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Beaches in Cancun: Everything you need to know for your trip

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Last update: Oct 7, 2021

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Everything you need to know about the beautiful beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya: 15 questions / 15 anwsers!

The 15 questions that everyone is asking about the beaches in Cancun!

If you plan to spend a few days in Cancun, you may wonder about its beautiful beaches, which are still one of the main attractions of the Mexican Caribbean.

Some questions that surely come to your mind are: What is the best time of the year to visit them? What is the water temperature? As well as questions regarding accessibility, if there are dangerous currents and what are the main things to do in these beaches.

So, get ready! Here we help you answer the 15 most common questions about the Caribbean Sea in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

N°1 When is the best time to enjoy the Caribbean Sea in Cancun?

Answer: All year long!

The annual average temperature in Cancun and Riviera Maya is 79° Fahrenheit (26° C). However, we cannot say there is permanent good weather conditions in the region. It can be rainy or cloudy.

Keep in mind that:

  • April is the driest month of the year and October the one with the most humidity (189 mm).
  • August is the hottest month of the year and January the “coldest” (73° F).

For more information on the weather and temperatures of Cancun, here is the official weather data website for North America: Weather in Cancun.

N°2 What kind of beaches can you find in Cancun and in the Riviera Maya?

Answer: The ones you have been dreaming of! You will see white sand bordered by turquoise blue water.

A quick reminder: The beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are exceptionally beautiful, stunning postcard landscapes perfect for your Instagram.

The coast of Cozumel island

An interesting fact:
the white sand you will see in these beaches is just a product of time. The proximity of the Mesoamerican barrier reef to the coast of the Riviera Maya as well as the continuous waves of the ocean have contributed to the formation of these amazing beaches. The remains of the coral in the reefs have been dragged to the beaches by the waves where it has mixed with other minerals later turning into the fine white sand we can see today all over the Mexican Caribbean coasts. An ancient erosion process that has given us these amazing beaches.

Mesoamerican barrier reef infographic

Between the blue and turquoise...
If the Caribbean Sea attracts visitors from all over the world, it is mainly because of its hypnotic colors that make any tourist feel as if they were in paradise.

This colorful is a mix of blue and green tones: turquoise, light green, sky blue and even navy blue. It’s just wonderful!

Why does the Caribbean Sea water have turquoise tones?
Admit it, you have thought about this and the question probably is still in your head! Odigoo brings you the answer in just a clic: Why is the sea turquoise blue?

N°3 What is the temperature of the Caribbean Sea in Cancun?

Answer: Always ideal!

In fact, the Caribbean Sea that borders the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya always has a fairly high and relatively constant temperature. It usually ranges from 70° to 86° F with an average annual temperature of 79° F.

If you want to know more about the conditions for swimming in Cancun, we recommend the following article, taken from the blog of a specialist in beaches and lagoons around the world: MEXICAN Beaches, when to go to Cancun?

N°4 Where are the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

Answer: East!

We will find the sea in the eastern side of Cancun. It runs all along the Riviera Maya coast on the right side of the continent.

Therefore, the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya will alwawys be on the side where the sun rises every morning.

In Cancun, the beaches are located mainly along the hotel zone, the most famous area of the city, bordered by the sea at its eastern end and on the west by the Nichupté lagoon.

N°5 Which is the road to follow to get to the beaches in the Riviera Maya?

Answer: Route 307

Route 307 (Cancun - Tulum) connects Cancun with the other towns of the Riviera Maya: Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is almost always a road that runs parallel to the coast and, therefore, the beaches; making it the main road to follow to get there.

Zona Hotelera

N° 6 Is the sea easily accessible from where I stay?

Answer: It is usually very easy, just pay attention to the traffic on the roads! Sometimes it can make it difficult to get to the beach you want to spend your day in, especially if it is a beach far from where are you staying

Keep in mind that, in general, access to the sea is usually very easy given that it is the main attraction of Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

All the destinations in the Riviera Maya have a wide seafront in the Caribbean Sea.

