Xpu Há – Currently the Best Secret Beach in the Riviera Maya

Xpu Há Mexico is one of the spectacular white sand beaches in the Riviera Maya. It’s a big hit with the locals but is only slowly becoming known by tourists and visitors. It’s a hidden gem for most people visiting the area. So, with so many beaches to choose from why is Xpu Há the best secret beach in the Riviera Maya, and one of my top 3 beaches? Read on and find out.

Where Is Xpu Há Mexico

Xpu Há Beach is in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. Xpu Há is pronounced [sh'pu ha] and was once the name of a hotel in Mexico. Yet, it is more likely that the name comes from the Mayan, meaning “the morning dew”, or “stream of two waters” is another definition.

Playa Xpu Há is between Playa Del Carmen to the north, and Tulum to the South on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.  The land of spectacular powder white sand beaches.

How to Get to Playa Xpu Há

Playa Xpu Há is just off Highway 307 at KM 265. The entrance off the highway isn’t grand and could be missed. One of the reasons why it’s not full of visitors. At least not yet. However, as it is at KM marker 265 along the highway it makes it much easier for you to find.

The easiest way to get there is via car. To enter the turn off you’ll have to drive north on Highway 307, and take a right turn at the entrance. If you are coming from Cancun, or Playa Del Carmen you will have to drive past it on the opposite side of the highway. Then take the next retourno before driving north again and turning off. Driving times to Xpu Há beach are

  • Cancun - Xpu Há ~ 1 hour
  • Playa Del Carmen - Xpu Há ~ 20 mins
  • Tulum - Xpu Há ~ 20 mins
  • Akumal - Xpu Há ~ 11 mins
  • Ocean Breeze Akumal - Xpu Há   9 mins

The easiest way to get there is via car. To enter the turn off you’ll have to drive north on Highway 307, and take a right turn at the entrance. If you are coming from Cancun, or Playa Del Carmen you will have to drive past it on the opposite side of the highway. Then take the next retourno before driving north again and turning off. Driving times to Xpu Há beach are

If you don’t have access to a car you can take a taxi or a collectivo. Collectivo’s are white mini-buses that drive along highway 307 between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. They only cost about 20-40 pesos (< $1 - $2 USD) and will drop you off at the entrance. A taxi will cost more. For example, a taxi from Playa Del Carmen to Xpu Há will cost around 300 pesos (~$13 USD).

About 50 yards down the gravel road, after turning off highway 307 you will arrive at a kiosk. Here you pay 50 pesos a person ($2 – 2.50 USD) to use the road to access the beach. In return for your 50 pesos, you will receive a wrist band. If you spend more than 250 pesos at the La Playa Beach Club or Restaurant, you can get your 50 pesos reimbursed. But, you must keep the receipt to show the amount you purchased. And leave the beach before 4 pm – otherwise, they will not return the 50 pesos. Either way $2 USD isn’t much to pay to visit one of the most fabulous beaches in the world.

Once past the Playa Xpu Há kiosk continue down the road for a few hundred yards until you reach the parking lot. If you are walking after taking the collectivo, its about a 5 min walk. If you are parking your vehicle there are some shady spots that you should try to get if you can. However, the parking area isn’t large so when it’s busy you might have to park more in the open.

Arriving at Xpu Há Beach

As you arrive at Xpu Há you will walk from the parking area past the small dive shop, and beach club, out onto the beach. The gorgeous white sand stretches both left and right, while the turquoise waters of the Caribbean ocean are in front of you. You now have several choices of where to go. You can stay at the La Playa Xpu Há beach club, or head out to an area beyond the beach club on either side. To the right around the corner, the beach continues on for a long way. This part of the beach becomes slightly rockier but is very quiet as a result. To the left, the beach stretches for a long way. It goes past the La Playa Beach Club to an area with nothing but beach. The swimming and snorkeling in this part of the beach are the best as the water is very calm on all but the windiest days. At the far end, you will reach a resort, but there’s plenty of beach before you hit that.

Things to Do at Xpu Há Beach

Relaxing on the Beach

The best thing to do at Playa Xpu Há is to relax on the spectacular powder white sand beach. It seems to run for miles. And whether you decide to lie near the beach club, or further away in a more secluded spot, you’ll have a fabulous view of the Caribbean ocean. Make sure you bring your sunblock, a hat, sunglasses, and have some refreshments at hand as it can get hot. If you decide not to buy refreshments or food at the restaurant bring along a small cooler with drinks and/or food. If you don’t have a cooler in the place you are staying, most Oxxo stores have inexpensive ones you can buy.

Between May and November, it is turtle nesting season and Playa Xpu Há is a turtle nesting beach. Make sure that you don’t disturb the turtle nests though. Often, they are marked to make them easy to avoid. But, if you see an area of the beach where there is a roundish sunken area 4-5 feet across it’s likely there’s a turtle nest underneath. Also, the sunblock you use should be biodegradable if you decide to go swimming (and why wouldn’t you!). Otherwise, the turtle habitat and food sources can be affected.

Swimming

Xpu Há beach is a great place to swim and relax in the water. Large parts of the bottom of the bay only slope down very gradually. So, there are large areas where the water is only 2-5 feet deep. This is ideal for those who want to relax in the water. And the water is so warm that you can stay in it for hours and hours at a time. It’s a very safe place to relax and swim. Often, you’ll find small groups of friends hanging out in 2-4 feet of water, chatting, enjoying this wonderful calm ocean.

