Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya, Mexico
A typical Riviera Maya beach club with bali beds, deck chairs, a pool and a restaurant. Lesser crowds than on the downtown beaches.
Grand Coral Beach club is situated in Grand Coral Riviera residential neighbourhood at the very end of Playa del Carmen, just after Esmeralda beach bay. It offers hotels and modern condos and a golf course (18 holes), designed by Nick Price. The club used to be called Bluecacao.
The beach club is between hotels Mareazul and from the other side Royal Haciendas. It is open to the public from 9am to 5pm and it is possible to book events or weddings here.
The club itself is a fairly large building with restaurant and bar space, centred on a nicely-sized infinity pool. The decor here is minimalist and elegant. The pool deck is filled with sun beds and lounge furnishings, and the restaurant offers tables for both large and small groups. You don't have to pay for the beach chairs as long as you consume (200 pesos per person minimum spend). If you decide to take the large loungers by the pool, you will need to consume in the region of 500 pesos per person (at the restaurant it is 1,000 pesos per table).
The bay is rather open, the sand is fine (and never gets hot to walk on) and the waves are moderate. When we were here in April 2018 with my husband Rhod and friend Jim, there was a lot of seaweed. At that time, admittedly, the seaweed was on all the beaches in Riviera Maya.
The beach is lined with dune coastal vegetation (which protects the coast from erosion) and palm trees. The most prevalent are beach cabbage (scaevola taccada) and sea grape (coccoloba uvifera).
There is a rental shop for kayaks and paddle-boards, at 300 pesos per piece (unless you take two, in which case the price is 250 pesos each). They offer lessons as well. There are showers, bathrooms (very clean) and a massage parlour.
It is advisable to come early, around 10am, particularly at the weekend. While the beach club has plenty of deck chairs, not all have umbrellas. So if you want one, it is better to come early. Saying so, this is a quiet beach, certainly less crowded than Mamitas or other downtown beach clubs.
The food we ordered was good. The restaurant (photos below) offers seafood, sandwiches, burgers and pizzas. The staff were efficient and friendly.
How to get there:
You can drive along avenida 30 or avenida 10, then turn down towards the sea on calle 5 norte (in the north residential zone called Nicte-Ha). There is a manned gate there, you just tell them you want to go to the Grand Coral Beach Club. Pass the hotel complex Mareazul and the next path leads to the beach. There is a cark park along the pathway and you will be asked to park there, unless you are a member (if you own an apartment property there), in which case you can go a few metres further and park just outside the beach club.
You can take a colectivo (minibus) that goes to the end of Avenida 10 and walk from there along 5th Avenue. If you come to hotel Paradisus, the next path leads to Punta Esmeralda and the one after that is the Grand Coral Beach club.
You can also walk along the beach right from the downtown beach; it will take you about an hour.