The Best Beaches of the Maya Riviera

The Best Beaches of the Maya Riviera – Picture yourself on a white sandy beach, the winds rustling in the palm trees while you swing in a hammock.  Build sand castles with your children, or enjoy evening strolls along the beach with your loved one at sunset.  Riviera Maya beaches can turn your vacation dreams into reality. Here you’ll find beautiful beaches, warm translucent waters, and picture-perfect weather that lasts all year long.  The photos don’t lie. The Mexican Caribbean is that blue, and the beach sand is that dazzlingly white. With 72 miles of beach stretching along the Caribbean coastline, the Riviera Maya has something for you. The beaches are one reason why so many visitors return to this paradise.

No matter what kind of beach vacation you prefer, you will find heaven with pearly-white sand, natural shade from slender palm and coconut trees, crystal-clear waters, and fragrant sea air. Visit all of the best Maya Riviera Beaches on our Pinterest site here.

Here is the best of the Riviera Maya Beaches:

Holbox Beach, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraHolbox

Isla Holbox, which forms part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, has a beach of the same name where the sky-blue waters are barely three feet deep and you can enjoy long walks on fine white sand. One of the big draws of this beach is the variety of fauna that lives in its waters. Here, it’s easy to spot sea turtles, tropical fish, and even flamingos, which are an icon of Holbox.  Best Isla Holbox Hotel:  Mystique Holbox by Royalton

Paamul Beach, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraPaamul Beach

The beach is located south of Playa del Carmen.  Whether you just want to relax or enjoy activities, this beach has it all.  You can go scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, and other water sports.  There is a whole array of coral gardens, a freshwater pool, and even spa treatments available.  Between May and June you can see the turtles hatching.  Best Paamul Beach Hotel:  Magic Xcacel Tulum

Puerto Morelos Beach, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraPuerto Morelos Beach

Puerto Morelos Beach is located between Cancún and Playa del Carmen. In addition to this dream-like beach, what really makes this place special is the Puerto Morelos Reef National Park, which is part of the second largest coral barrier reef in the world. Don’t forget your goggles and flippers and get ready to dive among fascinating turtles, sponges, and sea fans.  Best Puerto Morelos Beach Hotel:  Hotel Amar Inn

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Playa Mamitas, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraPlaya Mamitas

Playa Mamitas is one of the most popular beaches in Playa del Carmen. It’s the perfect beach to go to with friends and family. There are restaurants and bars of all types: some have music and dancing and others are more family friendly, with beach chairs you can relax on. The blue waters are very shallow, so you can swim without having to worry about any dangers or waves.  Best Playa Mamitas Hotel:  Oceana by ABNA

Xpu-Ha Beach, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraXpu-Ha Beach

Xpu-Ha is located 15 miles south of Playa del Carmen, and is considered one of the best beaches. Here you can find restaurants, cocktail bars, and services for water activities, but as it’s far from hotels and resorts, it has a calm, tranquil vibe. In addition to the beach, Xpu-Hu is anature reserve with mangroves and coral reefs, so it’s perfect for snorkeling and kayaking.  Best Xpu-Ha Beach Hotel:  Hotel Esencia

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Playa Moroma,The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraPlaya Moroma

Maroma Beach, which is north of Playa del Carmen, is a unique beach in Mexico, that managed to preserve the pristine nature of more than 500 hectares of beach and rainforest. This part of Mexico is recognized as one of the most ecologically clean places on the Caribbean coastline. Maroma Beach is home to the world’s second largest coral reef, the Mesoamerican coral reef. Maroma Beach is recognized as the most beautiful beach in the world.  Best Playa Moroma Hotel:  Magic Xcacel Tulum

Akumal Beach, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraAkumal Beach

Akumal Beach, located in Akumal, is famous for snorkeling with turtle. Stingrays also frequent this part of the coast, and you will see pelicans often walk around the beach, not afraid and expecting treats from you. The sea bottom  is covered with algae and coral reefs, great for snorkeling and diving. Akumal Beach is very popular and is often crowded, especially on weekends, spring-summer period, and when the turtles lay their eggs.  Best Akumal Beach Hotel:  Xcacel Dreams

Xcacel Beach, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraXcacel Beach

Xcacel, just south of Akumal, is a protected nature reserve and another untouched beach on the Riviera Maya. It’s also one of the destinations that turtles most prefer for laying their eggs. This beach doesn’t have restaurants or any other type of service; it’s pure nature. Here there’s only the sound of the waves and the sea breeze.  Best Xcacel Beach Hotel:  Xaha Villas Suites & Golf Resort

