Top 10 Beaches In Cancun And Riviera Maya

Last Updated Oct 18, 2023

Without a doubt, Mexico’s Riviera Maya is one of the top beach destinations in the world.

Its unique mix of white sand beaches and warm, turquoise blue waters, put this easternmost part of the Yucatan peninsula in the international spotlight and made it a favorite of travelers from all over the world.

But, which are the best beaches of this beach-lovers paradise? Keep reading and discover the 10 best Riviera Maya beaches as told by a local who’s been to all of them.

1. Xpu Ha: Perfect for a dream day at the beach!

A few miles south of Playa del Carmen, you’ll find this gorgeous beach after driving through a sandy road for a few minutes. Xpu Ha is that perfect beach you imagine when you’re dreaming about visiting the Caribbean.

Set in a long and wide stretch of powdered white sand, Xpu Ha has managed to keep its spectacular natural beauty

It also one most popular beaches in the regions due to the presences of amazing beach clubs that will make you have an unforgettable daty at the beach.


But, that's not the thing tha you will find in Xpu-Ha. There, you will also find:

  • 🍴 Restaurants with top quality food and service.
  • 🏖️ Beach equipment rentals: umbrellas, loungers and more.
  • 🏄 Rental of equipment for non-motorized water sports like kayak.

In addition, it is very likely that the beach will also have the presence of a DJ playing chill out music to make the atmosphere even better 🎶

The water in Xpu Ha beach is crystal clear and swimming here is one of the most refreshing experiences you’ll get in the Riviera Maya.

2. Xcacel: wildlife sanctuary

Xcacel is one of the best-kept secrets of the Riviera Maya. Located between Chemuyil and the famous theme park, theme park Xel-Ha, this beach is the pride of locals and real connoisseurs of the beaches in Quintana Roo.

It is also a favorite of the turtles, who visit Xcacel every spring to lay their eggs.

Xcacel is literally a hidden place. The entrance to this beaches is not easy to find. That's one of the main reasons why this is a beach so well preserved.


FYI: the area is a sea turtle sanctuary. In order to enter the place, you have to make a small donation to support the sanctuary and protect the marine fauna.

👉 More information about turtles in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
Discover Akumal beach n°7 of our top 10 👇

Did you know that...

It is possible to volunteer with turtle farms and help protect the wild turtles.

To learn more about the subject…
Read our article about ecotourism activities in Cancun!

Xcacel is a perfect beach for the practice of snorkeling and you can even swim in a small freshwater cenote that’s hidden in the nearby jungle.

3. Holbox: paradise on earth

Pretty much every beach in this little island located on the north side of the Yucatan peninsula, is spectacular. However, if we have to choose just one, it would have to be Holbox main beach which runs along the northern shore of the island.

We could call it the beach of a thousand pictures. 📸 📸
A true Instagram star!

On this beach, you will find people laying on colorful hammocks set on top of the transparent waters of the Caribbean Sea.
You won’t see anything similar to a wave here.

The water is really calm and shallow.
Perfect for children 🏖️ 💙 💙 🧒
You will see that people walk into the sea for several feet before actually being able to swim a little bit.


👉 Are you on vacation in Cancun with your family? Do you want to know the beaches that suits better for your children?

Discover the safest beaches to spend a day close to the sea and enjoying the nature with the family in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, click here!

Beaches in Holbox are filled with laidback beach clubs, fancy restaurants, and a series of water sports service providers for the improbable case that you may want to do something else than just lay in a hammock and enjoy the paradise.

4. Playa Norte: a dream beach 😎

Considered by many as Mexico’s most beautiful beach, Playa Norte is located on the northern end of Isla Mujeres. Its waters are incredibly clear and transparent and it has the finest white sand in the entire Riviera Maya.

Naturally protected from marine currents by its privileged geography, Playa Norte is like a huge bathtub with no waves in sight. Its waters are incredibly clear and it has the most exquisite white sand.

This unspoiled paradise is even more amazing when you consider that the beach is located just a few meters from Isla Mujeres downtown

Playa Norte

This beach is very close to all the places you could need to have a perfect day at the beach:

  • - 🍽️ deliciosos restaurantes
  • - 🎶 entertaining beach clubs
  • - 🏨 luxury hotels
  • - 🎒 tour agencies
  • - 🏖️ other services: shops, beach equipment rental companies...

👉 More information about Isla Mujeres? Take a look at our article “The hidden treasures of Isla Mujeres”

5. Punta Maroma: a peaceful beach

Punta Maroma is without a doubt the best beach you can find between Cancun and the Riviera Maya. It’s a long stretch of white sand beach and turquoise blue waters, which looks even more magnificent due to the absence of people.

