2021 Beach Seaweed Update: Sadly, nearly all of the Playa del Carmen beaches are currently COVERED in sargasso (seaweed). Gross! To help you out, we made a post with tons of seaweed-free Playa del Carmen excursions. Check it out. You can also check this Facebook page for daily color-coded maps of which beaches in the area have elevated or reduced seaweed levels.
It’s no secret that the Playa del Carmen beaches are known as a tourist attraction all around the world. I mean, the Spanish word playa literally means beach.
That said, with tons of development close to the water, beach erosion, different atmospheres, and various degrees of maintenance, not all beaches, or Playa del Carmen beach clubs, are created equal. I recently lived in Playa del Carmen for a month and made a point to check out all of the best beaches in and around Playa.
I did the research and experienced what makes each beach tick (I know, travel writing is a tough life) to help you plan your trip and pick the best beaches for your personal preference.
Whether you’re into beaches with all the amenities or ones more on the rugged side, I’ve got you covered for the best Playa del Carmen beaches. Let’s dive in:
⚠ IMPORTANT TIP FOR USA TRAVELERS TO MEXICO IN 2021 ⚠
Covid tests are now mandatory to fly back to the USA. Even vaccinated travelers can test positive, and if you do you’ll put into expensive mandated quarantine instead of flying home (just read the horror stories in this USA Today article). My top Mexico travel tip is to always make a backup plan for quarantine and consider travel insurance. While not legally required yet, I feel like I’d be tempting fate without it during a pandemic. Plus, it’s actually pretty cheap! World Nomads is my personal go-to during covid times. But do your own research and stay safe out there!
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!
6 Most Beautiful Beaches in Playa del Carmen
The beaches of Playa del Carmen are a staple of Mayan Riviera’s identity, and they’re a great way to get an overview of what the town of Playa del Carmen is all about.
Now, to be honest, if you are looking for crystal clear water, there are some nicer Riviera Maya beaches close to town that can be visited as part of day tours. So, in case you’re up to travel a bit, after covering the top 6 beaches in Playa del Carmen, we’ll also cover the best beaches near Playa del Carmen.
But, just sticking with Playa del Carmen, here’s a quick summary of the best beaches:
- Most popular beach – Parque Fundadores
- Best beach for beach clubs – Calle 10 Beach
- Most beautiful beach – Playacar Beach
- Best beach for meeting people – Calle 2 Beach.
Let’s go into all of Playa del Carmen’s best beaches and what makes each of them unique:
#1 – Playacar Beach
Located in the south of Playa del Carmen, Playacar Beach is a large stretch of white sand with palm trees dotting the landscape. In my opinion, Playacar Beach the most beautiful of all the Playa del Carmen beaches.That said, it pays to know the lay of the land before you visit Playacar beach as, while all of Playa del Carmen’s beaches are public, Playacar is a gated resort community and there are some special things to note about visiting the beach:
First of all, many of the beach areas directly in front of the hotels are reserved for hotel guests. This is great if you’re a guest of the hotel, but if you’re not, you may want to park your towel and umbrella elsewhere to avoid being asked to move. Also, chances are you’ll have to show ID when you arrive at the Playacar gates, so while it sucks to have to carry this on you, it may be your only ticket in.
As for safety in Playacar, keep in mind that because there is minimal outer reef break, the waters can get turbulent on windier days. To stay safe, either move to another beach on windy days or stay as shallow as possible.
- Beautiful white sand
- Wide-open space
- Great beach clean-up crews (there is minimal sargassum seaweed!)
- Food and drink access
- The resort areas can get quite busy
- Beaches unwritten reserved for hotel guests
- You’ll need to bring ID to get in the gated community
#2 – Calle 2 Beach
Calle 2 Beach is one of Playa del Carmen’s most popular beaches, as well as it’s most accessible. The beach is adjacent to the ferry terminal, and while not the widest beach in Playa del Carmen, there is a fair bit of room for activities the farther away you walk from the terminal. There are games often played here, such as horseshoes and volleyball, and it’s where you’ll find the famous Lido Beach Club.
- Not a very large beach
- Tends to get packed with people very quickly
#3 – Parque Fundadores
Parque Fundadores is perhaps Playa del Carmen’s most iconic beach – you’ll recognize the gateway to it by the giant Playa del Carmen archway. This tends to be a busier beach, as both tourists and locals come here regularly. That said, it’s also the widest beach directly in Playa del Carmen, and you’ll find volleyball courts and other beach games played here. There are no beach clubs on Parque Fundadores beach, but it’s so close to 5th Avenue that you’ll be able to find some food or drinks if you get a little hungry. There are also a lot of amazing food stalls here, so definitely plan on grabbing a coco friyo or some grilled Mexican corn.
