• Photo: cristovao / Shutterstock

Playa del Secreto

The secret is out—the ½-km (1-mile) stretch of white sand at Playa del Secreto is one of the most beautiful in the Riviera Maya. Surrounded by jungle and Caribbean waters, the protected shores are a favorite nesting ground for giant leatherback sea turtles, weighing up to 300 pounds. From May through October, early risers can watch baby turtles struggle from their shells and skitter down to the sea. The bordering jungle is home to foxes, deer, crocodiles, wild boars, and coatimundis. Bird-watching is excellent here, with species ranging from wild parrots and hawks to kingfishers and black-necked stilts. This coastal community is midway between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, meaning that nightclubs, shopping, and restaurants are less than 20 minutes away.

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