Imagine a tropical paradise where the sun dances on your skin, and the pristine sands stretch as far as the eye can see. Welcome to Playa del Carmen, a destination where the azure waters of the Caribbean meet the sandy beaches, creating an idyllic setting that beckons travelers from around the world.
Let KKIS introduce you to the best beaches in Playa del Carmen, where you can take a dip in the sea, build a sandcastle, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Top 7 Playa del Carmen Beaches
Why even the name of the town, ‘Playa del Carmen’ translates from Spanish as ‘Carmen Beach’, a sign that here the coast is divine if they named the place after it!
Whether you’re looking for a tranquil spot to read a book under a palapa and escape or a beach for an active day of watersports and snorkeling, we’ve got you covered.
1. Parque Fundadores
Probably the most recognizable beach in Playa del Carmen, the renowned Parque Fundadores stands as the epitome of a quintessential beach experience. This iconic stretch of coastline is a vibrant gathering place where locals and tourists blend seamlessly into the lively tapestry of sun-soaked activities.
Despite its popularity, this beach, recognized as the widest in Playa del Carmen, accommodates the bustling crowd, providing ample space for sunbathers and sports enthusiasts alike. The beachfront is adorned with some full-sized volleyball courts, where games among friends occur.
Here, there aren’t many beach clubs (but, there are a few a short walk away!). Many prefer to just make their own camp on the sand – but the bustle of the city is right behind. As well as the famous Portal Maya archway.
2. Playa Mamitas
Mamitas Beach, right off Calle 28 in the heart of Playa del Carmen, is your go-to spot for a classic beach day with a friendly vibe. This popular destination boasts a wide, bustling shoreline with crystal-clear waters.
What makes Mamitas special? Well, it’s got some top-notch beach clubs like Coralina and Mamitas Beach Club, where you can snag a comfy lounge chair and treat yourself to delicious cocktails (just keep an eye out for those consumption fees).
Feel like doing your own beach thing? No problem! You can bring your own cooler and chairs – just be cool and keep a bit of distance from the beach club action to avoid any potential conflicts with the beach club staff.
Beyond the sun and sand, Mamitas offers jet-ski rentals, paddleboarding, and a variety of nearby restaurants. And if you need a quick refreshment fix or some ice, the OXXO convenience store is just around the corner.
3. Playa Punta Esmeralda
On the north end of Playa del Carmen, you’ll find Punta Esmerelda.
It’s a bit of a stroll from the center of town, but fear not, a taxi shouldn’t cost more than around 70-100 pesos to get here (But be aware – it’s more tricky to negotiate such a good price on the way back as passing taxis are limited!)
This beach is loved by the locals, not only for it’s natural beauty, but this special beach also has a cenote! That’s right, a freshwater cenote meets the sea to make a pool in the sand. This shallow pool is why families flock here, as children can splash and play in the brackish waters.
There aren’t a lot of facilities nearby, no OXXO stores etc. but there is a small restaurant on the beach for snacks and drinks.
Punta Esmerelda boasts the Blue Flag certification, indicating an active contribution to environmental activities in this area. The beach has a dedicated team that takes care of it, maintains its facilities, and ensures its beauty is preserved. It also has facilities such as restrooms and shower areas, which visitors can access for a nominal charge (usually around 5 pesos – take coins ready with you if you want to use them!)
Oh, and did we mention that Punta Esmeralda isn’t just a local favorite? It’s officially been crowned the best beach in Mexico!
4. Playacar Beach
Down on the southern end of PdC, bordering the exclusive Playacar neighborhood is Playacar Beach. Entering Playacar itself can be tricky if you aren’t a resident, but you can access the beach through the Senor Frogs restaurant next to the ferry terminal.
Now, what makes this beach so special? It’s renowned as one of the town’s finest, and for good reason. The waters here have that extra clarity, making it a perfect spot for serene snorkeling. What’s even better? It tends to be less crowded, especially if you’re up for a little stroll away from the ferry hub.
This beach is where the Playacar private homes and resorts face, so there are no places to buy snacks or refreshments once you’re here, and no actual bathroom facilities either, but even so, this doesn’t stop it being one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen to spend the afternoon.
5. Playa 38
Playa 38 is (unsurprisingly) the section of beach located at the end of the beautiful tree-lined Calle 38.
This beach is a favorite of people who live in town, as there’s always a spot to pop down your pareja and put up an umbrella. While there are no ‘actual’ facilities here, there’s a nearby OXXO for drinks and snacks.
6. Calles 2-10 Beaches
In the heart of downtown, there are plentiful beach access roads, bringing you out on the sandy shores. Here there are an abundance of beach clubs and restaurants to dine at or spend the day in.
Grab a beach bite and a cerveza at the well-loved expat favorite Zenzi (Calle 10), hire a paddleboard, and watch the nightfall from Fusion (Calle 6). Or visit the more high-end INTI, at Calle 4.
You’ll find that the waters here tend to have some rockier areas, so you may want to invest in some beach shoes so as not to scrape your feet.
7. Playa 88
Playa 88 (on Calle 88) in Playa del Carmen is like a well-kept secret among locals and savvy beach enthusiasts. Unlike the bustling scenes of bigger beach spots, this hidden gem doesn’t boast large beach clubs or restaurants. Instead, it’s the perfect spot to bring your own beach essentials – gear, cooler, and snacks – for a relaxed day by the ocean. Offering a quieter and more peaceful atmosphere, Playa 88 is a local favorite that maintains a friendly vibe without the typical beachfront commotion.
It’s another of the Blue Flag beaches in Playa del Carmen, ensuring high standards of cleanliness and amenities, such as restrooms and showers. You’ll find mainly a local crowd here, providing a more laid-back alternative to the bustling scenes at popular beaches like Playa Mamitas. Getting to Playa 88 might take a bit more effort from downtown, but it’s this distance that keeps the masses at bay, offering a more uninterrupted beach experience.
Other Beaches near Playa del Carmen
If you have a car, or are willing to hop in a collectivo, there are other lovely beaches locally to enjoy along the Riviera Maya coastline.
Among them include: Akumal Beach, Playa Maroma, Xcalacoco, Pamuul, Playa Paraiso, and a personal favorite, Xpu-ha.
It’s important to note that all beaches in Playa del Carmen can be affected seasonally by the sargassum blooms, which bring seaweed to the coast. When not cleared, this seaweed can turn the turquoise waters a murky brown and can pile up on the shoreline.
The city is prepared to clear it though, and during the summer months, when sargasso season is at its worst, you’ll find many city employees out with rakes and tractors to clear the public beaches daily.
You can check the regular sargassum report to see which beaches are best.
Supporting Keeping Kids in School
As you enjoy the beauty of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, we invite you to pause for a moment and reflect on how you can make a difference in the lives of the school-aged children in the area. In this region, many young minds struggle to access the education they deserve, as high school education isn’t free, and families often face challenges with admission fees, essential resources, uniforms, and other supplies required for their education journey.
Here’s where you can be a part of something special: the Keep Kids in School (KKIS) charity. KKIS is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that local students can continue their education. With just less than $2 USD per day, you can help keep a student in high school, providing them with the opportunity to pursue their dreams and build a brighter future.
So, as you savor the delights of our blog, the refreshing cocktails, and the enchanting beaches, why not consider giving a little something back to the Playa community? Your support for KKIS can make a profound impact on the lives of these children and their education, ensuring that the sun of knowledge continues to shine in Playa del Carmen.