Mayan Riviera Eco Beach Guide

Welcome to the Mayan Riviera, a paradise that not only captivates with its stunning beaches and rich history but also places a strong emphasis on ecological efforts, wildlife protection, and the preservation of local culture. In this beach guide, we will delve into the unique attractions of Akumal, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Puerto Morelos, and Tulum, while highlighting the remarkable initiatives that make these destinations shine in terms of sustainability and community engagement. Get ready to embark on an eco-conscious journey through the Mayan Riviera’s gems!

Akumal: Embracing Responsible Tourism

Nestled between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal takes pride in its commitment to responsible tourism and the protection of its remarkable marine life. The Akumal Ecological Center, a non-profit organization, actively promotes the conservation of sea turtles by educating visitors about their habitat and guiding them on respectful snorkeling tours. In fact you can meet these sea turtles in Akumal Bay Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and thriving sea turtle population. If you like snorkeling and being face to face with nature, this is your spot. However, if you’re looking for a more chill vibe, you’ll want to go to Half Moon Bay located just north of Akumal Bay. It’s a quieter and more secluded beach with calm waters and picture-perfect views.

Cancun: Balancing Luxury and Sustainability

Cancun, a renowned destination for luxury and entertainment, has made a meaningful impact in incorporating sustainability practices into its tourism industry. Many resorts have adopted eco-friendly measures and actively support wildlife preservation projects, including turtle nesting programs and coral reef restoration initiatives. Speaking of turtles, (again) Playa Tortugas, named after these beloved creatures, is one of the more accessible beaches in Cancun. It has it all: a lively scene, parking areas, and water sports. It is also a departure point for the ferry to Isla de Mujeres which is a unique island experience filled with pristine waters, laid-back atmosphere and restaurants on the beach. If you like wide strips of powdery white sand, we recommend Playa Delfines which has a bustling beachfront combined with postcard views.

Playa del Carmen: Nurturing Cultural Heritage

Playa del Carmen’s vibrant atmosphere is not only defined by its stunning beaches but also by its commitment to preserving local culture and heritage. The city celebrates its Mayan roots through cultural festivals, art exhibitions, and traditional cuisine. Local artisans showcase their craftsmanship, providing visitors with authentic and sustainable souvenirs. The city itself is popping, and no matter what time of the day you explore, there is plenty to do. However, if what you’re looking for is some peace and quiet, Playa Del Carmen has that too. We recommend Playa Punta Esmeralda if you’re looking for a unique and dreamy beach experience. Away from the crowds, Playa Punta Esmeralda has natural sink-holes and lush-greenery, a true “movie scene” beach. If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience then you want to go to Playa Mamitas. As one of Playa del Carmen’s more popular beaches you can enjoy your usual stunning turquoise water views that go along the Riviera, but also a lively atmosphere with music, food, and water sports. There’s also those cool canopy-like beach beds you can reserve and lay on that makes everyone want to whip out their IG and let the world know, this is where it’s at.


Puerto Aventuras: Fostering Community and Nature

Nestled along the pristine shores of the Mayan Riviera, you will find Puerto Aventuras.The natural beauty that surrounds you will take your breath away. This exclusive gated community not only offers a tranquil escape but also takes pride in its remarkable ecological efforts. The main beach of Puerto Aventuras showcases the community’s commitment to preserving its pristine environment, with regular beach clean-ups and recycling programs ensuring that the shores remain pristine and inviting for both visitors and local wildlife. If you want proof, the gorgeous landscape has been the backdrop to many movies, such as Rambo and James Bond 007: Specter but perhaps most notably, Titanic. For a movie-moment of your own you can go to the main Puerto Aventuras Beach, or Paamul Beach just a short drive north of Puerto Aventuras.

Puerto Morelos: A Haven for Marine Biodiversity

Puerto Morelos, a charming fishing village, is celebrated for its commitment to preserving its extraordinary marine biodiversity. The Puerto Morelos Reef National Park, a protected area, offers excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities while promoting responsible tourism practices. Local organizations work tirelessly to maintain the health of the coral reef system, actively engaging with visitors to educate them about its fragility and the importance of conservation. You can visit the second-largest coral reef in the world in the main Puerto Morelos Beach which is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Unico Beach is tucked away and has white powdery sand for a more secluded and relaxed experience.

Tulum: Sustainability at Its Core

Tulum stands out as a pioneer in sustainable tourism practices. Many hotels and eco-lodges in the area operate with renewable energy sources, implement water-saving systems, and practice responsible waste management. The town embraces eco-conscious concepts, with farm-to-table restaurants offering locally sourced and organic cuisine. It also encourages cultural preservation by supporting indigenous communities, promoting traditional craftsmanship, and providing opportunities for visitors to learn about Mayan history and heritage. There is so much to do and experience in Tulum and it is truly a unique experience, not unlike its beaches. If you like your beaches with some history, then you’ll absolutely have to check out Playa Ruinas, a beach located right next to ancient Mayan Ruins that are a must-see. Tulum Beach and Playa Paraiso will have you romanticizing your entire life with its turquoise waters and white sand, and how absolutely gorgeous it all is. If you’re looking for live music and more unique cultural experience, then you’ll want to visit Playa Pescadores which is not far from Tulum and is known for its Bohemian vibes.

(Read more about living in Tulum here)

Are you planning a visit because you may want to live there? 

The Mayan Riviera not only offers breathtaking beaches, historical marvels, and unique beach culture, but it also presents an inspiring commitment to ecological conservation, wildlife protection, and cultural preservation. From Akumal’s focus on sea turtle preservation to Tulum’s sustainable lifestyle, each destination showcases its own initiatives that prioritize the well-being of the environment and local communities. By embracing these efforts and incorporating sustainable practices into our travel experiences, we can ensure that the Mayan Riviera remains a treasure for generations to come.

Maelle Jayet