We answer a lot of questions from travelers about vacationing in Xcalak. A frequent request we get is whether the Xcalak beach is good or not. And that’s a smart thing to ask. Because when it comes to imagining the perfect beach, what one tourist considers “paradise” can be very different from what the next person thinks.
What is the Xcalak beach like?
The beach in Xcalak has many picturesque stretches where you can explore without interruption. The beach sand isn’t vast or soft, but, what it lacks in perfection, the beach makes up for in blissful solitude.
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Let us introduce Xcalak’s beach
Xcalak has a Robinson Crusoe vibe.
And there’s a particular type of traveler who enjoys that level of seclusion.
The warm Caribbean breeze all to yourself. The ever-present, soothing crash of the waves breaking on the barrier reef. The sunrise of soft pinks, Mars-like reds, and intense oranges. Long walks, without ever passing another human soul.
Whether you like the beach in Xcalak or not, kind of depends on whether you appreciate solitude and the absence of tourists.
So is the beach here any good? In our opinion, absolutely.
We recommend also reading this post about the Xcalak National Reef Park
7 facts about Xcalak Beach
Stay on this website and you’ll realize we love Xcalak. It’s true, we’re biased. And the best way to describe something without bias is to stick to the facts.
That’s why we created this 1-minute video with six facts, and then enhanced it, below, with additional information.
One. There are about 20 tourist accommodations in Xcalak; hence, no beach touts and everyone gets some privacy.
Two. The width of Xcalak’s beach varies from 5 feet to 50 feet, depending on the time of day and where you are along the coast.
Three. 500 meters (1500 feet) off the shores of Xcalak is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef; it’s the second-longest reef in the world! In closer to shore, a multitude of coral heads makes for great snorkeling in Xcalak.
Four. Like all of the Yucatan seaside, Xcalak gets seaweed (called Sargasso), which the beach accommodations usually rake away. Learn more about the Sargassum in Xcalak.
Five. The beach within Xcalak’s town-limits is more suited to fishing boats than for relaxing. But it’s still pleasant to drive along, and, in town, the pier is worth exploring.
Six. Xcalak has a nude beach resort; discover Playa Sonrisa!
Seven. On a calm day, you can kayak, SUP, or (if you’re energetic) even swim to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Best things to do on the Xcalak Beach
Some tourists enjoy the exciting, crowds on the Yucatan’s big beaches, such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Those people will think Xcalak’s beach is pretty darn boring. And in they’re not entirely wrong.
If you want nighttime dance parties and groups of 20-year-old college students doing tequila shots, then this beach is going to seem dull.
For us, however, Xcalak is a bastion of seaside relaxation. Pure tranquility.
Here are some beach activities to enjoy in Xcalak:
Watch the sunrise
Oh my gosh. If you like watching the sunrise, you’re in for a treat when you visit Xcalak. The sun comes up as a vast orb, rising above the barrier reef. It fills the water and the sky with vivid patterns and shades of color. It makes a walk up the beach worth it every morning.
Xcalak has clear saltwater flats that are perfect for fly-fishing. Go DIY and simply walk up the beach, or hire a local guide and boat. Better yet; try both! Here’s a post on Xcalak Fly Fishing.
Look for ghost crabs
The pale, anemic-looking little fellas are skittish. To find them, you may need to sit on the beach in the morning or evening and wait until they forget you’re there. Here more on the Ghost Crabs of Xcalak.
Learn to husk a coconut (with just a stick!)
Become the next Coconut Master! Sure, it’s not an accredited degree (seeing as we made it up), but it’s still rewarding to know you can husk a coconut in under two minutes. Here’s how:
Create your beach art
Xcalak beach is peaceful; the solitude is sure to induce creativity. Unleash your inner-artist by finding materials on the beach then creating your masterpiece. Here are four fun Beach Art Ideas.
Walk the dog
Most properties in Xcalak have a dog. And we guarantee you this; those dogs know how to live the “playa life” to the max. This is our favorite beach-dog husking a sea-soggy coconut.
Not an ornithologist? (We had to look that word up.) Neither are we. But you know, there’s lots of birdlife to see as you walk up the beach in Xcalak. For instance, pelicans, frigates, egrets, grackles, gulls, sanderlings, and cormorants. This tells you all about birdwatching in Xcalak.
