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Riviera Maya beaches – each has its own character & activities

Riviera Maya beaches

The Riviera Maya has over 132  kms of beach that runs from Cancun to Tulum. Hotel Cielo is located in Playa del Carmen, the halfway point between these two cities and one block from the beach. Though we have a preference for our portion of the beach in Playa del Carmen, we appreciate other beaches in the area that offer a different vibe, different adventures and different opportunities. Some of our favorites are Puerto Morelos, Xpu-ha, Paamul, Akumal and of course, Tulum. We have provided a description of each beach, where it is located in relationship to Hotel Cielo and the specific activities that make each beach special.

Playa del Carmen beaches in the Riviera Maya


This s are front yard, the glorious beaches of Playa del Carmen. within a two minute walk you are looking at the Caribbean, and can choose to walk north or south on the beach. Along the beach are numerous beach clubs that offer food, beach chairs, music and in some locations pools and dancing.

Playa has the greatest variety of beach clubs and is known for this variety. It is the most populated area during the day and most of the action happens right there. Read a book, chat with friends, meet new friends or dance the day away. The beach is quieter to the south and more of a party scene to the north so take your pick.

Puerto Morelos beaches to the north of Playa del Carmen


Puerto Morelos is a smaller town than Playa del Carmen and the beach is not as populated. What is unique about this area is the National Marine Park that is located just off the shore. Snorkeling is great and you can enjoy the coral and sea life all day long. There are few beach clubs and you may want to bring your own beach chair. We love to hang there for day and check out the glorious snorkeling that keeps us busy for hours. Distance from Hotel Cielo is 30 minutes to the north, about 30 kilometers.

Xpu-ha beach to the south of Playa del Carmen and Hotel Cielo

This used to be the Playa del Carmen local Sunday hang out, with many residents flocking to Xpu-ha for some fun in the sun. since Leon closed his restaurant, it does not seem half as fun, but there are three beach restaurants that are great places to hang and chill at. Xpu-ha is in a bay so the water is shallow, calm and wonderful. It is the ultimate chill, and has few amenities but the water for seem reason seems, bluer. If you are looking for a quiet hang out for the day and limited beach walking due to the rocks that create this bay at either end of the beach, this is the place to be! Distance from Hotel Cielo is 17 minutes and about 19 kilometers.

Paamul Beach just south of Playa del Carmen

Paamul was one of the first camping areas in the Riviera Maya. After the hurricane in 2005, the local restaurant owner rebuilt his location (there is only one restaurant) and added a pool right by the ocean. The snorkeling is fabulous and right off the shore making this a family hang out when the kids are not in school. Parents from all over the coast bring their kids here for the pool, the food and the smaller beach so they can easily keep their eyes on them. There is a real community feel in Paamul, as there are residents of the beach that live here year round and have built a great community. Distance from Hotel Cielo is 10 kilometers and about 15 minutes.

Akumal Beach near Tulum in the Riviera Maya


akumal beach review Hotel Cielo

Akumal is a bay and a caleta, an area where the fresh water from the cenotes runs out to the ocean. The result of this natural landscape is a lagoon for fresh and salt water snorkeling, and an ocean full of sea turtles that can be seen while you snorkel. Turtles are the thing to see in Akumal and many people flock to the area for this very reason. The snorkeling is easy as all of the best snorkeling areas are protected by either the bay or the lagoon. For first time snorkelers this is the place to learn and enjoy this sport. There are lots of restaurants and lots of American residents that call Akumal their home. There is little Mexican influence in this area but lots of turtles.Distance form Hotel Cielo 35 minutes and 45 kilometers.

Tulum – the most talked about beaches in the Riviera Maya


tulum beach review by Hotel Cielo

We have another property in Tulum, Casa de las Olas so we know the beaches of Tulum well! This stretch of beach which is over 13 kilometers of pristine white sand and blue Caribbean waters is secluded, private, beautiful and limited pubic entrances. Most visitors to Tulum hang out at the beaches in front of the Tulum ruins, but there are over 13 kilometers of beaches to the south, with beach clubs, hotels and public beaches for all to enjoy. The best public beach to hang out at is just south of the ruins at the end of the beach road. You can walk there from the ruins or you can drive. This area of the beach does not have a beach club but you will have privacy. If you wish to have lunch and a beach, there are some beach clubs starting at 2km on the Tulum beach road. Most hotels and restaurants will not let you use the beach unless you are eating at their location, but why would you want to miss out on a TUlum lunch. There are some great places to chill, all of the beach clubs are private and feel remote. Tulum attracts people due to its privacy, seclusion and though you are sharing the beach with many others, you dont feel like you are sharing the beach. Distance from Hotel Cielo is 60 kilometers and about a 55 minute drive to the beach.

Pick your beach to match your mood. That is the luxury we have here in the Riviera Maya. Each beach has its own vibe and you can choose the place that suits you best for the day. Playa beaches will always be our favorite, but there is something to be said about the other beach spots we have mentioned today. Really can you ever have a bad beach day?


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