Cancun's beaches are the perfect location for luxurious holidays in the sun, lazing on sugar-white sand, being served chilled cocktails and staring out to turquoise waters. If, on the other hand, you have excess energy to burn you will find just about every kind of watersport imaginable along the beach from snorkeling to jet skiing. There is enough to keep even the most active visitors busy.
Technically speaking Isla Cancun only has one long beach stretching along the entire length of the tiny. Mexican law states that beaches are public property, so once you step onto the sand you are free to roam as far as you like in either direction. In most cases you are allowed to pass through hotel lobbies to access the beaches.
The island of Cancun is fronted by the Caribbean Sea and backed by the Nitchupte lagoon. The lagoon is popular for activities such as kayaking and jet skiing while the sea front is popular with swimming and snorkeling.
Cancun beaches can be divided into two sections, the north and the east:
North Cancun beaches
If swimming and snorkeling are your main objectives then head for the north of the island. The waters here are calm and relatively well protected by an offshore island, Isla Mujeres, which keeps the wind and undertows at a minimum. There are lots of restaurants and a good selection of water sports on this stretch of beach and consequently it can get very crowded, especially at peak season. Calm waters provide good diving conditions, particularly for less experienced divers and tours leave from most locations along the beach. Playa Caracol is an ideal beach for children because it is shallow with a flat rock-free seabed. Unfortunately, it is also one of most crowded beaches on the island so you may want to avoid it during high season.
Isla Mujeres is another small island not far from Cancun and beaches here are smaller and generally less crowded. It's a good place to spend the day biking around to little coves. Restaurants along the Playa Norte serve fresh fish daily. Ferries heading for Isla Mujeres go from Playa Las Perlas, which is first in the line of beaches along the Zona Hotelera. You can also take the ferry from Playa Linda, Playa Langosta or Playa Tortugas.
East Cancun beaches
The eastern beaches have nothing to protect them from winds and currents so the water tends be quite choppy at times. Clean white sand and warm blue waters offer good water sport opportunities. These beaches are not too dissimilar to the beaches of Florida and can be quite good for surfing and windsurfing. Swimmers should be cautious, however, as there can be a fairly strong undertow along the eastern shores. It's not something you can necessarily see from the surface of the water and often takes people by surprise. Always look out for warning flags that tell you about the swimming conditions.
White: Excellent conditions, safe.
Green: Good, safe.
Yellow: Conditions are uncertain, use caution.
Red or black: Unsafe.