see + do
Concierge.com's insider take:
Hotels and theme parks now claim many of the Riviera Maya's finest beaches, but there are still a few spots where sandy roads lead to crystal-clear caletas (coves), and where the fish outnumber humans. Yalkú, just north of the town of Akumal, has a barefoot beach restaurant, a gorgeous cove where snorkelers swim among darting angelfish, and a small nearby campground. There's also a small hotel and RV campground along the half-moon cove at Paamul; walk a few yards down the beach for blissful privacy (Carretera 307, Km 85; 52-984-875-1051; www.paamulcabanas.com). In Playa del Carmen, hip beach clubs where DJs spin beach and Latin house music for sun-worshippers are clustered along the sand north of town. Mamita's started the trend and is still going strong (Calle 28 Norte; 52-984-803-2867).
Tulum has the best beaches of all just south of the Mayan ruins. Spread your towel near Mezzanine and watch the kiteboarders sail above the afternoon waves, or slip into calm coves beside Zamas (location of ¡Que Fresco! restaurant) and the Ana y José hotel. Sea turtles nest in summer and fall in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, where they're safely protected from bright lights and human hordes.
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