Xpu Há beach is still the best secret in the Riviera Maya. The coastline along the Riviera Maya runs for nearly 100 km, with many fabulous beaches. And Xpu Há beach is the best of the best.
It has a spectacular beach made up of incredibly soft white sand. And the warm crystal-clear Caribbean ocean is to die for. And amazingly, although the Riviera Maya has 25 million visitors a year, Playa Xpu Há is still an un-spoilt oasis.
Find out why XpuHa beach is still the best kept secret in the Riviera Maya, how to get there, things to do, and tips for your visit.
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.
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 mile marker 265 along the highway, it makes it much easier for you to find. But there are two entrances to Xpu Há beach, which take you to different beach clubs.
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 go 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 a car, you can take a taxi or a collectivo. Collectivo's are white mini-buses driving 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 Playa Xpu Há will cost around 300 pesos (~$13 USD).
If you take the gravel road for the Playa Xpu Há beach club, about 50 yards down, 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 wristband. 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 take the earlier Xpu Há beach access, you travel about 200 yards down the road. Then you'll arrive at a kiosk and pay $100 pesos a person to enter. A few yards further along, you park, and if you came early enough, you might get a shady spot.
If you are walking after taking the collectivo, it's about a 5-7 min walk to each Xpu Há beach club.
As you arrive at Playa Xpu Há you'll find washrooms, restaurants, areas with tables in the shade, beach sunbeds etc., etc. There's also a small dive shop. 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 one of the two beach clubs or head out to a more secluded area beyond them. To the right around the corner, the beach continues 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 here are the best as the water is very calm on all but the windiest days. If you continue walking past the small hotel resort, you'll find an area where there is no one else at all. The sand is excellent, and the gently sloping ocean floor results in small waves great for swimming.
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 a small cooler with drinks and/or food. If you don't have a cooler where you are staying, most Oxxo stores have inexpensive ones you can buy. Many locals, especially on the weekends, will arrive with a blanket to sit on, beach chairs, shade umbrella, and a heavily stocked cooler with excellent beach food. All prepared for a day at the beach. And don't forget to watch the magnificent sunsets.
It is turtle nesting season between May and November, 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 a roundish sunken area 4-5 feet across, there's likely a turtle nest underneath. Also, the sunblock you use should be biodegradable if you decide to go swimming. Otherwise, the turtle habitat and food sources can be affected.
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 incredible calm ocean.
Snorkeling at Playa Xpu Há
There are many water activities you can do at Xpu Há beach besides swimming. Snorkeling is an everyday activity along the coast of the Riviera Maya. Due to the warm water and the Mesoamerican barrier reef, it is home to an exciting array of tropical fish. Also, the reef provides a barrier and creates much calmer areas to snorkel in. Non more so than at Xpu Há beach. 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. However, the advantage here over Akumal is that there aren't as many people snorkeling at Xpu Há beach.
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 swimming is easy. Also, if you go over the areas where there is coral, you won't accidentally damage the coral with your fins.
Playa Xpu Há isn't renowned as a scuba diving destination, a dive shop is
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 Playa Xpu Há
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. And the calmer water at Playa Xpu Há makes it a great fun activity. 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
You can do other water activities at Xpu Há beach, including parasailing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding, and kite surfing. And you can rent jet skis too. All are available from the sole water sports vendor.
Panga Boats at Xpu Há Beach
Anchored in one section of Playa Xpu Há, there are usually a few panga boats tied up. If you want to take a boat tour, ask one of the captains and negotiate a price. If you are interested in fishing or snorkeling, this can be a great excursion to take.
If you're tired of all the strenuous water activities and worn out by lounging around on Xpu Há beach, don't worry. Take a relaxing massage instead. Under the shade of the local massage tent, you not only get a fantastic view of the ocean, but you can get a relaxing massage as well. The prices are ~ 600 pesos.
Playa Xpu Há has two beach
clubs. Both a located close to the south end of Xpu Há beach. Each has separate
road access, but once you are on the beach, you can hang out at either beach
club, but you'll have to pay a fee for using some areas.
Playa Xpu Há beach club is
further north along Xpu Há beach. It's 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, it's 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 (see picture). It has 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 tacos, 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.
There is a trail to the local cenote at the northernmost end of Xpu Há beach. Looking at the google earth map earlier, you can see the trail that leaves the beach and meanders to the cenote. It only takes a few mins to walk the trail. Often, someone will rent you a snorkel, life jacket and ask for a small fee.
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 onto the coastal beaches of the Riviera Maya. Early 2019 was a year where large amounts of sargassum seaweed were 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 beach often received less seaweed than other beaches along the coastline. In 2021 Playa Xpu Há received only a minimum of sargassum. Also, the staff at the Xpu Há beach clubs clear areas around the beach clubs to reduce the impact.
With 100 km's of coastline along the Riviera Maya, there are many outstanding beaches. But Playa Xpu Há is still the best secret in the Riviera Maya. Slowly it is becoming more well-known, but for now, it's mainly a locals' beach. Considering how spectacular Xpu Há beach is, it's surprising it's not a lot busier than it is. It combines the best of everything: fabulous soft sand, incredible ocean, a couple of beach bars, and many secluded areas. And there's a cenote you can explore too. Visit Xpu Há beach on your next trip to the Riviera Maya. You won't regret it.
Other related posts that you might be interested in
Riviera Maya - Voted Best Vacation Destination in Mexico
Best Beaches in the Riviera Maya
Accommodation in the Riviera Maya
Scuba Diving 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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