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Xpu-Ha Beach…a Gem Close to Playa

Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 6, 2008

Xpu-Ha beachThere are many great stretches of beach in the Riviera Maya. North Beach in Playa Del Carmen with Mamita’s and Kool Beach Clubs is our favorite “every day” beach. It’s beautiful and close to our house, and even closer to the hotel, so a quick walk down for a swim is pretty easy. We also love Tulum’s beaches. They are about an hour from the house, so when we get a day off, it’s one of our regular destinations.

However, lately we have been spending more and more time at a not-so-well-known beach about 20 minutes down the road called Xpu-Ha. Xpu-Ha was a popular beach for awhile. It was wild, undeveloped, and had a cute little restaurant, the Café del Mar. Unfortunately awhile back the Café del Mar closed, and beach access became a little more restricted. However, there still are public roads to Xpu-Ha, still some wild undeveloped stretches of beach, and three beach clubs of varying style and cost.

Our favorite of these is La Playa Beach Club. The entrance is on the ocean side of 307, just south of the Catalonia resort. There’s a big sign saying “La Playa” at the entrance of a dubious looking dirt road. On weekends, there’s a rope across the road. Nearby is a house from which someone will come to lower the rope and let you in for the cost of $25 pesos per person. As the old joke goes: they don’t own the beach; they don’t own the road, but they own the rope. This money is refunded to you when you leave if you spend $100 pesos or more (approximately $8) while at the beach club. To collect your refund, just bring your receipt and wristbands back to the “gatekeeper” when you leave.

Xpu-Ha beachOnce inside the entrance, you’ll find about a half mile of curvy, pothole-filled dirt road. Drive slowly as you go over the bumps. The road will end at the beach. Pull your car into the sand parking lot and take in the sweeping view. Walk through the restaurant out onto the deck of the beach club and down onto one of the most gorgeous tropical beaches you will find.

La Playa is a typical beach club. They have lounge chairs and palapa umbrellas, the use of which is free with your $25 peso admission price. The several hammocks hanging on the beach are also available for free use. If you like fancier beach lounging, there are sun beds and very cool rocking loungers available for an additional fee. The restaurant food is…okay and typical of beach fare. The burgers ain’t bad. Cheri says the pina coladas are big and yummy. You can eat and drink on the restaurant deck overlooking the ocean or on your chair on the sand. We’ve always found the service to be friendly and reasonably fast (by Mexico standards). Here you can also do a bit of shopping, with a large shady shack selling local handicrafts.

There are lots of activities—sailing, snorkeling, jet skiing, windsurfing, kayaking, etc. if that is your interest. For your scuba & snorkeling needs, check out Bahia Divers, just 20 yards from La Playa Beach Club. We tend to lie in the sand and float in the water.

If you stroll along the beach south of La Playa, you’ll hit a very funky little beach area called Bonanza RV Park. There is space for camping, some undeveloped beach, a few lean-tos with some locals selling handicrafts, and a funky but very friendly feel. If you want to lay on the sand undisturbed, this is the place, but bring your own towel and shade. There are no chairs or umbrellas.

Walking even further south, what you’ll find is a long stretch of undeveloped Caribbean beach. And that’s not bad.

Here’s a video of utter bliss: no music, no noise, no people. Just the sounds of the waves and the wind.

If you head north on the beach from La Playa, again you’ll find an area pretty much undeveloped. As you stroll, keep an eye open for a small wooden shack with brightly colored hammocks and string chairs hanging about. This is the store of Juan and Juan, father and son, who make and sell beautiful hammocks. We have a number of them in the hotel.

Continuing your stroll, you’ll eventually hit the Hacienda Vista Real (HVR) Beach Club. It’s normally for the exclusive use of that all-inclusive resort, but in low season, they tend to welcome walk-up guests and rent chairs for a nominal fee. It’s a small beach club with an even smaller restaurant. When we were there, the quiet is what attracted us. No pounding music, no DJs. Just the sound of the surf. Ah….heaven.

This summer, life has not been exactly low key for us. Opening a bar, dealing with some employee matters, and enlarging the house—with all the construction noise, dirt and hassles that go along with it—have made paradise a little less tranquil than usual. Getting down to Xpu-Ha on occasion has allowed us to remember some of the reasons we moved to Mexico in the first place. It forces us to slow down and get in touch with nature, each other and ourselves. Every time we float in that beautiful water, we always make a vow that we are going to do this more often.

Here are some more pictures of a day at Xpu-Ha beach:

Two Buddhas
Tony & his buddy Buddha

La Playa Beach Club as seen from the ocean
Xpu-Ha beach

A view from the La Playa restaurant
La Playa beach

Cheri the Mermaid

The Caribbean as seen from a beach chair
Xpu-Ha beach

Not-so-old Man and the Sea
Tony at Xpu-Ha beach

Fishing boat
A fishing boat at Xpu-Ha beach

Cheri strolling on the beach
Cheri strolling on Xpu-Ha beach

La Playa Beach Club on Xpu-Ha Beach
La Playa Beach Club

Cloud Mountain

A well deserved rest
Tony snoozing in the hammock

14 Responses to “Xpu-Ha Beach…a Gem Close to Playa”

  1. - Tim & Ruth - said

    Loved the description and the photos. Almost like being there. Nice, nice looking place to center.

  2. Jackie said

    Wow, I miss Playa & area, time to get off my butt, I can only go if I reach my goal weight, I will come back to here often for inspiration, thanks Tony & Cheri!!!

  3. Sharon/Queencityfan said

    I love this beach too and I’m glad to know that the entrance is the roped off road.

