The best beaches in Cancun are located in the Zona Hotelera and many beach-lovers choose to stay there. Cancun is a paradise filled with white sand beaches and it is in Mexico, a very exotic destination.
When I traveled to Cancun, I tremendously enjoyed the beach scene and, so, decided to make a list.
There are so many beaches in Cancun that it can get overwhelming. I have personally selected ten of my favorites and included reasons for each.
This will hopefully help you in deciding which of these paradise-like destinations you’d like to visit. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a vibey beach party or a relaxed day swimming, you’ll find it in Cancun.
There are beaches perfect for selfies and others that are better suited to watersports. There are touristy beaches that get crowded quickly in high season and others that are a little more remote.
It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find the perfect beach for you in Cancun.
Best Beaches in Cancun Area:
There are many beaches to choose from and that is why it is hard to select just ten of the best. However, choosing the best beaches in Cancun will depend on what you’re looking for. I have decided that it is best to list the beaches according to what they’re known for.
This means that if a beach is best-known as a tourist attraction or is good for watersports, I’ll mention that. If you’re looking for the best beaches in Cancun for you, decide what you want to do when you get there. That will help you make your final decision based on this list.
1. Best for Tourists: Playa Delfines
Playa Delfines is probably one of the most popular beaches in Cancun. Translated the name means Dolphin Beach, and if you’re lucky, you may see some dolphins playing in the surf.
The conditions for swimming on this beach aren’t ideal as the undercurrent can be strong. But there are lifeguards on duty as well as ocean condition flags to help you stay safe while swimming.
I personally enjoyed Playa Delfines because it has a very long and wide white sand beach. It is also lively and busy as it is popular among tourists and locals alike.
There are many thatch-roof permanent structures so that you can sit in the shade. But a lot of people also tend to just bring their own umbrellas or stretch out on their towels to catch a tan.
This is the only beach in the HoZo, or Zona Hotelera, that doesn’t have restaurants or cafés built on it. However, there are food vendors that may pop up from time to time.
Unfortunately, there are also no shops close by, so I would bring everything you need along when visiting Playa Delfines. Playa Delfines is also one of the highest-rated beaches in Cancun, mainly because of the facilities.
You can rent umbrellas and beach chairs and surfboards and the like. I enjoyed sitting in the provided shade and watching the locals and tourists enjoy the waves.
If you are planning on swimming, just keep a close eye on the shore and on the ocean condition flags.
Facilities: Free parking, restrooms, showers, equipment rentals
Location: Punta Nizuc – Cancún 335, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
2. Best for Swimming: Playa Tortugas
Whereas I was hesitant to swim at Playa Delfines due to the strong currents, that wasn’t a problem at Playa Tortugas. Playa Tortugas is considered one of the best beaches in Cancun for swimming because it’s safe.
I do have to mention, though, that because it is so beautiful and safe, it does get very busy. If you don’t like crowds or tourists, this is not the beach for you.
However, if you enjoy swimming on a picturesque beach with loads of restaurants and rental options, Playa Tortugas is perfect. You can also mingle with the locals and tourists as there are always people around.
This is mainly due to the ferry that runs from Playa Tortugas all the way to Isla Mujeres. And the weak currents mean that even families with small children enjoy taking a dip in the water.
I particularly enjoyed Playa Tortugas because of the open-air restaurants and bars as well as the souvenir shops. It is the ideal place for anyone that would like to visit a bustling Cancun beach with crystal-clear water.
This means that snorkeling is also an activity that many enjoy in the beautiful waters of this stunning beach. You will be treated to excellent views and an abundance of marine life.
There is a bus stop at Playa Tortugas so it is perfect for tourists that may not have their own transportation. However, if you are interested in staying near a beach with many facilities, I suggest finding a nearby hotel.
There are so many shops and facilities in and around Playa Tortugas that you can spend an entire holiday here.
Facilities: Shops, restaurants, bars, supply rental, ferry to Isla Mujeres
Location: Quintana Roo, 77500 Cancún, Mexico
3. Best for Watersports: Playa Chac-Mool
Playa Chac-Mool looks like an island paradise itself with turquoise waters and white sand. There are also thatched sunshades under which visitors enjoy sitting while watching others play in the water.
Although this beach is considered a must-see, it doesn’t get as busy as some of the others on this list. This means that you’ll always have plenty of space for whichever activity you’d like to try.
Playa Chac-Mool is one of the best places for watersports because of the rental options available. Regardless of whether you’re a tourist or a local, finding equipment for watersports can be difficult.
For locals, it may be expensive to purchase all the necessary equipment to try out a new activity. Tourists may find it difficult to transport a bunch of supplies and equipment to a foreign beach.
That is why it is so fortunate that Playa Chac-Mool has a lot of rental options available regarding watersports. You can try your hand at everything and spend an entire week splashing about in the water, trying something new every day.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that you could rent such a wide variety of equipment. It made it easy to explore new things and find fun things to do.
