My name is Tom, better known as Traveltomtom on Instagram. Almost seven years ago I decided to start traveling the world without a plan and I just visited country number 100 last week. Through travel blogging I was able to turn my passion for travelling into a lifestyle.
Between January and April 2019, I spent 12 weeks in Yucatan in Mexico. A trip to Mexico isn’t complete without visiting the Yucatan Peninsula. The idyllic coastline is dotted with amazing beaches to sip cocktails and watch sunsets.
Did you know that the Yucatan Peninsula has the world’s biggest underground river system? Visiting the Yucatan cenotes is a must, but you also shouldn’t travel to the Yucatan Peninsula without seeing Chichen Itza. These gigantic Maya ruins are one of the New7Wonders of the World. With so many amazing things to do and places to see you almost forget to relax at the beach. Almost.
To squeeze in all these things to do, check out this ultimate Yucatan Peninsula itinerary from Traveltomtom.
Let’s start with the popular Isla Mujeres. Close to Cancun, it’s perfect for a day trip to soak in the island vibes. Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres has often been listed as one of the best beaches in the world. Isla Mujeres is also a great place to explore using a rented golf cart or to scuba dive or snorkel the famous Cancun Underwater Museum.
Something I really loved was the wing diving experience, which is akin to being dragged through the water behind a boat and gliding like a dolphin through the water with a wing.
You can see more incredible experiences on Isla Mujeres here.
Enjoy the adults-only atmosphere at Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres, where Wow suites impress with grand terraces and private pools with ocean views. Love birds can stay in the Honeymoon Suite, which has a Jacuzzi on its balcony.
Relaxing poolside or under a thatched umbrella at the beach can work up an appetite, so dine on shrimp tacos at Privilege Beach club or authentic Thai cuisine at Satay. Afterwards, make a pit stop at the Pool Bar for a margarita or book a massage at Spa Mystique.
Ixchel Beach Hotel Isla Mujeres offers sun-seekers the best of North Beach, where one and two-bedroom suites feature king-size beds, air conditioning and separate sitting areas. For the best views of Playa Norte from a private terrace, upgrade to an opulent Penthouse Suite.
HotelsCombined visitors rave about the private beach area, where complimentary towels and umbrellas are perfect for leisurely days sunbathing and swimming. When you’re ready to explore, the family-friendly D is a 20-minute drive away.
Definitely among my favourite islands in Yucatan, Isla Holbox is becoming famous for its bioluminescent plankton, snorkelling with whale sharks and ultimate island vibes. It’s also home to some of the best Yucatan beaches.
Isla Holbox is ideal for watching the sun melt into the ocean with your toes in the sand and an ice-cold beer in hand. It’s nigh impossible to pick the best place for sunset. The sunset from whale shark pier is a magical experience shared with travellers from all over the world, but swinging in a water hammock for sunset at Punta Cocos was so magical it almost made me cry of joy.
Click here to discover everything you need to know when you travel to Isla Holbox.
Paradise exists at Villas Flamingos Beach Front, where you’ll discover 200 metres of white-sand beach and three sparkling outdoor pools. Beachfront bungalows boast air conditioning, hammocks, private pools, Jacuzzis and shaded terraces.
Sip tropical cocktails on one of the swings at Bar los Pedales or visit the on-site restaurant for regional specialties. On a romantic getaway? Couples can dig their toes in the sand during a romantic dinner on the beach pairing traditional local cuisine with Champagne.
Nestled on a picturesque white-sand beach, Villas HM Palapas del Mar features an alluring oceanfront pool. The luxury villas blend seamlessly into their natural surrounds and feature cosy terraces, private pools and panoramic oceanfront views.
It’s tough to leave the oceanfront suites, but the terrace at Sky Bar is the perfect location for cocktails during the vibrant sunset. You’ll also love the hotel’s authentic Mexican restaurant and Sushi Bar with avant-garde cocktails, live DJs and an open-air swimming pool.
Sipping cocktails and watching sunsets is an amazing thing to do in the Yucatan Peninsula, but not on Cozumel. That’s because one of the best beaches on this island, Punta Morena, is facing east.
The untouched eastern coast of Cozumel boasts long, wide and completely deserted beaches. I rented a scooter in Cozumel and drove all around the island, found my secluded spot, grabbed some beers along the road and went skinny dipping. It was these simple moments during my travels that I found the most precious.
Iberostar Cozumel All Inclusive offers an all-in-one vacation experience with luxury amenities and beachfront bungalow suites. The suites are secret hideaways with direct beach access, private pools, hammocks and private patios.
Enjoy a facial at the spa, then sample succulent steaks at El Cedral Palapa Grill or a cold beverage at the beach bar before watching live music. Ready to explore underwater? There’s a specialised centre within the resort for snorkelling and diving excursions.
Cozumel Palace-All Inclusive is a water lover’s paradise, where you can scuba dive or snorkel right off the dock. Book an herbal massage or unwind at the pool, then watch a dazzling Fire Show or fill up on Mexican cuisine at Bugambilias or sushi favourites at Momo.
