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The Ultimate Playa Del Carmen Beach Guide

Looking for the best beaches in Playa del Carmen? Having lived in Playa for almost 3 years I know a thing or two about the Playa del Carmen beach scene.

I can’t lie, I loved living in Playa, but sadly we do not have the best beaches in the Riviera Maya. That said there are some nice public Playa del Carmen beaches that you can spend the day relaxing on. Also, when I say the public beaches in Playa del Carmen aren’t that nice I’m comparing them to other beaches here in the Caribbean, if you compare them to beaches in other countries outside of Mexico, they are pretty amazing!

QUICK TIP: Book your tours, rental cars, and transfers through my local contacts

I’ve been working with Living Dreams Mexico for years and they are who I send all my family and friends to when they visit the Riviera Maya. I really can recommend them enough for private tours and experiences. They have solid 5* reviews on Trip Advisor and Google from almost 4000 reviewers! You can view all their tours here.

If you’re looking for private airport transfers and rental cars then Vanessa and Oliver from Turismo Channel are personal friends of mine and I can 100% recommend them to make an inquiry click here and complete the form. Someone will be in touch within 24 hours.

Playacar Beach (phase 1)

The Best Beach In Playa Del Carmen Playacar fase 1

If you are looking for the best public beach in Playa del Carmen then that award has to go to Playacar beach in Phase 1. You will be forgiven for thinking this beach is private, as it’s inside of a private community and in front of a private development. But newsflash, ALL beaches in Mexico are public. No matter what some hotels, resorts, restaurants, or beach clubs might have you believe.

Although Playacar beach is considered a Playa del Carmen public beach the area that it is situated in is a private gated community. So the issue will be getting into Playacar if you are not a resident there, or at least a resident of one of the hotels.

Now, if you are white and look like a tourist, you won’t have an issue, sadly many Mexicans are refused entry by security… but that’s another matter! You can enter Playacar Phase 1 by walking right to the end of 10th Avenue and then walking through the security gate. Keep to the left and then when you see a path going left take it, walk through the jungle a little and you will come out on the beach. Alternatively, you can walk along the beach past the Cozumel ferry.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Playa Del Carmen ToursClick here to check out the top Playa Del Carmen tours
Best Playa Del Carmen Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Playa Del Carmen
Best Playa Del Carmen Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Playa Del Carmen

So what makes it the best beach in Playa del Carmen? What I love about Playacar beach is that it’s really wide (not all beaches in Playa are wide like this), and they generally keep the seaweed cleaned up. The further down into Playacar you go, the better the beach is so if you’d like to make your traveling photobook album stand out, this beach is an ideal spot. Playacar Beach is popular with the locals here especially the bit closest to 5th as most tourists don’t know about it. Meaning it’s a nice quiet part of the Playa del Carmen public beach… why am I even telling you about it?!?

The good thing about this Playa del Carmen beach is that there are places where you can get some shade. Most other public beaches in Playa del Carmen don’t have that unless you pay for it! There are always lots of activities happening here too, kitesurfing, volleyball, and parasailing mostly.

Be sure to take food and drink with you as there are no facilities here.

Punta Esmerelda

The Best Beach In Playa Del Carmen

Quick Tip: I highly recommend booking all of your Mexico transportation with GottoGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and Flights on their website. What I love most about them is their customer service. I know these guys personally from living in Guatemala, and they look after their customers.

If anything happens and you get delayed and miss your bus, you can just call them, and they are always there to help. If you book through them, you will pay a little more than booking in person at the bus station. But it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Mexico.

Again, I don’t even know why I’m writing this post telling you all about these local Playa del Carmen beaches haha. The reason why this beach is so awesome is mostly that it’s void of tourists. However, I must also say you should avoid coming here on a Sunday as it is always packed full of families enjoying some beach time and looking for some of the best Playa del Carmen boat tours.