The water at Playa Chac-Mool is very calm, and that makes it ideal for even the most novice adventurer. It means that should you fall into the water when trying watersports, you’ll easily be able to swim out. This makes it a safe and fun place to spend a vacation.
Facilities: Watersport equipment rental, shaded cabanas, restrooms, showers
Location: 77539 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
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4. Best for Snorkeling and Diving: Puerto Morelos
Cancun in Mexico is a vacationer’s paradise, and it looks the part too. This means that people flock to the best beaches in Cancun for white sand, turquoise water, and palm trees.
It also means that these beaches are often very busy and crowded and can get noisy at times. You may also find that it is harder to relax at some of these beaches because of the crowds and the informal vendors.
So, if you’d like to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Cancun itself, head to Puerto Morelos. Puerto Morelos was one of my personal favorites on this list of best beaches in Cancun.
It is a local fishing village. There are several beaches in Puerto Morelos and they are all very well looked after. The best thing is that these beaches are calm and generally free from vendors trying to sell you stuff.
If you are an avid snorkeler or diver or just interested in these types of activities, Puerto Morelos is ideal. The Mesoamerican coral reef is located in Puerto Morelos and is a favorite among divers.
This barrier reef is located just off-shore and you’re sure to be treated to a wide variety of marine life. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. It stretches approximately 700 miles in total in the Caribbean Sea.
The corals that make up the reef provide homes and food for many fish species, sharks, and turtles. And closer to shore you’ll find the mangroves that offer a habitat for both marine birds and fish.
Facilities: Mesoamerican Barrier Reef access
Location: Playa Puerto Morelos, 77580 Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
5. Best for a Day Trip: Isla Mujeres
As the name suggests, Isla Mujeres is less a single beach and more an island with a few beach spots. I would highly suggest a day trip to Isla Mujeres if this is your first time visiting Cancun.
A short and very pleasant ferry ride will get you to the island from the mainland. There are many hotels, pubs, restaurants, and other facilities on the island, so it is popular and can get crowded.
However, if you’re looking for a fun day out in Cancun, a day trip to Isla Mujeres will be well worth it. There is a lot to do, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to activities.
If you’re interested in tanning and fishing, there are several boat charters that will suit your fancy. But if you’re keen on the beach vibe, check out one or two of the stylish beach clubs.
It is also possible to stay on the island if you’d like to spend more time there. There are several hotels and resorts that will be more than happy to accommodate you on the island.
The hotels, pubs, and restaurants also make it easy to find something to eat and drink while vacationing. The beaches at Isla Mujeres are a tropical paradise with turquoise waters, shaded cabanas, and sun.
There are several beach clubs where you can lounge on the white sand with margaritas and ceviches all day. Playa Norte is possibly the most famous and most popular beach on the island.
It is easy to rent loungers and umbrellas for the day, so you don’t even have to take anything with you!
Facilities: Boat and yacht charters, beach equipment rentals, restaurants, beach clubs, pubs, hotels
Location: Rueda Medina 130, SM 001, Centro, 77506 Isla Mujeres, Q.R., Mexico
6. Best for Enjoying the Nightlife: Playa Forum
There are many ways to enjoy the beach scene. Of course, one of the most common and popular ways is by lounging days away in the sun.
However, the beach also lends itself to a different kind of relaxation, and that is a party. Many people like to flock to the beach to engage in the nighttime entertainment it can offer.
One of the best beaches in Cancun for the nightlife is Playa Forum. Playa Forum is in the middle of the Zona Hotelera, which makes it easy for tourists to find accommodation nearby.
The best nightclubs in Cancun are also located along this stretch and many open directly onto the beach. So, if you’re into DJs spinning music, glamorous people dancing, and colorful cocktails, this beach is perfect.
At night you’re sure to find several beach clubs offering VIP beach access, pool parties, and Jacuzzi mixers. But the beach also has public access spots where you can assess the vibe without having to pay for admission.
However, I do suggest digging in your wallet for the admission fee to get the full effect. It is entirely worth it and simply adds to the entire vacation feel and holiday experience.
Cancun is one of the best places for a tropical holiday because of its beautiful beaches. But it is also one of the best places to go if you like the nightlife and want to have a good time partying up a storm.
Cancun is known for hosting spectacular parties, so, I highly suggest paying a visit to Playa Forum, if you can.
Facilities: Hotels, beach clubs, VIP beach access, pool parties, Jacuzzi mixers, cocktail bars
Location: Playa Forum, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
7. Best for Families with Children: Playa Langosta
If you’re looking for one of the best beaches in Cancun for families with children, Playa Langosta is the best. Of course, one always has to be aware of and careful of the water currents in Mexico.
There are safer beaches to swim at and others where the current may be a little strong. Playa Langosta is one of the safer swimming beaches and that is why families tend to gather here.