The elegant suites offer Caribbean Sea views, spacious seating areas, private balconies and double whirlpools. Enjoy two levels of luxury in the Loft Suite, which features a hammock on the balcony.
This is the best beach in Yucatan if you are visiting the capital of the peninsula, Merida. The main Progresso Beach is a party mecca during the day, thanks to numerous cruise ships docking here.
There are also quieter and more beautiful beaches around Progresso, which I liked more, such as San Benito. This gorgeous stretch of white sand was made for showing off on social media.
Across the street from Progreso Beach, Hotel Domani Suites Malecón Progreso boasts laid-back vibes in its bright and cheery rooms with flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges. Upgraded rooms add dining tables and outdoor terraces with beach views.
Take advantage of the complimentary Wi-Fi, outdoor pool and gym or join a boat tour to explore the coast. Walk five minutes to Eladio’s Bar Progreso for traditional Yucatan dishes or drive 45 minutes to Merida.
Catering to budget-savvy travellers, Playa Linda Hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites near the beach. In-room perks include Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, while upgraded suites add kitchenettes, living and dining areas and balconies with sea views.
A wide range of shops, bars and restaurants are within walking distance and the city’s main market is 300 metres away. To get amongst the local and tourist scene, walk 10 minutes to Progreso’s lively esplanade.
The south-east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula has the laidback beach town of Mahahual, better known as Costa Maya. Costa Maya is becoming a popular cruise hub, but is still a fairly untouched and charming former fishing town.
I lost track of time at this off-the-beaten-path beach town and kept adding days to my stay. You can count the streets of Mahahual on one hand. For me, the best experience was strolling along the boulevard in swimwear and flip flops, finding an ice-cream shop and eating it in one of the water hammocks. Later on I would routinely find some cold beer for sunset on the beach.
Read my complete guide on things to do in Costa Maya.
Mayan Beach Garden Inn exudes tranquillity with its secluded location in Costa Maya, offering solar-powered beachfront rooms and a gourmet restaurant. The eco-friendly hotel rooms boast king-size pillow-top beds, ceiling fans, kitchenettes and Wi-Fi.
Kick back at the covered deck in a lounge chair or hammock and enjoy the cool breeze and Caribbean views or visit the beach bar for exotic tropical drinks. You also have complimentary access to sea kayaks, snorkel gear and stand-up paddleboards.
Almaplena Eco Resort & Beach Club offers a tropical oasis on the white-sand beaches of Costa Maya, just steps from a spectacular coral reef. There are eight romantic suites with direct beach access, private terraces and canopy-style king-size beds.
Sunbathe at the lively Beach Club, which boasts umbrellas, lounge chairs and beach showers, or enjoy local seafood and Mediterranean cuisine at the on-site restaurant. For an intimate experience, book a private dinner on the beach.
Everyone knows Tulum as the hippie enclave that turned into a hipster hub. Instagram has helped Tulum become one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico. The stylish restaurants and trendy bars pair perfectly with some of the most amazing Yucatan Peninsula beaches.
I loved the trendy beach clubs with friendly service and social atmospheres for sunset. They know how to keep the crowd entertained and I often found myself strolling home around midnight still in my swimwear.
Fall asleep to the sound of breaking waves at Rosa Del Viento, where oceanfront rooms boast either two singles or one king-size bed and furnished terraces. Start your morning with a yoga session, swim in the pool or enjoy the ocean breeze from your personal hammock.
When hunger strikes, tuck into the chef-recommended seafood platter or homemade pasta at the on-site restaurant, which also has a set menu for romantic dinners. Feeling tense? Book a soothing massage on the beach.
Surrounded by verdant jungle, Ahau Tulum features eco-conscious cabanas and huts with oceanfront views and king-size beds. Splurge on the Master Suite, which has a private deck with a daybed, swing hammock and outdoor dining area.
Participate in daily yoga sessions, kite surfing lessons and sunrise meditation, then indulge in a body treatment at the spa or signature dishes at Restaurant Ahau. Raw Love Cafe serves freshly-pressed juices and açai bowls perfect for a treat.
When you want to escape the noise of the more popular beaches in Yucatan, travel to Rio Lagartos. Have you ever seen a pink lake? This is your chance! The Rio Lagartos pink lake is not your typical Yucatan Peninsula beach, but it’s perfect for kicking back.
Rio Lagartos is definitely off the tourist trail and surprised me in numerous ways. I went there for the beach vibes, but suddenly I was seeing flamingos and crocodiles and had covered myself in mud before falling asleep on the completely deserted and stunning Cancunita Beach.
Nestled in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Hotel Villa de Pescadores is a nature lover’s paradise. Comfy rooms feature air conditioning, ceiling fans, TVs and private balconies overlooking the estuary.
Sign up for birdwatching, fishing or flamingo-spotting tours, then kick back in a hammock at the rooftop “palapa”. Explore the nearby area to see long stretches of virgin beach, mangroves, jungles and lagoons home to migratory bird species.
Posada El Perico Marinero is also in the Biosphere Reserve, a short walk from local restaurants. You can also dine on site at Perico Marinero Restaurant, which pairs fresh local seafood with river views.
