There’s plenty to do in and around Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, but if you’re visiting, one thing is on top of the list: the beach. Unless you’re staying at an expensive resort located right on the water, you’ll likely be looking at spending some time at one of the many beach clubs that dot the shore. How do you choose which one to pick, and how do you get the most for the least money? We’re here to help!
What do you want in a beach club?
Not all beach clubs are created equal. They range from high-end, near-white-glove service to no-frills, very-basic to wild and loud party scenes. They key to having an enjoyable experience is to decide what you want.
What amenities are important?
The basics: chairs and umbrellas are pretty much the minimum for beach club provisions – they’re the base amenity for which you’ll be paying. Bathroom access is another basic, although the quality of the WC’s will vary from place to place. It’s really about convenience as opposed to luxury.
Tanning Beds, large lounge beds that can fit 2-4 people, are a step up from a single lounge chair, and are priced at a premium over the chairs
All but the smallest clubs offer bar service, and sometimes an extensive food menu. If you aren’t planning on imbibing (or consuming), a smaller club without these options will be less expensive.
Almost all the clubs offer beach massage services for an additional fee. Walking by any club you’ll be approached by people offering a massage. If you’re not interested, a quick shake of the head and they’ll move on. If you express interest, though, be ready for a sell-job.
Many clubs have the option of a private pool if you don’t want to dip in the ocean.
The music/vibe is different at each club, ranging from a laid-back reggae-type experience, to full-out dance club. The volume of the music varies as well, from background noise to a full rave experience.
Location: some areas of the beach are better than others, due to currents, how well the beach is maintained, and whether there is a rocky section or just sand.
There are a few pricing models available. Free (first come, first served) beach chairs used to be more available, with clubs earning the majority of their profits on he drinks and food they expect you to order. These days, though, most clubs charge a minimum fee for the pleasure of stretching out in one of their beach front seats.
Flat pricing for entry and a standard lounge chairs are the norm for more basic clubs. For a fee (typically about 100 pesos per chair), you have access to the club and will need to pay cash at the bar. Note can vary substantially and are higher during popular times for visitors (Christmas week through April).
Larger clubs charge more for the basic lounge chairs and beds, but the fee can then be used as credit against food and drinks ordered while you are there.
Extras are usually exactly that – an additional cost. If you want to use the private pool, get premium seating, or take advantage of any number of options, be prepared to pay for them.
Our Favorite Beach Clubs
Mamita’s Beach Club
Perhaps the most famous beach clubs in Playa del Carmen, Mamita’s holds a premium spot. Centrally located, with a great sandy beach, it is largely considered the “one to beat” as far as beach clubs go (primarily because of its well-known status). Beyond the location, Mamita’s offers a full menu and plenty of upgrades to meet the standards of the most particular beach-goer (at a price).
Kool Beach Club
Kool is located immediately next to Mamita’s, so it has many of the same benefits: a great location at the end of Calle 28 North with its’ beautiful sandy beach. Kool has an option to upgrade your stay to include access to the pool and offers some of our favorite nachos in Playa (served directly to your lounger with a frosty beverage). Tip: select a standard chair further from the water to get the best price.
Martina’s Beach Club
Located a little further north at the end of Calle 40, Martina’s is a low-key, quiet option during the day, but towards evening transforms into a more night club environment. They also have a pool and food and beverages at an extra cost.
Cocoa Beach Club
Located by the quiet, locals spot Punta Esmeralda, just north of the Paradisus Hotel. You’ll get very few amenities beyond the beach chairs here – the benefit is the remote location that is a favorite among families and locals.
Money saving tips
- Club pricing can vary depending on the season or even the day (i.e., many have a lower price for slow season). If you have flexibility, you can get a better rate.
- Bigger clubs often charge for premium location in the club, i.e., closer to the water. In Playa, technically, all the beaches are public – therefore, you will invariably have people in front of you, sitting in blankets – paying for prime seating won’t get you an unimpeded view of the water.
- If you’re eating and drinking at the club, determine if the entry price is credited to food and drinks, and take advantage of that.
- Negotiate for extra services, especially if things aren’t too busy.
Interested in more money-saving ideas on a vacation to Mexico (or many other popular destinations)? We highly recommend trying eBates. They are a service that allows you to earn money back on many of your online purchases or bookings. It’s free to sign up, and you earn a percentage of every purchase back on things you would be buying anyway. It even works with other discounts and point programs! What can be better than earning points for your next vacation while booking the one you are planning now?
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