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5 Absolute Best Beaches in Playa del Carmen

5 Absolute Best Beaches in Playa del Carmen

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If you are searching for the best beaches in Playa del Carmen, this article has all the information you need. 

Dreaming of calm blue waters and powdery soft sand between your toes?  Palm tree-lined shores and drinking cocktails out of Coconuts?

Dream no more and make your way to the incredible Caribbean hot spot of Playa del Carmen.

It can be difficult to choose between Tulum and Playa del Carmen or Playa del Carmen and Cancun. All three beaches are stunning and one of them is even a Quintana Roo Pueblo Magico!

When you hit the beaches in Playa del Carmen you can relax with the style of your choice. Chill on a sun lounger at an upscale Playa del Carmen beach club or grab your beach blanket and umbrella and set up your spot for the day. 

Beaches in Playa del Carmen are easy to access with many entryways leading from the main roads. Right in the downtown area, there are entrances to the beach at every block. 

Also, in the center of town is where you will find the majority of the beach clubs. Clubs will charge a consumption fee for the use of the facilities.  Usually, the amount you deposit upon entry will be discounted from your final bill. 

By law in Mexico, the public cannot be denied access to the beach with a space up to 20 meters from the high tide line. There are many great spots in front of beach clubs in which you can plant yourself for the day and still catch a bit of the music playing.

Getting to the Beaches in Playa del Carmen

If you are staying in the center of the city, then you will be able to walk to the beach within 10 minutes or less. 

One thing that I love most about living in Playa del Carmen is how incredibly easy it is to access the beach. 

If you have a car and prefer to drive to your destination, just be sure to check for parking restrictions. In the center zone, you will need to pay for parking at a meter.

It’s best to have a bunch of coins and plug the meter for your desired time. Currently, the rate is 15 pesos per hour. The machine will print you a slip which you will want to display on the windshield of your vehicle. Read more about parking in the center of town here.

Looking for a beach on the outskirts of town?  You can easily take a taxi or local transportation to reach those locations. Just make sure that you agree on the price of the taxi before you get in. Most taxis in Playa do not use their meters and you don’t want to be shocked by a crazy price once you arrive.

Best time of the year for Beaches in Playa del Carmen

Although it may not seem like it,  Playa del Carmen actually has seasons. Warm, hot, hotter, and hurricane. It’s similar to what you can expect from weather in Cancun.

December until the beginning of April are the best months for perfect beach weather and beach conditions. This is also the high season in Playa del Carmen. This means you’ll need to make reservations at the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen so that you don’t miss out. The bars in Playa del Carmen will also be busier than at other times of year.

The temperature rests at an average of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) and might drop to a low of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) in the evenings. The humidity is not too high and the water is perfectly refreshing to cool off from the warm air. 

Crystal-clear calm waters will be gently breaking on the shores and the sand will be clean, soft, and powdery.   

At the end of April, the temperatures begin to rise as well as the humidity levels. When you step outside it starts to feel a bit sticky. The water temperature of the sea begins to get warmer as well. 

Personally, March and April are my favorite months for water activities because the water is nice and warm and it is almost as if you are stepping into a warm bath.  

Do keep in mind that I have been living here for two years now and am accustomed to the weather. I find the water in December to be cold (or fresh) but any traveler coming from outside the Mexican climate will think that I am absolutely crazy and that the water is blissfully refreshing. 

best beaches in playa del carmen have turquoise waters and golden sand

Beaches in Playa del Carmen have some of the most amazing water in all of the Riviera Maya.

Summer Season in the Riviera Maya

May is the start of the summer months when the hot temperatures and the high humidity levels really become noticeable. The air will feel damp and occasional rain will occur. 

The great thing about the Caribbean is that in this season, the weather systems tend to move quite fast. Rain might last about 20 minutes then stop, the clouds clear completely, and the sun comes back out.

The rain is very scattered. I have literally witnessed where it was raining on one side of the street and not the other. It all depends on the cloud’s movements. 

Keep an umbrella or poncho on hand if you don’t want to get wet, and don’t believe the weather apps wholeheartedly. 

The app might tell you 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius) and rain all day, but in reality, it will rain for 20 minutes, stop, rain again for another 20 minutes, then clear up to be perfectly blue skies all day. Just keep your eyes on the sky before heading out for the day.

