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6 Best Beaches in Playa del Carmen: Your Guide!

This city is on the Caribbean coast is one of Mexico’s popular tourist destinations. This resort city located with the Mexican Riviera Maya has a warm summer climate all year round and is home to the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen is compared to Cancun. While Cancun is always hectic, Playa Del Carmen has relaxing vibes. The shopping district is Quinta Avenida. In Playa del Carmen, you can find everything you need to make your trip complete.

If you are looking for the answers to the questions below, you have landed on the right page. Let’s get started!

  1. Where is Playa del Carmen?
  2. Does Playa del Carmen have nice beaches?
  3. Can you swim in the ocean in Playa del Carmen?
  4. Where should I stay in Playa del Carmen?
  5. Is Playa del Carmen worth visiting?

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Where is Playa del Carmen?

Playa del Carmen is in Quintana Roo which is within Riviera Maya. Historically, Riviera Maya starts at Playa del Carmen and ends in Tulum. This area has all-inclusive resorts, the Belize Barrier Reef, archaeological sites, and extreme watersport activities.

History of Playa del Carmen

The milestones in the history books of Playa del Carmen are the beginning, the Mayan and the Olmec periods, the Spanish conquest, and how modern Mexico came to be.

The Beginning

When an asteroid crashed into the earth, the impact crater from that asteroid is the Chicxulub Crater. The crater is unique because its peak ring is intact which allows us to pinpoint the exact location of impact.

The impact caused a megatsunami and triggered a 12 magnitude earthquake on-site and magnitude 9 across the globe. The waves from the tsunami would have contributed to the Deccan Traps in India.

Mayans & Olmecs

The next period is the Maya Civilization. This is a Mesoamerican Civilization from Mexico which passes Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. This civilization is one of the six cradles of civilization that independently emerged in the history of mankind. 

The Mayans are famous for their scripts and monuments. Maya script was deciphered in the 3rd century and the script was in use until the Spanish conquest.

Did you know that the Mayans built 60 cities?

Secondly, the archaeological sites which today, spread over five countries. The famous sites include Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Tikal.


Spanish Conquest

The first encounter between the Spaniards and the Mayans occurred in 1502 when Christopher Columbus came across a large trading canoe off the coast of Honduras. However, it was Juan de Grijalva that heard tales of the wealthy Aztec Empire further west.

Juan de Grijalva landed in Cozumel and tried to make contact with the natives. The natives refused his friendly gestures. The natives fled once he fired his cannons. This led Spain to take control of Tulum.

These rumors led Hernan Cortes to conquer the Aztec Empire. However, it was a combination of Spanish weaponry and the onslaught of Old World diseases such as smallpox that led to the victory of the Spanish conquest.

Mayan to Mexico

The Mexican War brought independence to Mexico. This armed conflict and the eventual political process began in 1808 and ended in 1821. The Mexican Empire was overthrown and the First Mexican Republic was established. Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of Mexico and established the Federal Constitution of Mexico.

Do you know that the Mayans still exist today?

Visa Requirements

The National Institute of Immigration is in charge of regulating the entry and exit of foreign nationals into Mexico. The institute takes a minimum of two working days to process the visa. 

To determine if you require a visa, check the Visas For Other Nationalities page. Citizens from United States, United Kingdom, and Australia are exempted from visas for stays up to 180 days. 

Does Playa del Carmen have nice beaches?

Yes, with powdery white sandy beaches and bluish green seas, Playa del Carmen is a must-visit. In this part, we explore the best beaches in Playa del Carmen. It boasts larger beaches and a slower pace of life.

Parque Los Fundadores 

best beaches in playa del carmen, parque los fundadores, founding fathers park
Image Credit: Everything Playa del Carmen

The first in our best beaches in Playa del Carmen is Parque Los Fundadores. Parque Los Fundadores means Founding Fathers Park. This park is one of the oldest in the area and is located at the end of Avenue Juarez next to Cozumel Ferry Pier.

The main feature of this park is its white church, the Nuestra Señora del Carmen which becomes crowded during the weekend. This isn’t surprising because the church is near the Azul waters of the ocean.

The landmark here is the Portal Maya Statue which marks the entrance to the beach. This statue represents a new era in the Mayan calendar.  This statue has a column of water pushing a woman up while a whirling wind pushes a man. They meet in the center with a high-five gesture. 

Mamitas Beach

best beaches in playa del carmen, mamitas beach, mamitas beach club
Image Credit: Latido de Mexico

The second of our best beaches in Playa del Carmen is Mamitas Beach. This public beach is described as one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen. Access to the beach is free. You can relax under the shady lounge chairs and purchase drinks from Mamitas Beach Bar.

Punta Esmeralda

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Image Credit: Feather & The Wind

The third of our best beaches in Playa del Carmen is Punta Esmeralda. Punta Esmeralda is a local favorite for families with children as the beach as the calm waters are perfect for swimming. This beach also has a cenote which is near the sea.

