Who have known Cancun, practically built from the sand up almost 50 years ago, is now Mexico’s number travel destination. It is undeniably the most convenient, accessible, and affordable holiday destination for many Americans and Canadians. For a non-North American like me, Cancun always has that James Franco-ish spring break mischief and debauchery. One appeal Cancun has is its beaches, so this guide focuses on the best beaches in Cancun, where you can practically spend the entire day doing nothing but hop into the water, tan and read or nap, and then into the water again.
This cycle til the sun disappears in the thin line that separates the sea and the sky.
Check out our Mexico travel guides too, from Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and many more. Enjoy your trip!
One appeal Cancun has is its beaches, so this guide focuses on the best beaches in Cancun, where you can practically spend the entire day doing nothing but hop into the water, tan and read or nap, and then into the water again.
This cycle til the sun disappears in the thin line that separates the sea and the sky.
If you are looking for an amazing beach vacation, Cancun is the perfect spot. With its beautiful turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, it is no wonder that this city is a popular tourist destination. However, if you are planning a trip to Cancun, you should know a few things.
The nearest from the Hotel Zone, Playa Las Perlas, one of the most accessible beaches in Cancun, is the perfect spot to take a break from all the partying and lie down on the clean white sand. The beach is also known for its excellent running conditions, with a firm ground that makes it perfect for a morning jog or run. If you’re looking to swim, though, beware as the water can be murky with weeds during certain months of the year.
Bring your own food and drinks as there are no shops in the area.
Away from the Hotel Zone crowd, Playa Chac Mool is the perfect place to relax on your Cancun vacation. This beach is awesome for swimming, sunbathing, and reading. This is the best spot for some downtime, away from the noise and party scene.
If you’re looking for a more active afternoon, you can use the beach-side rentals and participate in some fun water sports. Either way, you will surely enjoy your time at Playa Chac Mool.
Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and sunglasses!
Near the Hotel Zone, Playa Delfines is Cancun’s biggest, arguably the most beautiful public beach. White-sand shores and turquoise waters are not enough descriptions on how mesmerizing the scene is. You can find restrooms, thatched huts, and rentable umbrellas on the beach stretch.
Also referred to as El Mirador, the beach got its name from the hilltop deck that overlooks the waves and the surroundings. The Instagram-famous Cancun sign is also located here. Although the waves can be a bit choppy for novice swimmers, it is definitely worth a visit when you are in Cancun.
One of the popular beaches in Cancun, Coco Bongo beach is known for its many activities, restaurants and nightclubs. Located after Punta Cancun, the beach has a parking lot that charges 10 pesos (US$0.5) for 3 hours. Fun fact: the Coco Bongo nightclub is owned by Hollywood actor Jim Carey.
For those who prefer peace and quiet, the stretch of beach in front of Hotel Crystal Palace is ideal. There are also a number of excellent Cancun restaurants and nightclubs nearby, including the Hard Rock Café.
The water is always a beautiful turquoise shade. All facilities, including bathrooms, are available close by and there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Considered as one of the best beaches in Cancun, Playa Marlyn is a must-visit for tourists. With its cleanliness and serenity, the place is perfect for those who are looking for a peaceful vacation. Although you can’t use the sunbeds in front of the hotels, there are still plenty of other areas in the beach that you can enjoy.
Despite its popularity, Playa Marlyn is so wide and long that it will not take you long to find a spot for you and your partner.
With a beach utterly pristine, this unnamed beach between the Luxury Hotel Ritz Carlton and Playa Marlyn, is a breath of fresh air for those who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Cancun’s more tourist-centric areas. Although there are no beach amenities, you can find somebody renting out chairs and umbrellas if you need them.
To get to this little paradise, look for San Miguelito lane on the map above. Right before Ritz Carlton, you’ll see a gate that is usually open – go through it and follow the path down to the beach. Parking is available but it’s not supervised, so be sure to take precautions with your belongings. Once you’re settled on the beach, you can relax and soak in the incredible views. The water is so blue, it almost looks like it’s been painted!
With that, gotta say this one of the top beaches in Cancun that should remain a secret between you and me.
May not be the easiest to find, but Residence Las Olas is definitely worth the effort. It is Cancun’s best-kept secret if you ask me! The best way to access the beach is through Plaza Caracol in front of Super Chedraui Selecto. You’ll find high-end apartments here, but unfortunately, they are only for residents. However, Presidente Intercontinental has a water sports center open to the public and has tons of fun activities!
I love this beach because it’s not as crowded as the others in Cancun. And even though it’s not a “party beach,” there are still plenty of bars and restaurants where you can have a good time.
This is the perfect spot for non-party beachgoers or I’m done partying. I wanna relax.
Playa Langosta is one of the most popular beaches in Cancun, and it’s easy to see why. The beautiful turquoise waters and stunning views make it a perfect spot for swimming, relaxing, and exercising. However, the popularity of the beach can also be its downfall, as it can get very crowded, especially on weekends. If you want to enjoy Playa Langosta without the crowds, go during the week and avoid weekends and holidays.
Playa Pez Volador, connected to Playa Langosta, literally means “beach of flying fish.” And, as its name suggests, you can see plenty of flying fishes in the ocean here.
If you’re planning to drive to this beach, the closest parking lot would be Playa Langosta’s. However, note that this beach can get really crowded during rush hours, just like Playa Langosta, because of its proximity to that beach.
