You would think it would be difficult for one particular beach to stand out in a country with thousands of miles of coastline. Yet Playa Paraiso, Mexico, consistently rates among the top beaches in the country. It checks off all the boxes for a dream beach vacation wish list. And when combined with the historic ruins of nearby Tulum, it rises to the top of contenders for “best beach.”
Where is Playa Paraiso, Tulum, Mexico?
This gorgeous stretch of white sand is fronted by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and backed by Tulum National Park in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
Located on the eastern edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, Playa Paraiso is approximately 134 kilometers (83 miles) from the tourism hub of Cancun and 68 kilometers (42 miles) to the town of Playa del Carmen.
Things to see and do in Playa Paraiso
Chill on Paradise Beach
Playa Paraiso, sometimes referred to as Tulum Paraiso beach, translates to “Paradise Beach.”
One look at the shockingly blue water lapping against the blinding white sand, and you’re likely to agree. Add swaying palm trees, lush jungle and some nearby Mayan ruins, and it’s about as idyllic a beach setting as you could ever hope for. Best of all, there is no entrance fee!
While on the beach, you have easy access to snack bars and cafes, which also provide restrooms. Chair, sunbed and umbrella rentals are available, and you should have no problem finding tour operators willing to take you out for some fun at sea.
Visit the Tulum Ruins
While boasting the features of many of its inland counterparts, the Tulum Ruins are a huge tourist draw mainly for their location overlooking the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea.
This series of stone ruins perched over a gorgeous beach is a perfect photo opportunity. In addition, it adds a hefty dose of culture to any beach vacation.
Pro tip: This is a popular destination for day-trippers from Playa del Carmen and Cancun, so arrive early or an hour before closing if you want to beat the crowds.
Go diving and snorkeling
With the world’s second-largest coral reef system just off its doorstep, divers and snorkelers will have plenty to see in the crystal clear waters off Playa Paraiso beach. Local operators rent equipment and offer tours, but even wading into the water with your own mask and snorkel will let you catch a glimpse of the amazing marine life the area is known for.
Get on the golf course
If your version of a dream vacation includes hitting the links, try the Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club, Mexico. This course boasts undulating greens, a lush setting and stone features that look right out of a Mayan legend.
Day trips from Tulum (Playa Paraiso)
The Yucatan Peninsula offers a wealth of natural and cultural gems worth visiting. Right in the local vicinity are numerous diversions if you’re ready (and willing!) to tear yourself away from the beach.
Laguna de Kaan Luum
Less than 20 kilometers south of Playa Paraiso is Laguna de Kaan Luum—a hidden jewel in the wilderness.
This gorgeous lake of turquoise water is surrounded by greenery, looking like a blue marble from above. Here you can take a dip in the water from one of two piers or just take in the scenery from the shoreline. The tiny entrance fee will leave you convinced it was totally worth it.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve
Nature lovers will not want to miss the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve—a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Covering an area twice the size of the US State of Rhode Island, this ecological preserve spanning both land and sea is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, insects and coral.
Additionally, you’ll have the chance to see exotic animals like jaguars, ocelots, pumas, toucans and manatees, to name a few. A guided tour is a must for visiting this extensive ecosystem.
Xel-Ha Ecological Park
For a more commercialized and luxurious interaction with nature, the all-inclusive Xel-Ha Ecological Park, located about 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) north of Playa Paraiso, allows you to explore the meeting point of several underground rivers.
This lush park offers snorkeling, tubing, zip lining and a dedicated kid’s area. It’s easily a full-day activity that’s fun for the whole family.
All around Playa Paraiso are lovely cenotes—limestone sinkholes filled with clear water that dot the landscape.
You can go for a dip, peek into the underwater caverns, and for certified divers, even go for a tour through the stalagmites and stalactites.
Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavera and Cenote Caracol are some of the most popular in the area.
Where to eat in Playa Paraiso
There is a wide range of dining options in Playa Paraiso, with fresh seafood appearing heavily on most menus.
For casual dining, Sensaciones Restaurant has favorable reviews, particularly for its quesadillas and ceviche.
And for a romantic night out with great views and a refined menu, try Mi Amor Restaurant.
Most resorts also have snack bars and restaurants open to the public.
Where to stay in Playa Paraiso
There is a wide variety of lodging options in the vicinity ranging from boutique hotels to large resorts to private rental properties. In addition, there are a few beachfront options right on Playa Paraiso.
In the nearby town of Tulum, there are plenty of accommodations to fit any budget.
Playa Paraiso, Mexico, weather
Being located in the tropics, the weather in Playa Paraiso is consistently warm, with August being the hottest month and January the coolest. The average highs are in the upper 80s/low 90s in summer and low 80s in the winter.
When it comes to precipitation, the driest period is from February through May. The wettest months are September and October.
For most of the year, there is a very high ultraviolet index, so even in cooler months, sunscreen is a must.
Packing list essentials for Playa Paraiso
- High-SPF sunscreen–you can burn in less than 10 minutes without protection.
- A wide-brimmed hat to cover your ears and neck.
- More than one bathing suit for multiple days at the beach.
- Comfortable flip flops or sandals that can go from beach to street to Mayan ruins.
- Lightweight shorts and shirts.
- Sturdy, closed-toed shoes for hiking and other adventure activities.
- Bug spray for mosquitoes.
- Underwater camera
- Dry bag for bringing your valuables with you in the water.
- Your own snorkel and mask.
- Lightweight backpack with lock.
Playa Paraiso, Mexico map
Use this interactive map to see exactly where Playa Paraiso is in relation to the international airport in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Scroll in to see where this paradise beach is in Mexico.
How to get to Playa Paraiso, Tulum
If this is your first stop, and you are flying into Mexico internationally, look for direct flights to Cancun International Airport (CUN), which serves as the gateway to the Mexican Riviera.
It generally takes an hour and 45 minutes to get from Cancun to Playa Paraiso by car—it’s only about 120 kilometers (75 miles) away on a paved highway.
A few final thoughts
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has long been known for its pristine beaches, jungle adventures and Mayan culture.
Paraiso Beach combines the best of all three in one convenient area.
So, if it’s paradise you’re after, with the option to venture further afield, Playa Paraiso, Mexico, should be on the top of your list when planning that dream beach vacation.
Cancun International Airport is located 120 kilometers (75 miles) to the north. Travel time by car is approximately an hour and 45 minutes.
Tulum. It’s just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) away.
Relatively speaking, yes. Though common sense is needed to avoid petty thievery. Precautions such as not carrying valuables or traveling alone at night will increase your safety.
Absolutely! After seeing that water, how can anyone not go swimming?