It’s no secret that the Riviera Maya is known for having some of the best beaches in Mexico. While living in Playa del Carmen, I made it my mission to scope out all the best beaches in town and the nearby Riviera Maya region.
If you’re planning a trip to Playa del Carmen and are looking for the most beautiful beaches to visit, I’ve done the all the hard work for you. Tough research, I know! So look no further, in this post I’m giving you a detailed guide to all the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.
Beach Access in Mexico
It’s important to know that Mexico recently passed a law to guarantee public beach access to all beaches in Mexico. That means that even if a beach is located on an exclusive resort, the beach area is “technically” still open to the public.
However, the caveat to that is that there aren’t always public access points to actually get to the beaches. And not all businesses actually abide by these rules. Seems a little backwards right? Well that’s just how things are in Mexico sometimes.
So in many of the beach towns in Mexico, the easiest way to experience some of the best beaches is to gain access to the hotels and restaurants where the beaches are located. This means you’ll either have to stay overnight as a hotel guest, purchase a day pass, or make a restaurant reservation.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of Playa del Carmen public beach access points, but sometimes if you want to visit some of the more amazing beaches, you might want to consider staying at a hotel on that particular beach or paying a little more money for access. In my experience, it has definitely been worth it!
Best Beaches in Playa del Carmen
Below are the beaches I would recommend visiting in downtown Playa del Carmen. From my experience, I’ve found that the beaches north of the ferry at Constituyentes are generally better looking, clearer, and have the least amount of seaweed. Depending on the day, the beaches in between the Cozumel ferry and the Constituyentes ferry can still be nice but usually the water is not as clear.
Mamitas Beach is probably the most popular beach spot in downtown Playa del Carmen. The entrance is located on 28th Street, where you’ll find Mamitas Beach Club, which is considered by many to be the best beach club in Playa del Carmen.
It’s a large full service beach club that offers chair and sunbed rentals, as well as food and beverage. In order to rent chairs, you must pay a minimum consumption fee and there are different tiers depending on your choice of chair or lounge bed.
If you prefer not to splurge on a beach club, you can also visit Mamitas Playa del Carmen without renting chairs and just bring your own beach gear. It’s a popular beach spot but can often be loud and crowded depending on the time of year.
38th Street Beach
Personally I think the best beach in Playa del Carmen downtown area is the public beach on 38th Street. It’s a more widespread beach and located adjacent to the beautiful Makehal Playa del Carmen Beach Resort.
This is a great spot to bring your own beach chairs or umbrellas, or there are usually some unofficial vendors that rent them as well. It’s one of my favorite beaches and in my opinion the best beach Playa del Carmen has to offer.
Playacar is a private gated community just north of Playa del Carmen that is home to luxury homes and all-inclusive resorts. While it’s technically not open to the public, you can still access the beach just north of the ferry to Cozumel, walking through the entrance to Senor Frog’s. Right outside of the Playacar Palace Resort is a great spot to relax and bring your own beach gear.
The beaches in Playacar are gorgeous and widespread, and are well taken care of by the private community. The easiest way to access the best beaches in Playacar is by staying at one of the many all-inclusive resorts in Playacar to have unlimited access to the beaches in this area.
Plus, these Playa del Carmen beach resorts are also the closest proximity to downtown Playa del Carmen, so you get the best of both worlds.
Coco Beach is another well known beach in downtown Playa del Carmen, just north of 38th Street beach. It’s located right at the end of CTM Avenue, and adjacent to the Reef Coco Beach Resort. Coco Beach is an upscale neighborhood and is a popular spot for expats and snowbirds.
There’s a couple popular beach clubs at Coco Beach Playa del Carmen including Martina Beach Club and Encanto Beach Club, where you can rent beach chairs and loungers. In recent years, the beach has become somewhat eroded in this area so the beach is not as wide as it used to be, but it’s still a nice beach if you’re staying in that area.
Playa Fundadores is a popular beach in downtown Playa del Carmen right outside of Parque Fundadores and the Cozumel ferry. Just on the other side of the iconic Portal Maya statue, you’ll find a flat white sand beach, that’s usually full of visitors. The beach here is not as wide but it’s conveniently located right near the Fifth Avenue shopping, and offers a beach volleyball court.
Playa Fundadores is also a good spot to watch the Papantla acrobat performance in the main square, where native dancers hang upside down by a rope tied to their ankles and spin around a large pole. You’ll also find many nearby street food vendors selling fresh coconut water, mangos, and traditional Mexican snacks.
Punta Esmeralda is located a little further north of downtown and is a popular locals beach and more of a hidden gem. The entrance is located off of Fifth Avenue, just north of 110th Street. It’s one of the better public beaches in Playa del Carmen and is not frequented by tourists, but rather Mexican families and locals.
