Paradise at Punta Esmeralda, Playa del Carmen
We just had such a wonderful week in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and one of my favourite days was when we went to visit this hidden cenote less than 30 minutes from the city centre. We love highlighting hidden gems like Punta Esmeralda over on our YouTube channel but what I love even more is connecting with our amazing viewers from all over the world. Seriously, you guys are the best. This past week we had the absolute pleasure of meeting with an inspiring family who gave us the scoop on this little paradise and today I'm sharing it with you all. Enter, Punta Esmeralda.
Punta esmeralda cenote
The paradise you see is a freshwater, crystal clear cenote with shallow water perfect for children or for rinsing off after a dip in the ocean. We visited our fair share of cenotes while backpacking through Mexico in 2016 but none were as close to the ocean as this one. It was so cool to actually see the source of the water feeding the cenote at Punta Esmeralda. If you look closely when you get there, you'll spot a rocky section where you can actually see the water bubbling up from the underground river system. We nearly walked away for the day without spotting it!
When to visit Punta Esmeralda
Punta Esmeralda is open to the public and access is completely free. This is a popular spot with local families making Sundays the busiest day of all. Mondays are a close second since many business are closed and workers are off. If you can, plan your visit for Tuesday-Friday and preferably in the morning or around sunset. We arrived before 11am and left by 1pm when it started to get busy (and we were getting hangry).
Getting to Punta Esmeralda, Playa del Carmen
Depending on where you're staying in Playa, you may be able to walk to Punta Esmeralda right along the beach or following Calle Quinta Avenida all the way down but here are a few other options:
BY BUS: Along 30 Avenida Nte. you'll see buses headed northbound marked 30-30 final. That's your bus and you can ask the driver to let you know when you reach the stop closest to Punta Esmeralda. "Parada para Punta Esmeralda por favor." We boarded our bus at the Walmart bus stop, the fare was 5 pesos per person (Feb 2018) and the bus ride took around 30 minutes. The driver goes all the way up 30 Avenida, turns on 110 and we just had to walk about 10 minutes (passing the Paradisus hotel) to reach Punta Esmeralda.
BY COMBI: There are also combis (shared vans) marked 30-30 final that will take you all the way up 30 Avenida towards Punta Esmeralda. We took the bus there and back because nothing beats 5 pesos to paradise!
BY TAXI: Most drivers will know about Punta Esmeralda but you can also give the Paradisus hotel or Pure Mareazul hotel for reference. You may have to wait a while for one when you're ready to leave or walk a bit toward a street with more traffic to get one back to your accommodation.
BY CAR: Follow 30 Avenida to Calle 110 Nte or take the Paradisus exit on the 50 Avenida Norte highway. Free parking is available at Punta Esmeralda (though not explicitly marked).
Services at Punta Esmeralda, Playa del Carmen
Construction was in full swing at the public entrance when we visited and I imagine the facilities will only be improving at Punta Esmeralda. Community efforts have been made to keep this area clean and free to the public. It seems that vendors are now prohibited in this area of the beach though I'm sure they make an appearance on weekends and holidays. We didn't see much at all aside from a lifeguard, garbage bins, a playground for children, a Playa Inclusiva (beach deck with handicap access), police occasional patrolling and the beautiful cenote. A couple minutes walk on either end of the beach will get you to a beach bar for refreshments and washrooms.
So there you have it - a fresh water paradise for 5 pesos. I hope we've inspired you to visit Punta Esmeralda while you're visiting Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Don't forget to put your litter in the garbage and enjoy the day!