What is its secret? ¡Punta Maroma is a private beach! 💲 💲 💲
Yes, peace of mind has a price! To access this beach you need to book a table at one of the local restaurants or stay in one of the luxury hotels set in the area.

Punta Maroma is well-worth the effort. Spending time on this beach is truly a very complete experience: you will enjoy delicious restaurants, loungers by the sea, various sports and leisure activities.

Punta Maroma

It is a perfect beach for swimming and snorkeling 👌

And, if you’re lucky, you may even get a horseback riding tour through its spectacular white sand dunes. 💛 🏇

6. Playa Paraíso: at the foot of Tulum ruins

Playa Paraíso literally means “Paradise Beach” and, in this case, the name isn’t misleading. Located just south of the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum, Playa Paraíso is a long, wide beach that starts right where the jungle ends, creating an image of unparalleled beauty.

Playa Paraíso is just a few minutes on foot or by bike from Tulum downtown, the trendiest magic town in the Riviera Maya. There you will find all the beach facilities you want:
Restaurants and beach clubs
canopy beds

Playa Paraíso

This magical beach features the Riviera Maya traditional blend of white sand beach and crystal clear waters, plus a series of tropical palm trees scattered here and there providing a welcome and refreshing shade.

Odigoo Tip:

Be careful with the coconuts that fall from the palm trees! Or with the umbrella rental guys who will try to use this as an excuse to rent you an umbrella!! 😉

7. Akumal: let's meet sea turtles in the wild!

Akumal isn’t a single beach, but a series of five gorgeous little bays, home to a numerous population of turtles who swim on its clear, warm waters.

In fact, Akumal means "place of turtles". And it's true! Akumal's beaches are a privileged place to watch closely sea turtles.

The sea turtles that come to these beaches feed on the seagrass that grows not far from the shores.

This area is also a nesting refugee for turtles. 🐢 🥚 🥚

The waters of all the bays are ideal for diving and snorkeling, as they are full of colorful fish and plenty of turtles. Undoubtedly, Akumal is an ideal place to carry out aquatic activities.


The northernmost bay is Yal Ku lagoon, which besides its lovely beach features a freshwater river that runs onto the sea and a beautiful cenote too.

8. Playacar: perfecto para escapar de las multitudes

Playacar beach gets its name from the gated community that enjoys direct access to this long stretch of white sand beach on the south end of Playa del Carmen.

If you don’t live in Playacar or stay in one of its multiple hotels, you can still access this spectacular beach walking south directly from Playa del Carmen pier.


How to get to Playacar? Here is our advice… 🤫

Walk about ten minutes south, leaving Playa del Carmen behind. It may seem a bit far but once you arrive you will see that it was a very good idea.

Playacar might be the widest beach in all the Riviera Maya, which is perfect to accommodate the lots of sunbeds and palapas from the nearby resorts.

9. Sian Ka'an: a unspoiled beach in the jungle

If you’re looking for a true connection with nature and a break from the big resorts and gourmet restaurants, the beaches at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve may be what you’re looking for.

Located south of Tulum, Sian Ka’an is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a protected natural area due to its amazing biodiversity.

Sian Ka'an

The beaches in Sian Ka'an are unadulterated, raw, and authentic. You won’t find fancy sunbeds, chic DJs, or even a small eatery.

Odigoo Tip:

Plan ahead for your visit and come prepared with provisions!

So, come ready to spend a day on the most natural open space, with few if any facilities, so it might be a good idea to bring your own food, water, beach chairs, and umbrella, and enjoy Riviera Maya’s nature at its best.

And remember, at the end of your visit, take your trash with you!
♻️ The preservation of nature and this extraordinary place also depends on you!

👉 Do you want to know more about activities in nature? 🌿 Are you interested in ecotourism activities? Find all our articles on the subject in our ECOTOURISM tab.

10. Mamitas: Let's Party!

When 15 years ago I visited the Riviera Maya for the first time, Mamitas was “the” beach, a spectacular long, wide area of white sand beach and turquoise blue waters, filled with trendy beach clubs and young people from all over the world looking for fiesta.

Sadly, that beach is no more, as developers have taken most of the beach, and Playa Mamitas has been reduced to a narrow stretch of beach along the streets of the bustling downtown of Playa del Carmen.

Playa Mamitas

However, one thing is still true, Playa Mamitas keeps being the place where everything happens. This is the beach with the hippest beach clubs in the Riviera Maya and if you’re looking for fiesta, Mamitas is the beach for you.

📅 Visit the Riviera Maya and Discover the Best Beaches in the World!

From authentic gems hidden in secluded islands, to unadulterated beaches deep in a biosphere reserve, Riviera Maya beaches have something to offer for everyone. Visit this spectacular corner of Mexico and discover by yourself the magical beauty of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

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