Situated on the eastern coast of Mexico, Cancun is a relatively new coastal resort, known as a `balneario` (Latin-American seaside resort). It is also often referred to as the `Mexican Riviera`. The city of Cancun is split into two main areas, Ciudad Cancún (downtown) and the connected island area of Zona Hotelera (the Hotel Zone). The two areas are connected via bridges and the Boulevard Kukulcán, the major thoroughfare.
Naturally, the numerous beaches are the biggest attraction in Cancun. The main tourist area (the Hotel Zone), is memorable for being shaped like the number “7” with beach areas all around it. Featuring soft white sand, blue Caribbean seas and a year round tropical climate, together with every water sport imaginable, it is not surprising that Cancun attracts millions of visitors every year.
Whilst all of the beaches in Cancun are owned by the government, meaning that they are technically public, some beaches can only be accessed by going through hotels, which are private property. Others may also have public access entries to them with the remainder being fully public.
At the northern tip of the Hotel Zone is Bahia de Mujeres, the beaches at this end of Cancun offer calm, safe and shallow waters. The sea in this part remains shallow for quite a distance out, making it ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
To the east, on the right of the `7`, is the beginning of the Caribbean facing shores. Surfing is popular here but the tidal undertow makes this part of Cancun dangerous for swimming or more placid water sports.
On exactly the opposite side of the `7` is the Nichupte Lagoon. It is not at all suitable for swimming, despite its calm aura, due to the presence of crocodiles in some parts (although they are supposedly non-aggressive)! However, water sports enthusiasts are not deterred and indulge in activities such as water skiing, windsurfing, parasailing and jet ski `jungle tours`.
For those who want to indulge in peaceful sunbathing whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery, there are three particularly nice beaches: Playa Ballenas, Playa Delfines and Playa Marlin. They are strictly suited to beach activities only because they face the Caribbean Sea and are prone to strong surf and dangerous currents.
For families with small children or novice swimmers there are several beaches with safe swimming areas where the water is calm, clear and shallow with a sandy bed. The most popular are Playa Langosta, Playa Las Palmas and Playa Caracol, all of which offer entertainment, changing facilities, showers and an excellent choice of bars and restaurants in the immediate vicinity.
A popular beach with young adult tourists is Playa Tortugas. This beach offers excellent swimming for the experienced as well as snorkelling, diving, windsurfing and parasailing. There are also fun activities available on the beach including volleyball nets and inflatables as well as organised mini festivals. The beachfront also features a number of trendy bars and restaurants.
Playa Chac Mool, Playa Las Perlas and Playa Juventud are all beaches with strong surf and currents making them suitable only for the most serious and experienced water sports enthusiasts. Between the three beaches every water activity is covered including jet skiing, wake boarding, water skiing and extreme parasailing. All offer excellent facilities in terms of changing areas, retail outlets, bars and restaurants.
Since the start of its development in the 1970s, Cancun has become one of the world`s most popular tourist destinations and has exceeded all expectations. The biggest draw is of course its many, beautiful beaches, but there are plenty of other activities to be enjoyed as well. Many Cancun hotels have been developed into luxury resorts in their own right, offering guests every facility they could possibly need or want, making a stay in this balneario not just a holiday but an unforgettable experience.