Best Beaches Playa Del Carmen (+ How To Get There)

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Playa Del Carmen is a super popular destination for a beach holiday. However, despite the beach being one of the main attractions. It can be difficult to find a beach you like if you don’t know where to look. The beaches at the hotel zone close to the center of Playa Del Carmen can be very cramped, loud and dirty if it is the high season or weekend.

Unfortunately, this is because many resorts are built very close to the water’s edge. Leaving very little space for the public to enjoy the beach. However, if you walk just a little bit out of the city center you can find some beautiful much more peaceful beaches. So keep reading to find out the best beaches in Playa Del Carmen!

1. Punta Esmeralda

Punta Esmeralda was one of our favorite beaches while we were in Playa Del Carmen. It is out of the city center and usually full of families on the weekends giving it a really relaxed and local Mexican atmosphere.

Playa Punta Esmeralda - one of the best beaches in Playa Del Carmen
Punta Esmeralda Beach

What To Expect 🏖️

The area around Punta Esmeralda has been reserved for public use. This means that there are no huge resorts taking the best parts of the beach for themselves. So you can relax on the beach with just palm trees behind you.

The beach can definitely get busy on the weekends. But if you walk further around the point you should always be able to find a peaceful spot away from the crowds.

Except for vendors walking around selling fruit and little snacks sometimes, you have to bring your own. But there is a wooden hut renting sun beds, tables and umbrellas. There are also public palapas (wooden straw umbrellas) with small tables attached which you can use for free.

Free public palapas next to the river connecting the cenote of Punta Esmeralda with the ocean
Free public palapas next to the river connecting the cenote with the ocean

What To Do 🌅

Another special feature of the beach is that there is a cenote that empties into the ocean by the beach. This means that there is an area of shallow crystal clear fresh water that is really popular for kids to swim in. Check out the bubbling freshwater that comes out of the ground close to where the wooden ‘Punta Esmeralda’ sign is.

You should also definitely come here for sunset. Due to Punta Esmeralda’s location being on a point, it is one of the only places in Playa del Carmen to watch a sunset.

Sunset walk at Punta Esmeralda
Sunset walk at Punta Esmeralda

How To Get There 🚍

Punta Esmeralda is located 4.5 kilometers North of the center. You can take the bus or colectivo (7 pesos, 0.40 USD one way) on Avenida 30 to Calle 110 and walk 15 minutes to the beach.

Alternatively, you can come by car, motorcycle, bicycle or foot. See the location and route description on google maps here.

2. Playa 88

Playa 88 is one kilometer South of Punta Esmeralda and easy to combine with each other in one trip. You can actually see from Playa 88 to Punta Esmeralda and Coco Beach, which is next on my list of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.

People swimming at the beach at Playa 88
Playa 88 is a protected area between Punta Esmeralda and Coco Beach

What To Expect 🏖️

Playa 88 is a Blue Flag beach meaning it received one of the world’s most recognized voluntary awards for beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators. Therefore certain environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.

When walking down to the beach you will immediately notice their efforts in keeping up these high standards. There are several educational wildlife and behavioral boards, recycling bins, showers and bathrooms. Every morning we saw a crew of local volunteers maintaining and cleaning the area.

Similar to Punta Esmeralda there are a few straw palapas for shade. They are totally free and have little tables for putting your snacks and drinks. You will also find natural shade under some trees spread out over the whole beach.

Playa 88 blue flag beach
Playa 88 is a certified Blue Flag beach

What To Do 🐿️

One of my favorite spots on Playa 88 was sitting in front of the lifeguard tower at the beach entrance and watching the sunrise. As well as sitting in the shade of palm trees next to the small water sport rental hut Called Aquamarine and waiting for coatis to show up.

Coatis are cute little animals with long striped tails and bandit-mask face markings similar to racoons. We have seen them a few times in the mornings in the trees while walking down to Paya 88.

But they seem to almost be guaranteed to show up next to the water rental as beach vendors are taking breaks there in the shade and they feed them leftovers. The coatis are shy and come in groups, don’t miss out on trying to spot them 🙂

Coatis looking for food on Playa 88

How To Get There 🚍

Playa 88 is located 3.5 kilometers North of the center between Punta Esmeralda and Coco Beach. Which are also featured on this list of best beaches in Playa del Carmen.

You can take the bus or colectivo (7 pesos, 0.40 USD one way) on Avenida 30 to Calle 88 (hence the name Playa 88) and walk 11 minutes to the beach. Alternatively, you can come by car, motorcycle, bicycle or foot.

See the location and route description on google maps here.

3. Coco Beach

Coco Beach is 1 kilometer South of Playa 88 with a view of Punta Esmeralda in the distance to the left and some little boats and buildings to the right.

People hanging out at Coco Beach in Playa Del Carmen.
Coco Beach, South of Playa 88

What To Expect 🏖️

The Beach is a bit less wide than Playa 88, beautifully untouched and left natural without any amenities. Many people bring their own tent or umbrella as there is almost no natural shade and no public palapas.

This part of the beach is a bit closer to the center than Playa 88 and Punta Esmeralda and therefore can be a bit more crowded, especially on the weekends. But I still highly recommend it due to its natural setting, crystal clear water and chilled atmosphere.

What To Do 🏐

Read a book, meditate or relax! You won’t find many distractions on Coco Beach besides some people playing paddle ball or going for a swim.

If you are into beach volleyball this might be the perfect beach for you. Every time we went there we noticed people setting up courts as this is a flatter part of the beach with enough space to play.

Fishing boats in the water at Coco Beach, Playa Del Carmen
Beautiful blue!

How To Get There 🚍

Coco Beach is located 2.5 kilometers North of the center. You can take the bus or colectivo (7 pesos, 0.40 USD one way) on Avenida 30 to Calle 48 and walk 11 minutes to the beach.

Alternatively, you can come by car, motorcycle, bicycle or foot. See the location and route description on google maps here.

4. Playa Del Pecado

Playa del Pecado is truly a hidden gem and is often referred to as ‘the secret beach’ in Playa del Carmen. It is an adventure to get there and therefore can’t be missed on the list of best beaches in Playa del Carmen.

People relaxing at Playa Del Pecado in Playa Del Carmen.
Playa del Pecado, ‘the secret beach’ of Playa del Carmen

What To Expect 🏖️

Playa del Pecado is perfect for you if you are in for an adventure, exploring and a long walk. It’s a small little bay with crystal clear water and surrounded by nature. without any amenities.

It’s the perfect reward after a long hot journey and not well known. So you can expect to see only a handful of people. Since it is a long walk in the heat make sure you bring enough water, snacks, sunblock and a hat.

On the way to Playa del Pecado you will go through Playacar a long beach with resorts, and several small bays before reaching the secret beach. Depending on when you are there you might see a lot of seaweed in the bays as nobody cleans this deserted part up. But keep going, it is worth it!

Walking 4 kilometers on Playacar Beach towards Playa del Pecado

What To Do ☀️

Float in the blue water and enjoy being one of the only people reaching this little bay and the untouched nature around.

How To Get There 🚶

Playa del Pecado is not super easy or quick to reach since many resorts block access to the beach from the road. So you need to walk along the beach in front of them.

The property behind this secret beach belongs to Xcaret, an amusement park close to Playa del Carmen, and is therefore fenced off and guarded. So no shortcuts we know of are possible.

We started off in the center by walking down Playacar beach which is about 4 kilometers long and the next beach on this list. At the end of Playacar beach you can just keep going straight and will come across some easy-to-walk-over rock formations. As well as Playa del Carmen Wild Beach, Playa del Amor and Emma Cove.

Rocky coastline on the way to Playa del Pecado
Walking close to Playa del Pecado along a rocky coastline

It took us about 1.5 hours one-way to get from the center to Playa del Pecado. You have to go back the same way you came. So it makes sense to start your day early.

See the location of Playa del Pecado on google maps here.

5. Playacar Beach

Playacar beach is located South of the center and easy to reach by foot from where the Ultramar ferry to Cozumel leaves. It’s a 4 kilomter long strip of white sand and calm blue ocean in front of resorts and buildings.

Playa car beach in Playa del Carmen
Beginning of Playacar Beach close to the center

What To Expect 🏖️

Playacar Beach is most popular with tourists that are staying close by in the resorts and hotels of Playacar. If you go there you will see tourists from all over the world and many different water sport activties.

It is not our favourite beach in Playa del Carmen as we are missing the local Mexican athmosphere and untouched beauty that you get on the Northern Beaches of Playa. But if you are looking for a beach close to the center that is reachable by foot it is still very nice to check out for a couple of hours.

There are no anemities for non-hotel guests we have seen. But occassionally some vendors makes their way down there to sell some fruits and snacks.

Playacar beach with many palm trees
Playacar Beach next to the resorts

What To Do 🦡

I recommend walking along Playacar Beach until you find a spot you like. In the beginning are some hotels and mostly condos before the big resorts start. Therefore we found it more pieceful and quiet in front of the condos than in front of the resorts.

There are also some small Mayan ruins that are cool to check out and free. They are one street behind the beach and as long as you come by foot and not by car or bike there will be no problem entering the residential area of Playacar. See the locations of the ruins and route description here.