Other Water Activities at Xpu Há Beach

Snorkeling at Playa Xpu Há

There are lots of water activities you can do at Xpu Há beach besides swimming. Snorkeling is a common activity along the coast of the Riviera Maya. Due to the warm water, and the Mesoamerican barrier reef it is home to an interesting array of tropical fish. Also, the reef provides a barrier and creates much calmer areas to snorkel in. Non more so that at Xpu Há. Snorkeling here you can observe many fish, rays, and turtles. However, you won’t see as many turtles here as you will snorkeling in Akumal Bay. Because there aren’t the same number of eelgrass beds at Playa Xpu Há. The advantage here over Akumal, however, is that there aren’t as many people snorkeling at Xpu Há so it’s a much more leisurely affair.

If you don’t bring your own equipment you can rent it. The cost is about 120 pesos (~$5-6 USD). If, however, you are going to be spending a week or so here you might want to consider buying equipment. For 300-400 pesos you can buy a snorkel and mask. At Xpu Há beach you don’t need fins, as the swimming is quite easy. Also, if you go over the areas where there is coral you won’t then accidentally damage the coral with your fins.

Scuba Diving

While Playa Xpu Há isn’t renowned as a scuba diving destination, there is a dive shop located here. So you can rent equipment, go on a dive with an instructor, or take your certification. The calm waters make it a good place for beginner divers with appropriate supervision.

Kayaking

While you’re unlikely to be packing around a kayak with you, you can rent them. They cost about 200 pesos for a couple of hours. They are open top plastic kayaks, so you won’t want to go too far out in them. But they are fun to paddle around the bay looking down at the fish, rays, and turtles in the clear Caribbean water. Also, make sure you wear a hat and/or a shirt. It’s pretty easy to lose track of time and end up with an unwanted sunburn as a result.

Para Sailing/Paddle Boarding/Boogie Boards/Kite Surfing/Jet skis

Other water activities you can do are parasailing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding and kite surfing. All are available from the sole water sports vendor. And you can rent jet skis too.

Panga Boats

Anchored in one section of the shore there are usually a few panga boats tied up. If you want to take a boat tour you could ask and negotiate a price with one of the boat captains.

Relaxing Massage on Xpu Há Beach

If you’re tired of all the strenuous water activities and worn out by lounging around on the beach, don’t worry. Take a relaxing massage instead. Under the shade of the local massage tent, you not only get an amazing view of the ocean, but you can get a relaxing massage as well. Prices are ~ 600 pesos.

Hang Out at La Playa Xpu Há Beach Club

La Playa Xpu Há beach club is a fun place to hang out during your visit to Xpu Há. Whether you stay there the whole time, or split your time between it and elsewhere on the beach its definitely a nice option to have.

La Playa Xpu Há is open from 10 AM till 6:30 PM. It closes just as you get to see the beautiful sunset. They have several amenities including hammocks, palapas, sunbeds, showers, washrooms, and tables and chairs.

From Thursday to Sunday starting at 2:30 pm they have live music. It can be quite a fun place to hang out in the afternoon with a beer or a cocktail, some appies, listening to live music.

The restaurant serves a variety of food including taco’s, pasta, and hamburgers. But ceviche and the seafood dishes are the specialties. Considering the beachfront location prices are reasonable. An order of ceviche is ~ 180 pesos (~$9 USD), while a bucket of 6 beers is 150 pesos (~$7 USD).

It’s a great place to hang out for couples, small groups and families.

Sargassum Seaweed at Xpu Há Beach

Sargassum seaweed is a floating seaweed that travels along ocean currents. The seaweed supports a variety of ocean life and even creates its own unique ecosystem. Its growth is influenced by many things. Including the amount of nutrients and water temperature. As a result, some years there can be increased growth of the seaweed which can get blown by winds and waves on to the coastal beaches of the Riviera Maya. Early 2019 was a year where there were large amounts of sargassum seaweed accumulating on the beaches in the Riviera Maya. By Fall 2019 it receded significantly and so far, it hasn’t been a problem since.

The sargassum seaweed also washes ashore at Playa Xpu Há. However, during the worst year for seaweed in decades, Xpu Há often received less seaweed than other beaches along the coastline. Also, the staff at La Playa Xpu Há cleared areas around the beach club to reduce its impact.

Why Xpu Há Mexico is Currently the Best Secret Beach in the Riviera Maya

There is 100 km of coastline along the Riviera Maya, with many outstanding beaches. And Playa Xpu Há is one of the very best, and currently the best secret beach in the Riviera Maya. Slowly it is becoming more well-known, but for now, it’s still a secret location. At least for most tourists and visitors. It's a surprise it's not much busier as it is a spectacular beach with the azure blue-green Caribbean ocean. As well the water along the beach is calm and inviting. And while there are large stretches of beach there are also a few facilities. There are a restaurant and beach club, and washroom facilities and, some activities too. It combines the best of everything and should most definitely be a beach you visit during your stay. Xpu Há has the best combination of a long spectacular white sand beach, calm turquoise water, with only a smattering of people. But, it also has enough amenities to make your stay truly memorable.

Other related posts that you might be interested in

Riviera Maya - Voted Best Vacation Destination in Mexico

Best Beaches in the Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya Excursions

Accommodation in the Riviera Maya

Akumal Snorkeling

Scuba Diving in the Riviera Maya

Weather in the Riviera Maya

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Exploring The Riviera Maya is Ocean Breeze Akumal's Blog. Here we explore the diversity of Mexico's best tourism destination to highlight the best beaches, cenotes, restaurants, attractions, Mayan ruins, etc., etc. We provide information to help you explore this spectacular part of the world and give you tips and tricks that only the locals know. Helping to give you the vacation experience of a lifetime.

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