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The Riviera Maya Travel Guide

The 10 Best Bars and Nightclubs in Riviera Maya

Beaching and boozing go hand in hand in this corner of Mexico.

Cancún attracts the lion’s share of merrymakers in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, but just further south, Riviera Maya has its own flair for festivity. The 86-mile region is a collection of cities, towns, and villages where everyone from spring breakers to seniors can find their potions—and their people.

In Tulum, you’ll have close encounters with free-spirited Burning Man types seeking enlightenment, euphoria, and electronic music. Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya’s largest city, is a round-the-clock revelry kind of destination, while smaller towns like Puerto Morelos and Akumal appeal to a more temperate bunch who prefer to conduct their libation-fueled shenanigans during daylight hours. Whether you like to drink and dance or sit and sip, here are 10 of the best bars and nightclubs in Riviera Maya.

1 OF 10

Zenzi Beach

WHERE: Playa del Carmen

Feet in the sand, cocktail in hand, you can soak up the sun at Zenzi Beach in Playa del Carmen seven days a week. Sunday night is the one to bookmark for dancers as this is when the salsa lovers descend. Even if you have two left feet, it’s worth popping along to people-watch and feel the energy that zings through the place. Live music is a regular occurrence at Zenzi, and delightfully, it’s at a decent volume, unlike many other local bars, which are guilty of blasting music insufferably loud, ruling out conversations of any kind.

Perch outside under the palm trees adorned with string lights, pick a table indoors or pull up a bar stool for proximity to the TV screens. When searching for a location to catch international sports matches, Zenzi is typically a winner.

INSIDER TIPKeep abreast of Zenzi’s various themed evenings on their Facebook page.


2 OF 10

Martina Beach Club

WHERE: Playa del Carmen

You’ll leave sandy-footed and satisfied after a day at Martina Beach Club, not to be confused with Mamita’s Beach Club on its namesake beach. On weekends, Martina can always be relied on for a fabulous daytime session with saxophonists, champagne processions, and uniformly clad performers in tow, and this is hands down one of the best beach clubs in Playa (locals seldom use the city’s full name). Drift into bliss on a white day bed facing the sea, or secure a VIP area near Martina’s pool, where the real party goes down.

INSIDER TIPMartina is a strictly daytime affair and things wrap up by 8 p.m. daily.


3 OF 10


WHERE: Tulum

There’s palpable buzz and Champagne-popping at Gitano, Tulum’s famed jungle restaurant and lounge. Owing to its abundant greenery and massive disco ball, it has been referred to as “Studio 54 in the Jungle.” By day, there are visually sumptuous and inventive dishes like garlic mushrooms with huitlacoche or the salad served in a watermelon quarter, and on the drinks front, mezcal reigns supreme—do sample the Gitano Carajillo with mezcal, cacao honey, and cold brew. Friday nights are particularly packed at Gitano as it hosts a weekly “gypsy disco dinner party,” during which patrons put on their glad rags to spend some cash and shimmy under the stars.

4 OF 10


WHERE: Playa del Carmen

There is a high chance you’ll get turned away if you arrive sandy, unkempt, or overly casual to Clandestino. This is a classy two-story rooftop club with abundant tropical plants and a flashing lights show right on Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida), Playa’s main street that’s lined with stores selling everything from chocolate tequila to novelty ice cream. Between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., Clandestino’s DJs alternate between genres and decades to keep the crowd of locals and visitors suitably impressed.

INSIDER TIPThe cover charge at Clandestino varies depending on the night.


5 OF 10


WHERE: Playa del Carmen

If and when you’re met with closed doors at Clandestino, Santino is a great nightclub alternative in Playa right around the corner on Eighth Street (Calle Ocho). It also has two floors, but the top level is much breezier than that of Clandestino. Also, Santino is somewhat split into two camps, with the rooftop exclusively playing EDM while downstairs is a reggaeton lover’s dream. There, you won’t go home without hearing one or two classics from Daddy Yankee or Don Omar, and a packed dance floor is a sure thing.

INSIDER TIPWhen ordering drinks at Santino (and many other nightlife establishments in Playa) payment is handled on one side of the bar and then drinks are collected on another.


6 OF 10

La Buena Vida

WHERE: Akumal

If you’re more a daytime drinker than a night owl, go for tipples at La Buena Vida in Akumal, one of Riviera Maya’s paradisiacal and laidback beach towns. Life moves at a languid pace in Akumal and is centered around nature encounters like swimming with turtles and visiting rescued monkeys, scarlet macaws, toucans, and ostriches at the Akumal Animal Sanctuary. La Buena Vida is a quirky and cool venue to hang loose after the day’s adventures. Not only is there a pool, but you’ll also find numerous bar swing seats to perch on, as well as a tree house you can ascend to for a bird’s eye view of the scenic surroundings. Don’t miss happy hour from 5 p.m.

7 OF 10

Thompson Playa del Carmen

WHERE: Playa del Carmen

The rooftop at Thompson Playa del Carmen (Main House) is perfect for party people who want to be empowered by choice. On one side, there’s UMI Rooftop + Tokyo Kitchen to whet your appetite with sumptuous sushi dishes and signature cocktails. Then, there’s Alessia Day Club, which is rollicking on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. From Jamiroquai to Jason Derulo, you’ll enjoy an eclectic sunshine soundtrack there courtesy of an energetic DJ spinning beside the infinity pool, a dreamy vantage point to take in the cityscape.

INSIDER TIPBe aware that access to beach clubs and rooftop pools in Riviera Maya often requires you to purchase a day pass or meet a minimum spend threshold.


8 OF 10

Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar

WHERE: Tulum

Mojitos made with fresh sugarcane juice are hard to come by, but they are served aplenty at Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar, a hot ticket in Tulum. It’s away from the pricey hotel zone where cocktails and tables at beach bars go for eye-watering prices. Downtown Tulum (known as “Pueblo” or “Centro”) is where many travelers feel they get a more authentic Mexican experience, and this is where you’ll find Batey, along with markets, street food stalls, and locally run boutiques. Pose by Batey’s repurposed blue Volkswagen, don’t miss the live music, and don’t veer away from more adventurous mojito options like the prickly pear, lime, mint, and cactus combo.

9 OF 10

Coco Bongo

WHERE: Playa del Carmen

Some call it a sensory overload. Others call it the best night of their lives. One thing is certain about Coco Bongo, though: your time there won’t easily be forgotten. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for acrobatics, confetti showers, bubbles, conga lines, impersonators, pop culture odes, and an open bar at this nightclub-cum-entertainment venue. One visit is probably sufficient, but Coco Bongo is a rite of passage for serious partygoers who can handle this rowdy, perplexing, boozy, and high-energy show that’s been titillating Riviera Maya since 2008.

10 OF 10


WHERE: Playa del Carmen

You’ll hear the music long before you get anywhere near Mandala on Playa del Carmen’s busy Twelfth Street, which has a cluster of open-air, open-till-late bar-club hybrids lined next to each other. This includes La Vaquita, Abolengo, Santito Tun Tun, and Mamba. The immediate neighbors can’t be too pleased about the raucous cluster, but it’s a great choice for clubbers who want to experience Playa del Carmen’s nightlife in full swing. At Mandala, you are practically guaranteed a playlist of reggaeton or hits from the two-thousands through the present day, and it’s a favorite for Playenses (city locals) and tourists alike.