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Sian Ka'an Nature Preserve, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraSian Ka’an Nature Preserve

Just south of Tulum is the Sian Ka’an Nature Preserve.  If you want wild, untouched beaches or want a day at the beach far from the hustle and bustle of tourists, the Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve is just what you’re looking for. Here, you can reconnect with nature among idyllic beaches, mangroves, and jungles that have hardly been touched by man. What’s more, its variety of fauna and nature means that you can discover the great biodiversity of species in the area.  Best Sian Ka’an Area Hotel:  Cien Corazones

Playa Paraiso, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraPlaya Paraiso

Another of the most beautiful beaches is Playa Paraíso of Cancun, or Paradise Beach, in Tulum. It’s just below the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons why it’s so special. What’s more, the quality of its waters and its white sands make it, like its name says, a true piece of heaven on Earth.  Best Playa Paraiso Hotel:  Grand Velas Riviera Maya – All Inclusive

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Playa Norte, The Best Beaches of the Maya RivieraPlaya del Carmen Beach

Playa del Carmen is one of the most popular beach destinations on the Riviera Maya and in all of Mexico and it’s also lined with a sandy shoreline that runs along the famous Quinta Avenida.  Playa del Carmen Beach is easy to get to, and therefore it can be rather crowded.  Best Playa del Carmen Hotel:  Palmaïa – The House of AïA Wellness Enclave All Inclusive

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Playa Norte

Playa Norte, found in Isla Mujeres, is exactly like the image of the Caribbean you have in mind: crystal clear turquoise waters and sparkling white sand. At this beach, the water is very shallow, so it’s ideal for snorkeling or enjoying a long walk in the sea. One of the best things about it are that it has all types of services for tourists, such as restaurants and water activities. Also, it’s easy to access. Best Playa Norte Hotel: Ocean-View Oasis on Playa Norte with Resort Amenities

Turtle Beach, The Best Beaches of the Maya Riviera
Turtle Beach

This beach, near Cancun, is very popular with the locals, this place is also known as playa de las tortugas, or turtle beach, as various species of turtles live and lay their eggs here. With a little bit of luck, you’ll spot one of these majestic animals swimming. Best Turtle Beach Hotel: Villa de las Tortugas

38 Comments

  1. Marcus

    Wow Leahrae. This really made me want to go travel. There is nothing better than the white beaches and crystal clear water.

    I’m thinking of going to Mexico after I’m done school which would be around July. Do you not recommend going in this season because of hurricanes and humidity?

    Marcus

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I totally agree Marcus!

      Reply
  2. Chris

    That’s a nice list you’ve compiled. The only place I’ve been in Central/South America was Cancun one summer many years ago. I was burned to a crisp, but it was fun nonetheless, lol.

    Do you know if any cruise lines make stops to these locations? Obviously, the more secluded ones don’t have ports, but I’m just curious.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, they do. They stop in Cancun, Cozumel, Playa and Costa Maya 🙂 All are in the area.

      Reply
  3. Marc Parsons

    Hey Leahrae

    Fantastic write up on the Riviera Maya Beaches! Thank you.

    The all look amazing and I could definitely see me taking the family there for some fun in the sun. 🙂

    Couple questions;

    Is there a way to book packages to spend a couple days at each of the beaches and if so, what order would you recommend is the best to visit them in?

    Also, I love snorkeling, but the little one is too small for this. Do you know of any glass bottom boat trips that we could go on while travelling to these resorts?

    Looking forward to your feedback.

    Thanks
    – Marc

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Marc, The best place I have found (and I am not an affiliate 🙂 for VERY reasonable packages is cheapcaribbean.com. I would call them and see if there is any way to book a package to include different locations. I bet they can accommodate….I know they can 🙂 I don’t think the order matters at all. You will want to fly into Cozumel and there you will find a TON of glass bottom boat and submarine tours. They are amazing and everyone always has a blast. you can take the Ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen which is a safe trip. Then you can stay there for however long you’d like. Traveling to the west, next stops would be Akumul and then Tulum. I mention these because these locations is where you would want to stay over night. There is a ferry that can take you back to Cozumel from Tulum when you are ready to depart for home 🙂 I’d be more than happy to put together something for you when you are ready or would like to know the actual cost and itinerary…just need to know dates and for how long.

      Reply
  4. Jaime

    The Playa del Carmen is going on my bucket list. You have stated a handful of great beaches and now I really don’t know which one I would like to see next. The playa del carmen is great because it has lively bars which is a big plus for me but which one would you recommend I take my family to see? Very great article by the way, seeing this makes me want to work 10x harder now so I can check these beaches off my bucket list.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Soliman Bay Beach is probably the best family friendly beach. That is where I would go and then you can go to some of the other beaches that are fairly close. Glad you enjoyed the post Jaime!