So why do I love Punta Esmarelda and consider it the second-best beach in Playa del Carmen? Firstly it has a super pretty open cenote running into the sea. Secondly, it’s right at the end of the main Playa del Carmen beaches and it’s on a corner, so you can basically see the whole of Playa del Carmen waterfront from here. It’s quite a view!

I like to come here early and fly my drone, there are always others here flying too early in the morning so it feels pretty safe to do so.

To get to this beautiful beach in Playa del Carmen you have a few options, walk (I would avoid this during the day as it’s too hot), take a taxi, drive, or my personal favorite, rent a bike, and cycle there. To get there it’s very easy, you just take 5th Avenue all the way up to 110 Norte then turn in. You can park easily here during the week and you will find places to lock up your bike too.

There are some facilities here, but not many. So I’d recommend that you bring food and drink with you and keep some smaller notes to buy things from the beach vendors if they walk by. There is also an area just to the side of the beach with lots of trees and picnic benches, perfect for cooling off in the shade and having a picnic. This is my favorite family-friendly Playa del Carmen beach.

Playa 38 and Colosio Beach

This is my part of the beach, I say mine because I live off Calle 38 and so this is the beach I venture out to most days. From Calle 38 onwards there aren’t so many beach clubs and so the beach is mostly populated by locals. It’s not the most beautiful stretch of beach in Playa del Carmen, but it is one of the quieter areas that are still in El Centro.

To get here just enter at Calle 38 or any of the other entrances between there and Colosio. No issue with food or amenities here are you are still in the center and so there are plenty of places you can get food and drink close by.

3 Calle 10 Beach

If you decide you want to chill in a beach club for the day then this is probably the best part of the beach to find what you are looking for. There are a lot of awesome beach clubs in Playa del Carmen, but here you will find firm favorites like Zenzi, Tompson Beach, Indio, and Kool. All of them have either a minimum consumption which can be anything from 400 pesos to over $1000.

The best thing to do is to take a walk down the beach and see which one you like the look of and then ask. If they are looking empty then you might be able to negotiate a discount, especially if you are with a group.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Xpu Ha

best beach in playa del carmen,beach,playa del carmen

I’m going to let you into another secret when my friends and I go for a beach day. We head just outside of Playa to the beautiful beach at Xpu Ha. Even when the sargasso is bad in the rest of the Riviera Maya, here it is normally clear. The beach is BEAUTIFUL and it’s mostly very quiet (not Sundays).

You will find Xpu Ha beach just south of Puerto Adventuras about 30 minutes outside Playa del Carmen. The best way to get here is to rent a car and drive. Failing that you can take the Playa del Carmen to Tulum colectivo and tell them you want to go to Xpu Ha. They will drop you off on the federal highway and you will then need to make your way down the long road to the beach.

We like to bring drinks and snacks with us, but there are places you can buy food and drink and a beach club if you want to rent a bed for the day.

Quick Tip: View my full Playa Del Carmen packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Playa Del Carmen Essentials shopping list here.


Looking for somewhere to stay in Playa del Carmen?

Here are a few places I recommend. For more detailed information, check out my Playa del Carmen Accommodation Guide here.


Planning on traveling around the Riviera Maya? Check out my accommodation guides below:

Isla Holbox Hotels You Need to Stay In
Best Places to Stay in Cancun
Cozumel Accommodations | Condos in Cozumel
Where to Stay in Tulum
The Best Boutique Hotels in Tulum
The Best Hostels in Tulum Mexico

Playa Del Carmen Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Playa Del Carmen?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Playa Del Carmen which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Playa Del Carmen on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Playa Del Carmen?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major Mexican tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Playa Del Carmen?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a  lot of options available!

If you are traveling from Playa del Carmen then I recommend booking through my friend Vanessa at Turismo Channel. You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours). You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

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Monday 10th of January 2022

Claire, thank you for your blog! Made our stay at Playa so much better. Visited all your proposed beaches and rented a car from Vanessa - best decisons! Take good care and continue this great work!! Kind regars, the Austrians Barbara & Peter