Looking for an easy day trip from Playa del Carmen? Xpu Ha Beach, a long stretch of white sand south of Playa del Carmen and north of Tulum, is one of the best beaches on Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast for swimming, snorkelling or just chilling out.
With its perfect combination of clear waters, limited undertow and soft white sand, it’s hard to believe it’s still under the radar of most visitors.
Maybe it’s because its name doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue (pronounce it as shpoo-ha and you’ll be pretty close) but during our month-long stay in Playa del Carmen a few months ago, it was one of my favourite beaches. Xpu-ha beach is the kind of place you should visit now before the crowds arrive.
Here’s what you need to know about this perfect patch of beach paradise:
Location of Xpu Ha Beach – Playa Xpu Ha
Playa Xpu ha is located around 25 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen off Highway 307 on the way to Tulum. It makes a perfect stop if you’re visiting the cenotes of Tulum.
Although this stretch of coastline is sometimes affected by sargasso seaweed, a problem that has been plaguing beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean since 2015, quite often the waters are completely clear and beautiful for swimming.
Seaweed conditions from Cancun to Tulum on Mexico’s Caribbean coast vary from day to day depending on tidal currents and winds. Scroll down to get updates on seaweed conditions in Xpu Ha, Akumal and Tulum. Scroll down for more about the seaweed forecast below.
How to Get to Xpu Ha Beach Riviera Maya
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to get to Playa Xpu-Ha, even if you don’t have your own car. You can take a taxi (we were quoted 350 MXN pesos for a one-way fare) or you can hop on one of the minivans known as colectivos. Unlike Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca where a colectivo is most often a pick-up truck with a buzzer in back, here on the swanky Riviera Maya, they are air-conditioned, relatively new mini-vans, complete with seat belts. Not only are they comfortable but they are cheap. Our ride (one-way) cost just 70 pesos ( under $4 USD) for 2 people.
You can catch a colectivo in Playa del Carmen at the corner of 20 Avenida and 2 Calle Norte, a 5 minute walk from Walmart. The vans headed to Tulum will be pointing north on the street. You just climb into one with an open door, grab a seat and tell the driver where you are going.
How to pronounce Xpu-ha? The pronunciation of Xpu-ha is pronounced shpoo-ha (shouting “poo-pa” from the back of a crowded van is likely one of the most embarrassing things you could ever do ).
Once the mini-van is full, it will depart, making stops along the highway to let other passengers out. You pay your fare when you get out. After a 20 minute ride, you’ll arrive at your highway stop ( km 265), then cross the highway, pay 40 pesos at the kiosk, get a wristband and walk down the dirt road with the sign for La Playa restaurant, home of the Xpu-Ha Beach Club.
Save your food bill so you can get a refund of your 40 pesos on your way out ( assuming you leave before 6 pm). It’s an easy 10 minute walk, past mangroves and fruit trees, and is mostly shady.
What to do at Xpu-Ha Playa Beach Club
Unless you bring your own beach chairs, food and drink, your best option for the day is Restaurant La Playa. It’s hard to miss it as it’s the largest restaurant on the beach. The clamshell chairs and tables are free to use for the whole day with a minimum order of food and drink. This gets you access to tidy washrooms with flush toilets, showers, lockers and change rooms. It’s also very family-friendly.
Restaurant & Beach Club La Playa at Xpu-Ha Beach
On calm days, the water is fine for swimming, snorkelling or just splashing about. It’s one of the best beaches in Mexico for families. Even non-swimmers ( like me) will find it an easy spot to swim, assuming you don’t arrive on a windy day. If it’s windy you can always go kitesurfing. But what most people do is just hang out and relax on the beach. Sip a cocktail, order a bucket of beer, go for a long walk or, if you plan your visit and arrive on a Saturday or Sunday around 2:30 pm, you can listen to live jazz or salsa music at Restaurant & Beach Club La Playa.
Costs at Xpu-Ha Beach Club
Prices aren’t as low at Restaurant & Beach Club La Playa as they are in the heart of Playa del Carmen. Expect to pay 180 pesos for ceviche or aguachile (a tasty combo of shrimp mixed with tomato, cucumber, cilantro, lime, serrano chile and red onion). If you’re nervous about eating raw seafood, you don’t need to worry here.
At Restaurant & Beach Club La Playa, the shrimp is boiled before it’s mixed with the vegetables. A huge double order of ceviche is 330 pesos ($18 USD) and comes with enough condiments to stock an OXXO store. A bucket of six beer is 150 MXN pesos (8 USD). Wine is 55 pesos a glass and a Michelado 15 pesos. There’s even a kid’s menu, which makes Xpu Ha Beach one of our top choices for a family-friendly vacation on the Riviera-Maya.
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Sargassum Seaweed at Xpu-Ha Beach Mexico – July 2019
Like much of the Caribbean coast of the Mexico stretching from Cancun to Tulum, this stretch of the Riviera Maya was affected by historic quantities of sargassum seaweed in 2018. The seaweed began returning in June 2019 and is projected to be equal to or greater than in previous years.
Read our report on the current Seaweed Conditions in Cancun learn about the health hazards of swimming in sargassum seaweed and get information on the seaweed forecast.
If you’re planning a beach vacation for 2019-2020 and have been worried about the current seaweed conditions at Xpu-Ha or the nearby Catalonia or Belair Collection Resort & Spa, it’s important to note that conditions can change daily depending on tides and water temperature.
To monitor current seaweed conditions, you have a few options.
1. GET MAPS AND SEAWEED UPDATES ON FACEBOOK by RED DE MONITOREO DEL SARGAZO
This not-for-profit group is made up of engineers, biologists and other experts who are volunteering their time to provide monitoring expertise and services. They published this map of areas affected by sargasso seaweed in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Tulum on July 15, 2019. Get updates from the Red de Monitoreo del Sargazo Cancun Facebook Page.
2. Check Webcams to see live Feeds of Beach Conditions
Check the webcams such as the Akumal Beach Webcam to see live feeds of beach images that update every 10 seconds throughout the day.
In Cancun, Mexico you can check the Live Aqua Webcam to see live video frames updated every 15 seconds.
3. Consult Seaweed Forecasting Projections
You can also check the Sargassum Early Advisory System (SEAS), a forecasting project based in Texas intended to help predict the movement of sargassum blooms. Originally created in 2013 to help with forecasting of the large Sargassum landings in Texas, it now provides forecasting for the Gulf Coast, Mexico and the Caribbean.
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Travel Guide to Xpu-Ha Beach, Restaurants and Hotels
Restaurant & Beach Club La Playa: The beach club and restaurant is open daily. In low season the hours are 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and during High Season ( Winter) hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. In high season, arrive early, as lounge chairs disappear fast. Live music begins at 2:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Visit the website at Restaurant & Beach Club La Playa for more details.
Hotels on Xpu-ha Beach Mexico
Serenity Luxury Eco-tents: Asian-inspired glamping tents are located directly on Xpu-ha beach. The range of accommodation is from one bed accommodation to a double with a king and a queen size bed so Serenity is a good option for families.
If you’re looking for beachfront hotels near Tulum, check our post on the most romantic hotels in Mexico for more options.
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