George Oze / Alamy
Laura Winfree
August 08, 2014

Soft white sand, warm weather, and vibrant shades of bright blue and teal—the magnificent coast of Cancun has all the elements that define the perfect beach. All along Cancun’s 13 miles of coast, I’ve had the chance to visit various beaches that look like they were taken straight out of a commercial. In fact, the entire Hotel Zone is filled with stretches of sand that are ideal for relaxing on a beach towel, sipping on a margarita, splashing around in the Caribbean Sea, and working on an enviable tan. Any of the city’s famous resorts is sure to offer a spectacular beach area for you to enjoy throughout your vacation, but even in paradise there are a few beaches that stand out above the rest because of their undeniable natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere. For your next Caribbean getaway, here are the places I recommend so you can get the very best Cancun beach experience.

Playa Delfines

One of Cancun’s largest beaches, Playa Delfines has some of the brightest blue water in the city. Whenever I visit, I get to see plenty of parasailers, jet skiers, and even pelicans enjoying everything the beach has to offer. It’s mostly public access, and the Iberostar Cancun resort is also located on this beach.

North Beach

Although it’s not located in the Cancun Hotel Zone, North Beach is close enough and amazing enough that I had to include it in this list. 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 the best water in the region—no rocks and no waves, just clear, shallow water. It’s also one of the only spots where you can see the sun set over the ocean.

Playa Forum

Located in the famous Punta Cancun area just behind Coco Bongo nightclub, Playa Forum (also known as Playa Gaviota Azul) is the city’s most popular public access beach. If you like a beach with a fun and social vibe, this is the place to be, especially on weekends. 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

This beach is situated right next to the busy Playa Forum and has the same white sands, amazing water and central location, but without the crowds. Typically Chac Mool is my friends’ first choice for a Hotel Zone beach day, because we have the beach all to ourselves. There are no loungers or umbrellas, but it’s just right for a casual day by the ocean.

Playa Tortugas

One of the only Hotel Zone beaches with almost no waves, Playa Tortugas is a popular choice for families and locals. This beach has an oceanfront restaurant, a marina, and a bungee tower over the water if you’re feeling adventurous. Although the beach itself isn’t too big and it can get crowded on weekends, this is a fun place to hang out, try some local seafood, and do some people watching.

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