Quintana Roo, Cancún
Chac Mool (also called Forum) public beach is at km 10 of the Cancún Hotel Zone. The water is a deep turquoise colour and the waves are moderate here. This beach has a blue flag certification.
Blue flag is a certification given by the Foundation of Environmental Education, which is in charge of qualifying beaches. To be qualified as blue flag, a beach must have high quality water, environmental education, security and services. Mexico has around 20 blue flag beaches and Cancún boasts seven of these (Chac Mool, Delfines, Las Perolas, Marlin, Ballenas, El Niño and Playa Coral). There are signs on the Chac Mool beach with some educational information about flora and fauna and here I learnt that the depth of the sea goes quickly to 2.65 m. No wonder the lifeguard was whistling at people going too far out and kept a close eye on them. When I was here in December 2017 with my friend Michelle, the beach was also patrolled by the beach police. All the visitors seemed to be locals, some coming by bus (therefore not affected by the small size of the car park).
The public beach allocated between the hotels and beach clubs is small but you can explore and walk about. It has thatched palapas for shade. To the north the beach is rocky and interesting, and you can walk up to the hotel Playa Forum. This is the location of a former Maya settlement (see more below) and the rocks also make for a good photo opportunity. To the south there are miles of perfect beach. You can walk from here to Playa Gaviota Azul (which does not have a parking space and is otherwise difficult to access).
The official schedule of this public beach is from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon. In order to get deckchairs and a parking spot, it is best to arrive in the morning. The deckchairs are free and so are the palapas. But the allocated space is not very large so there are only about seven palapas. You will be asked to return the deckchairs by 4pm. It seems the staff are eager to pack up and go home. Saying so, they keep the beach clean and I alsofound the public toilets clean. There are no public restaurants directly on the beach but there are shopping malls across the street. The best is to bring your own snacks and water with you.
Every year female turtles emerge from the sea to this beach and dig nests and lay eggs. Most species spawn at night (although the ridley turtles do so during the day) so you won't be able to see them during your stay on the beach but you can see a designated area for their nests as they protect them here. It is believed that females of some species nest on the same beaches where they were born.
This beach is sometimes referred to as Playa Forum but you will not find that name on a road sign. Formally the beach is named after the Mesoamerican sculpture Chac Mool, depicting a reclining figure, supporting itself on its elbows and supporting a bowl or a disk upon its stomach. These figures possibly symbolised slain warriors carrying offerings to the gods. There is no such statue on the beach but perhaps the beach got its name because there was a Maya site here in the past. As a matter of fact, today's Cancún area had 17 small Maya settlements; the area was densely populated by a cluster of trading cities. At this beach you will see a large rock just in front of the Forum hotel. This was the location of Yox Xixim trading settlement (later named in Spanish as El Conchero). A human burial site was found here, as well as ceramics and fossils of fish and shells. The Facebook of the Archaeological Zone of Cancún Hotel Zone states that the ceramics found on this site represent a short occupation, probably seasonal, during the Late Formative Period of the Mayan Lowlands. That would be somewhere between 400 BC-200 AD, much earlier than the age of all the other sites in the hotel zone of Cancún. And if it was seasonal occupation, where did the people come from? And why did they use it as a seasonal place? Where did they live otherwise? And how many of the settlements in Cancún were of a seasonal character? All interesting questions that you can contemplate while on the beach. One thing is clear: the attraction to this beach is not recent; even the ancient people loved it here!
How to get there:
The beach is located at km 10 in the Hotel Zone, across from Señor Frog’s, just south of the busy heart of the Hotel Zone. There is limited parking for this beach, only about 10 spaces, so it is advisable to arrive in the morning.
When you turn off Boulevard Kukulkán towards the beach, you will see a string across the access road. It is there if the car park is full. The staff will approach you in any case and talk to you about your parking options.
Getting there by bus: Blue Line Stop #60, Green Line Stop #57.