Riviera Maya is the Cancun for people who want a more low-key, secluded setting. It features the amazing resorts and white-sand beaches you’d expect on the Caribbean shores of the Yucatan, but it’s less developed and combines the region’s best natural elements with a bit more subdued scene. Of course, the beaches here are gorgeous, as you’d expect, and we’ve picked our top five to help you enjoy the ultimate Riviera Maya beach getaway.
Located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and just an hour from Cancun International Airport, Akumal is in the heart of Riviera Maya. Its secluded nature and calm waters make it a favorite for families alike, and its pristine white sand makes it a favorite for sunbathers. Mayan for “place with a turtles,” Akumal welcomes children and adults alike to swim side by side with sea turtles and can even see the eggs hatch on the beach from June to November. Offshore reefs are closer here than at Tulum, making diving and snorkeling popular here.
Touted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Playa Maroma lies about 30 minutes south of Cancun and offers an enchanting setting of white, powdery setting against a vibrant rainforest backdrop. This exclusive beach lures guests of all ages, divers, and explorers with its shallow waters, perfect for snorkeling and other water sports. World-class resorts, combined with nearby freshwater centoes and one of the largest reef systems on the planet, make this not just one of the best beaches in the world but also one of the best destinations.
Literally named “Paradise Beach,” this powdery beauty attracts travelers who want to experience Mexican rich culture and its natural wonders as Playa Paraiso is located just north of the Tulum ruins. Those who don’t want a secluded escape but seek an exciting locale with activities and celebrity sightings, will find their perfect retreat here. This beach offers a few bars, hammocks, and lounge chairs, plus food service, so come ready to have a good time. Home to many all-inclusive choices, including five IBEROSTAR properties, this beach is poised to become your favorite.
Light pink sand—just add sunlight! The red coral reef, mixing with the beach’s sugar white particles, creates this lovely display, and coupled with clear, warm water, Xpu-Ha lures many visitors to Puerto Aventuras. Like Playa Paraiso, Xpu-Ha offers an enjoyable atmosphere with restaurants, bars, and live music to make your day a refreshing day. The lengthy beach allows for ample space and those proverbial “long walks,” plus the level entry is great for children and first-time visitors to Mexico. Please note: there is an entrance fee for Xpu-Ha, which must be paid in pesos.
Perhaps the most natural beach in Riviera Maya, Xcarel is a sacred escape, an isolated oasis that doubles as a sea turtle sanctuary. And only six miles away from Tulum, it’s a quiet alternative to Playa Paraiso. Xcacel is one of the most important sites for loggerhead and green turtles, and you can enjoy snorkeling beside them (bring your own equipment). In true Mexican style, this beach also boasts a sequestered cenote not far from the ocean’s touch. Please note: Xcacel asks for a donation as it is a national park.
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