Along the Mexican Caribbean coast we find populations of different environments. How to choose your best beach destination in the Caribbean?

Traveling to the Caribbean for many is living the dream of waking up in front of the sea. One of the luxuries is sleeping near the sea, and if it is in front of the beach all the better. The coast of Mexican Caribbean is much more than Riviera Maya and resorts. Choosing your destination well can make the difference between a good trip or an excellent trip.

If you travel to the Mexican Caribbean there are different destinations and environments. We are going to know the towns and their possibilities so that you can choose your beach destination.

The tourist coast of the Mexican Caribbean

The Mexican Caribbean coast covers 700 kilometers of strip bathed by the Caribbean Sea from the northern tip of Cancun to Chetumal, bordering the neighboring country of Belize.

These 700 kilometers are basically divided into three large stretches of coastline.

  • CANCUN COAST: Cancun is where the tourist growth of the Mexican Caribbean began, a Pointer destination of beaches and nightlife. We talk about the area that includes the zona hotelera from Cancun to Cabo Catoche, to the north, approximately 60 kilometers of coastline, much of which is virgin.
  • RIVIERA MAYA: from the south of Cancun to Tulum, adding the northern part of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, 180 kilometers of coastline where we find the great bulk of all-inclusive hotels. Here are those considered the best beaches in the Mexican Caribbean. It is the stretch next to Cancun with the most tourist development.
  • GREAT MAYAN COAST: from the south of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve to Chetumal: 80 kilometers of a less developed coast with the best stretches of beaches in Mahahual and Xcalak. In this section there are no big chains and hotel companies, a much more relaxed coast oblivious to the noise of the north.
What population to choose in the Mexican Caribbean? 1

What Mexican Caribbean population to choose for your vacation?

The coastal zones and the environments are very different between the poblaciones that occupy the Caribbean coastline. Each place has a soul that defines it as quieter, for more backpackers. It is important to know them well.

In addition to the all-inclusive hotel complexes, there is something for all tastes: small hotels where you can enjoy the beach, camping areas, charming hotels, dreamy corners, wild beaches.

The Mexican Caribbean has a corner for each one of us.


  • White Island: it is 20 kilometers north of Cancun, one of the wildest paradises. There are some restaurants, at least open on weekends, but the roll of Isla Blanca is to go and spend the day with your shade and cooler, as many residents of the area do. Kitesurfing is practiced (there is a school) and there is some lodging of cabin type. Beautiful, but if you do not go by car you are really very isolated in this area.
  • Puerto Juarez: this fishermen's neighborhood with access to the sea is adjacent to Cancún. There is some all-inclusive hotel, but most are cheap hotels close to ferry crossing to Isla Mujeres. This neighborhood would be more a place of passage than the destination to vacation, taking advantage of the sea. It is filled with Canadian and American temporary residents from October to April, another animal migration from the area 😉
  • Zona Hotelera from Cancun: these almost 30 kilometers of Costa Cancún agglutinate all-inclusive hotels in front of the best beaches of Cancun. Tourist, Anglo-Saxon and partying atmosphere, very canned product of the tourist industry. The international airport It is located at 13 kilometers from Cancun, which makes it a welcoming city to other destinations. In Cancun city There are many practical hotels where to stay, even if it's not by the sea.
Mexican Caribbean


