DUNA Beach Club – Tulum Meets the Sahara on Xpu ha Beach
Table of Contents
- 1 DUNA Beach Club – Tulum Meets the Sahara on Xpu ha Beach
- 2 DUNA Beach Club Xpu Ha: An Honest Review
- 3 What We Like About DUNA Beach Club
- 4 Is DUNA the Best Riviera Maya Beach Club?
- 5 DUNA Xpu Ha Beach Club – Some parting thoughts
- 6 How to Get to DUNA Beach Club
Christmas morning blessed us with a beautiful day on the Riviera Maya so the boss and I thought we would treat ourselves to a beach day at DUNA Xpu Ha Beach Club.
DUNA Beach Club is the newest Riviera Maya beach club to pop up on the shores of Xpu Ha Beach. Several of our friends (whose expectations are similar to ours) gave DUNA good reports so, we thought we would give it a go as a Christmas present to ourselves.
We did not reserve in advance but probably will in the future. Read on to find out why.
DUNA Beach Club Xpu Ha: An Honest Review
After almost 20 years on the Riviera Maya, I have visited a lot of beach clubs. To be honest, I am just as happy to bring a picnic lunch and a cooler to a deserted beach as I am to check out the hottest new beach club.
So, if we are going to dip into our “beach club fund” I want to be sure we are going to get a great experience. Naturally, I have worked up a specific list of things that make a beach club a winner for me.
If you have read my review of Punta Venado, you already have an idea of what I look for in a Riviera Maya beach club. Some things I am flexible on. Others are dealbreakers. The kids say that makes me sound “bougie” but I’m actually not that hard to please. Ask anyone!
These are the features that we think make DUNA Xpu Ha Beach Club one of the best beach clubs on the Riviera Maya and one we will return to.
What We Like About DUNA Beach Club
DUNA Beach Club has an idyllic location on Xpu Ha beach. The beach club is perfectly situated in a quiet spot between Catalonia Tulum and Escencia. Both hotels are quite a distance from DUNA which, at the moment, has no direct neighbors on either side.
The entrance to DUNA is just north of Catalonia Tulum and is well-marked. Take a right at the sign and continue down the access road to the end. Once you have reached the parking area, you will be greeted by a uniformed staff member who will make sure you find a parking spot and announce your arrival via 2-way radio.
From our home in Puerto Aventuras, DUNA is just 10 minutes away making it a perfect destination when we can manage a day off. That’s a big selling point.
Free and Ample Parking
DUNA Beach Club offers plenty of space for parking which is free of charge for their guests. There are several designated parking spaces along the access road as well as a sizable parking lot. Once you arrive at the parking lot, there is an attendant stationed there to make sure you are parked properly and to watch over the lot. The parking areas felt very secure.
Chic Facilities and Relaxing Atmosphere
To get to DUNA Beach Club, you arrive via a raised wooden walkway, through a lush stretch of mangrove. From there, you will arrive at a lovely reception area where an English-speaking staff member will greet you. If you have a reservation, she will make sure you are escorted to your spot for the day.
If it is your first visit, she will explain the pricing scheme (see below) and let you know which seating areas are available that day. If you are looking for massages, this is the place to book them.
As the name suggests, DUNA Beach Club is nestled into the dunes of Xpu Ha beach. The dunes naturally separate the beach club into distinct sections. There is the beachfront offering comfortable lounge chairs covered by cloth shades, Tipi areas suited for groups and rustic, wooden cabanas called Balabá.
There are also lounging areas, set apart from the beach, scattered throughout the dunes. Here you will find hammock areas, tipis, shaded camastros and an elegant open-air lounge with chairs, tables and bedouin-style poufs.
There is a small covered dining area with a dozen or so tables. Here you will also find an attractive and well-stocked bar with seating. The vibe is very boho-chic which is all the rage right now. I think the overall design concept might best be described as “Tulum meets the Sahara” with distinctive Bedouin influences in the structures, the textile choices and the menu.
The whole setting is really quite cool and I can imagine it would make a stylish destination wedding venue.
Our arrival time, 11:00 AM, turned out to be perfect. There were just a few beachfront spots taken and we were able to grab a pair of loungers in the front row and on the south end.
