Best Undiscovered Beaches on Riviera Maya: Xpu-ha

Xpu-ha, a long stretch of white sand beach south of Playa del Carmen, is one of the best beaches on Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast for swimming, snorkeling or just chilling out. In fact, it offers such a perfect combination of clear, clean waters, limited undertow and soft white sand, it’s hard to believe it’s still under the radar of most visitors.

Beautiful white sand beach at XPU-Ha

Beautiful white sand beach at XPU-Ha

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:

Xpu-ha is located around 25 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen off Highway 307 on the way to Tulum. This stretch of beach has the added bonus of having been spared the large quantities of sargasso seaweed, a pesky grass that’s plaguing other beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s a short walk in from the highway.

Getting to Xpu-Ha Beach:

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.

Colectivo from Playa del Carmen - Tulum

Hop a colectivo to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum and points between

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. In this case, say Xpu-ha which 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. 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.

Dirt road to xpu-ha beach near playa del carmen

It’s a short walk along the road to xpu-ha beach near playa del carmen

What to do at Xpu-Ha Beach: 

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.

Xpu-ha beach

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.

Xpu-Ha Beach near Playa del Carmen

Restaurant La Playa at Xpu-Ha Beach near Playa del Carmen

Food to Eat at Xpu-Ha Beach:

Restaurant Beach Club La Playa XPU-Ha

Ceviche and shrimp cocktails are the top choice at Restaurant Beach Club La Playa XPU-Ha

Prices aren’t as low at Restaurant & Beach Club La Playa as they are in the heart of Playa del Carmen so 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!

Travel Planner

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.

Love beaches? To discover more about vacations on other beaches in Mexico, check out these beach reports:

Beginner’s Guide to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca 

7 Reasons to Love Mazunte, Mexico

Escape to Gecko Rock Resort in Mexico’s Sea Turtle Country 

Day trip to  Roca Blanca Beach, Oaxaca





Booking.com

Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponPin on Pinterest
Recommended Posts
Showing 20 comments
  • Donna Janke
    Reply

    I love the white sand at Xpu-ha. It looks like a place I’d enjoy relaxing for the day. I too am not a swimmer, but enjoy being by the water and playing in it. I imagine I’d have a few giggles trying to pronounce it though.

  • Janice Chung
    Reply

    I wouldn’t have even tried to say “Xpu-ha” so thanks for providing the pronunciation! I’ve heard that it’s in Mexico where the beaches are simply lovely and this place has them too. Getting away in the winter to somewhere warm with fresh food is what I need to do next year!

  • Denis Gagnon
    Reply

    I found your article about the beach at Xpu-ha (did I pronounce it correctly?) very interesting, although I tend to prefer city beaches to remote beaches. But the ease of access via the colectivo and the beautiful picture of the shrimp ceviche with the bucket of beers may make me think again! Thanks for a great posting!

  • Sheena
    Reply

    Really enjoyed this article because we love searching for undiscovered and hidden gems when we travel as well (: Xpu-ha looks like the perfect beach to while and relax the day away! Kinda wish we were there now :p

  • Voyager
    Reply

    I love these kind of relatively unspoilt kind of beaches, they have sucha a pure beauty associated with them, just like a piece of paradise.

  • Anita
    Reply

    Never been to those places in Mexico. Looks like a gorgeous beach. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cristal
    Reply

    Great article! I was recently in the Riviera Maya and couldn’t find much info on the smaller beaches so will definitely have to check it out next time I’m there.

  • Sand In My Suitcase
    Reply

    Xpu-Ha Beach looks so pretty! We visited the Riviera Maya late last year — but unfortunately didn’t make it to Xpu-Ha. It’s great you mention taking a colectivo to get there. We caught many of them to travel up and down that highway (e.g., from Playa down to Tulum). Soooo much less expensive than taking a taxi, which really isn’t necessary.

  • The GypsyNesters
    Reply

    Absolutely gorgeous, and looks to be so much less crowded than many of the other beaches along the Riviera Maya. Great info!

  • Rachael
    Reply

    Xpu-Ha Beach looks like a place I would love to visit…and the ceviche looks so amazing!!

  • Sue Reddel
    Reply

    Xpu-Ha looks like a great find. We love going to beaches that aren’t that crowded yet you can still get a great lunch and a cold cerveza. We’ll check it out next time we’re in Playa.

  • Jen Morrow
    Reply

    East coast Mexico is full of great beaches and activities, I never get tired of it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Wendy
    Reply

    Looks beautiful! We love Akumal because of the beach, the turtles and the snorkeling. Now that I know more about Xpu-Ha, we’ll have to visit the next time we go to Riviera Maya. We used the Colectivo to travel to Tulum and Dos Ojos (the fresh water caves for snorkeling and diving). Colectivos are very inexpensive way to travel and you get closer to the locals.

  • Grey World Nomads
    Reply

    That’s the kind of advice I like. I’m sure it’s not that easy to find quiet beaches in Mexico. Xpu-ha looks stunning!

  • Billie Frank
    Reply

    Great timing! Our son and DIL are heading to Playa del Carmen in July- I’ll share Xpu-ha with them. There aren’t too many undiscovered beaches in Mexico these days.

  • Anne
    Reply

    These pictures are so raw and beautiful! I would love to visit Playa del Carmen someday 🙂

  • Rossana
    Reply

    Ph… to enjoy an entire month! Lovely! The beach looks incredible – and the ceviche, yum! Perfect place to get away from it all!

  • Diane
    Reply

    Really lovely beach and somewhere we will definitely visit in the future. We’re considering Playa as a home base for summer next year … This certainly adds another interesting place to check out! By the way… I think you may have miscalculated your exchange rate a bit.. “ceviche is 330 pesos (418 USD)” 🙂

  • isabella
    Reply

    Funny! I am just writing a blog right now on the same subject! it is one of my favourite beaches! great pictures!

    • Michele Peterson
      Reply

      Great! Looking forward to reading your post!

Leave a Comment

3,491 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments