Top 5 Places to Camp on the Riviera Maya

by Lisa Love Juliot  (Sept. 2013)

The breathtaking beaches of the Riviera Maya, Mexico call out to the camper in many of us! Even if you hated family camping trips as a kid, you might very well fall in love with beach camping here in the Mexican Caribbean. Spend a perfect day on the beach framed by the sun rising and setting! Enjoy the changing palate of colors over the bright turquoise ocean and sparkling white sand beach that you can call home for the whole time you are camping!

Check out the TOP FIVE PLACES TO CAMP IN THE RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO and decide for yourself if camping has a new appeal for you!

#5- PAA MUL

  • Located only 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen
  • Cost: 100 pesos a person, per tent
  • 24-hour security
  • Bathrooms and Showers: good condition
paa mul camping

Paa Mul is well marked and very easy to find. Head south of Playa del Carmen on the federal highway and you will see the sign for Paa Mul on your left! You can even hitch a ride with one of the combis or colectivos that the locals use to travel the length of the Riviera Maya.

There is a small store at the entrance where you can pick up any supplies you may need. Paa Mul also has cabañas for rent and a hotel, just in case you decide you can't make it through the night in your tent!!

Paa Mul Bay has great snorkeling!! There is equipment rental available and snorkel tours, and SCUBA tours are available as well.

Paa Mul is a beautiful bay area with rocky beach and lots of sandy spots. It is usually quiet and is a wonderful place to spend the day.

There is also a restaurant with a lovely swimming pool right on the bay; who says you have to eat yucky food you cooked yourself over a bad campfire!? Live it up with delicious, fresh seafood from the restaurant!!

#4- XPU-HA

  • Located 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen
  • Public facilities, bathrooms and showers: fair/OK
  • 150 pesos per person, per tent
  • 24-hour security
Xpu Ha camping

An easy drive from Playa del Carmen and easily accessible by bus or colectivo, Xpu-Ha Bay is home to some fabulous beach clubs and is famous for the Kite-Surfing School located on this gorgeous, tranquil bay.

Xpu-Ha has a couple of beach clubs to choose from, along with restaurants and plenty of water sports and beach activities available. parasailing, kite-surfing, snorkeling, and SCUBA are some of the more popular activities available.

The wide beach and powder-soft sand make Xpu-Ha a haven for sea turtles. If you are lucky enough to find yourself here for sea turtle season, you can volunteer to help the sea turtle conservation group of Xpu-Ha on their nightly turtle walk and release baby sea turtles into the Caribbean Sea.

The calm water and powder-soft sand make Xpu-Ha Bay the perfect beach for families to enjoy and make for excellent beach camping.

#3- CAVELANDS - CHEMUYIL

  • Location south of Akumal, past Chan Chemuyil
  • Great for gatherings
  • Cabañas, tent camping or rent the teepee-tent camping 100 pesos per camper, per tent; cabañas start at 250 pesos a night.
  • Kitchen, bathrooms, showers: very well maintained
  • Contact Don Renzo for more info cavelands@hotmail.com
cavelands camping

Cavelands is located on the jungle side of the federal highway. Just past Akumal, the turn off is the same as for Chan Chemuyil (a small residential community). Cavelands is more challenging to find and is for campers who have a good sense of adventure and a car!! You could take a colectivo or the Mayab bus line and get dropped off on the side of the highway, but the hot trek to the campground is more than your average camper is up for, to say the least!

Cavelands is located on a cenote route. There are caves and water holes all along this jungle stretch of unpaved road. Cavelands, true to its name, has caves and even a cenote tucked away on the many acres of jungle land available for campers to wander freely.

This is a fantastic place to have a major event! There is plenty of space for parties with a huge campfire area and an enormous teepee for rent as well. Looking for that perfect place to host a live band and have a serious camping fiesta? Cavelands very well could be the place for you!!

Jamie is the year-round caretaker. He is a wonderful, friendly little man! Buddy up to him and he will help you with anything you may need to live it up in the jungle!

#2- TANKAH BAY

  • WAY OFF the beaten path
  • Dubious facilities
  • 100 pesos per person, per tent, per night
  • Located just north of Tulum
  • 24-hour security
Tankah Bay camping

Tankah bay is BY FAR the most breathtakingly gorgeous beach. This is camping for the truly hardcore. It is not actually a campground, but rather an end-of-the-road, tiny beach restaurant palapa where the owner will let you camp, if you wish to do so.

To get there, go south of Akumal to Tankah Bay. Follow the signs on the highway for Oscar and Lalo's and head towards the ocean. You will come to a gated residence. Tell the guard at the entrance that you want to camp overnight at the restaurant at the end of the road. He will certainly smile and wave you through, telling you that if you need anything during the night there is always a guard on duty.

If you want to live the experience of having the whole beach to yourself, Tankah Bay is for you! There are homes leading up to the restaurant, but the rest of the point is deserted. There is sure to be no electricity and perhaps not even bathroom privileges after the restaurant closes for the day, but if you are a TRUE lover of nature and wish to commune with the beach, then you will LOVE the solitary camping experience that Tankah Bay can provide.

#1- Tulum

  • Located just south of the Tulum Archeological Zone
  • Cabañas or tent camping available
  • 100 pesos per camper, per tent
  • Cabañas start at 400 pesos a night
  • Bathrooms are passable
Tulum camping

Tulum is the all-around favorite place to camp in the Riviera Maya for ease, comfort, price and beach quality. Campgrounds come and go along the road that follows the ocean to the Tulum Archeological Zone, but this particular campground has been there for years and will continue for many more to come, to be sure. This campground area is referred to as Zazil Kin, and Playa Pescadores. It is easy enough to find, as it is just a hop and a skip before the back entrance to the ruins from the road that runs along the beach.

Snorkeling tours and kite-surfing along with parasailing and many other water sports are available on this gorgeous wide stretch of sparkling white beach at very reasonable prices.

Tulum has all of the restaurants, grocery stores and conveniences that you could possibly need for your beach camping adventures. Tulum is also a very laid-back, friendly, hippie-dippie, bike-riding and hitching-rides kind of town. There is a bus terminal in Tulum so transportation is simple. There is also an ample supply of taxis and bicycles for rent to help you move about.

In Tulum you can enjoy chilaxin' on the beach, meeting new friends at one of the local watering holes in town, climbing ancient ruins, participating in water sports or just taking it all in while contemplating the sunrise.

All in all, whether you choose to camp out, stay in a rustic cabaña, sleep in a hammock hung between two palm trees, live it up in an eco-chic boutique hotel cabaña, or stay at a sprawling all inclusive beach resort in the Riviera Maya ...

There is no wrong way to beach it!!


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