Quintana Roo, Cancún
This blue flag beach is the only one on the coast of Riviera Maya that formally accepts pets.
Playa Coral, also known as Playa Mirador II, is the latest Cancún beach to receive the Blue Flag, the international standard for beach health and hygiene. It is located at km 25 in the Hotel Zone, so if you are arriving from the airport or Playa del Carmen, it is the first beach in the zone, right after you enter.
To be qualified as Blue Flag, a beach must have high quality water, environmental education, security and services (restrooms). In total, Cancún now has seven Blue Flag beaches; the others are Chac Mool, Delfines, Las Perlas, Marlin, Ballenas and El Niño. Isla Mujeres and Bacalar Lagoon also have Blue Flag beaches.
This means that Playa Coral beach has it all. And indeed, I stopped here a few times, and the seawater and the beach were always clean, as were the restrooms, the picnic area (with wooden tables and benches) and the wooden paths. There is also a trash area with designated dumps for pet waste, organic and inorganic residues.
In addition, what I really like about Playa Coral is that it is full of palms and thatched palapas, which can be used free of charge, so the beach provides a lot of shade and feels very natural. It invites you to bring a picnic and enjoy a few hours here. No loud music, no restaurants, no tourists. There are no places like this along the whole coast of Riviera Maya. The water may be less turquoise then elsewhere in Cancún but the tranquillity is unbeatable.
Playa Coral (El Mirador II) seems to be the leader in Mexico because dog-lovers can now enjoy taking their dogs for a walk on the seashore, as Playa Coral is the only pet-friendly beach in Cancún, Quintana Roo and in Latin America! This is important for the tourist industry because there are thousands of tourists coming to Cancún every year with their pets. Interestingly, the sign on the beach says that only healthy pets are allowed (in order to avoid spreading any disease). Living in Playa del Carmen, we of course envy this beach, as we have no pet-friendly beach in Playa.
The educational signs on the beach inform the visitors that the beach sits in the area of the Nichupté Lagoon system, which has seven lakes and connects with the Caribbean Sea through two channels: the Siegfried and Nizuc. The lagoon is on the other side of the road (that goes along the coast) and if you are driving by car through the hotel zone, you will cross two bridges where the channels meet the sea. The flora and fauna of the area is mainly supported by mangroves (marsh forests) of the Nichupté Lagoon system, which provide shelter to numerous species of fish, birds, molluscs, crustaceans and many others. Cancún in the Nichupté Lagoon system has four species of mangroves (Rhizophora Mangle, Laguncularia Racemosa, Avicennia Germinans and Conocarpus Erectus), also called red, white, black and button mangroves.
When you are entering the beach, note the sculpture of Chac Mool (at the open space in front of the car park). It has nothing to do with the name of this beach; in fact there is another beach called Chac Mool in Cancún (which also has Blue Flag certification), without such a sculpture. The Mesoamerican sculpture Chac Mool depicts a reclining figure, supporting itself on its elbows, with a bowl or a disk upon its stomach. Such sculptures were found in Chichén Itzá and other ruin sites. These figures possibly symbolised slain warriors carrying offerings to the gods. Some think they were used for human sacrifice. But not to worry, no human sacrifice takes place on this beach! I do like the idea, though, that the sculpture reminds us of the ancient times of the Maya civilisation on this coast. The coast was once densely populated: on the area of today's Cancún there were in the past 17 Maya trading towns or settlements!
The beach is formally open from 9am to 5pm for toilets, lifeguards and the Blue Flag kiosk.
How to get there:
The beach is located at km 25 in the Hotel Zone. A good orientation point is the Ventura Park, as the beach is right next to it. It is a family amusement park with waterslides, lazy river, tube floats, ziplines, bungee swings, a free-fall station and a high-hanging aerial bridge.