Around the ruins, we saw some interesting cute looking animals which we later found out to be agoutis. They are native to North, Middle and South America and look like big brown ginny pigs. We have never seen them somewhere else in Mexico or Playa del Carmen. So I recommend heading there to see if you can spot them.

Mayan ruins in Playacar under trees
Mayan ruins in Playacar close to the beach
Agouti running over grass
Agouti spotting close to the ruins

How To Get There 🚶

Simply walk from where the Ultramar ferry to Cozumel leaves down onto the beach. Keep walking as long as you like.

6. Playa Xpu-Ha

Playa Xpu-Ha is a 30-minute colectivo or car ride from Playa del Carmen and worth the visit for its very long sandy white beach strip and baby blue water. It is probably the most beautiful beach on this list but it also takes the longest time to get there.

Super clear waters at Playa Xpu Ha one of the best beaches near Playa Del Carmen
Super clear waters at the northern end of Playa Xpu-Ha

What To Expect 🏖️

Playa Xpu-Ha is perfect for a day trip from Playa del Carmen. It’s easy and cheap to reach and fun to explore. Good to know is that there is a 50 pesos (2.5 USD) entrance fee per person to access the beach. If you come by car parking will be included in that price. No pets are allowed.

They also offer a 200 pesos (10 USD) entry including consumption and sun beds at a beach restaurant. But you will be stuck in the crowds, so I don’t recommend it.

People walking along the middle of the beach at Playa Xpu Ha
The middle of Playa Xpu-Ha can get quite busy. If you head to the ends there are fewer people

The beach is long and I recommend checking out both ends. The entrance is in the middle with lots of restaurants and amenities. We went on a Sunday and expected it to be crowded and noisy. But as long as you keep walking to the left or right of the entrance you will see fewer and fewer people and find peaceful spots.

The sand is white and soft and the water is the lightest blue of all the beaches mentioned above on this list! If you come in the afternoon (from 2 pm on) you will find plenty of natural shade as long as you keep walking a bit.

Considering you pay entrance it is unfortunate that they do not clear rubbish from the southern end of the beach. But it is still nice to head down that end as there are very few people there.

Torquise blue waters near the southern end of Playa Xpu-Ha
Water at the southern end of Playa Xpu-Ha
Abonded buildings at Playa Xpu-Ha one of the best beaches near Playa Del Carmen
Abandoned buildings at the southern end of Playa Xpu-Ha

What To Do 🌴

You can either stay at the restaurants and rent sunbeds or – what I recommend – come in the early afternoon for some natural shade and explore the beach.

When you walk to the right you will see more rocks and an abandoned building overgrown with plants and palm trees. When you walk to the left you will see crystal-clear water as the water is really shallow there. So for the most beautiful beach head left to the northern end.

It took us about 20-minutes to walk from one side to the other on the beach, so it’s even doable when it’s hot. Enjoy the walk, relax under palm trees and swim in the baby blue water. We brought our goggles and saw some small fish.

The northern end of Playa Xpu Ha
The northern end of the beach has the clearest water and the least people
Walking into the water at Playa Xpu-Ha
Enjoying the amazing blue water at Playa Xpu-Ha

How To Get There 🚐

From Playa del Carmen you can reach Playa Xpu-Ha easily by colectivo, taxi or car. It’s a 30-minute ride from the center of Playa del Carmen and 34 kilometers away.

The colectivos to Xpu-Ha leave here and cost 35 pesos (2 USD) per person one-way. Since Playa Xpu-Ha is on the way to Tulum you can take all the colectivos leaving from there to Tulum.

The colectivo station is organized, you will see people lining up at the entrance and someone filling up all colectivo seats in the order of people waiting in line. The colectivos leave when full, but since there are many popular stops on the way (such as cenotes) we never had to wait longer than 5 minutes.

Sign on the side of the highway at the entrance to Playa Xpu Ha
Look for this sign on the highway at the entrance to the beach
Signs with the entrance fees to Playa Xpu Ha
Ticket booth where you pay the entrance fee to the beach

Travel like a local 🇲🇽

When you get into the colectivo you can tell the driver where you want to get out or shout it out shortly before reaching Playa Xpu-Ha. You can download or google maps offline to see where you are on the way.

He will also shout out some popular stops and is very good at remembering all the stops people told him when coming on. You pay to the driver when getting off at your stop.

It can get crowded on the colectivos if they pick up extra people on the way although there are no seats left. You will also need to cross the highway when getting out but it’s a fun and cheap way to reach Playa Xpu-Ha and will get you travel like a local.

This brings us to the end of my list of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

👉 NEXT: Read my top tips for the best cenotes in Playa del Carmen or where to stay and what to do in Playa del Carmen.

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Passionate about travel, sustainability and minimalism. Co-founder of happyhealthynomads.

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