20 Best Beaches in Mexico with Tips on Where to Stay

The first thing that comes to visitor’s mind when they think of visiting Mexico is white sand beaches surrounded by palm trees. If you ask tourists to name some beaches in Mexico most of them come up with Cancun. However, Mexico has many more beaches than Cancun that are less touristy and offer different types of experiences. Where are the best beaches in Mexico?

Best Beaches in Mexico (UPDATED for 2018)


Tulum, Quintana Roo

 

nomade tulum
nomade tulum beach

Tulum is a small town in the Yucatan Peninsula where everyone wants to go these days. Approximately 2 hours south of Cancun Airport, it can be a destination for luxury travelers, travelers, but also budget backpackers. It has so much to offer for offbeat adventures and healthy enthusiasts as well.

The beaches are truly unspoiled, but remember that if you want to experience a nice beach you need to stay in a beach resort instead of the town center. The town center is quite far from the beach, and similar to Cancun public beach is very small.

Tulum has everything for a healthy traveler – yoga classes, raw vegan food, jungle spots and you can even stay at the treehouse hotel. Once Tulum became trendy it’s surely not cheap anymore, so prepare your wallets. It’s worth it though!

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Nomade Tulum

Nomade is a great beach hotel that doesn’t feel crowded like some of their neighboring properties. It has a great beach with cabanas, hammocks, and tents. You can decide if you want to stay in a suite, glamp, or get a room in the jungle.

Check Prices On:

Booking.comAgoda

Budget:
Chilli Inn

This Polish-Mexican hostel was basic, but if you’re backpacking it was more than enough. They have bikes for rent, Tulum-style bathrooms, and hammocks everywhere. It’s a great value for the price, especially comparing to other hostels in Tulum!

Check Prices On:

Booking.comAgoda


Playa Delfines, Cancun, Quintana Roo


Probably the most famous of all Mexican beaches, Cancun doesn’t need much introduction. This party city on the top of the Yucatan Peninsula attracts crowds of Americans every year.

Cancun might appear as a beautiful place for a lot of foreigners, however most of them only get to know the hotel zone and not the actual city of Cancun. Every big hotel has its own access to the white beach, but unless you’re staying in one of these hotels your access to the beach is very limited. Playa Delfines, on the other hand, is accessible to anyone and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

As the name indicated, it’s known for frequent appearances of dolphins that you can surf with, if the waves are good.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:

Akumal, Quintana Roo

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Akumal is a quiet place with a restful coastline protected by a double natural barrier. The beach is perfect for families, with coconut palm trees giving shade wherever needed. It’s also a place where turtles nest and where you can snorkel with turtles.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

 

Located just 30 minutes from Cancun airport Playa del Carmen is a smaller town on the Caribbean coast. If you’re a nightlife fan then you’re definitely going to find yourself in the right place. There’s a party going on pretty much every night and during the day the beach is full of young hangover people wanting to enjoy their holiday.

While there are some gorgeous beaches in Playa del Carmen town and in Playacar, they are never empty. However, there are two beach strips just 20 minutes away. Xcalacoco is a fantastic beach with the shallow shore. Nearby is the spectacular Manatí Cenote, connected to a lagoon that overlooks the sea. You may be able to spot a manatee, a nice aquatic mammal also called a marine cow, an endangered species.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:

Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo

North of Yucatan Peninsula there’s little island called Isla Holbox. Unspoiled by mass tourism, this little piece of paradise is a perfect getaway for everyone. You can lie in a hammock over the blue water, bike on the beach or even diving with whale sharks.

The place is peaceful with just enough tourists around and everything within a walking distance. The second you step outside the boat, you can walk barefoot on the island. Streets are made of sand and you won’t see any cars.

During the summer, you can also take a boat and swim with whale sharks. Unlike the encounters in the Philippines, fishermen from Holbox aren’t feeding the sharks and don’t let you touch them, so the animals don’t get distressed.

Recommended Places to Stay:


Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

People often classify this beach as the most beautiful in Mexico for a good reason. Just less than 15 kilometers from Cancun, Isla Mujeres is surrounded by the charm of its origin. Legend says that when the Spaniards arrived at the place they found so many female figures, who baptized it as Isla Mujeres. They were offerings of the Mayas to the goddess Ixchel.