FROM CANCUN...
If you are staying in the Hotel Zone of Cancun, the beaches will be within walking distance and you can get there on foot or by public transportation. From downtown, it is recommended to take a taxi 🚖 or a bus 🚌.

JUST YOU HAVE A BETTER REFERENCE:
Cancun hotel zone from north to south (Boulevard Kukulkan) = 15 miles. This means that to go through it will take:
🚗 23 minutes by car (fluid traffic)
🚲 1h10 minutes by bike
🚶 4h30 minutes on foot
🚌 R1, R2, R15, R27
Complete list of bus lines in Cancun 👉 Public Transportation Routes

TO LEARN EVERYTHING about public transportation in Cancun, here’s our article on the subject.

FROM PUERTO MORELOS...
For tourists who have set their sights on a hotel or vacation rental located in the charming town of Puerto Morelos, all the beaches are within walking distance of central square!

FROM PLAYA DEL CARMEN...
In Playa del Carmen, if you are staying near Fifth Avenue, an area where most of the hotels and vacation rentals are located, then the sea is just a few blocks away!

Odigoo Tip:

Here's a simple space-time reference: From the main highway 307 to the beaches in Playa del Carmen, it is just a 20-minute walk. If your hotel is within this area, then it is relatively close to the sea. Beyond this area, it may be necessary to drive or use public transportation.

FROM TULUM...
Like Cancun, the town of Tulum is divided into two parts.
The town itself is located around Highway 307, while the hotel zone stretches along the beach strip.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION!
More than 2.5 miles separate the town of Tulum from its hotel zone, located just in front of the sea. This means that to get to the beaches from downtown would take:
🚗 8 minutes by car (without traffic)
🚲 18 mn by bike
🚶 1h10 walk
🚌 colectivos: centro-playa (sector sur)
From the hotel zone, the beaches are just a few feet away from the hotels
From downtown Tulum, it is recommended to use public transportation.

Beware of traffic jams! 🚗 🚌 🚙 😲 🚗 🚗 🚙 🚌 😡
Crowds of tourists can make it difficult to access the beaches due to heavy traffic and the limited number of lanes.
🚧 This warning is valid for all destinations in the Riviera Maya (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum

Odigoo tip:

Try to use public transportation to avoid wasting time looking for parking (shortage of places) and traffic jams.

💡 🌿 ECO FRIENDLY ACTION: Consider renting a bike! It is a practical and ecological idea. This way you will avoid traffic and contribute to the conservation of the environment 🌎

N° 7 What type of facilties can be found on the beaches? (showers, parking...)

Answer: All the necessary equipment and services for tourists.

Showers, dressing rooms, parking, access for people with disabilities, lifeguards, food stalls, street vendors, water and nautical activities; hammock, lounge chairs and umbrellas rentals, among others.

The beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya offer many amenities and services to tourists.

For the full list of services available at the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, read the following article: Top 10 Cancun Beaches The Best Beache in Cancun and Riviera Maya.

N° 8 What to see / things to do in the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

Lovers of water activities will find such a vast activity offer (sports, recreational) that they will be always entertained.

Here is a short list for you. Activities marked with 🌿 are certified ecotourism.

  • 1. Explore 🐠 Cancun's 🐬 coral reef! 🐙! This reef is also known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and it is the second largest in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. It is home to a rich and colorful ecosystem. There are excursions and tours to explore the reef’s main sites. There you can admire this marine ecosystem (see our article on water activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya).
  • Snorkel on the beaches in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean
  • 2. 🏊 Enjoy water activities. Among the main activities that allow you to discover the beauties of the Caribbean Sea in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are:
    • 🌿 Snorkeling
    • 🌿 Scuba diving
    • 🌿 In addition to these activities, you can also swim with the animals of the Caribbean Sea: dolphins, whale sharks, and turtles, just to name a few. This must be done with professional guides and while the animals are in their natural environment. Remember, it is always better to watch animals free at the wild.

