Do you need a break from the crowds of Playa del Carmen and Cancun? Then Xpu Ha Beach is where you want to go. Xpu-Ha (pronounced Shpoo-Ha) is a peaceful paradise of silky, white sand and turquoise waters. It’s one of the best Yucatan Beaches and a perfect spot to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.
With no massive resorts and just a handful of beachside restaurants, Xpu-Ha has so far escaped the commercialization of nearby Playa Del Carmen. Not that we don’t love Playa, but sometimes you just want to hear the sound of crashing waves rather than pounding music.
Xpu Ha Beach is relatively unknown to the average tourist but it’s a favorite of locals and visitors in the know. You can be almost assured of your own slice of paradise even during the peak season. Pull up a beach chair at La Playa Xpu Ha Beach Club, take a kayak out for a spin, indulge in a massage or just nap in a hammock, whatever you choose to do you can’t help but do it slowly and with a smile on your face.
Where is Xpu Ha Beach and how do you get there?
Xpu Ha, Mexico is right off the main Federal Highway 307, in between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. This makes it an easy excursion from either place.
Driving distance to Xpu Ha from Playa del Carmen is about 18 miles, and it’s 23 miles from Tulum and about 60 miles from the Cancun Hotel Zone.
If you have rented a car then driving to Xpu Ha is easy. Plus you can then visit the nearby cenotes and ruins in Tulum at your own pace. There is free on site parking but it can get busy so it’s best to arrive early and secure a parking spot.
Taxi is also a good way to get to Xpu Ha Beach. There will also be taxis waiting down the road when you leave the beach. Prices vary depending on where you are coming from and even what time of day. A rough guide is about 300 Pesos from Playa del Carmen but make sure to set the price before getting in the taxi.
Colectivos are a great choice if you’re on a budget and don’t mind public transit. Colectivos are vans that run up and down the highway picking up and dropping off passengers, mainly locals. They’re a convenient and cheap way to get around and it’s also a good way to immerse yourself in the local culture. The ride will take about 20 minutes and cost 35 pesos each way.
You can board a colectivo to Xpu Ha from Playa del Carmen at Calle 2 Norte between Avenida 15 and 20. If they have room you can also flag one down along the route. The vans will have the names of destinations on the front window but confirm with the driver when you board and let him know you want to get off at Xpu Ha or you’ll end up in Tulum.
Drop-off will be around KM 265, watch out for a sign just past Puerto Aventuras. They will drop you at the side of the highway and you will then have to cross over the highway and walk down a sandy road for about 10 minutes to get to the beach. To return just wait on the side of the highway near the road to the beach and flag down a colectivo.
Prices at Xpu Ha
There is a 50 peso entrance fee for Xpu Ha Beach but if you spend at least 200 pesos at the restaurant you will be reimbursed. Just make sure you keep your receipt and present it at the main gate before 6 pm.
If you’re not content to lay on your towel you can rent chairs from the Xpu Ha Beach Club. Plastic beach chairs cost 100 pesos. Two chairs plus and umbrella are 250 pesos. For 350 pesos you can get an umbrella, table and four chairs.
There are also lockers available for 30 pesos and this is highly recommended if you plan to go swimming and leave any valuables.
Things to do in Xpu Ha, Riviera Maya
Although Xpu Ha is quiet compared to its neighbor of Playa del Carmen there’s still plenty to do. If you’re looking for more than just chilling on the soft sand here are a few ideas:
Aside from floating or swimming in the warm turquoise waters, Xpu Ha is a fabulous place for water activities. On a calm day, Xpu Ha snorkeling is a great pastime. If you don’t have your own equipment you can rent snorkel gear for about 120 pesos.
Kayaking is another fun thing to do and the cost for one hour is 120 pesos and 200 pesos for two hours. If you want something a little more exciting try para-sailing or jet skis. You can even take kite surfing lessons if that intrigues you.
As with many of the beaches in Mexico, you can get a relaxing massage under the shade of a tent with the sound of birds and the ocean lapping at the shore. It’s a perfect way to fully immerse into the peaceful paradise of Xpu Ha. Cost varies but you should be able to get an hour massage for about 600 pesos. If you prefer more privacy there is also a spa at the Serenity Eco Camp.
Visit a cenote
Cenotes are natural pools created by the underground river system that flows through the Yucatan. Directly across the street from Xpu Ha Beach are two cenotes: Cenote El Jardin and Cenote Azul. They do tend to get busy as the day goes on so if you want it quieter it’s best to go in the morning.
Where to eat in Xpu Ha
As mentioned, the beauty of Xpu Ha is the lack of commercialism. This, of course, means that the options for dining are limited. However, there are a couple of simple beach bar/restaurants on the sand that serve up some fresh seafood and other basic menu items. The prices are a little higher than in other places but that’s to be expected with so little competition.
Tip: If you don’t plan to eat or drink at the Xpu Ha Beach Club be sure to bring your own food and drink and there are no stores at the beach.
Xpu Ha Beach Hotels
If you have decided that a day trip to Xpu Ha is not enough there are a few options for overnight stays.
Serenity Eco Luxury Tented Camp is fairly new and offers luxurious “tents” complete with air conditioning, hot showers, WiFi, and king size beds. There is also a lovely pool and the Serenity Beach Club serving refreshing drinks and delicious food. Click here to find pricing and reviews for Serenity.
Glamping Xpu Ha is a more basic option with shared bathrooms and cold showers. On the upside, they have comfy beds and are on the beach. Click here to find pricing and reviews for Glamping.
El Secreto Xpu Ha has basic but cozy rooms with a kitchenette, WiFi and a private beach area complete with little beach huts for relaxing during the day. Click here to find pricing and reviews for El Secreto.
Special advisory: Sadly in 2018 and 2019 many Caribbean beaches have seen an invasion of Sargassum seaweed which is washing up onto the shores of the usually pristine beaches of Riviera Maya. Special clean up crews are working overtime and the hope is that the problem will decrease as time goes on. However, it’s advised to do a bit of daily research on which beaches are in the best shape as it changes with the tides and weather.
Forums and webcams have been set up to help with this:
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.