Punta Esmeralda is a Playa del Carmen public beach that is definitely not commercialized, but is a really beautiful beach and hidden cove. You won’t find any amenities like beach clubs or restaurants, but it’s a nice place to relax and enjoy a more natural beach. There are also some shallow natural pools for lounging or splashing.
Best Beaches near Playa del Carmen
If you’re willing to venture a little further outside of Playa del Carmen, there are some pretty amazing beaches that are less crowded and more widespread than the ones you’ll find downtown. These beaches below can be reached easily by taxi or renting a car.
Playa Xpu Ha
Of all the beaches near Playa del Carmen, Playa Xpu Ha is hands down my favorite. It’s located about 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen and offers a stunning beach experience, with just the right amount of beach clubs and amenities.
At Playa Xpu Ha, you’ll find a few different beach clubs, motorized and non-motorized water sports, as well as a few tour operators. The water is absolutely stunning and it’s the perfect place to relax, whether it’s at a beach club or on your own.
If you want to learn more about the best beach near Playa del Carmen, check out my full guide to visiting Playa Xpu Ha here.
Another amazing and hidden beach near Playa del Carmen is Playa Xcacel. It’s very remote and less well known so it’s a great place to escape the crowds. The water is the prettiest shade of blue and it’s also a good spot for snorkeling.
Xcacel is a protected area and true nature sanctuary so it has virtually no amenities like beach clubs or chair rentals. There are also a few rules that are strictly enforced, so it’s best for those looking for a natural beach retreat. Check out my full guide to visiting Xcacel beach here.
Playa Maroma is located about 30 minutes north of Playa del Carmen at Punta Maroma. It was voted one of the best beaches in the world by the Travel Channel and it’s easy to see why. It’s a vast tranquil beach with calm turquoise water and powder white sand. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, Playa Maroma is the place to be.
Unfortunately there isn’t an easy public beach access point so you’ll have to visit Playa Maroma by staying at one of the nearby resorts listed below or purchasing a day pass. I visited the beach while staying at Catalonia Playa Maroma and it was absolutely gorgeous.
Tulum is located about an hour south of Playa del Carmen, and is a great place for a day trip and different kind of beach experience. Tulum itself is very bohemian and you will definitely notice the beachy eco-chic vibe in all of the Tulum hotels and almost every aspect of the town.
The beaches in Tulum are a little more untouched and are much more widespread, with the most enticing turquoise water. Most of the beaches along the Hotel Zone are located on hotels and restaurants, so you’ll need to visit a beach club or restaurant for access. My favorite beach clubs in Tulum are Ziggy’s Beach Club and Mia Restaurant and Beach Club.
Another famous beach in Tulum is Playa Paraiso, which is located just south of the Tulum Ruins. Like most of the beaches in Tulum, it is flat and widespread with the alluring turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea.
Playa Paraiso is a public beach with a few amenities and there are a couple restaurants nearby. It’s also where you’ll find the popular Instagram shot of the leaning palm tree.
Playa del Carmen Beaches Map
Below is a map of the Playa del Carmen Mexico beaches outlined above. For the beaches outside of Playa del Carmen, they all can be reached easily by taxi or renting a car. If you prefer to take public transportation, you can also take a colectivo (shared van) from Playa del Carmen.
Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen
The best time to visit Playa del Carmen is during the winter months of December – February, when the weather is still very warm, but much less humid. However, this is considered high season and the busiest time of year. While the weather is much more comfortable, it will be more crowded and much more expensive.
I’ve found that the months on the shoulder of high season (March/April and October/November) are still very nice weather wise but you can find better deals on accommodation. The summer months will be the slowest as it is the hottest time of year but you’ll be able to find even better hotel deals during this time.
And once you’re visiting, the best time to visit any of these beaches is during the week. Weekends will definitely be more crowded and is also a popular time for locals to visit beaches with their families.
What to Bring
When visiting any beach in Mexico, you NEED to bring biodegradable sunscreen. Regular sunscreen is highly discouraged and in many places prohibited as it is harmful to the coral reefs. You can pick up some biodegradable sunscreen on Amazon here. It’s so much easier just to order it off of Amazon before your trip rather than trying to find it in Playa.
Below are a few more items I would recommend bringing for a trip to the beach. I never go to the beach without my sun hat, waterproof speaker, and colorful beach blanket. You can also find some more of my favorite beach items in my beach bag essentials guide.
I hope this Playa del Carmen best beaches guide was helpful and you get to experience some of these stunning beaches! What’s your favorite beach in Playa del Carmen? Any others I should add to the list?
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