However, not only is the current weak at Playa Langosta, but the water is also shallow. This means that it is absolutely ideal for little ones who would also like to splash around in the water.
As a bonus, there is a rope with buoys that keeps the boats away from the swimmers. There’s a pier on-site, but the rope barricading the boat traffic means that no swimmers will be in harm’s way.
Additionally, just beyond the swimming area, there is a giant inflatable park almost like an obstacle course. Although this might not be suitable for very young children, it is fun for adults and teens alike.
You can climb and slide and splash to your heart’s content. But if you’re not that keen on venturing into the water, the beach is also perfect for games.
The wide stretch of white sand at Playa Langosta means that you can stretch out and read or engage in beach activities. You can go for a walk, tan, or play a round of beach volleyball or cricket.
Children can happily build sandcastles and enjoy the shallow water. There’re also many beachfront restaurants, so if you get hungry midday, you won’t have to travel far for a bite.
Facilities: Inflatable water park, boat-launching pier, oceanfront restaurants, equipment rentals
Location: Kukulcan Boulevard, Hotel Zone, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
8. Best for Peace and Quiet: Playa Pez Volador
There are many people who enjoy a vibrant beach packed with people and activities. However, for many tourists and travelers, a quiet beach offering some much-needed relaxation is all they want.
Although Cancun has no shortage of bustling beaches, Playa Pez Volador is a little more off-the-radar. This is the ideal beach if you’re looking for some peace and quiet on your beach vacation.
There is a distinct lack of amenities at Playa Pez Volador, so remember to pack everything you’ll need. I highly suggest bringing along an umbrella, beach blanket, towels, enough water, and snacks.
And even though it is off the radar, this beach is still a glorious tropical paradise with crystal blue water and white sand. If you’re on the hunt for a beach where you can just sit back, relax, read, and enjoy some quiet time, Playa Pez Volador will be ideal for you.
Location: Kukulcan Boulevard, Hotel Zone, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
9. Best for Historical Significance: Tulum Beach
Tulum is a bustling and vibrant bohemian town very close to Cancun. Although it doesn’t nearly have the same trendy and cosmopolitan vibe as Cancun, the beach scene is similar.
This means that the beaches here, including Tulum Beach, look like a still from a movie. The golden sun glitters on crystal-clear turquoise water with white sand and palm trees swaying in the breeze.
Tulum Beach is also known as the Tulum Ruins Beach and it is close to the ancient Mayan ruins. This is an idyllic and beautiful beach that has the bonus of being steeped in ancient history. There are several old building ruins in the distance, etched against the blue Caribbean sky, that add to the charm.
The beach is historically significant due to the Mayan ruins and anyone with an eye for and interest in history and culture will enjoy it a lot. However, even if you just go for the beautiful beach and the interesting buildings, you’re sure to have a good time.
Facilities: Open-air eateries, Mayan ruins, hotels
Location: Zona Hotelera Tulum, 77765 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
10. Best for Beach Runners: Playa Las Perlas
Many people, myself included, enjoy going to the beach to swim and play in the waves. There are numerous beaches in Cancun where you can do that, but unfortunately, Playa Las Perlas isn’t one of them.
Some of the beaches in Cancun aren’t ideal for swimming due to strong water currents that can be dangerous. And Playa Las Perlas does have some strong undercurrents.
However, the main reason why Playa Las Perlas isn’t a swimming beach is because of murky water and seaweed. And although the water may not look like your ideal tropical paradise, the sand is still white and nice and firm.
This makes it ideal for those that would like to go for a run. You can run all the way to Puerto Cancun from Playa Las Perlas, ideal for a morning exercise session.
Facilities: Showers, restrooms, shade
Location: 77539 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
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Cancun: White Sand Beaches
Many people consider Cancun in Mexico to be what they term Paradise Found. This means that it looks like a typical tropical paradise with white sand beaches and turquoise water. If you’re looking for the very best beaches in Cancun with white sand, then a few on this list will tick that box.
The best white sand beaches in Cancun are Playa Delfines, Playa Chac-Mool, Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, and Tulum Beach. So, if you’re looking for a tropical paradise, those destinations will be your very best bet.
Visiting the Best Beaches in Cancun Mexico: A Guide
There are many beaches in Cancun Mexico that are worth a visit and this list include ten of my favorites. However, there are certain things to keep in mind when planning a beach vacation in Cancun.
The first is that not all the beaches are suitable for swimming or water-based activities. This is mainly because of the strong currents and undercurrents.
It can be dangerous to swim in difficult water, so be sure to keep that in mind when selecting your beach destination. The other thing to remember is that not all the beaches have food or rental facilities available.
At these beaches, you will need to take items that you will need during the day, including freshwater. If you are heading to Cancun, Mexico for a beach holiday, I highly recommend staying in the Zona Hotelera.
This area is close to a number of excellent beaches and you’ll be spoilt for choice with restaurants and beach clubs. Just remember to pack your sunscreen and you’re good to go!