Our Favourite Riviera Maya Beaches

Carly and I have been visiting Tulum and the surrounding areas of the Riviera Maya yearly for the past 4 years and have done our best to see as much as we can. There is so much to see and do I know we will be visiting this region for years to come. In today’s post we will share a small list of some of our favourite beaches in the area. There are many great spots to relax, swim and catch some rays but these top our list.


We’ll start with beaches as this is the reason most of us from colder climes visit this region of Mexico. You can find beautiful beaches from the hustle and bustle of Cancun all the way down to the quiet out-of-the-way town of Punta Allen on the southern tip of the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve. Our favourite beach on the Yucatan peninsula is Playa Paraiso, also referred to as Tulum Beach by some, though not to be confused by the beach at the ruins themselves.

Beach beers at Playa Tulum - Tulum Mexico
Beach beers at Playa Tulum – Tulum Mexico
Playa Paraiso
Playa Paraiso

This beach is ranked as one of the worlds best beaches and for good reason. Still a relatively undeveloped area (no big resorts, just small eco cabana rentals and a couple small hotels) Playa Paraiso is open to the public and has spectacular swimming, decent snorkelling and great views of the Ruins at Tulum. The reef right off shore used to be incredible but it is starting to die off in some places now. We have camped and or rented cabanas on this beach many times and love the laid back vibe. The tranquility of this area has made Playa Paraiso our “home” on many trips and it’s beauty will keep us coming back for years to come. Be sure to visit our friends Suds & Luca, they run the beach bar at Zazil Kin. Beers are $25 pesos and happy hour (which seems to be all day everyday) means 2 cocktails for $60 pesos. The boys are fantastic, local and will happily introduce you to some of the local characters like Papy Pirata! Be sure to try the Caipirinhas! Quiet by day, great fresh seafood right on the beach and opportunities for night life of nearby Tulum it simply can’t be beat. For the adventurous or those travelling on a backpackers budget accommodations can be found along the beach ranging from $50 pesos per night for tent sites at Mariachi, to hotel rooms that can run as much as $800 or $900 pesos. We usually stay in the palm thatched cabanas at Mariachi or Zazil Kin for around $300 – $450 pesos a night depending on the time of year.

Us with the gang at Zazil Kin - Tulum
Us with the gang at Zazil Kin – Tulum

Now if Playa Paraiso is still not quiet enough for you and you have a vehicle (4×4 is recommended) you can visit what we refer to as “our beach” as we have no idea what its actual name is and we have never really seen anyone else on it save a few local spear fishermen who simply say it’s a beach. If you head south from Tulum on the road to Punta Allen you will pass through Boca Pila then into the Sian Ka’an reserve. The road is never great but this trip was a whole new level of adventure! When we stopped at the gate to pay the entrance fee ($28 pesos per person) the guy at the post said “mucho agua” now I had heard this before and usually it meant a lot of puddles….. this really was MUCHO AGUA! Glad we had the Jeep Wrangler!

The "road" to Punta Allen! It's a Jeep thing!
The “road” to Punta Allen! It’s a Jeep thing!
Topes is spanish of speed bump! Kind of a moot point
Topes is spanish of speed bump! Kind of a moot point

The beach we visit on this road is about 15km into the reserve, you will see a windmill running wind power for a little eco resort and the beach will be visible on the left. This is roughly a mile if not more of white sand, crystal caribbean ocean and no one in sight, absolute paradise! Here are two pictures for you, the first a neat effect from a panoramic shot I took with my iPhone, the second a “had to be done” KCCO shot for our pals at The Chive!

A neat effect from a panoramic shot of the beach past Boca Pila
A neat effect from a panoramic shot of the beach past Boca Pila
KCCO from our Mexican wedding!
KCCO from our Mexican wedding!

If you continue to the end of the road after a swim you will reach the small fishing village of Punta Allen. It’s a quiet little town with some great restaurants and opportunities for amazing fishing tours, mangrove tours and if you’re lucky you may spot crocs, manatees, tapirs and tons of birds! I actually proposed to Carly on the beach at Punta Allen making the beach there another of our favourites for obvious reasons.

On this excursion we took our nephew with us to body surf and got really lucky and were able to watch a crocodile hunting fish in a channel right before town.

Body surfing at Boca Pila in the Sian Ka'an
Body surfing at Boca Pila in the Sian Ka’an

Last but certainly not least, if it’s snorkelling you’re after head north to Akumal. There are some great opportunities right off shore or if you hire a guide you can get out to turtle reef (not just a clever name). I love the ocean and all its creatures but there is something special about being in the water with sea turtles, and this area never disappoints. There is also Akumal beach which is lovely and again a lot quieter than the beaches in Canun or Playa Del Carmen.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section of fire away on Twitter and we would be happy to answer them for you. We will be back shortly with our next post on some of the other great sites and attractions in the area. Chat soon EW.

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