Finding your perfect beach in an infamous beach town such as Playa del Carmen can be surprisingly difficult. Do you want big crowds? Bustling beach clubs? A more low-key beach to toss a frisbee? There are truly a ton of choices, so this post reviews the best beaches to visit in Playa del Carmen for every type of traveler. We’re pretty familiar with this beautiful beach town, and we want you to be, too.
Disclaimer: We can’t talk about beaches in Playa del Carmen nowadays without addressing the sargassum situation. While it is less common to have tons upon tons of sargassum washed up along the shore between the months of October and March, it is possible so just be aware of that reality before visiting.
If someone is talking to you about the main beach in Playa del Carmen, they are probably talking about Playa Fundadores. Just off the main drag of the infamous 5th Avenue, Playa Fundadores is bustling all day long with beachgoers and food/snack vendors.
The strip of beach here isn’t super wide, so come here for the fun, and don’t expect a chill afternoon of sunbathing. People also come here to enjoy the volleyball net and even watch some traditional acrobat performances that are routinely held here. Playa Fundadores is also where you’ll find the Portal Maya, that popular pic of Playa del Carmen.
This more local Playa del Carmen beach is right next to the Coco Reef Resort, so it’s casually known as Coco Beach. Ask any locals or long-term travelers in Playa del Carmen, and they’ll know what you’re talking about. A public beach that’s totally free to use, this is a good spot if you want to meet other travelers or just watch the cruise ships coming in or out of Cozumel. You’ll usually see people here at Coco Beach playing volleyball, and badminton, or you might pass by an impromptu acro yoga session.
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The only negative about Coco Beach, in our opinion, is that there aren’t many trees for shade, so it’s not the best beach to go to in the middle of the day if you’re looking to cut down on your UV rays.
38th Street Beach
If you want to stay in the center of the city but still enjoy a beach day, head to 38th Street Beach. Sure it’s busy, but you’ll be able to bring (or rent) your own umbrellas and chairs so that you get some much-needed cover during the day. There are also some great beach clubs just steps away if you want to snack on some tortillas and guac and a few margaritas (lounging around all day is tiring, after all).
About a 10-15 minute walk up from Coco Beach is Playa 88 (off of Calle 88). Here you’ll find the same beautiful type of beach but much fewer people, but it tends to get a little busy now on weekends. If you want a bit of an adventure, head further up to the curve in the beach, which is what’s known as Punta Esmeralda. Lots of local families will come here on weekends to enjoy the natural splash pools. Playa 88 lies in that sweet spot between Coco Beach and Punta Esmeralda, where you will still be able to find some calm (and tanning time).
Head to the exclusive, gated community of Playacar, and you’ll be treated to one of the more calm and pristine beaches in Playa del Carmen.
While Playacar is not a public beach, the best way to access it is if you actually live in the neighborhood. Alternatively, you can get to the beaches in Playacar through the all-inclusives that are scattered along this part of the coast. Check out Playacar Palace or The Reef Playacar if you’re looking for a luxurious all-inclusive stay in Playa del Carmen.
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