15 best beaches in Riviera Maya, Mexico you should visit (2024)

Mexico has the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the world. Just take a look at this list of the best beaches in Riviera Maya, where you’ll find the clearest water in Mexico.

Plan your trip to Riviera Maya

👩🏻 Best guided tours in Riviera Maya

🏡 Where to stay in Riviera Maya

White sand, crystal clear water, and palm-shaded stretches: There’s a reason why Mexico is a popular beach destination.

You’ll find Mexico’s best beaches on the Riviera Maya. It’s on the Yucatan Peninsula, engulfed by the Caribbean Sea and hoards of green sea turtles and whale sharks (during the right season).

From the lively Cancun to the secluded Tulum, this whole area is a beach heaven and I’ve picked out the best beaches for you, based on my own travels!

Let’s take a look.

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The best beaches in Riviera Maya

Where to find the best Riviera Maya beaches

Playa means beach in Spanish, and the playas are reason enough to visit Mexico!

I mean, those crystal clear waters of the Caribbean are extraordinarily beautiful!

I’ve been to many beaches along the Mexican Rivera and Yucatan Peninsula, but the ones on this list were the most memorable.

Top 5: Mexico's best beaches by the Caribbean Sea

Map of the best beaches in Mayan Riviera

Below is a map of the Mayan Riviera beaches that I mentioned in my post. Click on the number to locate a specific beach.

How to avoid seaweed

The beaches on the Mayan Riviera (particularly Tulum) often get hit with seaweed called sargassum.

It’s most common in the summer, from April to October, because of warmer sea temperatures in the Caribbean.

Hotels try to clean it up, but sometimes there’s just too much. It’s not dangerous, just smelly and a bit of an eyesore. If you want to avoid seaweed, go between November and January. That’s when there’s hardly any.

Mexico’s Riviera is still great to visit during seaweed season; you just might need to plan around it a bit.

Are the beaches in Mexico free?

Yes. All the beaches in Mexico are public by law.

If you see hotels or private beach clubs with barriers or security guards that claim the beach is private – it’s a violation of the rules. I wouldn’t recommend making an issue out of it – the government is aware of it.

Although the beach is public, you can’t use a hotel’s facilities or chairs. Some hotels might charge you for using their lounge chairs.

Top 5: Mexico's best beaches by the Caribbean Sea

The best beaches in Mayan Riviera


1. Playa Forum

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 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.

Top 5: Mexico's best beaches by the Caribbean Sea

2. Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines is a spacious, less crowded beach, great for surfing when the waves are right. You might even spot dolphins!

But, the water’s rough with strong currents, so it’s not super kid-friendly.

The shade is limited, but there are nice showers and restrooms.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Playa Delfines

3. Playa Tortugas

Playa Tortugas is a busy public beach in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, close to the city center. It’s got stretches of soft sand, cool rock formations, and bright blue waters.

There’s a scenic pier with boats heading to Isla Mujeres. It’s a lively spot, great for parties, couples, and friends.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Playa Tortugas

4. Playa Marlin

Playa Marlin is also in the Hotel Zone, near Kukulkan Plaza.

You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and there are lifeguards on duty. It’s a great public beach, especially if you’re not at a resort.

Heads up for strong waves and undertows, though – they’re rough for swimming but awesome for parasailing.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Playa Marlin
Puerto Morelos

5. Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a small town between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, and it has a chill beach with musicians and ceviche sellers around.

The water isn’t as amazing as in Akumal or Tulum, but it’s decent for swimming. You can also hop on a boat with local fishermen to fish or snorkel near the reef.

Book here – Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Puerto Morelos Beach

6. Playa Maroma

Maroma Beach has been rated one of the world’s top beaches so it’s a must-visit in Riviera Maya.

It’s two miles of soft sand and calm water, set in 500 acres of beach and rainforest.

The eco-friendly approach here limits development, which keeps it pristine.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Maroma Beach
Playa del Carmen

7. Playacar Beach

Playacar in Playa Del Carmen is quieter than most Playa Del Carmen beaches. There are only a few restaurants around, so pack your own snacks and drinks.

It’s great for a swim or snorkel on calm days, but being south of Cozumel means bigger waves and more wind at times.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Playacar

8. Mamitas Beach

Mamitas Beach is all about beach clubs, DJs, and dancing. You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and use VIP lounges, but it’ll cost you.

There’s also jet skiing, parasailing, and catamaran rentals.

You can grab food and drinks on 28th Street or at the beach clubs. Bathroom use costs about 20 pesos unless you’re renting their facilities. It’s packed during the day but quieter in the evenings.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Mamitas

9. Punta Esmeralda

Powdery white sand and crystal clear waters gently lap away in the background – what’s not to like?

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.

Paradisus La Esmeralda’s beach is popular with local families, especially on weekends. Quieter on weekdays before late afternoon. It’s near a cenote, creating freshwater pools, great for kids.

Bring your own food, drinks, and beach gear like umbrellas and sunscreen. No washroom facilities, so plan ahead.

