Quintana Roo, Cancún
A busy public beach, including ferry traffic to Isla Mujeres and a large pier with restaurants, souvenir shops and bungee jumping.
Tortugas is one of the most popular public beaches in Cancún. The drive from the city centre is short, and the beach is full of people. The atmosphere is exciting, and this is the right place if you are looking for a party beach experience. The restaurants offer local specialties and jolly music. Play beach volleyball or jump from the dock, before relaxing with a cocktail. Because the pier here is long, the boats rarely approach the shore and therefore it is a great place to swim. There are plenty of shallow areas suitable for families with children.
The name Tortugas means in translation Turtles. However, I have never seen any turtles here. They do come to nest and lay their eggs in the nearby beach Chac Mool on km10 in the hotel zone (also known as Forum beach).
I came here a few times, between 2015 and 2018. On each occasion, the staff from the restaurants were 'fighting' for us to choose them. We were offered to rent beach chairs and an umbrella for $150 pesos for two and the furthest restaurant on the left wanted to charge us the same for the use of their table and chairs. Needless to say, they had no guests, perhaps as a result (restaurants should not charge you for the table and the chairs). It is reasonable to expect a charge for the deck chairs, though.
If you walk to the left from the dock, past the last restaurant, there is a stretch of beach without any amenities or music, where you can put your towel down and enjoy some quiet moments. If you decide to go right towards the rocks, there is also more privacy there. There are restaurant chairs as far as the rocks on the right-hand side, which makes your stay very private because the chairs are hidden behind the rocks (they will bring them out for you there, if they are not there on your arrival).
I usually choose one of the restaurants near the dock and the pier, to watch the crowds over the meal. I like the music and the commotion at the dock, as people were doing bungee jumping and we loved watching that. We got the adrenaline high without having to jump! The dock also has an indoor craft and flea market, if you want to get a respite from the heat of the day… If you prefer a quiet beach, this is not the beach for you. Choose another one from my list, for example Playa Coral in the south part of the Cancún hotel zone.
The Great Mesoamerican reef, which stretches hundreds of kilometres between Mexico and Honduras, is near the beach so this is also a good place for snorkelling. However, the currents are usually quite strong so it is necessary to check the conditions every day.
As I already mentioned, it is also a port for the Ultramar ferry to Isla Mujeres. I have been here a few times and I have not seen the water dirtied by the ferries but I am sure the sea is affected. The ferry prices here are a bit higher than from Puerto Juarez (about $14USD one way) to get to the same place and there are fewer sailings. It is just an extra option, to go to Isla Mujeres from one of the three piers in the hotel zone: Playa Tortugas, El Embarcadero and Playa Caracol. I suppose this can be very handy if you are staying in one of the hotels in Cancún, so you don't have to travel far for the ferry. There are also some commercial boats that dock and sail from here for sea/fishing trips.
There are public restrooms (inside the rather empty mall) where you will have to pay a small fee. There is paid parking. Because the beach is public, it is permanently open and there is no entrance charge.
If you are out here for the day and want to combine the beach with other activities, you can go to the nearby Golf Club at Pok-Ta-Pok, which is one of a few popular spots in the area. One of the nearest historical attractions is Yamil Lu'um Mayan Ruins, which is only a brief walk or taxi ride away. The ruins are set between two hotels, Park Royal Piramides and Westin Lagunamar, and consist of two small temples built between 1200 and 1550 AD. The location of these temples, Temple of the Scorpion and Temple of the Handprint, suggests they were used as watch towers and even lighthouses.
How to get there:
This beach is located at Hotel Zone km 6.5, off Boulevard Kukulkán, between the big Mexican flag and the corner at the heart of the Hotel Zone, where it turns from east-facing to north-facing.
Getting there by bus: Blue Line Stop #70, Green Line Stop #75.