Sunday, March 6, 2011

Finding Xpu Ha ... the secret beach

For several years now I had been reading about the well kept secret beach at Xpu Ha, perfect for snorkeling, with white velvety sand and crystal clear waters (and in that respect not significantly different from a large number of other beaches in the area). The Guide books would mention that it was south of Playa del Carmen, but north of Akumal. Mind you that leaves a fairly long stretch of road, but I had always felt that given the one (and only) significant north-south road, it could not be too hard to find it. Yet, every year as we traveled the road, either heading down or back from places south of us, such as Xel-Ha and Tulum, we always failed to find any mention of Xpu-Ha. Hah indeed, I thought to myself. No wonder it is such a secret beach - nobody can find it. Determined that this year would be different, I used Google Maps satellite views BEFORE our trip, to scout out which dirt road might lead down to this beach. It's a good thing I did since the entrance to the dirt road is somewhat obscured, and with the presence of a house and a car parked in the road, it appears that you are going to visit some folks - who are not expecting you - rather than heading to a beach that all the guidebooks seem to know about. The key is to know that it is located between the Catalonia Royal Tulum hotel, and the Club Tulum hotel, both named rather interestingly for a town that they are not anywhere near. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a small, hand-painted sign advertising the Xpu-Ha Restaurant and Beach club.

Here too we requested the 'now-becoming-ubiquitous-on-the-Riviera-Maya-beer-bucket', but instead of 160 pesos as it was on Isla Mujeres for 4 bottles of Sol, it was 60 pesos for 4 beers of your choice .... we chose Modelos (a combination of Modelo Especial and Negro Modelo). The restaurant itself was also of a better caliber than we one we experienced on Isla Mujures. I ordered Tacos de Camarons and my husband had fish tacos. In both cases the seafood was lovely and fresh, the tortillas warm and the guacamole about as perfect as you might expect. The one false note we ran into on this expedition was the little 'store' which sold souvenirs. We found a fair wool blanket at a good price - but in the end walked away without it since the shop girl was being difficult and the blanket was not really worth the room it would take up in the suitcases. (Far better in this case are the blankets that can be had in the shops on the road out to Coba).

These colors have not been 'photoshop'ed !!
One last word of advice ... bring your own snorkel gear. We normally do, but since we had traveled down to mexico directly after a business trip, we did not for this trip. They do rent gear on the beach but it is overpriced relative to everything else.


  1. I've been here, you are right, it's somehow difficult to find, but at the same time, that's what makes this place more interesting.

    And I think this is probably the best beach in the whole Mayan Riviera.

  2. Alejandro - am glad you found it. Am sure its special quality will not last. When we were there a group of snorkelers arrived with a tour group by van. I see this as the beginning of the end ...

    This is true of a lot of places on the Riviera Maya - one has to go further and further south to escape the large resorts and tour groups.


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