    These activities are also part of the nature tourism offer in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Details of this offer, and much more, can be found on our blog under the Ecotourism menu.
  • 3. 🏄 Nautical activities 🚣

    Many nautical activities are also available on the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

    • 🌿 Kayak and paddle board rentals.
    • 🌿 Kitesurfing lessons.
    • Elevate above the surface of the sea: ¡The Aqua JetPack!
    • Speed through the waves with a jet ski.
    • Parasailing on the coast.

    These activities are also part of adventure tourism.
    FOR MORE INFORMATION about these activities, click 👉 here.

N°9 What to see / things to do in the beaches in Cancun?

In the vicinity of the beaches in Cancun, you will find other activities and places of interest. You can alternate them with your visits to the beaches.

  • 1. Find the perfect boat to set sail to the sea: yachts, luxury sailboats, schooners, among others. A perfect plan for those who have always dreamed of becoming a sailor and a sea explorer. There are also catamaran and speedboat rentals available.
  • Catamaran in Isla Mujeres
  • 2. 🛥 Ferries to the islands of the Riviera Maya!
    From Cancun's beaches, get to the ferry docks. Discover other beautiful beaches while visiting the islands: Isla Contoy and Islas Mujeres (North Beach) from Cancun; Cozumel from Playa del Carmen.
    To see the ferry boat schedule, clic here.
  • 3. Explore the archaeological sites of the Riviera Maya.
    If you like Maya ruins, discover the surroundings of the beaches in Cancun: the sites of San Miguelito and El Rey (near Playa Delfines), Yamil Lu'um Temple (near Playa Blanca) and Ixchel (Punta Sur - Islas Mujeres).
    To the South, you will find the most famous of the archaeological sites near the sea: the ancient city of Tulum! The ruins of this impressive walled city overlook a paradisiacal beach (Playita Tortuga).
  • 4. 🎢 The water parks of Cancun and the Riviera Maya 🎡
    All along the hotel zone and very close to Cancun’s beaches, you will find some other attractions related to the marine world.
    The MUSA is the most important of the marine attractions. An underwater museum with several hundred sculptures located at the bottom of the sea. You can visit this incredible museum on a glass bottom boat if you don’t want to get wet. On the other hand, you can get closer to this place by snorkeling or diving.
    Other water parks that are perfect for families are: the interactive 'Aquarium Cancún' located inside 'La Isla' Shopping mall and Delphinus.
  • 5. 🎁 Shopping, 🎲 Games and sportsnear the beaches.
    Some other leisure activities or places of interest around the beaches in Cancun are:
    • Shopping malls: La Isla Cancún and Forum by the Sea, both are very close to some of the most popular beaches in Cancun.
    • Betting and casinos: Red Casino
    • Golf courses: Iberostar, Pok Ta Pok (Playa Ancha) and Playa Mujeres.

N°10 Where can you eat on the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

Yes, there are many food vendors on the beaches in Cancun and other destinations in the Riviera Maya.

If you want to eat something without leaving the beach, you will find ambulant vendors.

For a quick snack, street food is available in the immediate vicinity of the beaches. Try some of the Mexican specialties: tacos, grilled fish and more.

If you want to have a more complete meal with table service, many restaurants and bars are located close to the beaches, especially in Cancun’s Hotel zone.

N°11 Where can you party on the beaches in Cancun and Riviera Maya?

Answer: In all the towns of the Riviera Maya!

CANCUN
One of the most popular party venues on the beaches in Cancun is the Mandala Beach Club. It is located on Forum Beach, also known as Gaviota Azul. This beach belongs to the nightclub district of Cancun’s hotel zone. It is the perfect place for an early party and get ready for the night.
Close to Playa Chac Mool, you will find other legendary Cancun party spots: Senor Frog's and Coco Bongo.

