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Cancun: An Unusual Surfing Destination

by Anry Arteaga

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First of all, if you think the sea in Cancun is as flat as a board because that is how it looks like in those postcards and magazine covers… Well, let me tell you that there are a few spots where things are very different, especially during the hurricane season, between June and November. 

Cancun sure sounds like a weird destination to go surfing in Mexico, especially when this amazing country has spots like Puerto Escondido and Baja California. However, this coastal city has a lot to offer to surfers that makes it worth exploring this summer.

Surfing in Cancun is delightful because you do not need a wetsuit, which in my opinion is the best because you feel more flexible. And as you surf, you'll have one hell of a view because the sea in Cancun is unbelievably blue and crystalline. The waves may not be extra-large as most surfers would like them to be, but they sure are a gorgeous shade of blue. 

Finding them is not so difficult; you just need to know where to look. The first step is to locate the best beaches to surf – they’re all on the northern side of the Hotel Zone. This place is where the best resorts, clubs, and restaurants are, and it has the interesting feature of being a very long yet narrow piece of land. It extends for a little over 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) and it looks like this:


On the left side is the Nichupté Lagoon, which is great for watersports like flyboarding or riding jet skis. On the right side is the stunning Caribbean Sea, where the most gorgeous beaches are. When it comes to surfing, you'll want to head to the latter. I’ve spent the last few years researching and exploring these lands, and today I’m here to bring you the best beaches to surf in Cancun:


Playa Ballenas


Photo Credit: 360 Surf School

Its name means “Whales Beach,” and one of the best things about it is that it’s not too popular among the locals because it's very far from downtown and it has a very tiny parking lot. Therefore, you won't have to worry about too many swimmers when you visit this beach.

The entrance is at kilometer 14 of Boulevard Kukulkan (the only road that passes through the entire Hotel Zone), and it is located right between two resorts: the Hard Rock Hotel and Secrets The Vine. 

Surfing here is recommended for all levels, and I would personally recommend this spot for practicing and polishing your skills on the surfboard. Depending on the weather and time, the waves can go from 1 meter (3.2 ft) to 5 meters (16.5 ft) real quick. Make sure you stay updated on the weather report and, unless you have enough experience under your belt, do not go in when it’s too big.


Playa Delfines 


Playa Delfines is probably the most popular beach in the city because it is where the tourists go to take their picture with the famous "Cancun" letters. It is famous among the locals too; this is where most of us go to receive the first sun rays of the New Year.

But don't worry about the sea being too crowded; most people don't actually swim here because of the strong currents. This makes it perfect for more advanced surfers to have the waves all to themselves. Beginners and intermediate surfers can enjoy this surf spot too if they head here around noon, the time of day that usually offers a calmer surf session. There are a couple of surf schools at the beach where you can rent equipment.

This iconic place’s name means “Dolphins Beach,” and it’s located towards the end of the Hotel Zone, at kilometer 19. Local people also call it "El Mirador," which translates to "The Viewpoint" because the entrance is elevated and offers a wonderful spot to admire the ocean.

» Discover more amazing waves. Read our guide to the best surf spots in Mexico.


Playa Chac Mool


Named after a type of Mayan sculpture, this beach has super crystalline water and it is located at kilometer 10, very close to the party center of the Hotel Zone. Have you ever heard of the Coco Bongo nightclub? Well, that's exactly where it is.

At first sight, Playa Chac Mool may not seem right for surfing... but it actually is! Even some of the most successful Mexican surfers, like Carlos "Coco" Nogales, have surfed here and loved it.

There’s a very popular surf school on this beach too, so you can rent equipment instead of carrying it around and go explore the city after you’re done surfing. Nearby hotspots include shopping malls, restaurants, and world-famous nightclubs.


Playa Marlin


This Blue Flag beach is perfect for beginner surfers to sharpen up their skills on most days, but be advised that when it gets windy it can get quite challenging and really fun for advanced surfers.

The entrance is located at kilometer 13, right behind Luxury Avenue in Kukulkan Mall. There are public restrooms and palapas to enjoy some well-deserved shade, but no surf schools or rental shops so you might want to bring your own board.


Recommendations from a local


Keep in mind that the best time to go to any of these beaches is before 12:00 pm and after 4:00 pm because of two reasons: the sun and the people.

Even if you're looking forward to getting a sweet tan, being exposed to the sun for so many hours on end will undoubtedly get you sunburnt instead. Remember to use biodegradable sunscreen and a rash guard to protect yourself from sunburns while surfing. 

Since all of the beaches listed above are public, avoid the crowds by arriving either earlier or later. You can reach all of them by bus or taxi. If you'd like to bring your own surfboard, renting a car is also a good option, as it isn't too expensive and driving in Cancun is fairly easy. 


Alternatives for surfing in Cancun


So, what happens when the weather isn't right for a decent surf session? Don't worry, there are plenty of alternatives that are equally exciting, such as wakeboarding in the lagoon, jet-surfing with motorized boards or even flowboarding in the biggest water sports center in Mexico! Whatever happens, there is always something fun to do in Cancun. 

Summer is prime time to be surfing in Mexico. If you’re looking for a hassle-free and adventure-packed holiday on the country’s best beaches, pack your bags and go on a surf camp in Mexico before the season ends!

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