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Beaches in CancúnHurricane Wilma decimated Cancún's spectacular Caribbean beaches, which were literally replaced when sand dredged from the bottom 20 miles offshore was dumped on top of areas where the storm's fury had completely washed it away. That means they're artificial, which makes little difference to visitors on a Cancún vacation—the white sand is soft and fine grained, and the water ranges in color from opalescent green to vivid turquoise. It's also warm enough for swimming all year.

The beaches at the northern end of the Hotel Zone fronting Bahía Mujeres are narrow and have calm, shallow water. Those fronting the Caribbean are wider and more dramatic, with occasional crashing breakers and dangerous undertows.

The best beaches are in front of the big hotels. All beaches in Mexico, however, are federally owned and therefore public, even stretches that may seem like they are on hotel property. Keep in mind that you cannot use hotel facilities unless you are a guest, although changing areas and outdoor showers are available. Note the flags posted to indicate surf conditions. A green flag indicates safe conditions for swimming; yellow indicates caution; and red or black, dangerous conditions. Riptides can be unpredictable; when conditions are dangerous, do not venture past where you can safely stand.

The biggest issue facing Cancún's beaches today is the recent arrival of a smelly seaweed known as sargassum. Stick to the northern beaches to avoid the worst of it.

The “inner” coast of Cancún Island borders saltwater Nichupté Lagoon. Much of the lagoon is lined with stands of mangrove. Nichupté doesn't have the Caribbean's beauty, but the calm water is ideal for things to do like boating and water skiing, and the local restaurants along the shore are popular places for sunset watching.

The following designated public beaches are described in the order they appear along Cancún Island, beginning at the top of the island's “seven” configuration after leaving the mainland.

Playa Linda

Playa Langosta

Playa Tortugas

Playa Caracol

Playa Chac-Mool

Playa Delfines

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Travel Information

City Population



7 meters (23 feet)

Police (emergency)

To contact the local police, dial 911.


Most major local hotels have their own in-house or on-call doctor. A list of physicians can also be obtained from the U.S. Consular Agency, in the Torre la Europea building, Boulevard Kukulcán Km marker 13; phone (999) 316-7168 in Mexico or (844) 528-6611 in the U.S. Local clinics do not accept U.S. health insurance, often charge fees well above U.S. rates and have been known to charge for services not rendered. The Red Cross (Cruz Roja) is in Ciudad Cancún on Avenida Yaxchilán, between avenidas Xcaret and Labná. It is open 24 hours; phone (998) 884-1616. In an emergency, dial 911 and request an English-speaking operator.


The Miami Herald and USA Today are available in the bigger local hotels.


Cancún Tips magazine has easy-to-read maps and information about local restaurants, shopping, entertainment and other things to do in Cancún. Pick up free tourist-oriented brochures at the airport, hotel lobbies, shopping centers and sidewalk booths.

Currency Exchange

Casas de cambio (currency exchange houses) and banks are along Avenida Tulum in downtown Ciudad Cancún. Most banks are open Mon.-Fri. 9-5; currency exchange normally is confined to the morning hours. Currency exchange houses also are at the airport and in the Hotel Zone shopping areas around Cancún Point.

Staying Safe

Crime directed at tourists is not prevalent, but do use common sense. Keep jewelry and other valuables in the hotel safe, or don't bring them at all. Guard against petty theft or purse-snatching incidents in crowded public places or when using public transportation. If leaving a vehicle in Hotel Zone shopping areas, don't invite a break-in by leaving valuables in plain view.

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