Xpu-Ha Beach…a Gem Close to Playa
Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 6, 2008
There 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.
Once 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:
La Playa Beach Club as seen from the ocean
A view from the La Playa restaurant
Cheri the Mermaid
The Caribbean as seen from a beach chair
Not-so-old Man and the Sea
Cheri strolling on the beach
La Playa Beach Club on Xpu-Ha Beach
A well deserved rest