Elevated Culinary Experience
I’m always a little sad when I turn up at a beach club and am presented with a massive, multi-page, laminated menu. Most times, I can guess what’s on the list before I even look at it.
I was pleasantly surprised by the food offerings at DUNA. It’s clear they are catering to a discerning clientele with higher-than-usual expectations and the money to pay for it. And, that’s just fine with me! I saw quite a few interesting menu offerings that I am looking forward to trying on future visits.
Of course, there are a few of the usual suspects.. nachos, ceviche, quesadillas etc… but presented with unusual ingredients. There are lots of appealing options for vegetarians and some vegan dishes as well.
The menu at DUNA is concise but it’s obvious they are making an effort to go beyond the ordinary and offer an elevated culinary experience. They are certainly offering their guests an interesting variety of items with thoughtful presentations that you would not see at your average Riviera Maya beach club.
DUNA opens at 9 AM and has a handful of breakfast items that look appealing. We arrived at 11 AM and decided to wait for lunch. I ordered the Falafel Plate which came with a generous amount of hummus, Israeli salad and 6 perfectly cooked and seasoned falafel. This was delicious and pretty and a total winner for me.
The boss decided on the hamburger which was not so great. The presentation was good…soft bun, crispy bacon, fresh greens accompanied by a generous portion of nicely seasoned french fries. But the patty was an uninspiring, previously frozen, supermarket-quality disc. They can do much better and for what they are charging, they should.
Prices – What to know before you go
I’m not going to sugar-coat it. DUNA Beach Club is not cheap. The minimum spend here is higher than anywhere we have been outside of Tulum or on a resort Day Pass. Be prepared to pay a premium for the privileged location. The minimum spend varies depending on where you are sitting.
The pricing scheme at DUNA is as follows. Prices are the minimum consumption, in pesos, per person.
Restaurant 450 MXN
Inside 700 MXN
Front Row 900 MXN
Balabá 1200 MXN
The minimum per person is paid upfront when you arrive. 100% of the cost goes toward consumption. There is no additional charge for parking, use of loungers, tips etc.
In general, think the food prices at DUNA are pretty much in line with other up-market Riviera Maya beach clubs like Kay, Xalmar and Punta Venado. The menu had items at a variety of price points which I appreciate.
They have a very complete drink list. I found the prices a bit high for some things and not so bad for others. I understand and accept that I am going to pay more for my cocktails when they come with unobstructed sea views. While high, the prices are still lower than I would pay at a similar beach club in Tulum and the service was exceptional. No complaints.
The minimum consumption for our seating arrangement (beachfront, 2 camastros with shade) is 900 pesos per person. We ordered the Falafel platter, a hamburger, multiple beers and rum cocktails (don’t judge) and the bill came up 200 pesos over the minimum. I feel like we got our money’s worth.
If we were not drinking alcoholic beverages, it would be very hard if not impossible to cover the minimum spend. Something to keep in mind.
DUNA Beach Club gets top scores for service. From the moment we arrived, we were attended by friendly, English-speaking staff members who went out of their way to make us feel welcome. We went in already knowing the layout and the pricing scheme but the manager and servers are happy to elaborate for new customers.
DUNA is well-staffed on and off the beach. The servers are very attentive and professional. We received a menu right away and our food came out quickly. At no time did we ever have to wait for our drinks to be replenished. When we asked for the bill (which was just 200 pesos over the minimum spend) it was correct with no surprises.
Xpu ha is renowned for having one the best beaches on the Riviera Maya and for good reason. DUNA Beach Club is situated on an absolutely pristine stretch of Xpu ha beach, far from the people and noise of the other beach clubs, hotels and resorts.
If your vision of the perfect Riviera Maya beach club experience features a long swath of beach where you can walk for miles, DUNA Beach Club is the place for you. This is where DUNA wins out for me over my other beach club of choice, Punta Venado. From DUNA, you can easily walk for several kilometers in either direction. I enjoy taking a stroll along the beach so DUNA scores very high in the beach category!
The beach area at DUNA is wide and kept perfectly clean by the beach club staff. We know to expect sargassum at certain times of the year and we know that it does tend to pile up on Xpu Ha beach. We will have to see how well they manage this horrible seasonal plague.
If you have been to Xpu Ha Beach before, then you already know that this is one of the best swimming beaches in the area. If you haven’t been to this stretch of beach before, you are in for a treat.