- Very close to 5th Avenue
- Wide beach with a lot of games
- It can get uncomfortably full of people
#4 – Calle 10 Beach
Calle 10 Beach is where to go if you’re craving some wild beach clubs. While not the most impressive beach in Playa del Carmen – erosion has washed a lot of the white sand away – you’ll get some great sea views if you hang out at the clubs, and the ambiance makes for a great party.
- One of Playa del Carmen’s top party areas
- Not much actual beach left
#5 – Punta Esmeralda
Located about 5 kilometers from downtown Playa del Carmen, Punta Esmerelda is a total oasis. In addition to the clear blue ocean and wide white-sand beach you’ll find here, there is a freshwater cenote (limestone sinkhole) that flows into the sea. Due to the cenote and swimming-friendliness of the beach, this spot does tend to get quite busy with families. If you want to beat the rush and have a more relaxing experience here, then either come here early in the day or around sunset. To get here, you can either walk or take the 30-30 bus. The access road is on 5th avenue and Calle 100 Norte.
- Freshwater cenote
- Wide, beautiful beach
- Gets busy, especially on the weekends
- Not a lot of shade and no loungers available
#6 – Mamitas Beach
Mamitas Beach is pretty much synonymous with Playa del Carmen – I mean, it is home to the infamous Mamitas Beach Club. While not necessarily a place to come to relax (it gets PACKED), Mamitas Beach is a great place to go for a party. Especially if you like electronic music. The water at Mamitas Beach is beautiful and clear, so if you’re looking for a swim or want to try out some watersports, this is the place to come.
- Excellent party spot
- Beautiful water and swimming area
- Not the place to go to relax
Best Beaches Near Playa del Carmen
Located near Puerto Aventuras, about 16 kilometers from Playa del Carmen, Paamul beach features miles of gorgeous sand. A total paradise, you’ll find turquoise waters, palm trees, and even a turtle sanctuary at Paamul Beach. Not to mention, it sees relatively few tourists than a lot of the other beaches in the area, depending on the time of year. Keep in mind that Paamul is a gated community, so if you’re a foreigner you’ll have to show ID (probably your passport) to be allowed entry.
I didn’t know to bring my passport when I tried to get into Puerto Aventuras, so I showed my driver’s license instead – they let me in but only after some hesitation. As for amenities, there is one restaurant in the area, and there’s a pool nearby too. That said, definitely bring your snorkel gear so you can check out the coral reef! I love this snorkel set from Prodive.
👉 Is It Your First Time in Mexico? Be sure to read our list of things to know before traveling to Mexico. Trust me, those pro tips will save you some time and embarrassment!
Xpu-Ha Beach is about 25 minutes south from Playa del Carmen and has gorgeous sandy beaches and clear waters. If you’re looking for a picture-perfect place to go, then definitely check out this beach but go early – Xpu-Ha isn’t exactly under the radar so you’ll have to share with quite a few others. While here, also check out Serenity Beach Club – it has a 500 peso minimum spend and is a great, relaxing place to unwind.
If you’ve researched the top places to visit around the Mayan Riviera, then you’ve probably heard of Akumal. With a name that translates to “Place of the Turtles” Akumal has been a turtle sanctuary for years, and is a great place to go swimming with them. The beach itself has a lot of palm trees and shade, and some nice wide beaches on which to relax. The town of Akumal itself features lots of amenities such as restaurants, shops, diving, and accommodations.
Just an hour down the road from Playa del Carmen, Tulum is home to some seriously picturesque beaches (including some in view of the Tulum Ruins). Playa Ruinas, Las Palmas, and Playa Ruinas are all some seriously world-class beaches. For more information on Tulum’s beaches, beach clubs, and best hotels, check out our mega Tulum Beach Travel Guide.
👉 Pro Tip: Can’t decide whether to stay in Playa del Carmen or Tulum? Check out our article to figure out which is right for you!
5 Best Playa del Carmen Beach Clubs
Club #1 – Lido Beach Bar & Restaurant
One of the most popular and highly-rated beach clubs in Playa del Carmen, Lido Beach Bar is one the smaller side but a great place to hang and relax. While Lido does feature the occasional DJ, you’ll often find them playing softer music, making it the perfect place to watch the ocean from the loungers, order some food, and crack a book. Plus, you can grab a lounge chair for free as long as you place an order.
