Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Punta Venado in English means 'Deer Point'. The name indicates that this is not just a beach. It is a large ranch, working as an eco-park.
As of late 2017 this place is only open for private events. You can come here only if you book one of their sea or jungle activities: guided horse-riding through the jungle and along a stretch of the beach, WaveRunners (sea scooters, as I call them), jet-ski rides, kayaking, ATV rides, a walk through a cavern system, cenote swimming, and snorkelling at the reef. And a mountain bike park, probably the only one along Riviera Maya. Much of this property is still wild and many native animals still inhabit the jungle. It is actually pretty amazing that a jungle packed with such activities is so close to Playa. The formal name of the place is Punta Venado Adventures Park.
The park is only a few minutes from the Calica cruise port, and 10 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. I believe that it is mostly visitors from cruise ships that book the whole day events here.
Sadly, you can't come just to enjoy the 3km-long beach, despite the fact that all beaches in Riviera Maya are federal property and should have public access. Somehow this rule does not apply here any more; it is simply a private beach club.
Tours can be for all the family but they do have a minimum age of 6 for tours. ATV and jet-ski tours require the driver to be 16 but younger people can be passengers. The horses are on single file trail rides and have a weight restriction of 120 kg. The horse tours start at the hacienda on the property. When you purchase a single tour you get a drink and snack at the beach club. If you are doing a package of activities you get lunch included and open bar. The prices for different activities vary a lot but overall I would say that they are not cheap. For example, the bike ride day trip is around 15USD, snorkelling tour in the region of 60USD, beach horse riding around 80USD, a package of ATV, horseback and snorkel in the region of 120 USD.
I came here only once with my friend Eva, back in 2016. We just wanted a day out and spotted a sign on the road (Punta Venado) so we turned into the dirt road. We did not know what to expect. On the way there was a guard sitting by the road but he never said anything and let us continue. We drove for about 12 minutes. I was actually beginning to think that there was no beach at the end of the track as normally it does not take so long from the highway to reach the beach. In this case, the road was winding. We eventually spotted some rustic houses with palapas and some horses so we stopped to investigate. We were told about all the tours and activities but we were allowed to continue to the beach.
Once on the beach, we had a setback because they were preparing for a wedding, in the restaurant with a large open palapa (roof cover made of palm leaves). The weddings are apparently popular at this site. They allowed us to stay on the beach (away from the restaurant) but we had to leave by 2pm. Still, we enjoyed it. We walked on the beach and then dipped in the sea. The water goes rather deep straight from the shoreline in places and there are rocks here and there. But the tranquillity is unbeatable!
How to get there:
If you want to come here, you need a car. Coming from Playa Del Carmen you drive south on the 307 highway for 8km. You will see a large sign above the entrance and you will need to turn around to go back north. Follow the dirt road for about 8 minutes, meet the guard, continue for 4 more minutes and you come to the beach club. There is a sign welcoming you to the beach at the car park (with plenty of parking spaces).
I don't recommend any commercial parks or tour agencies on my blog (there are simply too many in Riviera Maya) so you will have to find a tour agent by yourself. Just ask at your hotel. You can also simply drive here and buy the events of your choice on the spot.
Mix and match:
A visit to Playa del Carmen after beach hours, to stroll on 5th Avenue, the pedestrian zone.