Punta Esmeralda is on Laredo Morning Times and USA Today.


best beaches in playa del carmen, playacar, white sandy beach, bluish green sea
Image Credit: Loco Gringo

The fourth of our best beaches in Playa del Carmen is Playacar. Playacar is located south end of Playa del Carmen. The area is divided into Phase 1 and Phase 2 with Phase 1 comprising residential homes. Phase 2 has all-inclusive hotels and a shopping area. The beach is wide and has fewer crowds. This beach is on 10Best, Focus on Travel News and Travel Pulse.


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Image Credit: Loco Gringo

The fifth of our best beaches in Playa del Carmen is Xpu-Ha. This beach is another best-kept secret in the Yucatan Peninsula. Xpu-Ha (pronounced Sh-poo Ha) is an hour from Cancun and half an hour from Playa del Carmen. This place is perfect for a day trip from Playa del Carmen. 


xcacel beach, playa del carmen, sea turtle beach, turtle sanctuary
Image Credit: Viva La Travelista

The sixth and last of our best beaches in Playa del Carmen is Xcacel Beach. This beach is one of the cleanest along the Mexican Riviera and has a turtle sanctuary. This is the second beach to have a cenote nearby. Do note that there are no restaurants or hotels nearby, thus, it is best to bring your own food and drinks.

As this is a sea turtle nesting beach, the government stopped a 520-room hotel project to protect the nesting grounds of the turtles.

Can you swim in the ocean in Playa del Carmen?

Yes, you can swim in the oceans of Playa del Carmen for most parts of the year. However, during certain months of the year, the beaches experience a seaweed invasion. The seaweed that plagues the Caribbean Seas is Sargassum

sargasso sea, map of sargasso sea
Image Credit: Open Access Government

Sargassum is a large brown seaweed that floats in island-like masses found in abundance in the Sargasso Sea. Not only does this seaweed float freely in the ocean, but it also can reproduce vegetatively on the surface of the ocean. This is unique because seaweed is on the seabed and not on the surface.

Are the beaches in Playa del Carmen full of seaweed?

beach full of seaweed, Yucatan Peninsula
Image Credit: Playa del Carmen Blog

Yes, the seaweed bloom has covered the oceans of Playa del Carmen and the beaches along the Riviera Maya coast. This bloom is a socio-ecological catastrophe and tourism disaster.

According to the Sargassum Watch System (SaWs), February 2021 had the highest sargassum coverage of 86 km². This was higher than the historical mean of 30 km² recorded between 2011 and 2018. 

In 2019, the seaweed invasion was so bad that it crippled the tourism industry in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, Financial Times, The Independent, and USA Today widely reported these invasions. 

Scientists are developing solutions to this golden tide using hydrothermal liquefaction. Local governments are doing their part by installing Sargassum barriers to contain the seaweed so that it doesn’t reach the shores. 

With a Sargassum Monitoring System in place, it is easier to predict when the sargassum arrives. Sargassum arrives in April, May, or June and should end during the summer months. Check out the Best Seaweed-Free Beaches in Mexico for other beautiful places to swim in.

If you do arrive during sargassum season, fret not! Playa del Carmen has much to offer and we will explore 3 options you can consider during your stay here. 

Isla Mujeres

isla mujeres, island of women, white sand beach, turquoise waters
Image Credit: Mexperience

Isla Mujeres or “Island of Women” is at the confluence of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. During the Mayan Empire, this island was sacred to the Goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ixchel

The Spanish named this island as such as they found many images of the goddess on the island. The island’s first appeared in ancient written records in 564 AD when it was a Mayan province known as Ekab. This island is one of the most affordable islands to live in.

Check out the 9 Fantastic Experiences on Isla Mujeres and the Best Restaurants on Isla Mujeres. For nature lovers, check out the 8 Fantastic Experiences.

Cenote Azul

cenote azul, deep natural well, sinkhole
Image Credit: Every Steph

A cenote is a deep natural well or sinkhole formed by the collapse of surface limestone which exposes groundwater below. Cenotes were sacrificial grounds of the Mayans who believed that these waters connected to the afterlife.

Cenote Azul is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. For a detailed guide on Cenote Azul, read Every Steph’s page to know more. Check out the Top 8 Cenotes in Mexico that you should go to.


golf by sea, el camaleon mayakoba
Image Credit: El Camaleon Mayakoba

Playa del Carmen has many golf courses. It has eight golf courses designed by professional golfers and golfing architects. The top three golf courses are:-

  1. El Camaleon Mayakoba designed by Greg Norman. The name is because the ever-changing landscape is akin to chameleons. This 18-hole golf course has a mixed layout that passes through mangrove forests, tropical jungle, and a stunning oceanfront. 
  2. Grand Coral Golf Course designed by Nick Price. The Grand Coral is an 18-hole golf course that features 8 lakes and 71 land traps surrounded by a tropical jungle. 
  3. Vidanta at Mayan Palace designed by Jack Nicklaus. The 18-hole course features a 1950s design that incorporates the idea of “using every stick in the bag”.