June, July, and August bring hot temperatures and high humidity. This is the low season here in Playa del Carmen and the beaches tend to be less busy. If you are searching for more of a tranquil vibe this might be the best time of the year for you to visit. 

In these summer months, you might begin to witness some seaweed drifting onto the shores. This certain type of seaweed that finds itself on the shores of Playa del Carmen beaches is named Sargasso. 

sargasso seaweed on the beaches in playa del carmen

Sargasso on the beaches in Playa del Carmen.

Sargasso on the Beaches in Playa del Carmen

Sargasso is a type of seaweed that drifts to the shores of the Riviera Maya in the summer months (usually around May-August).

This type of seaweed is vine-like with small berry-sized air sacs at the end of the branches. The sargasso tends to linger in the water and float up to shore. This creates murky conditions which are a bit unpleasant for swimming. Depending on the level of Sargasso sometimes the smell is quite stinky as well. 

Just like any natural phenomenon the sargasso is never something that can be measured constantly. 

From day to day and year to year the sargasso levels easily change. The tides, wind, and temperature of the water all play a role in the appearance of the seaweed. 

For example, the summer of 2021 was truly a horrible year for sargasso-lined beaches and waters, with levels so high that it was almost impossible to visit the beach.

But 2022 has been absolutely incredible, with low levels of Sargasso that would come and go daily.

In the summer of 2021, I don’t think I visited the beach once, but during the summer of 2022, the beaches and water were quite clear of Sargasso and I was able to enjoy the beach the same way I would in the winter season.  

The good news is that major resorts and beaches have a cleaning program where they are constantly working to clear the shores daily so that you are able to enjoy Sargasso-free beaches.  So don’t let the Sargasso deter you from planning your trip. 

Near the end of September, the temperatures slowly decline and the beaches clear up and start to become perfect again. 

September through November is considered hurricane season and can bring a lot of rain and wind. Again this all depends on weather patterns.  

If you plan to travel through this period, just be sure you are keeping up to date with the local weather advisories. 

Now, continue reading the learn about the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.

Map of the Best Beaches in Playa del Carmen

1. Mamitas Beach – Best beach for swimming and partying

Shallow calm waters, soft sand, and a bustling crowd are all perks of the ever-popular Mamitas Beach. This Beach has a great location right in the center of town. 

Mamitas Beach is an excellent landmark in Playa del Carmen because it is located in front of the Mamitas Beach Club. I can say that this might be one of the busiest and most well-known public beaches in Playa del Carmen. 

I find the water to be incredibly blue in this zone, sometimes more than in other locations. It is a small bay, therefore protected from bigger waves and currents.  Here the water remains nice and shallow and offers pool-like conditions. 

For these reasons, Mamitas Beach is one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen for swimming. 

The beach is always busy with locals and tourists enjoying the sun. 

You will find people roaming the beach selling fresh-cut fruits, coconuts, kibis, churros, empanadas, and more. Ladies will be selling beaded souvenirs and local Mexican musicians will be offering to perform a song for you. 

Tour guides will also be selling snorkel trips, banana boat rides, and Waverunner rentals. This is definitely a great beach to catch all the action. 

Music from Mamitas Beach Club will be playing in the background so if you are looking for a lively scene this is the place to check out. 

main entrance to the beach in playa del carmen with two mermaids over the entrance

The Playa del Carmen Beach main entrance is right in the downtown area of the city.

2. The Beach at Avenida CTM – Best beach in Playa del Carmen for escaping the crowds

If you follow Avenida CTM all the way to the water, you will find a few great spots to set up your beach camp for the day. 

Over on this side of town, it is a bit quieter than the busy Mamitas Beach. 

Here you will find a few beach clubs such as Encanto Beach Club and Mandarino Beach Club.  In front of these two beach clubs is a nice place to spend a relaxing day. 

Spread out on a beach blanket and enjoy the soft sand and clear waters. 

One of my favorite places to enjoy my day is at the beach located north of the Elements property

If you are arriving by car there is a good amount of street parking in this area. Bicycle parking and Moto parking is also available near the front entrance of the Elements Building. 

There is a 7/11 right close by so you can grab some snacks and drinks. Also, a tip is that the 7/11’s and most other convenience stores in Mexico sell alcoholic beverages.

You will need to walk just a bit to find this beach, but it is well worth it.

If you are standing in front of the Elements property facing east, turn to your left and begin to walk down the road. You will pass a resort named Cocobay. There you find a small dirt road that will lead you to the beach. 

