If you hate the crowds and loud music that fills the beaches near 5th Avenue, Playa Esmeralda will quickly become your favorite Playa del Carmen beach.

I spent one month in this small beachside town in Mexico and during that time Playa Esmeralda (also known as Playa 88) has become my daily haunt.

Are you looking for somewhere new to relax under the sun? These are my top six reasons why Playa Esmeralda is the best Playa del Carmen beach!

Click here to plan your trip with my curated two-week Mexico itinerary!

Playa Esmeralda beach in Playa del Carmen

6 Reasons Why Playa Esmeralda Is the Best Playa Del Carmen Beach

Keep reading to discover not only why you need to visit it, but how to get there as well!

1. It’s Not Crowded

It’s rare to find that perfect mix of lively but not too crowded, but Playa Esmeralda has it. Empty beaches are depressing and crowded beaches are annoying. While most other Playa del Carmen beaches err on the side of being way, way, way too crowded, Playa Esmeralda hits the sweet spot.

2. It’s Outside of the City

If you’re like me and can’t afford to stay in the heart of Playa del Carmen, you can still be super close to this beach. The main entrance is on Calle 88 (just for reference, the main drag of downtown is between Calle 2 and Calle 40) so if you live on the “outskirts” of town, lucky you – you’re actually located right next to one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen!

3. It has a cenote

Yep, this is the best Playa del Carmen beach because it has it’s own private fresh water cenote to hang out in. If you’re sticky and salty and hot, take a refreshing dip in the fresh water cenote located right on the beach!

4. It’s surrounded by greenery

At most of the other Playa del Carmen beaches you’ll find giant buildings and resorts spread out behind you, but at Playa Esmeralda that’s not the case. The pristine white sand beach has ocean on one side and lush green plants and palm trees on the other so you can really relax and escape from it all. Although the Paradisus Resort runs along it, it’s hidden so far back from the beach you can barely even see it.

5. You Can Swim Without Rocks Underfoot

I love Playa Esmeralda because it has sandy stretches in the water without any rocks underfoot. I’m never going to be the type of person prepared enough to pack water shoes (let alone buy them) so a soft sandy bottom is essential to my beach enjoyment.

6. It Has One of the Most Unique Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

Last but certainly not least on my list of praises for this Playa del Carmen beach is the food – one option in particular stands out. Playa Esmeralda features one of the most unique restaurants in Playa del Carmen – the locally owned Cocoa Beach Club seafood truck and tiki bar secluded in its own little paradise. You can even rent a sun bed here and relax under shaded palms with the most beautiful ocean view.

Playa Esmeralda beach in Playa del Carmen

If these six reasons aren’t enough to convince you to visit Playa Esmeralda, I hope at least the photos will!

Playa Esmeralda is definitely one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen. It’s a little be off the beaten path, which makes it a perfect place to spend a couple hours in paradise.

Get there by walking down 5th Avenue until your reach the entrance on Calle 88 – It’s about a 30 minute walk from the main drag of Playa del Carmen but truly feels like a whole new world.

Click here to plan your trip with my curated two-week Mexico itinerary!

Looking for more off the beaten path destinations in Playa del Carmen? Visit the Mexico Guide to learn how to visit the stunning Lake of Seven Colors, take your own DIY cenote day trip to swim in underground caves, or climb up the Coba Ruins for a breathtaking view of Mexico’s lush jungles. 

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