The Most Beautiful Beaches in Tulum

Snorkel with turtles or kickback with a sundowner at Akumal Beach
Snorkel with turtles or kickback with a sundowner at Akumal Beach | © Simon Dannhauer / Alamy
Photo of Stephen Woodman
1 April 2021

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.

Playa Ruinas

Natural Feature, Historical Landmark, Ruins, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Tulum Ruins, quintana roo, yucatan, mexico
© Prismagia / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Playa Paraíso

Natural Feature
Map View
Crystal clear turquoise water on a Mexican sandy beach under palm trees - tourist attraction and holiday destination in Tulum, Mexico, Caribbean Sea
© Oliver Rein / Alamy Stock Photo

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

Natural Feature
Map View
Playa Las Palmas beach near Tulum in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico on a sunny day before a storm set in.
© Elizabeth Wake / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Akumal Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Green Sea Turtle, Chelonia mydas, Akumal, Tulum, Mexico
© Reinhard Dirscherl / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Secret Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve in Tulum, Mexico as seen from the eco-friendly Cesiak hotel and tent cabins.
© scott sady / tahoelight.com / Alamy Stock Photo
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.
These recommendations were updated on April 1, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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