I love it here because it is nice and quiet with a long stretch of sand and lots of free space. It is normally not as busy with tourists and people trying to sell you things either. 

The sand is soft and clean and the water is calm and blue. Behind the beach, you will see some trees. This creates a secluded feel, even though you are still in the middle of the city. A great place to spend a tranquil afternoon. 

In this location sometimes you will catch locals playing volleyball. Feel free to ask the players if you wish to join. Volleyball is a frequent and popular activity in this area.

turquoise waters and golden sand beach aerial shot at beaches in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen beaches are some of the most beautiful in all of Mexico.

3. Playa Punta Esmeralda – Best beach in Playa del Carmen for families.

Join the locals and spend the day at Playa Punta Esmeralda.  This beach is located just after Calle 110, on the northern side of the city.

Within Playa del Carmen this beach is quite famous amongst the locals.  On the weekend, Playa Punta Esmeralda is always full of families enjoying their time together.  

Playa Punta Esmeralda is on the outskirts of town and tends to be less hectic than the beaches inside the city.  

A nice perk is that there is a washroom located at the entrance that you can use for a 5 peso charge. 

Feel free to sneak a parking spot along the road leading to the beach. Parking is free of charge. At the end of the road opening to the beach, there is bicycle and motorcycle parking as well. 

Another great thing about this beach is that it features a small Cenote.  The water from the cenote fills a small inlet in the sand creating a small natural pool perfect for children to play.

The water is very shallow and warm which makes it for the perfect environment for kids to use their beach toys. Check out all of the best nearby cenotes here.

view of the ocean and horizon from the sand with clouds in the sky and waves crashing to shore.

Playa del Carmen beaches don’t usually have big waves, but if there is a storm nearby it may be a little bit rougher than usual. Otherwise, it is perfectly calm, almost as calm as a pool.

4. Playacar Beach – Best beach for relaxing

The stretch of Beach in front of the gated community “Playacar ” is another one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen. 

To access this beach you will want to enter off of La Quinta Avenida close to the Juarez Ferry Terminal.  

You will see the Señor Frogs restaurant on the beach. Walk through the concrete shelter, pass the Senior Frogs restaurant, walk down the steps, and you have arrived. 

The sand area in Playacar is nice and the area is large so you can spread out and enjoy your area without feeling too crowded. 

The turquoise waters in Playacar are usually nice and calm but sometimes there can be slightly larger waves than in the Mamitas area. In Playa del Carmen, the waves are never as big as you would experience on the Pacific Coast

Also in Playacar, I find the sand to be cleaner, possibly because the resorts in the area are always maintaining the beach.

Behind the beach, you will find some all-inclusive hotels, condo complexes, and stunning beachfront houses. 

The vibe at Playacar Beach is relaxed and never overly noisy. You will find a mix of tourists and locals all enjoying the Caribbean sun. 

Pack a cooler and some snacks, towels, chairs, and an umbrella, and enjoy your day.  There are no services at this beach, although Oxxo, 7/11, and many other stores and services are right along 5th Avenue before you enter the beach. 

palm trees viewed from beneath the branches

Beaches that are covered in palm trees really make you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation!

5. Playa Xpu- Ha – Most beautiful beach near Playa del Carmen

Located a short 25-minute drive south of the town center is my absolute favorite beach in Playa del Carmen, Playa Xpu-ha.

There are a few entrances off of the highway. You can look for the Catalonia Royal Hotel as a landmark. 

Upon arrival, a gate attendant will charge a small fee of 80 pesos (about $4 USD) for you to enter the beach and park your car. It is best to have local currency (pesos) on hand to pay this fee. 

Xpu-ha Beach has beautiful soft Caribbean sand and calm waters. Palm trees and jungle-lined shores and large sandy stretches for you to set out your beach blanket and chill. 

There are also three beach clubs in the area offering full menus and a bar if you prefer to relax in that type of atmosphere. Check out Serenity Beach Club, and order the chicken burger and a mojito. Those are both super delicious menu options.

Since Xpu-ha is outside of the city the surroundings are secluded and serene which I really love. There are sections of the beach that are only lined with palm trees. You can walk down, explore, and totally unplug yourself from reality. A perfect getaway from our busy day-to-day lives.

There is a small reef you can swim out to and enjoy some snorkeling. I believe you can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards from one of the beach clubs. The calm water conditions make it perfect for these types of activities.