Pro Tip: You must Lido’s the traditional lemon pie!
Club #2 – Zenzi Beach Bar
I have to say, Zenzi Beach Bar is one of the classier beach clubs I encountered in Playa del Carmen, and it definitely caters to a more upscale crowd. That said, this beach bar is pretty laid back, although they do feature live music every day in an array of styles. There is no minimum spend at Zenzi beach bar, but the prices do tend to be a bit higher.
Club #3 – Coralina Daylight Club
Coralina Daylight Club is often referred to as a “nightclub in the daytime” and that description couldn’t be more accurate. There are electronic music DJ’s constantly pumping the jams, and the large pool area on the beach is usually pretty full with young partiers. While Coralina Daylight Club generally caters to a younger crowd, this is one of the most expensive beach clubs in Playa del Carmen. The minimum spend starts at $500 pesos and the food is on the pricier, more luxurious side.
Club #4 – Mamitas Beach Club
📍 Address: Mza, Calle 28 Nte. 8-10, Lote, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico (Google Maps)
For an iconic Playa del Carmen experience, pay a visit to Mamitas Beach Club. This Playa del Carmen beach club is the ultimate party atmosphere, as the club constantly hosts events and brings in quality electronic DJs. Mamitas can get really busy, especially in high season, so don’t worry about showing up a little early in order to get a spot.
Pro tip: The minimum spend at Mamitas is $500 pesos and comes with two loungers and $300 pesos in credit.
Club #5 – Inti Beach Club
📍 Address: Zona Federal Maritima, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico (Google Maps)
Part holistic center and part beach club, Inti Beach Club is the perfect place to go and relax. They often play mantras and world music, and they offer services such as yoga classes, massages, meditation sessions, and SUP lessons. There is plenty of seating on the beach, but there is also multi-tiered seating inside where you can order quality food and drinks, or do a bit of work with their fast Wi-Fi.
Important Info: Minimum spend is between $300 and $500 pesos per person depending on the time of year.
Tips for Enjoying the Playa Del Carmen Beaches
Tip #1 – Keep Your Stuff Stashed Away
Chances are you’re not going to be bringing your fancy stuff to the beach, but if you plan on swimming then try and have your things stuffed in your day bag and out of sight. Having your stuff taken from you while on the beach in Playa del Carmen is rare but, because some beaches can get really busy, it can happen if you’re unsuspecting and flaunting your stuff.
In general, Mexico is safer than most in the news would have you believe. But it’s still a good idea to get insurance to cover your trip there (we love World Nomads, and have been using them for years at Travel Lemming). Check out our guide to the best travel insurance for Mexico to learn how to do your own research, though.
Tip #2 – Bring a Snorkel and Goggles
Especially when the water is nice and clear, I highly recommend bringing a snorkel and goggles to the beach (as I mentioned, this is a great one to buy now and pack for later). There is so much to see off Playa del Carmen’s shores and you won’t want to miss having a front-row seat to the fun.
Tip #3 – Stock Up on Sunscreen
The Caribbean sun is no joke, and it tends to get the best of us when we’re not 100% diligent about wearing sunscreen. Stock up on sunscreen and reapply often, but be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen, as the non-biodegradable stuff is really harmful to sea life.
👉 Pro Tip: This sunscreen from All Good is a great choice for reef safe and water-resistant sunscreen.
Tip #4 – Research the Sargassum Situation
If you haven’t heard the news, the Mayan Riviera has, in recent years, been deluged with a stinky seaweed called sargassum. Not a great look for one of the top things to do in Mexico, unfortunately.
On a lot of beaches in Playa del Carmen, especially the more popular ones, removal crews are constantly working on getting rid of the sargassum, but each area is different in its approach. Before you head to the beach and are off-put by the stinky seaweed lining the shore, do some research on the beaches and their removal efforts. That said, every beach listed in this guide has some kind of sargassum removal system put in place.
👉 First Time in Mexico? Don’t miss our list of important tips to know before traveling to Mexico!
Are the Playa del Carmen Beaches Safe?
A lot people heading to Playa del Carmen wonder: are the beaches on Playa del Carmen safe?
Generally, the beaches of Playa del Carmen are very safe for tourists. Of course, things can (and do) happen anywhere in the world, and it’s best to keep your wits about you, but all in all, you probably won’t have any problems on Playa del Carmen’s beaches.
