All 13 miles of Cancun coast are filled with stretches of tender white sand, cabanas ideal for sipping cocktails in the shade, people-watching and chillin’. There are many cafes for seafront dining. Feel free walking the sands between beaches, unless a beach is designated Private. Water sport vendors allow you to rent snorkel gear, banana towables, jetskis, parasail, windsurf boards, kitesurf boards and charter day boats.
Don’t let the views alone fool you. Some beaches experience rough surf and undertows. A red flag or signs on the beach that warn “Peligro”, which means “Danger” in Spanish. A black flag means do not enter since conditions are too dangerous for swimming. If there are no warning flags, then its safe to play in the nearby surf area. If a storm roles in before flags are placed, use common sense. Avoid the beaches until it passes. All the beach resorts offer spectacular views, but a few stand out, particularly during Cancun Jumpoff.
Located in the famous Punta Cancun area just behind Coco Bongo nightclub, Playa Forum, is Cancun’s most popular public beach. If you like a beach with a social vibe, this is the place, especially on the natives weekend days off from work. Hang out on the sand for a more casual beach day, or enjoy a more upscale experience by spending an afternoon at Mandala Beach Club.
Playa Chac Mool
Located next to Playa Forum, it has the same color water, tender white sand, central location, but smaller crowds. There are no loungers or umbrellas,, but you seldom have to dance around people to find your perfect spot on the beach. Sometimes those are the best places to lounge.
For some quirk of location relative to the sun, its water seems a tad better than most. If that doesn’t fancy you, consider the watersports: parasailers, jet skiers, snorkel gear and floatables are aplenty. Though a resort is located on this beach, it’s mostly public access.
A Hotel Zone beach with few waves, Playa Tortugas is a small popular beach for families. This beach has an oceanfront restaurant, seafood dining and a marina. Kids will love the bungee tower over the water. Since many locals frequent the beach, it can get crowded on weekends — which is great for people-watching.
Tulum Ruins Beach
One of the most stunning vistas is had near the Mayan ruins of Tulum. After hiking through the jungle and walking through the ancient stone buildings of the walled city, you will approach the perfect blue Caribbean Sea just beyond cliffs. Descend the steep staircase to soft sand and (mostly) gentle waves. Since Tulum is a popular day trip from Cancun and often combined with a visit to the nearby eco-park, Xcaret, its a full-featured day-trip from Cancun. Tulum is known for its rustic hotels and authentic Mexican restaurants.
Away from the Cancun Hotel Zone, North Beach (or “Playa Norte”) sits on the northern end of Isla Mujeres, a small island just off the coast of Cancun. Here you’ll find several beach bars along with calmer shallow Caribbean waters without waves waves. Visitors seeing the sun set over the ocean as they gaze towards Cancun.