Music and Beach Sun, Sand & Sound: Discover the best beaches for music lovers in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera
The Mayan Riviera is a global favorite for beach-goers. Stretching from Cancún to Xcalak, it’s 255 miles of breathtaking landscapes, diverse activities and unique atmospheres. Whether you’re looking for a family escape, a tranquil getaway or a beach with extracurricular pursuits, the Mayan Riviera has an incredible diversity of locales with exciting things to do and wildlife to see, and with more than half a dozen Iberostar hotels in México, you are sure to have a comfortable and luxurious stay.
Music’s a big part of a day at the beach—and you probably have go-to shorebreak tunes. But holidays are about new experiences, so it’s worth finding beaches that deserve their own custom playlist—or fresh sounds to create new memories.
Close to central Puerto Aventuras, Iberostar Paraíso Beach is ideal for an adults-only getaway filled with recreation and rejuvenation. This luxurious setting offers spectacular Caribbean views, pure waters and space to tan. Stroll down to the powder-soft sands to relax under palm umbrellas or get active on the canoes, catamarans and jet skis. Enhance those good feelings with ambient electronic sounds—Gary Numan’s ‘Are Friends Electric?’ in the morning, Weyes Blood’s lush ‘Seven Words’ at lunchtime. Afternoons call for the warm piano motifs of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘13 Ghosts II’ or the drifting guitars and beats of Helios’ ‘Coast Off’. The sax-drenched melodies of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ are the ideal sendoff to the sun.
Considered one of the Mayan Riviera’s best beaches, gorgeous Maroma is wide, flat and popular with tourists. Thirty miles south of Cancún, tropical foliage frames its sapphire waters and unspoiled sands. If you’re feeling active, there are camel rides, catamaran sailing and jet skiing. A lively place calls for uptempo music. Give Foo Fighters’ effervescent ‘Everlong’ or Everclear’s slacker anthem ‘Santa Monica’ a spin after a session on the water. For something homegrown, listen to Zoé (‘Labios Rotos’) and El Gran Silencio, with their colourful ‘Chúntaro Style’.
Enjoy a local feel on a white sand lapped by pristine Caribbean seas. A short drive south of Puerto Aventuras, Xpu-Ha is popular with residents and tourists alike, ideal for kicking back on deckchairs. Find a quiet corner to escape the sociable main beach. A small entry fee contributes to the beach’s upkeep. Pick your music depending on your chosen spot. Uptempo rock like the Chili Peppers’ ‘Under The Bridge’, Pearl Jam’s ‘Even Flow’ or Mexican ska pioneers Maldita Vecindad’s ‘Pachuco’ are ideal for the main strand. The irresistible reggae of Bob Marley or acoustic surf songs of Taylor Steele are ideal for chilling—311’s ‘Amber’ is made for sundowners.
TULUM RUINS BEACH
A special, out-of-the-way beach, Tulum offers peace and quiet 90 minutes from Cancún airport. Defined by striking Mayan ruins, this seaside getaway is framed by natural beauty and Mexico’s fascinating history. Hike through the jungle before encountering the breathtaking contrast of blue sea and white shores against el Castillo’s stony walls. Popular for day-trippers, Natural beauty calls for earthy acoustic guitars and relaxed vibes like Years Around the Sun’s ‘Miles Away’, Eddie Vedder’s freewheeling ‘Guaranteed’ or evocative Latin percussion and brass melodies.
PLAYA NORTE (ISLA MUJERES)
Located on Isla Mujeres just north of 4-star hotels in Cancun, Playa Norte is made for holiday memories with activities like whale shark trips and trimaran sightseeing tours on offer. When it’s time to dial up the chill, local vendors serve truly superb seafood—and the island’s over-water sunsets provide an unspoiled treat at the end of each day. It’s easier to walk or take a bicycle than to drive to Playa Norte. Dial up those bohemian vibes with wry hits like Beck’s ‘Loser’, the Goo Goo Dolls’ soaring ‘Iris’ and the shimmery rush of U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’.
Travel about 45 minutes south of Cancún’s city centre to this peaceful village beach—its unspoiled simplicity gives you a chance to really take in the Yucatán peninsula. For romantics, the rolling surf and salty breeze are music enough. But Puerto Morelos is a favourite for spontaneous live music, so you can absorb its true soul through the sounds of local players. Rodriguez’ ‘Sugar Man’ makes an equally satisfying accompaniment to fresh seafood and cold drinks—as do the cinematic soundscapes of Vangelis (‘Conquest of Paradise’, ‘Antarctica’) and Matt Hylom.
Aptly named, this beach’s incredibly white sands and discreet location make for great tanning—remember your sunscreen. It’s a place for nature lovers and those escaping urban life. Pack food and drink for a day spent enjoying long walks and the beautiful lagoon. Unspoiled surrounds call for pristine sounds. Look no further than the haunting ‘No Excuses’ by Alice in Chains, Sting’s longing ‘I Hung My Head’ and the exquisite acoustic rendition of Deftones’ ‘Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)’.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Energy and variety describe Mamitas and Playacar, Playa del Carmen’s main beaches with its magnificent views and hip atmosphere and that are located close to Iberostar Grand Paraiso. EDM is the sound of choice for the young crowd on Mamitas—set the tone with Illenium’s pulsing ‘Fractures,’ San Holo’s joyful ‘I Still See Your Face’ or Tourist’s ‘We Stayed Up All Night.’ As the sun creeps across the sky, step things up with The Him’s pensive ‘Feels Like Home’ and the contagious pops and crackles of Infected Mushroom’s ‘Spitfire’. For seclusion, head toward Playa’s northern shores. Shpongle’s ‘Once Upon The Sea Of Blissful Awareness’ and Massive Attack’s trip-hop classic ‘Mezzanine’ match the rhythm of the sea.
Further south, this wilder shoreline borders the expansive Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an —a stunningly diverse wildlife park offering nature excursions, sunset bird watching and ancient Mayan boat tours. The beaches are home to premium reef snorkelling, giving you the chance to see dolphins, turtles and incredible tropical fish with the family. What better place to listen to cuts like Weezer’s wistful ‘Island In The Sun’ or the African-influenced grooves of Dave Matthews Band’s elegiac ‘Satellite’.
A family choice, Akumal offers equal parts fun and relaxation 15 minutes southwest of Puerto Aventuras. Protected Half Moon Bay is ideal for kayaking and taking the kids shell hunting along the shoreline. Rich coral beds host sea life of all kinds—look out for turtles while you snorkel alongside small fish, barracuda and even harmless sharks.
Sting’s ‘Dream Of The Blue Turtles’ album Soak’s coasting ‘Sea Creatures’ are good choices. Keep things upbeat with jangly 60s rock— ‘Surfin’ USA’ by the Beach Boys anyone? —or early Beatles cuts like ‘Day Tripper’. Bryan Adams’ timeless ‘Summer of ‘69’—and Rascal Flatts’ irresistible ‘Life Is A Highway’ dial up the sunshine.