North Beach, with its various shades of blue and its crystal clear waters, also offers beautiful sunsets, worthy of a Mayan queen. Sometimes you can spot dolphins playing around, and during summer months you can hop on a boat to see the whale sharks. Keep in mind that it easily gets crowded on the weekends.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:
Maya Casitas

Check Prices On:

Booking.com


Cozumel

Cozumel is the second most populated island in Mexico, with all the necessary facilities for first-class tourism, including an international airport. There are several spectacular beaches out there, but perhaps the most renowned one is Playa Paraíso. It has one of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The waters have a wonderful gradation of the blue color, which passes from the clearing to the turquoise and darker tones in a short journey, turning it into an incomparable symphony.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:

Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo

A little over 30 kilometers from Cancun, Puerto Morelos awaits visitors with the cleanest and most beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya, but yet uncovered by mass tourism of Cancun or Tulum. Its beach area is protected by the need to preserve its reef, located just 500 meters from the coast, which integrates the largest barrier reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. 

From the town, you can easily access beautiful cenotes located on Ruta de los Cenotes – in my opinion, the absolute best cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:
Hotel Amar Inn

Check Prices On:

Booking.com


Zipolite, Oaxaca

Beaches of Oaxaca are different from those in Quintana Roo. You won’t find white sand beaches there but rather beaches with thicker and darker sand. Zipolite was also one of the first nude beaches in Mexico, but feel free to wear your swimwear there nowadays.

Zipolite is one of the backpackers’ paradise and will satisfy those who love yoga and surfing. This beach doesn’t welcome as many visitors as nearby Puerto Escondido, but als with many budget accommodation options and several luxurious hotels with fancy restaurants at the west end of the village.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Villa Descalzo

Check Prices On:

Booking.com

Budget:
Posada Mexico

Check Prices On:

Booking.com


Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Puerto Escondido is another beach destination in Oaxaca. It’s a perfect blend of tourism infrastructure and authentic Mexican small town with dozens of hotel and restaurant options as well as boat tours, fishing excursions, eco-tourism, horseback rides and much more! You can even see dolphins!

The place is surely prepared for tourists, but with a unique local flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking for some authentic Mexican food you should visit Benito Juarez market for lunch – trust me, you won’t regret it!

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Hotel Escondido

Check Prices On:

Booking.com

Budget:
One Love Hostal

Check Prices On:

Booking.com


Huatulco, Oaxaca

Huatulco is located on the Pacific coast of southwestern Mexico, about 500 miles from Mexico City in the state of Oaxaca. It’s way less known to visitors than other places in Mexico, and this is exactly why I recommend it – because it’s still unspoiled.

It’s much less developed than Cancun or Los Cabos, but with many of the same luxuries and amenities. The water is turquoise, the beaches are crowded and there are plenty of nearby beautiful forests and waterfalls to hike to. There is even an ancient city of Copatitlan to see around!

Foodies will also feel satisfied in Huatulco, as the state of Oaxaca there are plenty of mole, tamales, quesillos and much more delicacies to try!

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Secrets Huatulco

Check Prices On:

Booking.com

Budget:

Mazunte, Oaxaca

The mazunte is a blue crab that lives in this Oaxacan place, but the most spoiled species of this Mexican Magical Town is the turtle. Mazunte is the main headquarters of the Mexican Turtle Center, a place from which an admirable work is developed to preserve the species of Pacific chelonians.

Playa Bermejita and Playa Rinconcito are splendid places to spend a good day at the beach. You can visit the Living Museum of the Turtle and the Central Aquarium, admiring the different species. Occasionally, the staff of the Center makes a liberation of tortuguillos, which leave quickly for the sea in search of life in freedom.

Recommended Places to Stay:

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Acapulco, Guerrero

P1030668Known from the famous song from the 60s ‘Acapulco’ is a well-known retreat the beach town is probably the most popular place for locals from Mexico City. The place is a lot of fun if you’re going there for a weekend with a bunch of friends, but not so much for a solo exploration, especially for foreigners.

There are plenty of things you can do in Acapulco, such as jet-skiing, snorkeling, clubbing or eating dinner at one of the Senor Frogs restaurants that despite being a chain is a lot of fun! If you’re looking for a party you should stay in one of the beach hotels in Puerto Viejo district, but luxury lovers should probably search for a nice suite in Acapulco Diamante area.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:
La Palapa

Check Prices On:

Booking.com


Ixtapa, Oaxaca

Ixtapa and its fraternal Zihuatanejo are one of the vertices of the so-called Triangle of the Sun, which has Acapulco and Taxco as its other two corners. Ixtapa is a first world sea destination, sheltered by its beautiful beaches and its formidable hotel and service offer, among which are marinas, restaurants, golf courses and all the amenities demanded by modern travelers. Isla Ixtapa is very close to the coast and is frequented by divers and other aquatic entertainers.

Visitors to the Zihuatanejo region can choose from more than 20 miles of beaches that are still reasonably uncrowded, relaxed and clean. Although high-rise resorts are inevitably popping up as the years advance, such as acne on a teenager.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Barcelo Ixtapa

Check Prices On:

Booking.com

Budget:

Mazatlán, Sinaloa

Mazatlan is a vibrant port city, both a transportation hub with ferries to Baja California and a beach destination with huge stretches of sand and warm waters which covers more than 15 kilometers. Mazatlan is a popular destination for spring break due to its variety of low-cost accommodations.

Its long boardwalk invites to walk feeling the breeze on your face and at the time of a tasty dip nearby are several beaches.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:
Hotel La Siesta

Check Prices On:

Booking.com


Playa del Amor, Baja California Sur

At the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, the waters of the immense Pacific and the Sea of Cortez are seen in Cabo San Lucas as two lovers who escape. Perhaps for that reason, the Beach of the Lovers is the most appreciated by the lovers of this city of Baja California.

It’s a beautiful place in which the sea is like a blue portrait among the huge limestone rocks that form the frame. Its peculiar formation called El Arco was sculpted by the wind and waves, surrounded by whales and calves in the spring.


Loreto, Baja California Sur

Photo by Travel-Break.net

Loreto has gained its denomination of Magical Town mainly by the rich history around the Mission of Our Lady of Loreto Conchó, the Jesuit set of greater historical importance in the Peninsula of Baja California.  This corner of the Sea of Cortez has great fishing sites and on El Carmen Island it is possible to spot the blue whale.


Bahía Concepción, Baja California Sur

Source: Visit Baja California Sur

Bahía Concepción south of Mulegé near La Paz, has several beaches that many consider to be the best in Baja, including Playa Requesón, Playa Buenaventura and Playa Coyote. Baja California is actually a gigantic natural aquarium with clear turquoise and emerald green waters and fine sand beaches.

The waters of this bay are warm and endowed with a varied marine fauna, in which it is possible to appreciate multicolored fish, dolphins and whales. Facing the coast, an archipelago of small islands, such as Pitahaya, Coyote and Isla Blanca, is an interesting refuge for avian fauna, mainly seagulls, pelicans and herons.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Hotel La Posada

Check Prices On:

Booking.com

Budget:
Hotel Pekin

Check Prices On:

Booking.com


Costa Esmeralda, Veracruz

Located in the Gulf of Mexico, this beautiful town with white buildings is a popular retreat for mid-ages people looking for a weekend getaway. It’s quiet, local and you probably won’t find a party to attend at night. Veracruz is ideal for a romantic getaway, weekend away for older people, as well as going solo.


Sayulita, Riviera Nayarit

Sayulita is one of the Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) of Mexico, known for its beautiful beaches, excellent for sunbathing on its fine white sand, swimming and observing natural life. Close to the airport in Puerto Vallarta, Nayarit is prettier and calmer than its neighbor – the actual Puerto Vallarta.

There are food options for all tastes and budgets, from street vendors to comfortable restaurants.

Recommended Places to Stay:

Luxury:
Budget:

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If you’re looking for other recommendations for Mexico check my Travel & Live in Mexico section!

28 Comments

  1. May 16, 2015 / 6:35 pm

    Beautiful beaches! I am currently living and working in Cancun and haven’t been to the west coast yet unfortunately. I know it might be hard to get to the beaches in Cancun, but you just have to find an access (e.g. in front of the diving school Scuba Cancun) and as soon as you are at the beach, you can find a spot you want to stay. The beaches are all federal and you can stay there even though there is a hotel in the back. If you are looking for a quieter beach, go left from the ferry station to Isla Mujeres/Captain Cook ship.
    I hope to get to know the rest of the Mexican beaches like Puerto Escondido and Puerto Vallarta in the future as I am planning to stay here for a while.

    • May 16, 2015 / 11:25 pm

      Definitely do it! 🙂 There’re all so different from one another!

  2. May 17, 2015 / 12:10 am

    I liked all of your beautiful pictures. I kept thinking I wanted to go to Puerta Vallarta, but now that I read your review, I think I will pass, and maybe go to Cancun instead. Thank you for your post, Anna.

    • May 19, 2015 / 12:48 pm

      I think if you got to a resort in Puerto Vallarta it’s amazing. I know a lot of people who had weddings there and it can be stunning. But I think it’s one of these places that when you leave your resort the reality is slightly different.

