With a vibrant arts scene and many lauded restaurants, Tulum is one of the premier travel destinations in Mexico. Yet, what many love about this town in the Yucatan Peninsula is the gleaming slice of Caribbean coastline. Blessed with powdery white sands, azure waters and looming palm trees (plus a Mayan ruin or two), it’s a beach bum’s paradise. In town? Here’s our rundown of the most beautiful beaches in Tulum – plus a few more nearby.
The reputation of Tulum for stunning aesthetics rests largely on Playa Ruinas, home to well-preserved Mayan ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The beach combines white sand, turquoise waters and a site of genuine historical importance. The clifftop Castillo was built as a watchtower in the 13th century and is now the third most visited archaeological site in Mexico after Teotihuacán and Chichén Itzá.
The appropriately named Playa Paraíso, which translates as Paradise Beach, is another Instagram-ready spot in Tulum. This majestic stretch of sand, surrounded by palm trees and rugged cliffs, is a popular place for yoga enthusiasts and iguanas – and it’s large enough to ensure that it’s never overrun. There are also plenty of restaurants where you can buy food and cocktails, plus boats offering snorkeling excursions in the warm sea.
Las Palmas is blessed with a serene stretch of sand and gentle turquoise waves. More secluded than Playa Paraíso, you won’t find vendors or restaurants in the immediate area. Although this may be less convenient, it also means Las Palmas is the perfect place if you’re looking to escape the crowded beaches in nearby Cancún or Playa del Carmen. Bring a picnic and get down to the serious business of soaking up rays.
Less than 30 minutes by car from central Tulum, Akumal Beach is a popular sandy stretch that’s great for family outings and snorkeling with turtles. Notably more commercialized than the secluded beaches surrounding Tulum, Akumal backs onto a broad selection of palapa-roofed bars and restaurants. Beach umbrellas are available to rent, and excellent food and ice-cold beers are on offer throughout the day.
While Playa Ruinas and Playa Paraíso typically grab the spotlight, venturing away from the popular sands can reap great rewards in Tulum. Instead, head to the Secret Beach, a secluded spot deep in the Unesco-badged Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. This gorgeous spot has clear, calm waters and is often deserted. It takes about an hour to reach by bike from central Tulum. Bring your own lunch and a Spanish dictionary – Secret Beach is still very much a secret with most tourists and is mostly visited by Mexicans.
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