Beaches between Cancun and Riviera Maya:

find yours

Eduardo Do Valle

Evandro Rocha and Fernanda Luna

Isla Mujeres


Leaving Playa Tortugas at Cancun's Zona Hotelera, a morning ride leads to Isla Mujeres, or “Women's Island”. The name comes from the ruins and statues of pregnant women found by Spanish upon their arrival. The place was originally a spot for worshipping Ixchel, Mayan goddess of the moon and fertility. On the way there, the many shades of blue waters make it quite clear we are in the Caribbean. All around the island, clubs welcome guests with cocktails and a much appreciated lunch, featuring a BBQ on the beach. In just one day you can rent a golf cart and get around the whole space, whether it's the center, good for gift shopping, or visiting Punta Sur, the first spot in Mexico to be kissed by the sun every morning. If you like fun, but are also interested in history, this is your island!


Read more: what to do between Cancun and Isla Mujeres


Playa del Carmen


Located in the city of Solidariedad this beach is one of the major centers of Riviera Maya and of the state of Quintana Roo – perhaps for its location, which makes it easier to get to Tulum, for example. It's increasing popularity (since the 80s) have stimulated the opening of super exclusive resorts – with long stretches of white sand bathed by the blue sea of the Caribbean – but also of clubs like Coco Bongo, parks and entertainment complexes, such as Xcaret and Xel-Há. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the area was known as Xaman Há (Nothern Waters), from where the mayan left to Cozumel Island for rituals in Ixchel's Sanctuary, goddess of the moon. The crossing is still celebrated in special ceremonies from May to June. If you're looking for a coastal experience, this is your destination.


Read more: what to do in Riviera Maya




The tiki vibes of this sand stretch can mislead you, but this is one of the busiest places in Cancun's Zona Hotelera. Popular among both tourists and locals, these two neighboring beaches are almost marketless. Whether you're looking for shops or bars, infrastructure here comes from the luxury resorts spread around, allowing guests to be on water's edge most of the time... If you like a low profile kind of comfort, maybe you should visit this beach in the morning, when it's even less crowded.




Still inside Cancun's Zona Hotelera, quietness makes room for the buzz of playas Fórum and Caracol. A few steps from vibrant Boulevard Kukulcán. The former gathers international visitors and a spring break mood for almost the whole year, while on the latter, music blasts early in the morning, when dozens of tourists come from all over the world looking for a long sunbath or the many cocktail choices. Are you ready to party? C'mon!


Isla Cozumel


40 yards from Playa del Carmen, San Miguel de Cozumel – or just Cozumel – is scuba diving paradise: warm clear waters under which live an infinity of fish, shoals, lobsters, starfish, shellfish, sponges, tunicates and coral. Lots of coral! The place is graced with the biodiversity of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest coral reef in the world, that spreads rich marine life over Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as Mexico, of course! Diving spots are all over the island, but you should also visit El Cielo and Chankanaab, where even beginners can venture out a few feet deep. Looking for adventure? This is it!


Read more: Beaches between Cancún and Riviera Maya: find yours