Located less than an hour south of Playa del Carmen, Playa Xcacel is a stunning natural sanctuary and one of the best beaches in Riviera Maya. Its hidden location makes it less well known and much less crowded than most other beaches near Playa del Carmen and Tulum. With minimal amenities, Xcacel is a secret retreat where you’ll get to experience the untouched natural beauty and pristine turquoise waters of the Caribbean coastline. In this post, I’m detailing exactly how you can visit Xcacel Beach and sharing some helpful tips to make the most of your visit.
Where is Playa Xcacel?
Playa Xcacel (pronounced ISH-KA-CELL) is located in Mexico’s Riviera Maya region on the Caribbean coast. It’s located right off the main highway 307, and is about 40 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, or 20 minutes north of Tulum. More specifically, it’s located in between Chemuyil and Xel-Ha Adventure Park.
How to get to Playa Xcacel
The easiest way to get to Playa Xcacel is by car. It’s about a 40 minute drive south of Playa del Carmen, or 20 minutes north of Tulum. From Playa del Carmen, there is a sign on the left side of the highway marking the entrance to the beach. However, the sign is not very prominent and can be easily missed so I would recommend using GPS on your phone to make sure you don’t pass the entrance. Once you arrive to Xcacel, it is just a short drive down a dirt road and then there is free parking on site.
By Public Transportation
You can also reach Xcacel Beach by taking a colectivo (shared van) from Playa del Carmen towards Tulum. The main bus depot in Playa del Carmen is located at 2nd Avenue and 20th street. There will be a line of vans on the side of the street so make sure you get on one that is headed to Tulum. Tell the driver you are going to Xcacel and they will drop you off on the side of the highway. It’s also a good idea to watch the GPS on your phone so you know when you’re getting close. The cost should be less than $50 pesos each way.
What is Playa Xcacel like?
Playa Xcacel is a long beach in a natural coastal inset with shallow stunningly turquoise water. For the most part, the sand is soft but there are some rocky areas in the water so you may want to bring water shoes for foot protection. Keep in mind there are some areas that are not safe for swimming and depending on the day, the waves can be large. Be sure to reference the sign posted at the entrance that shows you exactly which areas are safe and which are prohibited (see below).
Xcacel Beach can also be a great place for snorkeling so be sure to bring your own snorkel gear if you want to snorkel off the beach. There is also a cenote called Xcacelito located at the far end of the beach but it’s currently closed to visitors.
What to know before you go
Playa Xcacel is open on Tuesday–Sunday from 10:00 AM–4:00 PM. Note the beach is closed on Mondays and the closing times are strictly enforced. There is staff on-site that walks up and down the beach alerting visitors when it is time to leave. It’s best to get there early so you can enjoy a full day at the beach.
Below are the entrance fees (January 2020) for visiting Xcacel Beach. The fees are used to maintain the facilities and help to keep the beach preserved.
- Residents of Quintana Roo: $25 pesos (~$1.30 USD)
- Mexican Nationals: $42 pesos (~$2.25 USD)
- Foreigners: $84 pesos (~$4.50 USD)
Xcacel Beach is more of a nature sanctuary and not intended as a place to party. It’s important to be respectful of the beach and collect any trash and belongings before you leave. There are a few rules that are strictly enforced by the staff on-site:
- No speakers
- No alcohol
- No food
- No regular sunscreen
What to Bring
It’s important to note that there are absolutely no amenities at Playa Xcacel. There are restrooms and simple showers near the entrance, but other than that there are no restaurants, beach clubs, or chair rentals. You’ll need to bring everything you need with you for a day at the beach. Here are a few other items I would recommend:
Overall, I was so blown away by Playa Xcacel and consider it to be a hidden gem and one of the best beaches in Riviera Maya. If you want to visit a gorgeous natural beach in Mexico but are okay with not having any flashy amenities, then it’s the perfect place to spend the day while visiting Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or the Riviera Maya.
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