  3. May 17, 2015 / 5:40 pm

    Some great recommendations and photos Anna! We have traveled to many parts of Mexico over the years, particularly to the Mayan Riviera. Would love to visit Acapulco and one day, as this was the pioneer Mexican tourist destination years back. There are so many beautiful destinations in Mexico to choose from!

  4. Marie @mariestravels.com
    May 17, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    I really want to go to Mexico! All the beach photos are so beautiful.
    Which beach is the best one? I always thought of Cancun as a place to go to. But as you mention, it’s where almost all tourists go. 🙂

    • May 17, 2015 / 9:01 pm

      Hmm… I’d go for Puerto Escondido, or any beach near Huatulco. Sand might not be white, but it’s gorgeous out there 😉

  5. Paco
    May 18, 2015 / 3:28 am

    You should try Cabo, it’s beautiful!!

    • May 19, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      I know! I want to 🙂

  6. May 18, 2015 / 5:10 am

    My husband and I visited Playa Del Carmen on our honeymoon, and loved it. We liked that, although touristy, it still felt a bit “off the beaten path”, if that makes sense. So many beautiful beaches to choose from all over Mexico though!

    • May 19, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      Must have been a lovely honeymoon on a beautiful beach 🙂

  7. coffee in a cup
    May 18, 2015 / 11:33 am

    zipolite and puerto escondido are my two favourite mexican beaches!

    • May 19, 2015 / 12:49 pm

      Love Puerto Escondido 🙂

  8. Carol Colborn
    May 19, 2015 / 1:10 am

    what about Mazatlan or Cabo or Riviera Maya?

    • May 19, 2015 / 2:23 am

      I haven’t been there… yet. So I can’t recommend 😉

  9. Ryan Biddulph
    May 20, 2015 / 1:55 am

    Hi Anna,

    Nice breakdown!

    I for one am excited to get to Mexico. We have a house sit all set up for September and I know it’s by the beach but I keep forgetting the community LOL. Need to find some time for deeper research, although my wife/our travel agent has it all figured out 😉

    Ryan

    • May 20, 2015 / 2:45 pm

      Enjoy Ryan! 🙂

  10. May 21, 2015 / 7:38 am

    This is a great list – Puerto Escondido is fantastic! But Zipolite has my heart – its just so chill. I was so excited to go there when I heard it was a nudist beach – until I realised that the only people who go nude are the old men with wrinkled up…my fiancé are I planning to get married there at the end of this year 🙂

    • May 26, 2015 / 11:59 am

      Congrats guys! I hope you have an amazing wedding!

  11. Angelica @BkChickTravels
    May 21, 2015 / 7:49 pm

    Mexico is great and so is this list. I’ve been to Puerto Vallarta but all these beaches and destinations are on my list to visit. I don’t see how I would not like them!

  12. Levent Özcan
    Jun 5, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    What about Lagune Manialtepec?

  13. Desmond Hoffman
    Jul 20, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    Vallarta is just incredible, i cant wait to travel there again, has a lot of atractions, its an incredible place to stay a few days. When i went there i stayed in the hotel sunset plaza, i highly recommend it.

  14. jony
    May 16, 2018 / 1:25 pm

    Last year i traveled to Manzanillo, it was one of the best holiday of my life! there is so much to visit. It would have been perfect if i had an adapter for the power socket, i had to buy a cheap one from there which burned my camera.

  15. Lynn Foy
    May 18, 2018 / 9:57 am

    I never visit Mexico but your article makes me eager to visit Mexico as much as possible. So I am planning to visit there in Oct-Nov this year. A beautiful article you shared.

  16. May 21, 2018 / 1:52 pm

    Mexico is such an amazing place to visit. All beaches are so pretty and clean, but among all Cozumel is one the best island to visit. Would love to visit once because, this island has one of the best snorkeling and diving in the world.

  17. Jul 17, 2018 / 2:33 pm

    We just got back from Mexico and were so disappointed at the amount of seaweed we saw on the beaches from Playa del Carmen all the way down to Tulum. Is it not the case when you were there? I wouldn’t go back to Mexico for the beaches in this case, but yes for the cenotes!

    • Anna
      Author
      Jul 17, 2018 / 8:13 pm

      Seaweed has become a big problem this year 🙁

  18. Christa G. Juarez
    Jul 17, 2018 / 5:57 pm

    mexico is a wonderful place for snorkeling too. The best season for snorkeling is between October and April. last time we visited “Akumal Bay” me and my friends enjoyed so much. thanks Anna for sharing the post with us.

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