ISLA MUJERES
Playa Norte is one of the favorite places for young tourists and other beach lovers who want to have fun on the island.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Mamitas Beach, famous for its events featuring great DJs at the beach club of the same name (Mamita's Beach Club). This beach is the main scene for important music festivals such as the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, Winter Beach Festival, DJFest and Corona Sunsets.

For more information! here's another article about the best beaches in the Mexican Caribbean: The best beaches in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean.

N°12 Are the beaches in Cancun free?

Answer: Yes! All the beaches in Cancun and the other destinations in the Riviera Maya are free!

In which neighborhoods are the public beaches in Cancun?

  • The hotel zone (Kukulkan Boulevard)
  • Puerto Cancun (Cancun Marina)
  • Playa Mujeres (north of the city)

What should you know about the public beaches in Cancun’s Hotel Zone?
The public beaches in the hotel zone run all along Kukulkan’s Boulveard. The resorts and hotels are located all over this avenue.

The concept of a private beach does not exist in Mexico, but it is not uncommon for some hotels to install their beach furniture and equipment, precisely, on the beaches. Sometimes they invade the public space a lot.

The beaches are, however, 100% public!

Odigoo Tip:

At the beach, avoid sitting right in front of other people! f you decide to rent or bring your own beach equipment (lounge chairs, umbrellas) be careful not to sit right in front of a hotel or beach club, out of respect for its customers.

N°13 Are the beaches in Cancun clean?

Answer: Unfortunately, not always!

You won't find (too much) trash on the paradisiacal beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Take it for granted.

Garbage collection and beach cleaning are systematically done by public services but also by private local companies (hotels, beach bars, etc.).

💡 🌿 ECO FRIENDLY ACTION: whenever you are going to the beach bring your own bag to collect your garbage: food leftovers, plastic containers, cigarette butts, etc. A simple gesture of respect for the environment and other people.

Will you reduce your waste during your stay in the Riviera Maya? It's possible! Here are our top tips for a cleaner vacation! top tips for a cleaner vacation!

The beautiful beach in Tulum

Regarding having 100% clean beaches in the Mexican Caribbean, the actual challenge comes from elsewhere rather than the activity done directly on the beaches. It comes from the sea; its name is sargassum.

This algae (sargassum) has become a real problem for tourist, resorts and everyone involved in tourism in the Mexican Caribbean.

What is the sargassum phenomenon?
Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a long and brown alga made up of dimpled filaments. Coming from the Sargassum Sea, an area in the Atlantic Ocean, the sea currents take these algae to the shores of North America.

The coasts of Cancun and the Riviera Maya are not spared of this natural phenomenon. Tons of sargassum arrived every year. It has increased in the last few years due to the growing population of sargassum in the sea. It is believed that this is the product of global warming and water pollution.

This excessive presence of this algae causes several inconveniences on the beaches like:
a ruined landscape, bad smell and usually swimming is not even possible.

ODIGOO TIP:

Ask your hotel about the beach conditions! If you have already booked a hotel in Cancun or in any other town of the Riviera Maya, find out about the actions done to keep the beaches clean.

In addition, there is information in real time that allows you to know how sargassum is moving.

Facebook page: Red Sargazo

Facebook group: Beaches without sargassum in Cancun

The real-time cameras of some hotels allow you to see the conditions of the beaches: Punta Cancún, Cancún, Quintana Roo

FOR MORE INFORMATION about Sargassum, we recommend the excellent article from the Laguna-Playas blog on the subject: Sargassum algae in Mexico 2021

N°14 Are the beaches in Cancun safe?

Answer: Yes, but keeps your eyes open!

Cancun and the Riviera Maya are among the safest destinations in Mexico.

As the beaches are supervised, you can easily swim without the risk of having your belongings stolen.

If you go to a beach club, the staff will take care of you and your belonging. However, try not bring valuables to the beach. There is no such thing as “no risk”.

