BEACHES

TopTen

1. Cancún

Google Map

This resort (see Cancún) has the longest stretch of beach, backed by the biggest hotels and malls, and with the most attractions, ranging from parasailing to water parks. The beaches on the north side of the island are the best for swimming and beach-life, but they can get rather crowded. On the surf beaches along the east it is always possible to find a spot to yourself, but check safety conditions.

2. Puerto Morelos

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Despite its location between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos has avoided big-scale development. There’s plenty of space along the long, white beach, where pelicans hang in the wind. A great snorkeling reef lies close to the shore.

TopTen

Azure waters off Puerto Morelos

3. Cozumel

Google Map

The island’s (see Cozumel) fan base is split into three: divers, cruise passengers, and families. The finest diving locations are in the distant reefs, but the tranquil beaches along Cozumel’s west coast are wonderful for a first experience of snorkeling. San Miguel town has a touristy but easygoing feel.

4. Playa del Carmen

Google Map

This is the fastest-growing and hippest spot (see Playa Del Carmen) on the Mayan Riviera, with good shopping, strolling, bar-hanging, and people-watching opportunities, and miles of lovely palm-lined bays stretching away to the north. To the south, the Playacar development has its own narrower beaches.

TopTen

Beachgoers at Playa del Carmen

5. Isla Mujeres

Google Map

Isla’s small size means it has a more laid-back beach scene, especially on Playa Norte by Isla town, with its placid, safe waters. The island is a good-value diving center.

6. Akumal

Google Map

This is a lovely area that extends through beautiful, sweeping bays of white sands and gentle seas. Some big hotels have opened, but secluded and low-key condominium apartments and villas can be found located along most of the bays. Akumal is also an excellent diving center.

7. Tulum

Google Map

The most favored place in the Yucatán for anyone wanting to settle into a palm-roofed cabin by a beach for a while. Head to the north end for cheap cabins where you will get to know your neighbors, or turn south for more seclusion and seductive comforts in some cabins.

8. Celestún

Google Map

Most tourists go to Celestún only to see its flamingos, but it is also a tranquil village with an endless white-sand beach lined by fishing boats. There are some very enjoyable beach restaurants and often wonderful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.

9. Isla Holbox

Google Map

One of the hippest destinations in the Yucatán, particularly amongst backpackers, Isla Holbox has attractive beaches facing onto the Gulf of Mexico. From May to mid-September the waters are home to endangered whale sharks, which can be spotted on boat and snorkelling trips.

TopTen

White-sand beach at Isla Holbox

10. Puerto Aventuras

Google Map

This Mediterranean-style resort town was purpose-built from scratch around a natural inlet in the coast. It now contains the Riviera’s best-equipped yachting marina, surrounded by a smart holiday village of villas and condo apartments. A variety of aquatic activities are offered here. There’s also a golf course, tennis center, and several large hotels.

TopTen

Sailing off Puerto Aventuras

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