Looking for more ideas? Check out the Top 10 Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen, The 15 Unique Experiences To Have In Playa del Carmen, and Where To Go Clubbing in Playa del Carmen.

Where should I stay in Playa del Carmen?

According to Telegraph UK, the Best Hotels to Stay in Playa del Carmen includes Hilton, Quinta Margarita, and many more stated below.

Hilton Playa del Carmen

Hilton Playa del Carmen is a 507-room All-Inclusive Adults-Only hotel about 35 miles from Cancun International Airport. This hotel is on Fifth Avenue or Quinta Avenida. With spectacular views of the ocean, polished floors, and a double-jetted tub, you may not want to come out of your room. Check out the review of this hotel is on Oyster.

Quinta Margarita

This Boho Chic-inspired hotel is located on Fifth Avenue. This hotel boasts of each room having its unique style, whether it is a luxury room or a family loft. Although it is located along the busiest pedestrian street in Playa del Carmen, one would feel peace, calm and pleasant atmosphere here.

El Taj Oceanfront and Condo Resort Hotel

This 57-room hotel is two properties sharing the same facilities and amenities. This luxury hotel has Balinese-inspired themes throughout the hotel. With two heated swimming pools and a private beach, this hotel is suitable for families with kids and couples.

Check the review on Oyster and Fodors and discover why it is worth the stay.

Sandos Playacar All Inclusive

This 819-room all-inclusive resort sits on one of Riviera Maya’s beautiful beaches. A highlight of this hotel is its Adult Only area which is exclusively for guests 18 years and above. This hotel is on Travel Pulse as a hotel for family-friendly vacations. This hotel has its cat cafe where cats have their own Cat Land, perfect for cat lovers.

Check out the review of this hotel and make that trip.

Fairmont Mayakoba

Fairmont Mayakoba is the oldest and largest luxury hotel in Mayakoba. This 401-room hotel is kid-friendly and pet-friendly for pets under 25 pounds. This hotel is on 45 acres with some areas in tropical forests while other areas open to the beach and lagoon.

The El Camaleon Golf Resort sits on this property. If you are looking for a relaxing family vacation, look no further, Mayakoba is the place to be. Check out Fairmont’s reviews on Oyster and Telegraph UK. This hotel is on SF GateForbes, and Travel & Leisure

Mahekal Beach Resort

This 196-room hotel boasts garden and ocean views is 1-hour from Cancun International Airport. This 50-year hotel began when a Mexican family built six-thatched roof palapas for backpackers to rent. 

This resort inspires a Swiss Family Robinson meets Jungle Book holiday is suitable for couples and adult travelers, though kids are welcome with children under 4 years old stay for free. This hotel is on Oyster, USA Today, Travel+Leisure, and Forbes

Is Playa Del Carmen Worth Visiting?

Yes! Playa del Carmen recorded the arrivals of more than 1.1 million tourists with a majority of them from the United States. According to travel agents, Playa del Carmen is one of the Top 10 Popular Tourist Destinations for United States Travelers.

Travelers are at the crossroads when deciding between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. These two areas are similar, yet unique in their ways. Read this post to know more about Cancun and Playa del Carmen.


Mexico does have safety risks. The risk is pickpocketing and snatch theft among tourists. This is the list of issues that are of concern. Playa del Carmen is safe when compared to Tijuana, Acapulco, and Ciudad Juarez. These cities have recorded higher crime rates.


Playa del Carmen is on International Living as a preferred place to retire. With a “small-town” charm and a simple process to obtain a retirement visa, retirement in Mexico is an option for many.

With a lower cost of living and a much-improved quality of life, it is obvious that money buys you more south of the border. The estimated cost of living for a family of four is $ 2,111.

Check out the Pros and Cons of Travelling to Playa del Carmen and 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Playa Del Carmen. If you want to beat the winter blues, choose to stay at any of the 3 Luxurious All-Inclusive Resorts in Riviera Maya.

Lonely Planet has several articles on Playa del Carmen which are Perfect Weekend in Playa del Carmen, the Best Places to Eat and Drink in Playa del Carmen, and A Guide to Playa del Carmen for Digital Nomads


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About Me

Gemini Gypsy Diaries | More Posts

A free-spirited traveler who dreams to conquer the world one country at a time, exploring local vegetarian cuisines and discovering off the beaten path destinations. Yes! That's me.

I've always loved creating itineraries for family and friends. With this website, I help you plan your travels by making it easier.

Our guides are mostly free self-guided walking tours, specifically trips that you can do within a day or two. We will be expanding our itineraries to cater to longer trips in the future.

Thank you for reading my blog.