The beach at DUNA is wide and slopes gently into the sea. The water entry is free of rocks and coral. The wave action is pretty minimal, even on a windy day and there is little or no current to work against. On a calm day, the ocean at Xpu Ha is like glass and perfect for paddleboarding.
Unfortunately, most of the features that make the beach at DUNA great for swimming also make it not so great for snorkeling. There are no coral structures or reef systems close to the beach. You can don your mask and snorkel but you are not going to see very much.
Comfortable Loungers and Shade
DUNA offers a variety of “lounging” options on and off the beach. There are camastros, wooden loungers with thick cushions. There is a cloth shade stretched above, large enough to keep the sun off although you may need to adjust your loungers a bit as the sun moves. There is also a small table and a couple of crates that you can rest your food and drinks on.
The Tipis have beds inside them with a few pillows. If you choose the Tipi arrangement, the setup for your group may also include camastros or “bag-style” chairs that you can arrange to your liking. There may be an additional charge for additional amenities so be sure to ask.
All of the lounging areas on and off the beach are spread out fairly well. We never felt crowded or like we were on top of the other guests at any time.
Is DUNA the Best Riviera Maya Beach Club?
Everyone has their unique criteria for what makes a beach club the BEST. Based on MY criteria, the overall score for DUNA Beach Club is pretty high.
I like DUNA because it feels like Tulum but it’s not Tulum. It’s easy to get to and the parking is plentiful and free. I appreciate the option to make a reservation (in the unlikely event that I am ever that organized).
The staff are very accommodating and give excellent service. The menu options are thoughtful and the dish I ordered was not only delicious but beautiful. The booze is pretty pricey but hey, you have to cover that minimum somehow!
Of course, the star of the show at DUNA is the beach itself. The location of the beach club is perfect. It is set far from any other beach clubs or resort properties giving it quite an exclusive vibe. The beach here is wide and clean.
Our visit was on Christmas morning and by 1 PM, all of the seating areas had been claimed. I imagine that DUNA will only grow more popular as time goes on. The nice young lady at the reception area gave me a card with a QR code to make reservations and I think that’s probably a very good idea, especially during high season.
My advice would be to reserve in advance or plan to arrive early. DUNA Beach Club opens at 9 AM for breakfast so plan to arrive then, claim the location of your choice and enjoy a wonderful day on Xpu Ha beach.
DUNA Xpu Ha Beach Club – Some parting thoughts
As Xpu Ha and the surrounding areas continue to be developed with more and more residential properties, Xpu Ha beach is only going to get more and more saturated with visitors. The “original” Xpu Ha beach clubs further south are already packed to the point of being uncomfortable. The access protocols are annoying and while the prices for food and beverages are lower, the quality is inconsistent and the service is generally deplorable.
All of the new Xpu ha residential real estate offerings are being marketed with a “private beach club” as one of the amenities. Once these gated communities are completed, I anticipate the newer, upmarket Xpu Ha beach clubs like Xalmar and DUNA may start to restrict entry and/or adopt new pricing schemes.
I can see a day when these beach clubs become “members only” to service the owners and guests in the new Xpu Ha residences, limiting access to those of us who visit from other places along the Riviera Maya.
Until then, I would recommend that we all enjoy DUNA as it is now … practically perfect in this privileged spot on Xpu ha Beach.
How to Get to DUNA Beach Club
From Puerto Aventuras by car, take Carretera 307 south to the retorno just past all the Xpu Ha beach club entrances. The entrance to DUNA is just north of Catalonia Tulum Resort and is well-marked. From Puerto Aventuras, the trip should take less than 10 minutes, door to door.
From Puerto Aventuras, if you are coming by taxi, expect to pay about 350 pesos. For the return trip, you can either prearrange a pick-up with your driver at a designated time or ask the concierge at DUNA to call a taxi for you when you are ready to go.
DUNA is also possible to reach by colectivo. Heading south on 307, ask to be let out across the highway from the entrance. From there, you will have to CAREFULLY cross to the other side and walk from the entrance down the access road to the beach club. It’s not ideal but it’s doable.
Contact Details for DUNA Beach Club Xpu Ha
Days/ Hours Open Daily 9 AM – 6 PM
Phone/Whatsapp +52 984 130 5502