If you’re looking for a more secluded spot, you can try walking to the north end of Playa Pez Volador. Although it might take some effort to get there, it would be worth it as the view is simply breathtaking.
Playa Norte is one of Cancun’s best beaches for its clear waters, soft sand, and lively atmosphere. This beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the view. The nearby restaurants and shops make it easy to find something to eat or drink, and the golf carts make it easy to get around the island. Playa Norte is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Caribbean.
Playa Norte hits the mark if you are out with your friends or want to make friends, as the entire stretch has beach bars and restaurants with rental chairs, umbrellas, and volleyball nets. The vibe is festive and the people-watching is excellent. You can find almost anything to eat or drink on Playa Norte, from fresh seafood to Mexican classics. And if you want to explore the rest of the island, there are plenty of golf carts for rent.
So whether you are looking for a place to relax or a place to party, Playa Norte is the beach for you. Head to Isla Mujeres and make some memories at Playa Norte.
Isla Mujeres is a small island off the coast of Cancun, and it is home to some of the best beaches in Mexico.
Costa Mujeres—about 30 minutes north of Cancun’s Hotel Zone—is a new, gated luxury development on an expanse of sun-drenched sand. The all-inclusive resort community offers restaurants, golf, and access to several natural landmarks, like the Isla Blanca beach (arguably the best beach in the area), archaeological sites, and the Chacmuchuc lagoon.
Renting a car is the best way to get to Costa Mujeres, and visitors should come prepared with food and drink as there are no public restrooms or restaurants in the area. The lack of development is what helps keep this beach so beautiful and kept.
Located south of Tulum, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s most pristine and undeveloped beaches.
Access to the beaches is typically through the jungle to an opening, usually with the help of a guide.
Arrange for a tour through the Biosphere and make a day of it. You’ll be able to spot remarkable wildlife and see a side of this part of Mexico that is usually skipped on the main tourist trail.
The Biosphere Reserve is home to 23 archaeological sites and is among the best-preserved habitats in Mexico.
Visitors can drive down the Quintana Roo coastline from Tulum to Punta Allen to find rugged exposures. Very few beaches have parking lots, and most beach areas are BYO-everything.
Playa Maroma is definitely a beach worth visiting when you’re in Cancun! It’s got everything you could want in a beach day – from sunbathing and swimming, to snorkeling and jet skiing. And with its azure blue waters, it’s no wonder this beach has been recognized the world over.
If you’re looking for a place to stay near Playa Maroma, there are plenty of resorts and clubs to choose from. Or, if you just want to spend the day at the beach, that’s no problem either!
If you’re planning on snorkeling, though, one thing to keep in mind is that there are plenty of jet skis and boats around, so it’s best to stick to Punta Maroma. That way, you can be sure you’ll have a safe and fun snorkeling experience.
So whether you’re looking for a relaxing day by the water or a fun-filled day of activities, Playa Maroma is the perfect beach!
Not really one of the best beaches in Cancun for a swim and relaxing day tanning on the beach, but still a decent place to check out. Several grocery shops and bars dotted around the site, as well as some restaurants with great views. For the more adventurous, there’s also a bungee jumping pier!
I would recommend this beach more for the people-watching and bar/restaurant scene than anything else. This is the best spot for a food and pub crawl.
Nestled between the much more crowded beaches of Akumal and Tulum, lies the secluded beach of Playa Paraiso. The name “Paraiso” means paradise in Spanish, and this beach truly lives up to its name.
With its white sand and turquoise waters, Playa Paraiso is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The beach is also unique in that it’s absent of high-rise hotels, giving visitors the feeling that they’ve found a hidden gem.
Although it may be secluded, Playa Paraiso is still a popular spot among well-heeled travelers, Instagram influencers, and celebrities worldwide. So, if you’re looking for a place to see and be seen, this is it.
When passing by the palapa roofs on the sand, keep your eyes peeled for A-listers. You never know who you might spot!
A crowd pleaser in Puerto Aventuras, Playa Xpu-ha is a white sand beach flanked by a cove, making for calmer waters ideal for swimming with kiddos.
With its white sand and tranquil waters, this beach is the perfect place to unwind and soak up some rays.
You can also take advantage of the umbrellas and chairs for rent from La Playa Xpu-ha Restaurant and Beach Club, which is conveniently located on-site.
And if you’re visiting on a Sunday, watch the live music playing at the restaurant.
Just don’t forget your receipts so you can get your entrance fee refunded when you leave!
Known for its turtles, Akumal is a stop on many Cancun tours and a place where travelers can enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. The main Akumal Beach has powdery white sand and turquoise waters that make it a perfect place to relax or swim. There are also several small coves and inlets along the shoreline where you can find your own private spot.
If you’re interested in snorkeling, Akumal is one of the best places in Cancun to do it. The turtles are used to humans and will often swim right up to you. There are also many other types of fish and marine life to see.
In addition to the beach, Akumal also has a few shops, restaurants, and dive shops. There are also several small hotels and vacation rentals in the area if you’re looking for a place to stay.
Whether you’re interested in swimming, snorkeling, or just relaxing on the beach, Akumal is a great option for a day trip or a longer vacation.
May not be one of the immediate beach choice in Cancun, but Playa X’cacel is a lovely spot that’s worth the visit. The highlight of the beach is definitely the turtles that come to nest here every spring and summer
A small donation gives you access to not just the beach, but also a cenote in the area
Do remember to bring everything you need for the day as there are no real amenities in the immediate vicinity.