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Mexican Riviera

Best Riviera Maya Beaches

Tulum beach
Tulum beach. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Riviera Maya, one of the most prestigious destinations in Latin America, also has the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.

Sometimes known as the Mayan Riviera, the Riviera Maya is a tourism district following the coastal Highway 307, which parallels the Caribbean coastline of the Mexican state.

Most tourists who travel to the Riviera often spend their days at a luxury beach club or hotel where they can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, aquatic sports, spa services and a variety of modern amenities, especially in Playa del Carmen, a friendly tourist town where visitors often discover the Riviera Maya's best shopping, dining and nightlife.

When considering a long stretch of immaculate beaches, it can be difficult to devise even a list of the ‘best'. Such is the case with the Riviera.

More than 450 beaches make up the Mexican coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of California and the Caribbean Sea. The variety of climates and points of interest that surround them make each Mexican beach a memorable spot.

1. Paraiso Beach


The spectacular and world-renowned Parasio is easily regarded as the  best beach in Mexico and one of the top five beaches in the world, according to the Traveler's Choice Awards by TripAdvisor. 

Located near the Tulum Mayan ruins, Paraiso is frequented by tourists travelling to see the ruins and other historical sites. The beach is always highly recommended by tour guides, trip advisors, travel agents and locals for its amazing turquoise waters, soft white sand and calm, flowing waves.

2. Tulum


An ancient location, Tulum is the only archaeological site located along the Caribbean shores in the Mayan Riviera.

An ancient pre-Columbian Mayan city, Tulum was protected from the sea by large structures that still stand today. Popular structures here include the Temple of the Descending God and Temple of the God of the Wind.

Beside the Temple of the Descending God, visitors will find a small secluded beach, perfect for romantic getaways. Most visitors simply lounge here, soaking up the warm sun and enjoying the quiet atmosphere.

Tours of the historical sites are also available. Visitors will be guided along lighted paths through the ancient city where the temples and monuments are lit in an array of vivid colors.

3. Maroma Beach


Maroma Beach is the picture of beauty and serenity. In fact, Discovery Travel and Living has regarded Maroma as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Maroma is located within a quiet section of the Riviera, just 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. It offers an almost untouched environment that is clean, spacious and inviting.

The beach features a number of hotels with modern and sophisticated amenities. Here, visitors can access luxury services while admiring one of the most stunning landscapes on Mexico's Caribbean coast.

Points of interest here include Maroma Resort and Spa, El Dorado Maroma Beach Front Resort and Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun. These resorts offer high levels of service and luxury that match the pristine nature or the Maroma and the vast and stunning landscapes on Mexico's Caribbean coast that stretch the length of the Riviera.

4. Akumal


Akumal, the "Land of the Turtles", is a small town that can be found to the south of the Riviera. However what really makes Akumal such a charming and fascinating destination is its spectacular, protected bay area of transparent waters that flow through its caves and subterranean rivers.

Being a well-preserved beach, Akumal offers a variety of wonderful flora and fauna. It's common to see turtles on the beach. Otherwise, visitors may choose to take a look at the beautiful reefs located close to the coast.

This small beach town in the Riviera Maya lies 60 miles south of Cancun. Akumal, the "Land of the Turtles", is still one of the favorite spots for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

Akumal features some of the most stunning beaches in Mexico. Beneath the crystal clear waters visitors will find a reef, making it the perfect beach for diving and snorkeling. The Akumal Dive Shop provides the required gear to visitors.

A great place to relax and enjoy the white sand beach and turquoise water of the Caribbean, Akumal also features several amenities including restaurants and shopping complexes. For those also looking for a place to stay over, the eco-friendly Vista del Mar is a good choice.

5. Mamitas Beach


Mamitas is known for its high-profile musical events. In fact, the beach has hosted numerous celebrity artists and unforgettable events. For example, Mamitas has hosted concerts such as the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival and the BPM Festival, celebrated every year in Playa del Carmen.

Artists such as David Guetta and Tiesto have graced the stage, holding the crowd's interest until dawn. In short, Mamitas is the Rivera's capital for glitzy nightlife events.

6. Puerto Morelos


Quite fittingly, Puerto Morelos is considered the entry point to the Mayan Riviera. Like the beaches of the Caribbean, it is known for its laid back atmosphere, warmth and general sense of peace and gaiety.

A well-kept location, the reef surrounding these idyllic beaches is a protected national park, home to several tropical life forms including coral, tropical fish, dolphins and turtles. As such, snorkeling is a popular pastime here.

The main Morelos beach is centrally located within the town. Surrounding this central hub are several smaller, more intimate and mostly private mini-beaches. Most of these belong to resorts and hotels.

7. Playa del Carmen


A beachside city, Playa del Carmen is now the primary tourist destination in the Riviera. Quite a posh destination, La Quinta Avenida or Fifth Avenue, the main pedestrian street, is flanked by gourmet restaurants, upscale boutiques, luxury shopping malls and glitzy nightlife clubs.

Added to the spectacular amenities is the fact that the street runs parallel to the ocean, making it a popular place to hang out and relax.

The beaches of Playa del Carmen are most popular running parallel to Fifth Avenue where most of the resorts and hotels are located as opposed to the city center further north. Several of these resorts are beachside and offer stunning views of the ocean.

The Riviera Maya is famous for its pristine beaches. However, the area has so much more to offer with its large scale all-inclusive resorts, boutique hotels and fine-dining restaurants.

If travelling there, tourists should make their reservations early as accommodations go quickly especially during peak season.

The Riviera Maya has recently completed its beach rejuvenation over the last year. Today, beaches along the Rivera have seen drastic improvement. While protruding rocks and strong currents were a possibility then, those deterrents have been largely eradicated now.
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