flavors, fresh Mexican ingredients, as you enjoy the best Caribbean views. 




Conclusions

The Bahia Principe resorts in Mexico are absolutely gigantic and even though there is a lot of benefits to having a larger resort to explore there are definitely a lot of draw backs.


Not only will you be doing a lot of walking and waiting around for trams you will also note that the service level of employees is less than other smaller resorts. You do not get to know anyone because there are literally thousands upon thousand of employees here working varying shifts.


And with a large property the value of the customer is also lost. When we had a problem with our room, front desk staff didn't care because we were only one guest in a sea of thousand upon thousands. At this resort in particular it seemed as if people were treated more like cattle, than guests which is a shame because this could be one of the top resorts in Mexico, not because of the revenue they generate because of their sheer size, but because of the experience.


If you are truly on a budget and don't care for the Beach, Coba would be your best bet, especially if you have young children.


Akumal tries to be exclusive and luxurious, but this is just an illusion. The increased cost to stay here does not equal the amount of benefits you receive.


Sian Ka'an is the place you want to stay if you are here to golf and not interested in pool parties and the beach.


Tulum is your best option if you are looking for a balance of pools, beaches, location, restaurants and activities.




Coba

Overall Experiences: 58%

Room 3/5

Maid Service 3/5

Beach 0/5

Pool 3/5

Grounds 3/5

Food 3/5

Drinks 4/5

Friendliness of Staff 4/5

Activities & Amenities 3/5


Tulum

Overall Experiences: 64.2%

Room 3/5

Maid Service 3/5

Beach 3/5

Pool 3/5

Grounds 3/5

Food 3/5

Drinks 4/5

Friendliness of Staff 4/5

Activities & Amenities 3/5


Akumal

Overall Experiences: 70%

Room 3.5/5

Maid Service 3/5

Beach 3/5

Pool 3.5/5

Grounds 4/5

Food 3.5/5

Drinks 4/5

Friendliness of Staff 4/5

Activities & Amenities 3/5


Sian Ka'an

Overall Experiences: 64.4%

Room 4/5

Maid Service 3/5

Beach 0/5

Pool 3/5

Grounds 3/5

Food 3/5

Drinks 4/5

Friendliness of Staff 4/5

Activities & Amenities 5/5*


*5/5 if you are here for golf only!



Here are some amazing tours and excursions you can do from the Bahia Principe:



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