      Reply
  5. Yvonne

    Hi,

    These places look like a dream vacation for me and my family! The pictures are really beautiful and inviting and the water very clean.

    Is there a best time to visit all these places? I think I would love a spot of snorkelling and also visit the Temple of Kukulkan in Tulu.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      If you want the best weather in the area when it is still sunny, but milder and with less rainfall and virtually no risk of storms, plan your vacation from December to April. Thanks for visiting Yvonne 🙂

      Reply
  6. Jessica

    Wow, great post on the beaches in Mexico. The only place i was in Mexico was Tijuanna and we weren’t at any beach. You made me feel like I was actually at those places with such a detailed description. What would be helpful to me would maybe be a map of Mexico where you have dots/points on the map where each beach is. It would give me a better idea of the location of the beaches if i was planning my vacation.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, Jessica I plan on expanding with maps, travel advisories, and when to travel 🙂

      Reply
  7. WMP

    All the beaches on this page looks extremely attractive but my favorite one is the Riviera Maya beach. I live in Massachusetts and we really don’t have any great beaches here so I haven’t been going to the beach at all, I haven’t been to the beach in a very long time. However, if I had the ability to go to any one of these beaches it would probably be a great experience for me.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I think you would really enjoy it. Mexico can’t be beat. I have been at least 15 times. Closer to home for you would be Florida, and honestly, they pack AWESOME beaches for great vacation prices, especially if you stay on the Gulf of Mexico side 🙂 Thanks for your kind reviews!

      Reply
  8. Deadshot

    Hi there. I always enjoy coming onto your site and getting refreshed all over again by seeing the lovely beaches you talk about. You’ve got a really good thing going on here !
    I would just like to ask if you could recommend some of the beaches to visit in Cali. Ive been planning to come to Cali and a pre planned list of destinations there would come in handy. Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      That is going to be my next topic once I finish with Mexico 🙂 I am going in order of the places I have been to, love, and am familiar with!

      Reply
  9. Lethicha Perez

    Reading your post about beaches made me want to take a fly right away to one of these beaches. I would like to go to Puerto Morelos Beach since the waters are more calm and safe. I also would like to visit Sian Ka’an beach. It’s sounds very interesting to explore pyramid ruins and know the history behind these places.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I agree! I have not been to the ruins, it’s on my bucket list for sure but the Riviera Maya, for one, are wonderful beaches. Thanks for reading Lethicha!

      Reply
  10. christinamk

    Wow these beaches all look spectacular! I’ve never been swimming in turquoise water like I see in the pictures. But I really want to! All these beaches look like perfect places to do so! The sand is so incredibly white and soft looking too. Thanks for this great list of beaches in Mexico! I will definitely consult it when I travel to Mexico.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Christina! Nothing compares!

      Reply
  11. Jenna

    Hi Leahrae, thank you for the beautiful beach recommendations in Mexico, seeing the pictures – the spectacular view and crystal clear blue sea, Oh, I really feel like flying to the beach to unwind myself. I always thought that the heavenly beach islands are only found in Maldives. Now, I have more choices. I am from Malaysia, is there any way that I can fly cheap and get a decent hotel stay in Soliman Bay Beach? How much should be my budget? When you said it is an ideal destination for families with children.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I can’t say how much the flight is going to cost from Malaysia. I would say that it is dependent on when you take your flight, etc. There can be several aspects to getting lower airfare. Yes, it is a family friendly destination and quite reasonable to stay there, even at an all-inclusive resort. The airfare would probably be your main concern. Thanks for looking and leaving comments Jenna.

      Reply
  12. Juan

    Wow the water looks so beautiful, I have been to Cancun but that’s was years ago. I have dying to go back to Mexico. I do have to admit what keeps holding me back from going back is my concern for my families safety is it still safe to go down to Mexico as long as you stay clear of the border town in you opinion.

    Thanks

    Juan

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are safe in the resort towns. It’s “in” mainland Mexico where the concern is. Flying in to Cancun and staying along the coast in the resort towns is completely safe. I would not make a road trip to Mexico City. Thanks for looking 🙂

      Reply
  13. sandy

    Wow, those are gorgeous descriptions and photos. I spent a summer in the Caribbean and I so want to go back to a place like that again some time. Maybe to an island in the Pacific (which I will buy after I win the lottery – the island not the ocean).

