Yes, Cancun is in the Caribbean since it’s located on the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea. Cancun is a popular destination for travelers, and for good reason. 

Like many other Caribbean destinations, Cancun is home to picturesque white sand beaches. But, how does Cancun compare to Caribbean islands? I have personally visited Cancun, and other Caribbean islands including the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Aruba

In this article, I will cover the key differences between Cancun and the Caribbean islands to help you decide if Cancun is worth visiting for your next trip! 

Hotel Zone, Cancun
(Image by: Gerson Repreza)

Where is Cancun located?

Cancun is located in southeastern Mexico, on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Caribbean sea. 

What is Cancun known for?

Cancun is known for its picturesque white sand beaches, lively nightlife, delicious Mexican food, and magnificent Ancient Mayan ruins. The tourist zone of Cancun is called the “Hotel Zone”, and it’s surrounded by luxurious resorts, and long stretches of white sand beaches in the Caribbean sea.

Hotel Zone, Cancun
Hotel Zone, Cancun
(Image by: Carlos Huchim)

Which part of Cancun has Caribbean beaches?

Since Cancun is a peninsula in the Caribbean sea, every beach in Cancun is considered a Caribbean beach. Cancun has long stretches of white-sandy beaches, as well as four small Caribbean islands located off the coast. 

How do Caribbean beaches compare to Cancun’s beaches?

Cancun’s beaches share many similarities to other Caribbean beaches. Cancun’s beaches have clean, crystal-clear waters, and powdery white sand. The Hotel Zone of Cancun has long stretches of white sand beaches that are perfect for swimming and watersports. 

Beach in Cancun
Beach in Cancun
(Image by: Alex Person)

The most popular beach in Cancun is Playa Delfines, or “Dolphin Beach”. Playa Delfines is very similar to the Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. 

Playa Delfines is a 14 mile white sand beach with soft white sand, umbrellas, and free lounge chairs to sunbathe on. It was named dolphin beach because dolphin sightings were common in the past. Nowadays, dolphin sightings are rare. However, if you visit early in the morning, you may get the chance to spot a dolphin. 

Similar to the beaches of the Caribbean, Cancun has plenty of secluded beaches if you’re looking to avoid crowds. Playa Chac Mool is one of the quietest beaches in Cancun if you are seeking a tranquil environment. 

Here are some of Cancun’s most beautiful beaches. 

  • Playa Delfines
  • Playa Caracol
  • Playa Chacmool
  • Playa Norte (Isla Mujeres)
  • Playa Centro (Isla Mujeres)
  • Playa Chen Rio (Cozumel)
  • Playa Holbox (Isla Holbox)
  • Playa Marlin

How do the islands in Cancun compare to the Caribbean?

Cancun has four Caribbean islands located off the coast of Cancun, including Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Holbox, and Isla Contoy. Isla Mujeres is one of the most popular islands to visit for those staying in Cancun. 

You can take a 20-minute ferry from Playa Caracol, Playa Tortugas, or El Embarcadero Beach in the Hotel Zone to get to Isla Mujeres. The ferry cost $21 USD for a round trip, and the service is available every 30 minutes, from 6AM to 10PM. 

Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
(Image by: Gerson Repreza)

Since the islands are located in the Caribbean, they have a very similar feel to Caribbean islands. Isla Mujeres has bright blue turquoise waters, and ample opportunities for snorkeling. You can book a whale shark tour, swim with dolphins, or snorkel in the world’s second largest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican barrier reef! 

Additionally, Isla Mujeres has serene white sand beaches that are perfect for relaxing. Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres is considered one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. If you plan on visiting Cancun, the trip to Isla Mujeres is well worth it. 

Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
(Image by: Julie Radloff)

Cozumel is another island in Cancun that has picturesque white sand beaches, with Playa Chen Rio being one of the most beautiful options. Cozumel has all-inclusive resorts, fine-dining restaurants, and shopping centers. 

Cozumel, Mexico
Cozumel, Mexico
(Image by: Fernando Jorge)

If you are looking to avoid crowds, Isla Holbox is a lesser known Caribbean island that’s 2 hours north of Cancun. The island is less developed, car-free, and only partially inhabited. It has beach-front hotels, and secluded white-sand beaches that are perfect for a relaxing vacation. 

Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox
(Image by: Nathan Cima)

The last beach near Cancun is Isla Contoy, a small, uninhabited island paradise that’s only 3.17 square kilometers. You can take a 30 minute private boat ride from Isla Mujeres to get to Isla Contoy. 

The island is home to an abundance of wildlife, and is the first protected area of the Yucatan peninsula. In fact, the national park only allows 200 visitors per day, to protect the natural beauty of the island. 

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Cancun is indeed considered a Caribbean city, since it’s located on the Yucatan peninsula in the Caribbean sea. Similar to other Caribbean destinations, Cancun has many stunning white sand beaches with clean, crystal clear waters. 

In addition, Cancun has 4 small Caribbean islands located near its coast where you can go for a day trip if you seek a tropical paradise. Overall, Cancun is worth visiting if you’re looking for a blend of beautiful beaches, delicious food, and exciting nightlife on vacation. 

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