ODIGOO TIP:

Always take care of each other! Ask your neighbors at the beach club to take care of your belongings while you go swimming or whenever you are not around! Taking care of each other is still the best way to be safe.

N°15 Is it dangerous to swim in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

Answer: Beaches with waves and strong currents = ¡Be cautious!

Although the sea that borders Cancun and the Riviera Maya is known for its beauty, it is not always totally calm!

Strong currents and big waves can make some beaches in the Riviera Maya dangerous. You have to watch children while they swim! And even some beaches are only recommended for seasoned swimmers.

Some beaches are famous for their very calm waters, ideal for children and unexperieced swimmers: playa tortugas, playa marlin and playa langosta.

Other beaches are known for their rough waters because they are more exposed to the open sea. These beaches are better suited for those who want to practice a water sport. However, they are not recommended for kids: playa delfines, playa Chac Mool and playa ballenas.

Close to Playa del Carmen, the Caribbean Sea is a bit less beautiful but calmer. The island of Cozumel is located right in front and it works as a natural barrier against winds and currents. This is the reason why many nautical and aquatic activities such as kayaking and paddle boarding are done in this area.

To learn more about the best beaches in the Riviera Maya, head straight to our article about Top beaches in Cancun.

N°16 Are there dangerous animals in the beaches in Cancun?

Answer: No! You can swim peacefully!

There are no dangerous species near the coasts of Cancun and the Riviera Maya. No shark attack, no jellyfish schools, no sea snakes!

You can swim peacefully on the beaches in Cancun

Beware of stingrays in the Caribbean Sea. They are responsible for most incidents with marine animals.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION! Although there are sharks in this region of the world, the only ones that can be "dangerous" to humans never come closer than 7 miles to the coast (white sharks). Only one shark attack off the coast of Quintana Roo has been recorded since 2011.

More than scaring tourist, sharks are sought after by those who want to swim with them, especially whale sharks and bull sharks.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about swimming with sharks and similar adventure tourism activities, click here.

N°17 What are the rules in Cancun’s beaches? (nudity, topless, proper behavior...)

To enjoy your vacations on the beaches in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, here are some rules in order to behave properly!

🅿 About parking close to the beaches...

Sometimes you will have to consider tipping the "franelero" (unofficial guards) at the parking lots.
WHO ARE THE "FRANELEROS", OR PARKING LOT GUARDS:

In Cancun, parking on the beach is free. However, it is not uncommon to meet a "guardian" there. The latter will ask you for a tip to watch your vehicle. These people are generally known as: 'franeleros'.

This activity is generally not understood by tourists who feel pressured to pay these people on the street without being employees of the city government. However, it must be understood that "franeleros" belong to an extremely poor segment of the Mexican population. They invent this type of "job" in an attempt to survive by earning some money.

Although it is illegal, this activity is tolerated by the authorities. As a tourist, try not to judge these social processes but to accept them as a “cultural practice”.

OUR ADVICE FOR TOURIST: Let the local economy run iss course and tip them but don't be fooled, it can't exceed 50 pesos.

🌴 At the beach...

Don't litter! Try not to take plastic bottle to the beaches.

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Only beach bars and clubs are allowed to serve alcohol.

Nudity is not allowed on the beach. If you are a fan of naturism, here is an article on the topic: Naturist beaches in Mexico.

Avoid being topless in beaches for families or in crowded beaches: Mexicans are a bit conservative regarding nudity and body exposure, protecting children innocence is important for them. Showing off your breast or taking off your clothes suddenly is frowned upon!

Noise and music: Feel free to share your playlists to the crowds at the beach! You can take your speaker to the beach, or even rent one there if you want. Cancun's beaches are very festive and no one is disturbed by the noise.





*******


There you have it dear readers, we have come to the end of this article hoping to have fully answered all your questions about Cancun's beaches... and a bit more!

If you want more detailed information about the beaches, activities and other places to visit in the Riviera Maya: here are some related articles that may interest you! We wish you good reads!:

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