Host a hermit crab race
Hermit crabs are prolific in Xcalak. They travel to and from the beach and are a joy to watch, especially at night when they gather en masse to struggle for the best shells.
You can set up hermit crab racing in a few different ways. Our method is to gather the “participants” and have a circular race, from the center to the edge. Here’s a most-comical video to show you how:
Beachcombing in Xcalak
A favorite pastime of ours (in case you haven’t figured it out) is going for a walk along the Xcalak beach. As we trace the shore, the tropical Caribbean breeze keeps us cool, and we love listening to the comforting rumble of the surf as it breaks on the barrier reef. But, more to the point, taking a walk in Xcalak lets us go beachcombing!
In this section you’ll discover what kinds of “things” wash up on the beach in Xcalak. And you’ll also learn why.
(Marine creatures and the environment need the natural stuff, so if you go beachcombing, don’t be pocketing things that could get you in trouble with the customs officer at the airport!)
What “treasures” await you on the Xcalak beach?
What you may have heard is true, a curse of flotsam and jetsam ends up washing ashore in Xcalak. We find that beachcombing lets us make the best of this situation. The following are a few of the things (some natural, some not) that you’ll likely find on the beach.
“Sea beans” are seed pods that float across the oceans. The pods can survive in harsh saltwater for years before washing ashore on Xcalak’s beach. When you go beachcombing, expect to find sea beans in various shapes and sizes.
This post has more info about the sea beans in Xcalak, or you could simply watch this one-minute video summary:
You remember the book and movie, The Lord of the Flies, where the stranded kids would blow a conch shell horn to summon a meeting? Well, the local fishermen in Xcalak hunt conch and then discard the shells. Go beachcombing in Xcalak and you’ll find plenty of conch shell to play with!
Here’s our popular post on making a conch shell horn, and a summary video showing you how:
Volcanic rock is so lightweight it floats! As you walk the beach in Xcalak, you’ll find pumice stones mixed into the strandline. People collect these mildly abrasive stones to use for exfoliating in the shower. They’re way more awesome than a luffa.
A vacation in Xcalak will shake your belief in the necessity of single-use plastic. Thousands of bottles and other plastics wash up on Xcalak’s beach every year. Without a doubt, the world’s in a sad situation. But hunting through this washed-up plastic waste to find out where it came from is actually pretty exciting.
Here’s a video that talks about the plastic beach in Xcalak.
Why does trash wash up in Xcalak?
The lovely waters of Xcalak are fed by a swoosh of north-traveling water known as the Yucatan Current. This current, plus the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, are all supplied by the broader Caribbean Current (which we think would be an excellent name for a local newspaper).
And how does the Caribbean Current get its water?
Water for the Caribbean Current comes from the Atlantic Ocean via a bunch of fun-sounding water flows, including the North Equatorial, North Brazil, and Guiana Current. And those get fed by some other current, and so forth.
The world’s tied together by the oceans. Everything that washes up in Xcalak kind of proves it!
Which is better; the Mahahaul beach or Xcalak’s beach?
The nifty video below sums up the difference between Xcalak and Mahahual beach. Check it out:
Xcalak beach is only about 40 miles (60 km) from Mahahaul beach, and both stretches of sand are physically similar. The feel of the sand on your toes is the same, and you’ll see the same types of creatures in the water.
But unlike Mahahual, Xcalak is in a Protected Reef Park. There’s no legal overfishing. No mass tourism. And no cheesy water park.
Here’s a post for choosing between the Xcalak or Mahahaul beach.
The beach in Xcalak is less crowded than in Mahahual, which has a cruise ship port and loads of tourists. With fewer people in Xcalak, the coral is healthier and there’s more aquatic life to see while snorkeling. Also, in Xcalak, there are almost no boats zipping by, which makes swimming safer and more enjoyable.
One of the magical things about Xcalak is going for a walk and having long sections of paradise all to yourself.
Need to know more?
A visit to Xcalak beach isn’t your standard holiday. It’s about getting away from crowds, unplugging from the hectic world, and enjoying a bit of tropical tranquility… while keeping an excellent level of comfort. But getting to Xcalak is a commitment.
If you’ve got a question about the beach we haven’t answered, go ahead; ask.
Send your email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are not the official tourist bureau of Xcalak (there’s no such place, we checked), but we’re not shy when it comes to talking about the paradise we love.
~Heather & Tim