Catch up on emails using the free Wi-Fi or watch movies on your in-room flat-screen TV, then swim in the outdoor pool. Part of a group of travellers? Upgrade to a room with two double-size beds.
Another unique place to visit in Yucatan Peninsula is Lake Bacalar. It’s not on the ocean, but still counts as one of the amazing Yucatan beaches. The crystal-clear water is often considered better for swimming than most beaches along the Yucatan Peninsula.
You realise almost instantly why Bacalar Lake is also called the Maldives of Mexico. There’s a bay with water seven shades of blue and a powdery, white sandbank. I charted a boat to the sandbank, brought a cooler with beers and had an amazing day out in the calm, shallow water.
Toto Blue Hotel Boutique is a five-minute walk from Fort San Felipe Bacalar, an iconic Colonial-era landmark. Choose from a range of rooms, including a Queen Size Bed with a flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi and a Family Suite with extra living space.
Unwind in the Coffee and Art Gallery, which serves fresh juices and Starbucks coffee, or chill out in the outdoor lounge with plush seating. Go swimming in the nearby lagoon or try stand-up paddleboarding.
Nestled on the pristine shores of Laguna Bacalar, Hotel Rancho Encantado features a luxurious spa and waterside hammocks. The on-site Los Hechizos Restaurant pairs local ingredients with a selection of Mexican wines.
Budget-friendly casitas boast air conditioning, mini bars, queen-size beds and terraces, while Double Suites add two full-size beds. Upgraded Suites feature outdoor Jacuzzis, private pools and separate living areas.
Playa del Carmen
The Playa del Carmen beaches are some of the best for beach parties, offering a bohemian vibe and a picturesque shoreline. You can find multiple beach clubs hosting late-night parties with DJs, drink specials and like-minded travellers.
Mamita’s Beach Club is one of the most famous in the area, packed with revelers enjoying the live music and premium beach location. Coralina Daylight Club is a place to be seen, featuring a club-like atmosphere during the day with an outdoor pool, live DJ and bottle service. Alternatively, the chilled-out INTI Beach Club has lounge areas, cocktails, gourmet cuisine and those all-important beachside massages.
If this is your thing, then head straight to Playa del Carmen. Forget about all the other amazing beaches in Yucatan and dive right into the party mecca of the peninsula.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba was the recipient of Travel & Leisure’s 2018 “Best of the Best” award. It’s easy to see why, from its outdoor pools and luxury hydrothermal spa to its golf course, eco boat tours and Shack Beach Club.
Choose from the rooftop La Copa Lounge, Thai cuisine at Saffron or Italian fare at Cello, before relaxing in one of the all-pool villas. The opulent lagoon, poolside and beachfront villas feature private pools, outdoor whirlpool baths and boast one to three bedrooms.
You may never want to leave Rosewood Mayakoba’s white-sand beach, outdoor pools, luxury spa and 18-hole El Camaleon golf course. Foodies are spoilt for choice with on-site dining, from a retro-fitted truck on the beach serving ceviche and premium mezcal to Italian-inspired cuisine with a Mexican twist at Casa Del Lago.
Feel like a celebrity in one of the luxury suites, which boast private plunge pools, rooftop sundecks, garden showers and individual docks. They also include butler services and 24-hour in-room dining.
Last but not least, Cancun’s hotel strip beaches are mind-blowing. Sure, it can be crowded and touristy, but there’s a reason for that. These are some of the best beaches in Mexico.
Playa Defines offers a laidback vibe best experienced from a comfy chair in the sand. It’s also where you’ll find the iconic “Cancun” sign to snap selfies. Prefer to dive into the azure waters? Head to Playa Chao Mool, where water-sport rentals let you explore the Caribbean Sea.
Next to the Isla Mujeres ferry, Playa Tortugas has calm waters and is a romantic place for a beachside stroll. If you’re seeking restaurants, bars and entertainment, the white-sand Playa Forum should be at the top of your list.
The endless silky white-sand beaches are what most of us dream about before taking a Riviera Maya holiday. The numerous all-inclusive hotels along the Cancun Hotel Strip are also the perfect holiday place for families.
Excellence Playa Mujeres is set on a three-kilometre white-sand beach moments from Cancun’s world-famous nightlife. The adults-only retreat features a luxury spa and an array of all-inclusive perks, including nine on-site restaurants, premium-stocked bars, seven pools and water sports.
Junior Swim-Up Suites feature furnished terraces, four-poster king-size beds and sunbeds, while Terrace Suites add private plunge pools. Book the two-storey Rooftop Terrace Suite for a beachfront terrace.
A 30-minute drive from Cancun International Airport, Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun is set on a secluded white-sand beach with shaded palapas. Relax at the beachfront Bikini Bar or book a facial at the spa. Dine at Isla Contoy for fresh seafood and Caribbean Sea views.
The oceanview suites have flat-screen TVs and private terraces facing the beach. Upgrade to a Master Suite for an in-room Jacuzzi or a Governor Suite for a spacious living area.