Top 5: Mexico's best beaches by the Caribbean Sea

10. Paamul beach

Paamul Beach is 15 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen. It’s not too crowded, part sand, part limestone.

Great for diving and snorkeling, it’s got lots of fish and a beautiful reef. There are some cool places to eat, a dive shop, and a public pool.

Just remember to wear shoes because of the limestone.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Paamul beach

11. Xpu-Ha Beach

Xpu-Ha, just five minutes from Akumal and south of Puerto Aventuras, is a top-notch beach.

Picture long, white sands and azure waters against a jungle backdrop. It’s quieter, loved by locals, and has a cool, rustic vibe.

Whether you’re after a secluded spot, a beach club with awesome ceviche, a beach bed, yoga, a massage, or water sports like paddleboarding and kitesurfing, Xpu-Ha’s got you covered.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Xpu-Ha Beach

12. Akumal Beach

I love Akumal!

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.

Book here – Akumal; Snorkeling and Photos with Turtles

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Akumal Beach

13. Ziggy Beach

Ziggy Beach is 20 minutes south of Tulum, and it’s a hit for snorkeling and diving.

It’s split into two: one part for Ziggy Beach Club guests and the other open to everyone. Lots of eateries and water sports like paddleboarding and jet skiing.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - Ziggy beach club

14. El Castillo

El Castillo in Tulum is famous for its Mayan Ruins on 12m high cliffs.

The contrast between the ancient ruins and the turquoise sea makes it a world-class beach. It’s not secluded, always buzzing with people. But it’s worth visiting if you’re at the Tulum Ruins.

best beaches in Riviera Maya - El Castillo

15. Paraiso Beach (my favorite)

Ah, Playa Paraíso. 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.

Playa Paraiso is top-notch and my favorite beach in the Mexican Caribbean.

Make sure to check out the famous slanted palm tree near Hotel El Paraiso – it’s a prime photo spot everyone loves.

Top 5: Mexico's best beaches by the Caribbean Sea
Playa Paraíso – literally named: ‘Paradise Beach’

FAQ – Beaches in Riviera Maya

Does Riviera Maya have nice beaches?

Absolutely! Riviera Maya is famous for its amazing beaches.

Some of the best include Playa Paraiso in Tulum, known for its picturesque scenery, Maroma Beach with its soft white sand and clear waters, and Akumal Beach, great for snorkeling with turtles.

Where is the best beach in Riviera Maya without seaweed?

Playa Maroma usually has less seaweed compared to other beaches in Riviera Maya. It’s got clear water and white sand. But remember, seaweed conditions change throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to check the latest updates before you go.

Can you swim at the beach in Riviera Maya?

Yes, you can swim at the beaches in Riviera Maya. They have clear, warm waters.

Is Maya Riviera better than Cancun?

Cancun is part of the Riviera Maya, but they’ve got different vibes. Cancun is all about the party scene, big resorts, and busy beaches.

The rest of Riviera Maya, like Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Tulum, is more chill, with a focus on culture, nature, and laid-back beach life. It’s like picking between a lively city break and a relaxed, scenic getaway.

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  1. Cancun has never appealed to me but the photos do look great. Isn’t it Tulum where there is the ruins along from the beach, and the temples? I’m surprised you didn’t think that there was much to do there.

  2. Beautiful photos Miriam! I wish I was sitting by the beach in Mexico right now! I really enjoyed Isla Mujeres – we spent the day there driving around on the golf buggy to all of the different beaches on the island 🙂 I really wish I had made it down to Tulum when I was there, the furthest down we went was Playa del Carmen!

    1. We rented a golf car, too! It was such a fun way to see the whole island. I could picture myself on a beach in Mexico right now as well, Kelly. The stormy weather in Denmark isn’t really that appealing. Here’s to hoping we both get our wish soon 🙂

      1. Been to all of those beaches..all amazing and unforgettable in their own ways..tulum I think is the best..

  3. The beach at Tulum is gorgeous, and the Mayan ruins there are really interesting to tour. The Caribbean water was so clear, especially compared to the beaches I saw in the Riviera Maya region. The beaches were nice in Riviera Maya, but I saw a lot of seaweed on the beach when I was there last spring.

    1. That’s a shame, but it might have something to do with the season. I experienced the same in The Philippines at a beach that is normally one of the most popular destinations. I hope Tulum beach is a beautiful as it was when I last visited – it was truly amazing.

  4. Mexico isn’t in Central America it’s in North America. The north coast and Ixtapa have much nicer beaches. Cancun is a man made beach.

  5. I suppose you refer to Yucatan as the Yucatan peninsula cause in reality the state where these beaches are is called Quintana Roo. For me the absolute best beach in that parte of the country is called Mahahual. Its a really small village but the sea is really like a pool and just a few meters you can find a coral reef, one of the most important in Mexico.

  6. Hi Miriam, thanks for the great travel tips, the reviews, and the hints, including the Yucatan peninsula area.

    Pictures are really excellent also.

    It certainly helps when we can read a blog such as yours, and be guided by it. Many adventures to be had by all.

    Cheers Sharon…

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