This is our guide for the 9 Best Cancun Beaches and everything you need to know before visiting.
Cancun is known around the world for three things. A world-class dining scene. A nightlife so vibrant it makes you understand why locals and tourists call it Mexico‘s party capital. And beaches so vast you’d feel that the city is surrounded by sand on all four sides.
Your presence here tells me you, too, like feeling sand under your feet. We have been traveling to Cancun for the past 7 years and this is our guide on the best beaches in Cancun. From white sand to turquoise water, the below beaches have everything to make you stay from sunset to sundown.
Come first thing in the morning, and you’d feel as if the beach has been abandoned forever. A few hours later, there would be so many people you may have to erect a tent to safeguard your privacy and keep your valuables safe from miscreants (of which there will be a few).
Playa Delfines is my girlfriend’s favorite due to the opaque white sand, bright turquoise water, and a landscape that isn’t disturbed by the city’s expanding hotel scene. The thing I like the most about it is that it’s located right off the main road. Getting here is a breeze (pun intended)!
If you’re going to visit Playa Defines, get up early. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get your hands on the free thatch-roof umbrellas. They’re a must-have if you intend to spend some hours there, which you would have to if you want to spot dolphins on the horizon.
Pristine white sand? Check. Waves so strong you could easily surf? Present. A place so vast you won’t face much trouble finding a spot to settle down and let the sun kiss your body? Absolutely. All these features make Playa Chac Mool one of the best beaches in Cancun.
On our most recent trip to this beach, I decided to enroll in one of the many surfing schools on the shore. To their credit, the school’s instructors taught me well. Or as well as they could to a person who didn’t know how to tell a manual board from a motorized one.
If you have no intention of riding the waves, just sit on your back and order food (tacos in our case) or beverages from the several bars and restaurants near this beach. Those on a budget would do well to make a quick trip to nearby convenience stores such as Circle K and Oxxo.
Sandwiched between hotels that seem as if they’re coming to occupy the shoreline and miles and miles of bright turquoise water, Playa Marlin is located on Cancun’s eastern strip. It is incredibly well kept, with water that stays warm even during the winter months.
While you can visit this place any day you like, if you like some privacy or are visiting with family, weekday mornings should be targeted. That is because the place’s location makes it a magnet for tourists on weekends, making it all but impossible to find parking.
As it is with almost every beach, Playa Marlin’s sides tend to be quieter than the center. So, if you’re visiting with family, take a walk in either direction to find a secluded spot. But don’t use the sunbeds unless you’re staying in one of the hotels along the shoreline.
The Playa Gaviota Azul must be on your travel itinerary if you’re visiting Cancun with the kids. The place has some of the gentlest waves you’ll find on any beach anywhere. So, your little ones can safely play with water as you two enjoy some alone time on the beach.
Once your little ones are bored playing with water, walk them to the large man-made boulder called the Cubos. This spot provides its visitors with stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, which is why it can be more crowded than your resting place on either side of this beach.
An expert tip: While this beach has two entrances, the one adjacent to “Mandala Beach Club” is the best for families. It is less crowded, doesn’t have as much household garbage, and leads you into a less crowded spot than if you had entered via the “Coco Bongo” nightclub entrance.
Many things are common between Playa Gaviota Azul and Playa Norte. Both are located right next to the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The water at both is quiet and calm to let you swim without worrying about being swept away. And both feel like heaven on earth.
When we visited this place in 2017, we hired a golf cart to explore Isla Mujeres, an island that couldn’t be any more picturesque. I suggest you do the same if you’re in Cancun with kids, as they will find plenty to like (and photograph) about this beautiful island.
However, even if you have no intention of leaving the sand, the Playa Norte still has plenty to offer. You can rent lounge chairs and let the sun do its thing while drinking margaritas and beers ordered from a nearby bar. Or you can just cover your face with a newspaper and doze off.
Playa Caracol is one of the busiest beaches in Cancun, thanks to its location in the middle of Cancun’s hotel zone. This might be bad news if you’re looking for some privacy. However, it’s excellent news for those of you who don’t want to go too far from your hotel to get some sun.
Once inside the place (Playa Caracol has no entry fee), there are plenty of activities you can do. For example, I tried my hands on stand-up paddle boarding the last time I was there. Always fond of the air, my girlfriend selected windsurfing. Both of us were very happy with our choices.
Given the fact that the waters on this beach are calm and shallow, parents can safely let their little ones play and swim. Though the place also has a lifeguard if something goes amiss.
Playa Langosta should be on top of your wishlist if you’re visiting Cancun with family. Located in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone and neighbored by calm and shallow water, this place is the one where you can let your kids loose without a care in the world.
That isn’t to say that we adults would find this place boring. The pier that cuts this beach in half provides plenty of spots where you can express love to that special one in your life. Or, if you’re the shy type, you can just use the location to capture some lifelong memories.
Playa Las Perlas has something to offer to everyone. The lazy types like myself can rent a palapa (shade structure with a thatch roof) for the day to enjoy crystal clear waters from a secluded shaded spot, provided you can get to the beach early in the morning.
The uber-energetic types can partake in activities such as sunbathing, kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming. They can also rent a boat to see one of the half-dozen islands nearby this beach, or just take a foot trip to explore the mangrove forests dotting its boundary line.
Unlike many other beaches on our list, the fun at Playa Linda doesn’t stop once the sun is down. At night, you can book your place on a pirate ship departing for Isla Mujeres. The multi-hour round trip should entice you if you have never seen the vastness of water at night.
Provided you love this place so much you don’t want to depart, book your stay in one of the many beach resorts in its vicinity. While this decision may drain your pocket, it will also reward you by offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience (I’m telling this from experience).
Given the diversity of the above beaches, it shouldn’t surprise you anymore why millions of people visit Cancun every year to take in the beauty of its coastline. While some of the above beaches are undoubtedly overcrowded most times of the year, we’ve also included the relatively less known ones to help those who want some privacy to enjoy their time on the sand.
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 CancunAirport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
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