    I love the idea of being able to watch turtles nesting but I totally understand why people need to stay away from it.

    There are some pretty good beaches where I am from. Here in Nova Scotia there is some great cold water surfing. And Prince Edward Island, where I am from, has great white sand beaches. A cheaper destination for people in North America.

    But I think my soul would be happiest at the Riviera Mayan beaches.

    Sandy

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I agree Sandy….well my soul belongs to any good beach :D. Yes, if I won the lottery, I think I’d buy me an island too!

      Reply
  14. lifebeginswithyourhealth

    Such beautiful photographs of beaches on your website with very interesting content-one day I wish to experience beaches like those in your article. With blue/green waters, sandy beaches and such beautiful sunny days.

    Have you visited any of these beaches yourself in person, you must really enjoy writing about such places to share with everyone.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I love going to the beach. I have been to Mexico but none on the Riviera Maya. I have had friends who have been to these locations. Yes, I love writing about these places, it is a big passion on mine!

      Reply
  15. Taking A Leap Of Faith

    Strolling on the white sandy beaches as the waves lap at your feet. The water is so clear you can see to the bottom for quite a ways. Children are making sandcastles, while their parents watch and sip drinks that the servers bring them from the bars further up the beach. A man lays in a hammock swinging between two palm trees a book laying on his chest and his hat covering his eyes while he naps. Everywhere you look everyone is laughing and smiling and having fun. And who wouldn’t if they weren’t at the Riviera Maya beach on the Mexican side of the Caribbean.

    One of the top beaches to go to is the Akumal Beach, an hour south of Cancun. It has some great places for snorkeling and scuba diving because of the coral beds and tropical fish that live in them. Of course, the beach also has great shops, restaurants, and accommodations for those who want to enjoy the atmosphere for a few days.

    But if you’re wanting more of an all inclusive kind of vacation then the Playacar gated resort is more your style. The long beach is surrounded by condos and vacation homes. You can play volleyball, take a Zumba lesson, or just lounge in the sun. There is beach side service for drinks and snacks. There are bars all along the coast so you will never go thirsty.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Wow, you need to write for me! Have you been there as well? Thanks for the great review!

      Reply
  16. Farhan

    Hello there!

    White, sandy beaches are always a gem to look at for me, as the place where I come from, the beaches are a result of land reclamation. Thus, the sand will not be like what you expect it to be and the sea water is often salty. So it’s great that you have recommended all these beaches.

    Mexico does seem a little “out of the way” for me, as I live in south East Asia. Are all the beaches you mentioned easily accessible? Are they too secluded, or are they quite near towns or city area? It would be cool to be able to travel very quickly to more urban areas for other holiday opportunities.

    Thanks a lot for the great article!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Some of them are more accessible than others. The ones that are going to be the easiest to get to are Playa Del Carmen, Akumal Beach, Soliman Bay and Tankah Bay. Thanks for visiting Farhan!

      Reply
  17. Raymond

    I am staying in London right now and seeing your pictures just makes me want to book a flight and go to those beaches you just reviewed.

    It seems like Riviera Maya is filled with wonderful beaches but how much does it cost to spend a weekend with a decent but affordable one that you just showed.

    Say I have 500 USD. Would that suffice for a nice hotel with breakfast?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, you can get 3 nights with air included and stay at an all-inclusive resort which includes everything! There are bargains. The best place to check for the rates are with http://www.cheapcaribbean.com They have a lot of wonderful deals!

      Reply
  18. Hadri

    Hi,

    Thanks for your post about all these awesome beaches. There sure are lots of great beaches out there. I’m actually planning a summer vacation. But, I don’t actually know the best place to go. Can you recommend me the beach that I can go and maybe some good and budget trip package? I’m currently staying at UK. The cheaper option will be better. Thanks.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      From my experience, some of the best (and I think it is the best) and MOST affordable is in Florida. Mexico is fairly reasonable to fly to but staying there and the food can get pricey. If you go on the west coast of Florida (the St. Pete area) you can have a great time and it’s reasonable. The last time I went, I stayed right on the beach in a condo, for about $500 for the whole week. I had my own place with a kitchen, washer and dryer, and all. I thought it was a bargain!

      Reply
  19. Andy

    That’s quite a list! I haven’t been to Mexico yet myself but those images and descriptions do make it very tempting. Just wondering, what time of year is the best to go to those destinations? Is it hot and warm there year round or do they have seasons?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Andy – The best time to visit Cancún is from December to April during the peak season. Even though the crowds are heavier, you’ll have near-perfect weather and find some of the cheapest flight and room rates for a winter getaway at the beach. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply

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