The Riviera Maya is Mexico’s sun-kissed gem boasting endless miles of salty seashores and beautiful bikinis. The Mayan Riviera stretches over 90-miles between Puerto Morelos to Tulum, Mexico. Those who travel to this region instantly fall in love with the energy and beauty of the oceans. White-sands, friendly-smiles and affordable accommodations attract foreign backpackers and world travelers to unite with the rising sun. These seven beaches are the best, and most beautiful, shorelines in the Quintana Roo region.
Akumal is 60-miles south of Cancun and is the ultimate sea turtle destination. Calm blue-green waters wade slowly atop white-sand shores while palm trees flow with the gentle wind. Fish swim in ankle deep water and snorkels swim to over-head-deep water in search for sea turtles grazing on sea grass. Guests can see many “No Tocar La Tortuga,” signs which means, “do not touch the sea turtles.” Touching turtles produces lesions and skin diseases from the oils and suntan lotion from human skin. The locals hope tourists follow these rules to keep the environment intact.
Tulum Ruins Beach
This beach is the quintessential Mayan experience. Clear ocean-blue water washes up on white sandy shores just below the cliff-perched ruins. History and magic comes alive when sun-worshipping the ancient Mayan energy. The beach is smaller and homes plenty of fertile plant life growing along the rocks. Tulum Ruins beach accessible either from the ruins or from a rocky cliff-side trail from the main Tulum beach. It’s a perfect spot for photographers to capture contrast amidst the structure, sky and sea.
Located just south of the Chemuyil exit is the government-run Xcacel beach. Preserved for its nature, Xcacel is most famously known for sea turtle nesting. This stunning beach is perfect for those who enjoy remote destinations without hotels and cafes in the backdrop. Sunbath with lizards, walk the white-sand, swim with stingrays or jump in the cenote for a primitive experience. Visitors are asked to donate 15-25 pesos per person as an entrance fee to the beach. The beach is open between 9:00-5:00pm.
Boca Paila Beach
Boca Paila is a remote destination located in the Kian Sa’an biosphere. Guests drive or bike along a dusty pot-holed road to find remote shorelines, untouched by tourism. Beach goers experience solitude, creating a man versus nature exploration. The ocean showcases traditional aqua-green flows of gently rolling waves.
Puerto Morelos is a popular destination welcoming families and a mature crowd. The Puerto Morelos atmosphere is one to experience. Pelicans hangout at the pier, waiting for leftovers from the local fishermen. Stingrays swim between anchored boats and bury themselves underneath the sand. The snorkeling is the best in the area. The protected reef is a short boat ride from the shoreline boasting vibrant colors, fish and marine life. If snorkeling is not an option, there are plenty of nearby cafes and on-beach massage tables to occupy the time.
Tulum attracts nature-lovers, yogis and energy healers to explore the magnetic pulse of the ancient Mayan culture. Beyond the Ruins, Tulum homes 60 archeological structures. Most beachgoers head to the protected, nature-preserved beach, which is the north end of the Hotel Zone. The beach is filled with open air and beautiful sunrise views. The sun sets over the palm trees, which lights up the sky with effervescent colors. Biking and hitch-hiking are popular modes of transportation to get to and from the beach and Tulum town.
Playa del Carmen
Playa attracts the younger, backpacker crowd who seek sun, sand, sea and parties. The main tourist area, along Fifth Avenue, homes cafes, shops, massage parlors, bars, clubs and hotels. The atmosphere is vibrant and eclectic; perfect for those who want to party until sunrise. For those who desire a more-quiet experience, head north of Mamita’s Beach or south towards Playa Car. The yellow sand glows beautifully with the sunrays. Playa offers open-air views, perfect for watching a sunrise at any location in Playa.