  • Puerto Morelos: This old fishing town has been crouched between Cancun (36 km) and Playa del Carmen (32 km), the most developed tourist centers. Morelos is for those who do not need brand stores and constant crowds, those who seek more a relaxed and quiet environment. The offer of services (there is no bank, yes ATMs) and hotels is complete, with lodgings one block from the beautiful beach, some facing the sea and the small town where you walk everywhere.
  • Playa del Carmen: this town is designed to receive tourists, full of hotels, the public beach on the first line of the city, brand stores, bars, restaurants of the specialty you want ... a tourist environment canned to the taste, ease and comfort of many visitors . Many all-inclusive clients escape to Playa del Carmen for their shopping, nights out, or whatever.
  • Paamul: this beach 15 km from Playa del Carmen allows you to stay in a privileged place on the beach. In Paamul there is only one hotel, the Hotel and Cabins Paamul, a luxury accessible to the middle pocket. The restaurant on the beach covers catering services. There is a camping area, so you have no excuse to sleep in this place.
  • Xpu-Ha: 25 kilometers from Playa del Carmen is Xpu-Há, a long beach with a couple of all-inclusive hotels and small hotels like the delicious Hotel Esencia y To heaven, this with a restaurant highly recommended. Both run by the same administration, an incredible place away from the big complexes. I think you can camp on the beach, and there is a cheaper hotel something left.
  • Puerto Aventuras: this small town has taken advantage of a good beach area to make a residential mix of all-inclusive hotels, small hotels and permanent residences. This comfortable and practical complex is 19 km from Playa del Carmen, with all the services you will require.
  • Akumal: Akumal Bay preserves the charm and privilege of living for a few days in front of the Caribbean Sea, near a beach where turtles live. The strip of sea has been built with private houses, some large hotel complex and smaller apartments and hotels. The place is not cheap, but you can find good deals. Akumal is 32 km from Playa del Carmen, a small paradise that has been unable to stay away from tourists.
  • Caleta Tankah: 57 km from Playa del Carmen, or just 5 from Tulum, is this delicious Caribbean corner with a restaurant and a hotel: the hotel of the Tankah inlet It resembles the privilege of sleeping on Paamul beach, where you wake up alone on the beach. It's very likely that you can camp at Tankah, I forgot to ask.
  • Soliman Bay: another one that I consider of the best beaches of Riviera Mayawhere the luxurious one is located Hotel Jashita. 11 kilometers north of Tulum this bay is almost privatized, a luxurious place with a restaurant where you can enjoy the beautiful beach.
  • Overall: 62 km south of Playa del Carmen we find Tulum, with a wide coastal strip of white sand, palm trees and delicious turquoise colors. Tulum's vibe, despite being one of the most expensive beach destinations, is still laid-back and informal in many ways. Look for offers within the hundreds of possibilities in Tulum beach, do not be disappointed if you pay one lana (pasta) for scarce services that always end up justifying with the excuse that this is Tulum. If you can't sleep in Tulum town where accommodation is more accessible, to 3 kilometers from the sea.
  • Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve: Within the Reserve there are accommodations with prices similar to those of Tulum, the luxury of sleeping in front of the sea is paid. Wilder, fewer services ... I recommend you come by car to this area if you do not want to constantly depend on transport. If you get to sleep in the fishing village of Punta Allen, there is cheap accommodation and a place to camp, you will experience a very authentic Caribbean.
Mexican Caribbean
Caribbean Effect 🙂


  • Mahahaual: within this coast with less growth, the best beach spots are between Mahahual and Xcalak, as well as best diving spots. Mahahual offers you variety of lodging in a place that remains quiet if it is not for the peak local holiday periods: Christmas and Easter mainly. Good Caribbean life, on a coast where the beaches are not so magnificent, but the atmosphere gives it that special touch.
  • Xcalak: This town is the only one I have not visited, so I can not comment, only heard by other friends who were. With fewer services than its neighbor Mahahual, its main attraction is being able to dive the nearby Chinchorro bank. Life at a Caribbean rhythm in the hidden Xcalak.
  • Bacalar: without being a beach destination, I put it on the list because its turquoise waters will make you feel like in the sea. This spectacular lagoon of 7 colors gives you the opportunity to stay in front of an exquisite nature. The hotel offer has tripled in recent years, with several hotel options at the foot of the lagoon.
  • Chetumal: the capital of the Mexican Caribbean coast goes unnoticed as a beach destination. Locals escape to Calderitas, where they cool off in front of the sea. If your dream was to wake up on the beach, you have better destinations than Chetumal. The city is practical, I like it, but choose another one to enjoy the sea.

Holbox Island, Yucatan, Mexico.

The Mexican Caribbean Islands:

There are three islands where you can stay in the Mexican Caribbean, counting the island of Holbox as a Caribbean destination.

  • Isla Mujeres: this small and accessible island is a few kilometers from Cancun, it has one of the most beautiful beaches in Riviera Maya, North Beach. On Isla Mujeres you have several accommodation options without the need to be in an all-inclusive in front of the sea. A relaxed Caribbean life with all the services in what was once a destination for the backpacker fleeing the big resorts of Cancun.
  • Cozumel Island: the largest of all the islands, very popular for diving, a destination that the oceanographer Jacques Cousteau made fashionable in the 80s, and since then tourism has increased. The urban nucleus is concentrated near the ferry, while the best beaches are more isolated. It is an urbanized island with many virgin corners and several options of activities for the visitor.
  • Holbox Island: Welcome to the island of calm, where you will find the most authentic Caribbean atmosphere. The rush here does not go well, if you go fast you stay alone and you must wait. Although the prices have gone up a lot, the range of hotels is wide, and the island is so small that everything is on the beach.

She viajas a Riviera Maya in conventional package airplane + hotel all-included They will divide you between the coastal strip of more than 130 kilometers from Cancun to Tulum, being the hotels near Playa del Carmen where Europeans and Americans and Canadians are destined. 

I hope you find your ideal resting place in the Mexican CaribbeanIf this information is useful for you, do not hesitate to share it, and if you know a corner to help other travelers and you want to write it down, it will be fantastic.

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Sandra Salvadó Training photographer, traveler by vocation and certified tourism guide by the Government of Mexico. We promote natural wonders and contemporary Mayan culture. Great fan of pre-Hispanic history. Author of the blog and co-founder of The Shortest Path Travel, agency that guides you through alternative paths in Mayan lands. Social and sustainable tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas.
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