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Most beautiful Mayan Riviera beaches

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Without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons people flock to Mexico over the winter are the gorgeous Mayan Riviera beaches. A long stretch alongside the Caribbean sea, the white sands and turquoise waters are tough to beat. The wonderful thing about the beaches in the Mayan Riviera is that they are so diverse.

If you’re looking for a lively party then beaches in Cancun are perfect. If you’re looking for great vegan food and a relaxed vibe, Tulum will impress. And if you want to get away from the crowds, there are numerous options.

Here are some of the best Mayan Riviera beaches:


Just south of Playa del Carmen, Akumal is one of the beach day trips from the city and perfect for kids. Not only is it one of the most relaxed Mayan Riviera beaches but there is plenty of activities for young ones, and those young at heart.

This 15km stretch of white sand is a very popular in May through November as baby sea turtles emerge and make their way toward the ocean. There are so many turtles that Akumal means “land of
the turtles” in Mayan, and the beach and waters are now protected so that it remains a safe spot for wildlife. There are plenty of signs reminding visitors not to touch the coral reefs or the animals below, with a designated swimming area.

This is also one of the best areas for snorkelling as you can find various species of turtles, manta rays and lots of colourful fish.

There are a number of tours to kayak, swim with the dolphins and dive. As well as restaurants lining the beach and shops to rent snorkel gear.

Playa Paamul

A private community of mostly Canadian and American expats, Paamul is a great spot if you’d like to snorkel or dive without the crowds.

Only 20km south from Playa del Carmen, you must pay to access the beach club, which allows you to visit the beach and use the facilities such as the restaurant and pool.

While the beach itself is on a bay and a bit rocky, what draws people to this Mayan Riviera beach is the coral reef. It is excellent for diving and snorkelling without the crowds you’ll find at the other beaches, including Akumal.

You must bring your own snorkel gear and if you visit in August there’s a good chance you’ll see turtles.


If you’re looking to get closer to nature, this small 1.5km beach is the place to go. It is part of a protected nature preserve where many turtles lay eggs each spring. There’s also a small cenote down a short path
from the beach.

This nature preserve is off the beaten path, while there are washrooms and showers, there are no restaurants so you must bring your own food and drink.

This also means you must be extra careful and you cannot use sunscreen so be prepared to bring hats and long-sleeved clothing so as not to burn.

Entrance to the reserve is only a few dollars, and the beach is open from 9-5pm daily.

Playa Paraiso

Perhaps the most famous Mayan Riviera beach is Playa Paraiso in Tulum. It is often featured in lists for best beaches around the world, and is one of the most popular to visit.

Just minutes from the Mayan ruins in Tulum, it is everything you want in a Caribbean beach with soft sand, crystal blue water and just enough amenities that you don’t have to walk too far for a
beach cocktail.

The beach gets very busy, especially on Sundays so plan to get there early for the best spot on the beach – just below the ruins.


If you ask local expats where to find the best beach in Playa del Carmen they’ll tell you to head about 30km out to Xpu-Ha. Only a short drive from the city, it’s known to have a fantastic beach without the crowds. A private beach, you’ll need to pay a few dollars to enter but it’s worth it for the serenity.

If you’d prefer not to lay on the sand, it’s possible to rent a chair and umbrella or to visit the beach club for a fee.

It’s popular to kayak and sunbathe here, but it is not the best for snorkelling.

Puerto Morelos

While Tulum was once considered the quiet getaway from the bustle of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it’s now one of the most popular spots in the Mayan Riviera. Quietly, Puerto Morelos has replaced Tulum as the chill town to visit if you’d like to enjoy your holiday but don’t need a 24-hour

Located in between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos doesn’t have the most beautiful beach but is quickly becoming known as Mayan Riviera’s hidden gem.

It’s a small beach town with quaint rentals, lots of terrific restaurants at very affordable prices and a coral reef that attracts turtles, dolphins, stingrays and lots of other wildlife. Prices for snorkelling tours and other activities are considerably less than other towns.


One of the most well-known Mayan Riviera beaches is Xcaret , which is easily accessible from Cancun and Playa del Carmen. An eco-adventure park, it’s the most expensive beach to visit but also comes with plenty of activities to keep kids of all ages busy for the day.

One of the underrated aspects of Xcaret is the nightly performance that shares Mexico’s history and culture. While these types of shows are often not worth staying for after a long day in the sun, the Xcaret show receives rave reviews from both Mexicans and international tourists.

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