    We wanted to go down this road last August but did not realize someone would let us in so we ended up at the HVR.

    Course this trip ended up with us all riding back to Playa in the back of a cattle truck type pickup but it was my favorite day of that trip.

    Thanks for sharing the details.

  4. Alicia/Sol said

    Tony and Cheri,

    Thanks for the information about the Playa beach club at Xpu-Ha. That is the most beautiful stretch of beach in the area.

    Sharon, some other women, and I spent a wonderful afternoon at HVR, last August. We had to ride back to Playa in a cattle truck because our taxis did not show up! That had to be the best day of the whole vacation.

  5. barry said

    thanks tony & cheri..this a a great bunch of pics and thanks for the info…. can’t wait to drop anchor in your town this Fall .

  6. Amber said

    Thankyou so much for the personal description and pictures of Xpu Ha. I have searched the web over to see if it was possible to stay on this beach and learn more about it. Your review was very helpful. Were body surfing fanatics. Any good tips on beaches that have good boogie boarding or body surfing without worrying about reefs and coral on the feet and legs?.I am trying to find a place to stay on one or very close. Part of the challenge it seems many beaches have outer reefs that protect them from producing any surf at all even on windy days. I am trying to find a place to stay on one or very close. Thanks again, I now plan to drop in at your hotel Bar!

  7. Hi Amber. Boogie boarding and/or body surfing is a bit of a challenge down here. It’s not that some of the beaches have a reef offshore…it’s all of them! The Yucatan has the world’s second largest continuous coral reef, right after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The reef stretches from north of Cancun all the way to Belize.

    The problem for boogie boarders created by the reef is not being scratched up by coral or rocks, since in the majority of areas the reef is quite a bit of distance off shore. However, the presence of the reef breaks up the waves and calms the surf. On windy days, there can be enough wave action to sustain some boogie boarding, but even then it’s really nothing to get too excited about.

    We have a lot of water sports down here, and maybe you can substitute one of those temporarily for your surfing passion. There is kite surfing, wind surfing, sailing, snorkeling, diving, fishing and sitting on the beach with a margarita in hand. We recommend all of them.

    As for Xpu-ha, just about anywhere in the area is “close.” We were just at Xpu-ha yesterday for a relaxing time in the sun and water. From our hotel front gate to La Playa beach club in Xpu-Ha is about 20 minutes door to beach. You’ll find most hotels and resorts are within 1/2 driving range of Xpu-ha. If you want to stay right on the beach, there is a very primitive campground called the Bonanza campground, and there is a large all-inclusive called the Catalonia something or other (we can’t remember the entire name, sorry). We will say the problem with staying in the Xpu-ha area is that when the sun goes down, it’s a little more difficult to get back to Playa and Fifth Avenue for all the restaurants and night life.

    Please do stop by the bar when you’re in town. We’d love to meet you.


  8. Hi Tony & Cheri!

    I´m La Playa Xpu Ha Beach Club & Restaurant webmaster and SEO.

    First of all, thank you for your great review, Tim Smith sent us an email with the link to this article.

    I think it would be useful for the readers to have the links to the two main “attractions” at this beach, La Playa Xpu Ha Beach Club & Restaurant, and BahiaDivers Dive Center, just 20 yards from the Beach Club.

    I just added the links here, if this is against your site policies, please remove them, or move the links to your article if you think it could be of value for the readers.

    By the way, they (La Playa Xpu Ha Owners) own not only the rope, but all the land between the road and the beach (including the dirt road). The beach of course is public, like everywhere in Mexico. They only charge you on weekends or holidays, not during the week.

    Best Regards

  9. Thanks for your comment, Alex. We didn’t know La Playa had a website or we would have linked to it originally. We updated our post with information from both websites you talk about, so people can get even more info. We love La Playa. In fact we were there just last week for a day of blissful R&R. We hope to be back soon!

    Tony & Cheri

  10. Denise said

    Help keep a gem a gem by not exploiting it on the internet! These places are soooo rare….shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh It has gotten sooooo busy over the past few years there, that it is difficult to find the serenity it once offered. So keep your experience to a vague location and help not exploit! Gracias!

    • We agree with your thought that the shrinking undeveloped coast line of the Riviera Maya needs to be protected…but we are not sure keeping silent about a public beach is the answer.

      We think the more people are exposed to beautiful places like Xpu-ha the more they will learn to appreciate the natural beauty of Mexico’s Caribbean coast. We don’t advocate people taking machetes and hacking through the jungle to get to a secluded beach, but we do encourage people to find their way to some of the places that they do have easy access to.

      As far as having too many tourists, the swine flu and other fears about Mexico have dramatically affected the number of visitors to this area which in turn has cost many people their jobs and livelihoods. IOHO, We shouldn’t be discouraging people from visiting, but rather teaching them how to enjoy our beautiful coast and still leave it for others to enjoy.

      • Alex said

        Tony & Cheri, I’m with you 100%.

        BTW, in IT security everybody agrees that “security by obscurity” does not work. This means, hiding things is the worst kind of security, what we need is good laws and policies, because eventually every area in the world is not going to be a “secret place” anymore.

        Mexican government has done a average/good job protecting the Mayan Riviera (not so much in Cancun area). There are protected areas as the “manglar” (jungle swamps), construction density (you cannot build more than X% in your land) , 3 stories maximum buildings, etc.

        And I really think is better than Don Chalio (he owns the land and his father before him) “exploits” this area with a restaurant, a few apartments and a camping area, than having to sell everything to a Hotel Company.

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  12. J.Benninghoff said

    This looks to be a c/o beach. Was it?

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