Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya, Mexico
This secluded beach is never crowded. It is the really tranquil getaway that we all yearn for so much. The reef is very near to the shore so you can actually walk out to it, then snorkel and watch the colourful fish.
It's the only place along the coast where you can reach the reef on foot, to my knowledge. And that's the reason why I come here from time to time, either with my family or friends. You'll need to bring your own snorkelling equipment, as there is no rental company here. It is a truly rustic beach.
All beaches on the Riviera Maya are public, but the secure entrance into Soliman Bay deters many visitors. The beach is semi-private as it is in a gated community of luxury villas (many of them are for vacation rental). All the villas are situated on the beach, so the guests have their own stretches of beach and do not use the public beach. The security guards by the hotel Jashita will stop you but they will let you in. Drive (or walk) along the beach road lined with villas all the way to the southern end of the bay. Here you will find a beach full of palms and the rustic Chamicos restaurant.
It's really a wooden shack on the beach but it offers great loungers, seating with tables, hammocks, bathrooms and fresh seafood tacos and ceviche (one of the best in the area). If you are not consuming at the restaurant and want to have your own picnic, you'll need to pay 50 pesos per person for your stay on the beach. The restaurant can accept even bigger groups. I came here once with a large group of friends from Playa del Carmen, to snorkel and have some ceviche, at the end of our trip to Muyil ruins.
The extensive outer reef creates calm waters. I love just walking along the beach here as well and collecting shells (I have a collection of truly large shells from here). There are very few beaches along the Yucatan coast where you can find large shells. On the walk towards the south you will also see some wooden houses that were destroyed by a hurricane here some time ago. Good for photography moments. Another photography icon is an abandoned boat on the beach, full of graffiti. Some of the photos in this post are by my friend Eva Bellucci. We love coming here together.
The entry to the sea is rocky and foot protection is recommended. However, there's a sandy path to the reef where it's OK to walk barefoot. You'll spot the path easily as it's the only area where people enter the sea. You can also walk along the sandy bay in front of the villas (towards the north), as access is public.
You can also go for a drink at the Sahara Café at Jashita Hotel at the northern end of the beach, by the entrance to Soliman Bay. It's more upscale than Chamicos. I was there only once with my family visiting from England, who wanted a tranquil moment on the beach with some cocktails, and we loved the elegant set-up. It is a luxury boutique hotel in unspoiled nature.
How to get there:
Soliman Bay beach is 15 minutes north of Tulum, 20 minutes south of Akumal, and 40 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. The highway entrance is just opposite the Oscar and Lalo restaurant on the highway. If you are coming from Playa, you will have to make a U-turn. And then you will spot another sign for Oscar and Lalo restaurant. Turn right by the sign through a stone entrance onto a dirt road that leads to the Jashita hotel and the row of villas. The beach is at the end of that row, once you pass all the villas.