White sand, crystal clear water and palm-shaded stretches: There’s a reason Mexico is a popular beach destination. I found Mexico’s best beaches on the Yucatan peninsula, which is engulfed by the Caribbean Sea and hoards of green sea turtles and whale sharks (during the right season).
From the lively Playa del Carmen to the secluded Tulum, this whole area is a beach heaven and it can be difficult to track down the best. I’ve made an attempt nonetheless.
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WHERE TO FIND MEXICO’S BEST BEACHES
Beach lovers like myself find that the beaches (or playa in Spanish) are reason enough to visit Mexico. I mean, those crystal clear waters of the Caribbean are extraordinarily beautiful! I went to several beaches along the Mexican Rivera, but the ones on this list were the most memorable.
Here is the lowdown on Mexico’s best beaches and a map of where to find them. To use the map, simply click on the pins to see which beach they mark. You zoom with the + and – sign in the right corner.
1. PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Powdery white sand and crystal clear waters gently lap away in the background – what’s not to like? Playa del Carmen – once a sleepy fishermen’s town – is now one of the trendiest cities on the Rivera. The waters aren’t as clear as those of Cancun or Tulum, and the sand isn’t quite as soft as further north, but it’s still a strikingly beautiful seaside escape.
2. CANCUN (EAST-SIDE BEACHES)
You might know Cancun as a party scene for Americans on spring break, or maybe a tourist trap filled with ticky-tacky shops and hotel zones. And while rumors are not completely false, there’s more to Cancun than that!
Located in the heart of the hotel zone and lapped by cool, clear waters, Playa Forum in Cancun feels like a slice of paradise. Hands down, Cancun has some of Mexico’s best beaches.
Thomas and I came to the city just three days after 80.000 visitors had been evacuated due to a tropical storm alert. The storm was a no-show, and we ended up having the beach all to ourselves.
3. AKUMAL “LAND OF TURTLES”
This small town on the Yucatan peninsula lies right between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Akumal, the “Land of the Turtles”, is home to sea turtles, and beneath the crystal clear waters you’ll find a reef, making it the perfect beach for diving and snorkeling.
4. ISLA MUJERES “ISLAND OF WOMEN”
Imagine calm, turquoise waters, great steaks and folks getting around by golf cart. That’s Isla Mujeres. While the beaches on mainland Mexico are lovely, Isla Mujeres “The island of women” is generally quieter and more affordable. Plus, it has an amazing beach!
Crystal clear waters and white, powdery sand make this easily one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches.
Sea Turtles and Whale sharks are two of the most popular species to see here. For $90 or so, you can swim with the whale sharks and it’s such a fun experience! Just remember to bring seasickness pills (everyone in our boat ended up throwing up, including the guide).
5. TULUM AND THE MAYA RUINS
Ah, Tulum. Apart from the fact that we got ridiculously sunburned on the first day and couldn’t move for two days straight, I loved the calm waves and intense turquoise waters at Tulum beach. The city itself has little to offer really, but near the beach you’ll find the popular Maya ruins, which are also worth a visit.
Tulum was rated Mexico’s best beach and one of the top five beaches in the world in 2011 and 2012 by TripAdvisor.
My two cents? I agree!
Where’s your favorite beach?
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