That said, always pay attention to the weather and tides before you head to the beach, but you’ll probably get a heads up about any dangerous areas from people working there.
If you’re thinking about purchasing travel insurance, check out this article on travel insurance for Mexico to help you decide whether or not it’s best for you. You can also use this nifty site to quickly compare travel insurance costs for your trip from hundreds of insurers (it’s probably cheaper than you think!).
Where to Stay on the Beach in Playa del Carmen
There are so many accommodation options in Playa del Carmen — from hostels to five-star all-inclusive resorts and everything in between.
Here are some of the highest-rated options:
Best Hotels on the Beach in Playa del Carmen
- Playacar Palace – An all-inclusive option, Playacar Palace is located right in Playa del Carmen’s Hotel Zone and offers guided tours, entertainment, and a beautiful beach.
- El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condos Hotel – Guests staying at El Taj can expect tropical décor, access to an infinity pool and hot tub, and some rooms even have direct beach access.
- Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa – Situated on Maroma Beach, this resort features 3 outdoor pools, tons of excursion options, and even on-site cooking lessons and liquor tastings.
Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen City
- CondoHotel Fabiola – About a 5-minute walk from Playa del Carmen Beach, this highly-rated property offers free parking, airport transfers, and free Wi-Fi.
- Hotel Casa de las Flores – Another hotel just around the corner from Playa del Carmen Beach, Hotel Casa de las Flores offers free parking, an outdoor pool, and tropical gardens onsite.
- Hotel Real del Mayab – Two blocks from the beach, Hotel Real del Mayab offers free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and lush gardens.
Best Hostels in Playa del Carmen
- The Yak Hostel – Just a few blocks from the beach, The Yak Hostel is a highly-rated option that offers free breakfast, air conditioning, and fun themed nights. Try out their mojito making classes, you won’t regret it!
- Wabi Hostel – Located steps from Playa del Carmen Beach, Wabi Hostel features air-conditioned rooms, a lively bar, and free WiFi.
Suggested Activities in Playa del Carmen (Besides the Beach)
#1 – Visit a Cenote
Cenotes are essentially limestone sinkholes filled with fresh water, and they’re basically heaven on earth. Visiting a cenote is a great thing to do on a hot day, as the water is usually cool, there’s a lot of shade, and they’re usually lush and filled with vegetation. Some of the best cenotes around Playa del Carmen are Jardin del Eden (my personal fave), Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristiano, and Chikin-Ha.
If you’re up for a day trip, the colonial town of Valladolid is centered around some of the most impressive cenotes in the Yucatan, plus it’s the nearest town to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. Or check out our guide to the best hotels in Valladolid to find a crash pad for the night, and make an overnight trip of it.
#2 – Go Caving
There are thousands of miles of caves all around the Yucatan Peninsula, and there are tons of tours that will take you down there.
Some of the top-rated caving tours are:
- Rio Secreto Underground River Tour with Crystal Caves – On this guided tour, you’ll swim and wade through water in this popular underground caving system while checking out the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
- Rio Secreto + Tulum Tour – This highly-rated tour blends the best of the Rio Secreto caves with an amazing tour of the Tulum Ruins.
#3 – Shop on La Quinta Avenida
La Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue, is the hub of Playa del Carmen. Here, you’ll find all kinds of shops, restaurants, and bars. Just make sure to stay on your toes with the vendors on 5th Avenue – it can get hectic!
#4 – Try Some Water Activities
Staying in a beach town is the perfect excuse to get out on the water. While in Playa del Carmen, make a point to go boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, kitesurfing, or even waterskiing.
#5 – Go Swimming in a Rooftop Pool
Did you know that there is a serious rooftop pool scene in Playa del Carmen? Well, there is, and this is an activity you don’t want to miss.
Some of the best rooftop pools in playa are Be Playa, The Palm at Playa, the Thompson Hotel, and Live Aqua. Just keep in mind that there are minimum spends at each of these rooftop pools, so plan accordingly.
That’s it for our ultimate guide to Playa del Carmen’s beaches!
For more ideas on what to do, where to stay, and what to expect in Playa del Carmen, check out our Ultimate Travel Guide to Playa del Carmen, Mexico!
The beaches of Playa del Carmen are some of the best in the Mayan Riviera, and you won’t go wrong no matter which of them you visit.
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments!
And for more information about the Yucatan Peninsula, check out these other useful articles:
📍 On Pinterest? Pin this for later: