Every resort on the Mayan Riviera [Riviera Maya] has a beach and more than one swimming pool. Most of the beaches have been manicured and loaded with fine sand. The beach is usually close to rooms.

maya riviera beach

Some resort beaches run into the next resort beach so if you’re looking for total seclusion select a resort that is not close to anything, even another resort.

Much of the Maya Riviera coastline is inaccessible except by boat. Highway 307 which is the main highway that runs parallel to the coast is anywhere from .5 to 1 km away from the water’s edge.

All along the highway are private roads that run into the jungle, many right to the beach. It is not advisable to explore unmarked roads into the jungle.


The main beaches along the Mayan Riviera are:

Playa del Carmen/Playacar

maya riviera map

Playa del Carmen is the beach-side city that grew up south of Cancun. It is the primary tourist destination in the area. Playa’s beaches are most populated along the 5th avenue tourist zone then tapers off the further north you go from the main ferry docks.

Playacar’s beaches have suffered erosion over the last couple of years. The erosion on the Playacar beach isn’t as bad down the southern end of the beach as it is at the northern end.

For more information see:  Playa del Carmen Beaches

Puerto Aventuras

This is more of a marina-beach community of boaters. But there are beaches. The Puerto Aventuras main beach is beautiful and usually not crowded. There are restaurants at the marinas and other general services available.

mayan riviera beach

For more information see:  Puerto Aventuras


Just past Puerto Aventuras is a scantly marked road for Xpu-Ha beach. This is a lovely beach with good snorkeling. There was a restaurant there last time we were there.

For more information see:  Xpu-Ha


Just past El Dorado Resort and Spa is another dirt road with a tiny sign. This takes you to a great beach for snorkeling. It is also secluded and not that visited by tourists.

For more information see: Kantenah


Akumal is a thriving little beach community of divers, boaters, fisherman and general beach lovers. There are a number of resorts and hotels in the area. The beaches here are natural but there are sandy children friendly beaches as well. This is a great place to snorkel and there are many sea turtles in the area as they nest here.

akumal beach

For more information see:  Akumal


There is a fantastic beach at Tulum ruins. You can swim out and turn around and look at the ruins. The beach is crowded in the peak seasons but if you hit the main spot on the beach then go right you can find some space behind the rocks.

Further south is the Tulum main beach. This is a free-spirited beach and not the place you take grandma and the kids. You access this beach via Tulum town off of highway 307 or you take the road from Tulum ruins.

For more information see:  Tulum


Xcacel beach is somewhat difficult to get too, but well worth the trip.

For more information see: Xcacel

There are numerous minor beaches with nothing more than a dirt road and a fishing camp.


cancun beach flag

Depending on the weather, wave and tide conditions, each section of a beach is marked with a flag indicating whether it is safe to swim there:

Cancun Black Beach Flag Black Flag

Don’t swim, too dangerous.

Cancun Red Beach Flag Red Flag

Use caution, dangerous.

Cancun Yellow Beach Flag Yellow Flag

Use caution.

Cancun Green Beach Flag Green Flag

Water conditions okay, safe to swim.