Few destinations on earth cause as much admiration as Riviera Maya, Mexico. Sometimes referred to as Mayan Riviera, it is a section of the Caribbean coastline in the state of Quintana Roo that stretches over 100 miles along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, from Cancun in the town of Puerto Morelos to as far south as Punta Allen. Here, we will walk you through the best beaches in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Some of the country’s most impressive Mayan archaeological sites, beaches of fine, white sand, snazzy resorts, and amazing natural wonders dot the region, not to mention the presence of the world’s second-largest coral reef, which provides the basic ingredients for a holiday paradise.
This world-renowned paradise is home to mangroves and lagoons, ecological reserves, adventure parks, world-class restaurants, vivacious nightlife, spas, shopping centers, and some of the world’s best beaches.
Each beach has its unique qualities where you can go for a dive or snorkeling and various other beach activities. Apart from the beaches, there are many best places to visit in Riviera Maya as well.
1. Akumal Beach
Akumal Bay, Riviera Maya, Mayan, Mexico
How to get there: Traveling from Playa del Carmen, the best way is to drive to this beach. Take the colectivos (shared taxis) and they will let you off on the highway, from where you can either walk down to the town and the beach or take a taxi.
Akumal Beach is one of the best beaches Riviera Maya has and a few places where you can swim with turtles. Nestled between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Akumal Beach is perfect to do a little snorkeling or kayaking. There is also a great spot for fishing or horseback riding in the jungle.
Public beach access is free but tours to swim with the turtles, beach bars, restaurants, and beach clubs are all paid.
If you are still looking for a place to stay, have a look at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya.
2. Xpu Ha Beach
View of Xpu-Ha Beach
How to get there: Xpu Ha Beach is about 16 miles south of Playa del Carmen and there are 3 ways how to get there. Hop on a Colectivo that passes through Xpu Ha between 15th and 20th Avenue in Calle 2. You can either rent a car and drive yourself to the beach or take a bus at ADO Terminal on 5th Avenue.
One of the secret beaches and local hangouts of the Riviera Maya is Xpu Ha Beach. Located just south of Puerto Aventuras, it is a delight for beach lovers with its quintessential white sands and turquoise waters.
This fabulous beach has an entrance fee of 40 MXN (2 €)/person. Beachside restaurants offer fresh fish tacos and ice-cold beer, making it an easy place to put your beach chair for the day.
It’s also the perfect place to finally read all the books you wanted to indulge in.
If you are looking to stay in Xpu Ha instead of just coming for the day, there are a few hotels as well.
The best one is the Barceló Maya Riviera – Adults Only *****, the perfect adults-only hotel. Located right on the seafront, this hotel, only for adults, offers an exclusive, luxurious experience for couples.
This newly built hotel has 850 rooms of different categories, offering fantastic sea views and access to the private swimming pool. The hotel has 5 restaurants where you can sample world cuisine and 5 bars, including a lobby bar and a pool bar.
In addition to this, it has 4 swimming pools, a spa, and a gym. Discover everything that the all-inclusive program they offer includes to enjoy your holiday.
3. Puerto Morelos Beach
Puerto Morelos beach, Riviera Maya, Mayan, Mexico
How to get there: Travel down Federal Highway 307 from Cancun International Airport. The distance is about 15 miles and it takes about 20 minutes to reach there. Alternatively, you can use an airport transfer or shuttle to reach the beach.
Puerto Morelos is considered to be the gateway and one of the best beaches Mayan Riviera has. This vibrant and charming fishing village is located halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun in Quintana Roo. It’s the perfect place to unplug during your trip!
It’s one of the top things to do in Riviera Maya.
It boasts one of the finest, largest stretches of pristine, publicly accessible beaches. What makes this beach a special place is the Reef National Park, which is part of the second-largest coral barrier reef in the world. It houses tropical fish, dolphins, turtles, and corals, making it the perfect place to snorkel.
Musicians stroll the beach and fresh ceviche is available from the wandering vendors. There are many beach clubs offering food and drinks, as well as some of the best Riviera Maya hotels and spa.
4. Xcacel Beach
How to get there: Drive south on Highway 307 from Playa del Carmen, pass through the entrance to Chemuyil Pueblo and then take the dirt road on your left to reach there. There are no signs to reach the beach, just a small board that is easy to miss.
This paradisiacal beach is one of the favorites and the best beaches in the Riviera Maya for most demanding travelers.
Located 30 miles south of Playa del Carmen, Xcacel Beach is one of the best protected natural reserves and untouched beaches in Riviera Maya since 1998.
It is well known as a sea turtle sanctuary and what stands out here is the three different eco-systems, mangroves, dunes, and a cenote all in one place. Xcacel Beach does not have any restaurants or other types of service. There is only the sound of waves and the sea breeze.
The entry fee is 60 MXN (3 €) which is used to finance the conservation project.
5. Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya
How to get there: Playa del Carmen is an hour’s drive from Cancun along Highway 307.
Playa del Carmen’s cosmopolitan and relaxed atmosphere makes this one of the most popular beach destinations in the Riviera Maya. It has over four miles of glorious and beautiful beaches, but what pulls in the tourists is La Quinta Avenida.
The pedestrian road is teeming with cafes, restaurants, stores, and bars. Spend a day lying on the beach, riding a bike or a scooter around. You can relax in a hammock or generate a little adrenaline on a jet ski or parasail.
Playa del Carmen is also considered to be one of the best places for all-inclusive holidays.
6. Tulum Ruins Beach
Ruins of Tulum, Mexico overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the Riviera Maya
How to get there: Tulum Ruins Beach is about 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen, an hour and 45 minutes from Cancun, and 13 minutes from Tulum town. It is a straight shot down Highway 307.
Tulum Ruins Beach is a paradise. This breathtaking little corner of the Earth is located in the Tulum Ruins, which lies within the Tulum National Park. After walking through the jungle and walking through the ancient stone buildings of the walled city, you will be struck by the vision of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean against the backdrop of the ruins and cliffs.
There are no restaurants or changing rooms on the beach. However, before entering the Tulum National Park, there is a restroom. So, it is best to change there.
7. Isla Blanca Beach
Riviera Maya Caribbean beach turquoise, Mayan, Mexico
How to get there: Drive north of Cancun towards Punta Sam and take the Avenida Bonampak that meets up at a remote stretch of dirt road to reach the beach. You will need a car to get there as public transport is sparse.
Isla Blanca is a secret little hideaway in the Caribbean Sea and Chacmuchuk Lagoon. Just 25 minutes north of Cancun, this undisturbed peninsula of white sandy beaches and virgin jungle is a treat to the eyes.
Camp on the beach, rent a rustic cabin for the night, or just visit for the day. It is a tranquil oasis for those who want to escape the large resorts and hustle-bustle of the city. Kiteboarding is the main activity here and a school provides you with training as well.
8. Caleta Tankah
Caleta Tankah beach
How to get there: When traveling from Cancun, it is situated right before the Tulum Ruins. You can drive or take public transport to reach the beach
Situated right before the Tulum Ruins, Caleta Tankah, Riviera Maya is an amazing white sandy beach.
To enter this beautiful beach, you need to pay a fee of 150 MXN (7 €) to the hotel Tankah. With this, you also get access to a cenote they have on the premises, beach chairs, and umbrellas. You can have lunch in the hotel restaurant, but need to pay extra.
These are some of the best beaches in Riviera Maya. So, pack your bags and travel to Riviera Maya.