If Playacar is the diamond of Mexico's Mayan Riviera, then its beaches are the golden band that surround it. An upmarket suburb of Playa del Carmen, Playacar is just one of the reasons that so many people travel to Mexico, sitting right on the coast, you can walk from your hotel to dip your toes in the Caribbean Sea in a matter of minutes. The abundant marine life attracts divers and snorkellers, so there's plenty to do on and off land. Take a look at our top picks for beaches in Playacar before browsing our great last minute deals to Mexico.
There's one main, public beach at Playacar and this is it. It's a very wide beach so ideal for allowing kids to run around and paddling in the water. With clean, white sand it's a relaxing spot to stretch out and sunbathe – the beach here is quieter than those closer to Playa del Carmen. The water is calm and free of seaweed, but when the wind does get up you'll see the odd windsurfer. There aren't many facilities nearby so hit the hotel buffet before making your way down.
If your iPod and a bag of crisps just won't cut it, head to Playa del Carmen's lively beach for bustle and bars. Another white-sand beach with easy access for pushchairs and wheelchairs, there are plenty of amenities here and a popular music club. The beach operates on a traffic light flag system for your safety, so make sure you see a green flag before jumping in. You can hire pedalos or sunloungers, depending on how energetic you feel.
Surrounding the Canibal Royal Beach Club is a beautiful little beach. It's tricky to reach so not suitable for those with mobility problems, but that's exactly why you won't find many people on this stretch of shoreline. There aren't even ice-cream sellers at this hidden gem but you will find crystal blue water and empty, spacious sands. Bring your snorkelling gear to explore the extensive marine life – the calm waters are also ideal for swimming or letting kids paddle.
Hollywood stars have recently discovered the area but you could still find yourself one of the only people on the stretch of beautiful coastline of Talum beach, that's sure to take your breath away. You can spend a morning hiking through the jungle or walking through ancient Mayan ruins before racing down the stairwell to the white sand below. Steeped in history, with el Castillo – the castle – above your head, it's the perfect place to explore.
Akumal beach, meaning 'place of the turtles', is a wonderful environment to get close to wondrous sea creatures. While the beach is beautiful, it's the water that's the most breathtaking. Because it's situated in an inlet, the sea is calm and protected from large waves, making it the perfect place to snorkel or kayak. There's an amazing underwater world here just waiting to be explored. You can find turtles, barracuda, a variety of tropical fish and even perhaps a few Bull Sharks, which are harmless to swim with.
Mamitas is one of the liveliest beaches on the Mayan Riviera. It's so named after the Mamitas Beach Club where you can hang out on the beachfront, with drinks and snacks delivered to your table. Jet-skiing, banana boats and catamarans are all available, so there's plenty to watch even if you don't partake yourself. DJs keep the party going well into the night during the summer in Mexico, and holidaymakers can watch the sun go down over a delicate cocktail.
Once a sleepy fishing village, Puerto Morelos is slowing growing into a popular destination in the Riviera Maya. The area is quiet and laid-back, with a very friendly cafe overlooking the large patch of public sands. The Mesoamerican Reef sits 500 metres offshore and is home to many tropical fish, sea turtles and corals. The reef provides shelter to the beach from rough surf and gives snorkellers an opportunity to bob along in a pretty underwater world.