Seeking out the best Riviera Maya beaches is a highlight of any trip to Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Mexico is fast becoming one of the top destinations in the world to visit.
Indeed, over 25 million international travelers flock to Latin American country every single year! These days with the security of the police and the troves of tourists that flood into the hot spot areas like the Riviera Maya, it’s no wonder why. With some of the best beaches in the whole of Mexico, Riviera Maya is one of the hottest places to visit in 2023.
The Riviera Maya is a long stretch of coastline that runs along the Caribbean Sea and continues onto the Yucatan Peninsula. There’s something for everyone here.
From luxury resorts to beautiful secluded beaches. The Riviera Maya is an ideal location for beach lovers, with an array of stunning white sand beaches and activities.
To the south of the Riviera Maya stretch, you’ll find Tulum, home to the ancient Mayan ruins and a plethora of Yoga retreats. Cozumel is also nearby and boasts some of the best dive sites in Mexico.
To the north, you’ll find Cancun, a tourist mecca with plenty of nightlife and shopping opportunities. Plus, just off the coast is a small island like that of a luscious paradise called Isla Mujeres.
Best Rivera Maya Beaches to Visit in 2023
Let us delve into this great area of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline and look at some of the best Riviera Maya beaches to visit.
Parque Fundadores, Playa del Carmen
White sands and turquoise waters are what define Playa del Carmen. The beach exudes a bohemian, laid-back style, with plenty of entertainment options like beach clubs, restaurants, and bars.
If beach clubs are your thing, you’ll want to head to Mamitas Beachclub (Calle 28 Norte y la playa Mza 8-10). It sits just north of the beach’s pier.
Check out their array of classic and innovative cocktails made by the finest mixologists in the area. You won’t regret it!
The beach is also situated in close proximity to the Ancient Mayan cultural center of Xcaret too. So if you want to take a few hours out of your day to explore the lost civilization of the Mayans, Playa del Carmen is a great place to stay during your vacation in Mexico.
Finally, Parque Fundadores, the founding father’s park (or so it translates), is situated right outside the ADO bus station on 5th Avenue right on the beach. The park is home to an array of sculptures, the most notable being the towering Portal Maya Statue.
The park has kid’s playgrounds and live Mayan dance performances hosted by locals that are free to watch. So, you’ll be sure you can keep the whole family entertained.
Calle 10 Beach, Playa del Carmen
Calle 10 beach is the central hub of the Riviera Maya. It is situated on the south side of Playa del Carmen and is home to some of the most popular beach clubs in the city.
The Playa del Carmen beach clubs are often large spots that offer entertainment options such as live DJs, pool bars, and lavish food menus. Some of these clubs even have access to a private stretch of beach so that you can catch some rays in total privacy.
The beach clubs provide sun loungers and umbrellas for rent. So, if you don’t have your own, you’ll be able to hire one from the club itself.
You can usually rent these for free, provided that you have lunch at the establishment or meet a minimum spend of a few hundred pesos. The most notable beach club is Lido Beach Club.
Lido is an ideal venue to enjoy the sea view on your comfortable loungers while having a delightful meal and reading your favorite book. The entertainment provided by DJs is usually subtle and calming, creating a tranquil atmosphere perfect for relaxation.
Another great option is Zenzi Beach Bar. This is one of the more classy, high-end bars on the beach.
Zenzi caters to a well-heeled crowd. This beach bar is quite chilled out, yet they showcase live music daily in all kinds of genres.
Just outside of Zenzi, there is a range of watersport activities, such as jet skiing and parasailing. So if you like to get your adrenaline pumping, this is the place for you.
Isla Holbox is a true paradise in its own right. It is situated on the far north of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Holbox (pronounced “Hol-bosh”) boasts white sand beaches and plenty of crystal-clear waters to explore. The island is surrounded by a beautiful coastal lagoon where you can go on boat excursions, deep sea fishing trips, or stroll down the beach and explore the island on foot.
The waters here are shallow and warm. This is a perfect place for swimming if you don’t feel comfortable in the open seas. Plus,
Isla Holbox is home to a host of unique wildlife. Sightings of the North American flamingo are common here during the summer months.
(They migrate from Celestun in the western Yucatan and move east past Sisal, Rio Lagartos, and El Cuyo around March and April). Seeing these beautiful birds fly overhead or search for food in the open waters makes for a great photo opportunity.
Akumal, meaning “Place of the Turtle” in Maya, is an eco-village approximately 30 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen. It’s home to two beaches.
Jade Beach and Playa Akumal can be found here and both are well worth visiting during your Yucatan itinerary. These stunning beaches situated between Playa del Carmen and Tulum are some of the best beaches in Riviera Maya.
