Welcome to the Beaches In Cancun series from Marginal Boundaries. We explore some of the best beaches in and around the city, ranging from the busy strip of the Hotel Zone to the hidden stretches of sand that only the locals know about. You can’t visit the heart of the Mexican Caribbean without spending some time on the beach, and we’re here to explore not only the favorite tourist hangouts, but also share some of our own best-kept secret locations.
This week’s installment focuses on one of our favorite stretches of beach just south of Cancun, in a sleepy little fishing village known as Puerto Morelos.
While it’s not directly within the limits of Cancun, the fishing village and community that makes up Puerto Morelos is just a quick 20 to 30 minute drive south of the city along the coast, depending on traffic.
You can easily catch a collectivo or bus from Cancun down to Puerto intersection with the highway, and then you can walk the three kilometers to the town, catch a collective or use one of the many taxis that are sitting on the corner waiting to take tourists. Note, it’s always cheaper to use the collectivos, which only cost 5 pesos as of this writing compared to the 30 to 60 the taxis want to charge. Or you can walk if the weather is good, but be warned: the lagoons on either side make for some nasty mosquito swarms in the early morning and evening hours during the summer months.
Once you arrive, Puerto Morelos is easy to navigate. There’s the zocalo in the center (the square) with a gazeebo, some statues and art decorations and open seating. The area is filled in the morning hours with yoga classes and other local activities, but in the afternoons it’s usually just full of locals sitting in the shade to get out of the sun, as well as lined with taxis on the western side just in front of the main collectivo stop waiting to ferry tourists back to the highway intersection where they can catch buses back to Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
Surrounding the zocalo are the numerous restaurants, cafes and two different Oxxos that make up the primary “tourist” section of the village.
However, while there’s plenty of good eats to enjoy in Puerto Morelos, and the zocalo itself is a great place to hang out, it’s not the primary reason we come to the town. Instead, we come here to enjoy the quiet and relaxing beach just north of the village proper.
The beach is a major feature here. Many of the locals living here survive because of the fishing that the sea off the coast provides. If you happen to be here early in the morning between 5 and 7 a.m., you’ll be able to witness the controlled chaos that is the early morning rush to be the first boats out to the fishing grounds. Gassing up the rigs, loading food and drinks for the day, the bait, and bringing along any early morning tourists who are going out for sport fishing. We’ve got plenty of early morning shots in the Facebook and Google+ albums from earlier visits.
In the afternoon (when this particularly visit took place), most of the boats are out for the day, and the beach right off the zocalo is a seaweed-covered area that doesn’t really make for good lounging. First, because there’s not any shade, and secondly, because it’s not raked or cleaned and it’s where the boats are moored during the night, as well as along the docks.
But the best beach, at least in terms of hanging out and just enjoying the day, are north. This stretch of coast starts in Puerto Morelos and makes its way all the way up to the Hotel Zone of Cancun proper, and in between are literally dozens of private resorts, condominiums, hotels, residential areas and suburbs that mirror anything you would find in the United States. And they cater almost exclusively to the wintering Westerners who want to come to Mexico and live in a private, gated compound of English-speaking tourists who want the American experience while being in Mexico.
But before you get to those private stretches of beaches, there is the open beach of Puerto. It’s a tree-and-apartment/condo-lined stretch of beach that works its way up the entire length of the town, popular with the retiree and pensioner crowd coming from overseas and up north in Canada and the United States. It’s not a lot of ground to cover; you can walk the length of Morelos in about twenty minutes at most.
The waters are calm, perfect for snorkeling and dipping into while you hang out in the shade of a palm tree. But the winds can also get pretty stiff further up north, and we’ve seen wind surfers on numerous occasions (although not on this day). For us, this was a picnic day, so we picked a spot, threw down our towel, broke out our sandwiches and hung out for a good six hours.
All in all, a pretty awesome day on the beach. We had a nice picnic lunch, enjoyed some downtime, swam quite a bit, and I ended up getting a little bit of a tan. Which I need, considering I’m a bit of a ghost. It’s also interesting to note that in the last two years we’ve seen quite a bit of change in the types of visitors who come to Puerto Morelos; there was definitely a marked increase in tourists this year, a sign that things are probably changing from sleepy little fishing village into an off-the-beaten-path favorite with travelers coming in annually.
View Previous Entries in the Beaches Of Cancun Series
Don’t forget, if you are looking for more information on Cancun or Mexico in general, you can pick up our Live Like a Local guide for the city, packed with other restaurant recommendations, apartment and condo referrals, tips on navigating the public transportation system, local negotiation tips and strategies, market and discount day overviews and more!
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