Four million people a year descend on Cancún to revel in its ancient Mayan temple ruins, the world’s second-largest coral reef (populated by pink conch and sea turtles, no less!), great snorkelling and scuba diving and the generally raucous party vibe that gives both Ibiza and Las Vegas a run for their money.

The pristine beaches along this portion of the Yucatán Peninsula draw party animals, outdoor adventurers and families back year after year. Developed for tourism in the 1970s, the “7”-shaped Cancún Island alone boasts 22.5km (14 miles) of white sands and crystal-blue Caribbean waters.

Now’s a great time to head to Cancún, as high season draws to a close and flight prices and weather conditions are at their best. Grab your bathing suit and sunscreen and head to one of these, the best beaches in Cancún and the nearby Mayan Riviera.

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Cancún Island, East Side

With billboard beauty, this easily accessible strip has become the face of Cancún. Tackle the surf, rent a jet ski or simply watch the sunrise.

Cancún Island, North Side

Protected from the surf by a small island, the calm waters and wide beaches are popular with families.

Half Moon Bay, Akumal

A small inlet protected from rough seas, Half Moon Bay is ideal for snorkelling and kayaking. Local dive shops run trips out to the nearby reef.

Tulum Ruins Beach

A hike through the jungle and a scramble over ancient Mayan ruins at the city of Tulum leads to a breathtaking vista of rocky cliffs, powder sands and light blue seas.

Punta Bete Beach

While no secret hideaway, this lesser known beach offers a decent respite from the more crowded spots on the Mayan Riviera.

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Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Image: PriceTravel pictures)

About the author

Brett AckroydBrett hopes to one day reach the shores of far-flung Tristan da Cunha, the most remote of all the inhabited archipelagos on Earth…as to what he’ll do when he gets there, he hasn’t a clue. Over the last 10 years, London, New York, Cape Town and Pondicherry have all proudly been referred to as home. Now it’s Copenhagen’s turn, where he lends his travel expertise to

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