The picturesque views here are some of the most beautiful in the region, making it an ideal spot for swimming and sunbathing.
Akumal’s beaches are renowned for their snorkeling opportunities. Snorkelers can find plenty of colorful coral reefs and discover a variety of tropical fish species, making for an exciting underwater adventure.
Plus, the ocean here is relatively peaceful with little to no waves. This makes it ideal for beginner swimmers and families with small children.
You’ll probably have to pay $6 to get onto this beach. However, the fees go towards local conservation projects to ensure the beach remains in pristine condition – so it’s worth it.
Although the $6 fee is optional, the local businesses have made it difficult to get onto the beach without paying it.
Xpu-Ha Beach is a gorgeous beach situated in the Riviera Maya, around 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. The turquoise blue waters here are incredibly inviting and provide a perfect way to cool down after a hot day sightseeing.
This beach is ideal for those who want to escape the crowds, as it’s not one of the more popular beaches in the area. There are plenty of palapa-style umbrellas for shade and some hammocks for a more relaxed vibe.
Plus, there are very few vendors on this stretch of beach. So if you’d rather avoid the annoyance of beach vendors constantly asking if you want to buy snacks and souvenirs, this is a great spot to kick back.
Punta Maroma is a beach situated at the mouth of the Riviera Maya, around 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. It’s renowned for its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches and is perfect for those seeking a more secluded spot away from the hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen.
The beach here is incredibly peaceful and tranquil. Fewer visitors stop by here, meaning you’re likely to get your own stretch of this paradise all to yourself.
The views here are some of the most breathtaking in Mexico. You can catch glimpses of Isla Mujeres in the distance while enjoying your time relaxing on Punta Maroma’s glorious white sand beach.
Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte, which translates to ‘North Beach’, is situated on the tropical island of Isla Mujeres, just off the coast of Cancun. This stunning beach boasts the most beautiful and inviting warm waters you’ve ever seen.
It’s no surprise that this paradisiacal destination is such a popular choice for day-trippers from Cancun.
The sand here is incredibly soft, almost powder-like in texture and color. The shoreline here dips quite steeply.
This means that swimming in these crystal clear waters can be quite a challenge. But it is definitely worth it to experience this astounding ocean scenery.
Plus, there are plenty of equipment rentals and restaurants nearby if you need a break from all the beach activities. The restaurants at Playa Norte serve everything from traditional Yucatecan cuisine to American, Mediterranean, and Asian eats.
Isla Mujeres in itself is worth a visit if you’re staying close to Cancun on the mainland. The island offers countless opportunities to spot wildlife like dolphins, rays, and the occasional sighting of flamingos. The island is easily accessible from Playa del Carmen, just a short ferry ride away.
Playacar Beach, Playa del Carmen
Playacar Beach is situated in the heart of downtown Playa del Carmen, providing an easy and convenient spot for a beach day. Like that of the other Playa del Carmen beaches, the waters here are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, while the powder-soft white sand is perfect for sunbathing. Head to ScubaCaribe to get some world-class scuba diving experiences exploring the reefs throughout the area.
Although Playacar Beach is one of the more popular beaches around town, it still doesn’t get too crowded. So you won’t feel like an ant in a colony here, or have to sit elbow-to-elbow with other beachgoers!
The area offers plenty of facilities, such as beach clubs, restaurants, and even some beachfront resorts. Plus, there are plenty of bars to keep you hydrated while soaking up the sun.
Playa Paraiso, Tulum
The first thing to note about this beach is the international recognition and awards that it has received. Playa Paraiso has been recognized as the #1 beach in Mexico and a prestigious 21st worldwide by Tripadvisor’s Travellers Choice.
Playa Paraiso, or Paradise Beach, is situated south of Playa del Carmen in the heart of Tulum’s coastline. This is one of the quieter beaches in Tulum, with a secluded and tranquil atmosphere far away from the busy city. Boasting unparalleled ocean views, the beach south of the Maya preserve is a majestic sight to behold.
Break the monotony of your day and spend it at our serene beach setting, where you can indulge in a delicious beverage from 10 AM to 6 PM. With its unique ambiance, this is sure to be an unforgettable place to spend the day.
Coco Reef, Playa del Carmen
The Coco Reef Beach Resort is home to a private beach like no other. The resort offers sun loungers with parasols or, if you really want to chill out, full 2.5-meter wide canopy beds with curtains to block out the sun. As you look out towards the horizon during sunset, you’ll notice the small local fishing boats docking up after a long day of fishing.
The resort is home to multiple pools, restaurants, and even a bubble tub offering a perennial view across the ocean. They have all-inclusive options so you can spend a few days or even a few weeks there, as well as facilities to run the most magnificent weddings you could imagine.
Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve
An enchanting jungle oasis awaits you with mesmerizing guided boat tours, captivating wildlife sightings, picturesque walkways, and ancient Mayan ruins. You can also head to the coastline to explore the beaches within the reserve.
Isla Pájaros, just off the coast of the reserve. It’s a dirt road that takes you through a mangrove forest, where you can spot exotic birds, crocodiles, and turtles. Along the road, you’ll find an abundance of gorgeous places to stop.
For instance, the Pier Sian Kan, Muelle Punta Allen, and finishes at Faro de Punta Allen.
Puerto Aventuras is a popular destination for luxury and relaxation. This area offers opportunities for sport fishing, snorkeling, or scuba diving out in the Caribbean Sea and the local cenotes. You’ll find resorts, marinas, shopping centers, and restaurants that can add to your beach experience.
There is a nice lagoon to take a dip in the crystal clear waters from off the rocks on either side. Many will testify that Puerto Aventuras is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets in Mexico.
FAQs on the Best Riviera Maya Mexico Beaches
Do you have any further questions or concerns about visiting the best Riviera Maya Mexico beaches or planning a trip to Mexico in general? Hopefully, you will find the answers you are searching for below.
What is the most beautiful beach in Riviera Maya?
There is an abundance of gorgeous beaches in the Riviera Maya. It is tricky to choose the absolute “best” one as it depends largely on your personal preferences and travel style.
However, the beaches at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve definitely stand out from the crowd. The coastal areas here are set inside a UNESCO-protected reserve.
They exude desert island vibes that will have you feeling like Tom Hanks in Castaway and are backed by lush, dense jungles, tropical flora and fauna, and coconut groves.
Are the beaches in Riviera Maya swimmable?
The beaches in the Riviera Maya are perfect for swimming in – whether you are an experienced swimmer or a beginner. Lifeguards are present at most of the busy public beaches in Cancun, Tulum, and Playa Del Carmen.
The waters are warm, clear, and calm. They are also warm all year round so you never have to mentally brace yourself for stepping into cold waters in Mexico as you might have to in other countries!
Riviera Maya beaches have an average sea temperature of around 78.8°F/26°C in February, which is one of the coldest months. In July, the water averages at about 84°F/29°C.
Does Riviera Maya have white sand beaches?
Many of the Riviera Maya beaches boast white sand coastlines bordered by translucent green and blue waters. They are exactly the kind of paradisical places that you would expect from somewhere on the Caribbean coast.
The beaches at Akumal, are arguably among the best spots.
Is there a seaweed problem in Riviera Maya?
Seaweed (sargassum) often washes up on the shores of Riviera Maya beaches. However, it generally doesn’t detract from the experience too much.
The amount of seaweed you will see is minimal during the peak season (December through April). Most of it washes up on the shores between June and October.
However a lot of private beaches and beach clubs have dedicated staff to clear it for the tourists.
Which has better beaches Cancun or Riviera Maya?
There are a few key differences between beaches in Cancun and beaches in the Riviera Maya. Primarily, the beaches in Cancun are often longer and wider, so people prefer them to some of the smaller beaches and coves along the Riviera Maya.
Not to mention, Cancun beaches have the convenience factor. In places like Playa Delfines, Playa Chac Mool and Playa Norte, you can practically roll right out of your hotel and be at the beach.
However, Cancun beaches are definitely more crowded. Riviera Maya beaches, particularly at Akumal, or within the Sian K’aan reserve, are more secluded, peaceful, and usually more naturally beautiful.
Is the water blue in Riviera Maya?
The water in the Riviera Maya shimmers in shades of blue and green. It is also crystal clear and offers perfect visibility of the turtles, shoals of fish, and other underwater life beneath the surface.
Final thoughts on the best Riviera Maya Mexico beaches
The Riviera Maya is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Mexico. And with so many options, it’s easy to find a spot that matches your beach-going preferences.
This part of Mexico offers something for everyone from bustling beach clubs to secluded paradises. With its crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches, a day spent at the beach in the Riviera Maya is sure to be an excellent addition to your vacation in Mexico.
So, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an exciting adventure, the Riviera Maya has something to offer. No matter your preference, there’s nothing that compares to the sun and sand of Mexico.
So grab your beach towel and head out to explore some of the best Riviera Maya beaches! If you have more time to spare, or you are renting a car in Mexico, you may also want to consider driving down the coast.
The Yucatan’s Costa Esmerelda is home to beaches that most international tourists haven’t even heard of. Add San Crisanto, San Bruno, and Telchac Puerto to your Mexican beach-hopping radar.