If you’re a fan of beaches, Mexico is the place for you. With its almost 6000-mile-long coastline, the beaches in Mexico are one of the most popular attractions in Mexico and the reason why it’s a world-famous tourist destination for beach lovers among others.
That’s why I thought I would compile a list of the best beaches in Mexico to help you decide which one to visit and what not to miss during your trip in Mexico.
So without any further ado, here are the best beaches in Mexico, divided by destinations.
- Beaches in Cancun
- Isla Holbox (Quintana Roo)
- El Cuyo – Yucatan
- Beaches in Riviera Maya
- Beaches in Cozumel
- Beaches in Oaxaca
- Beaches in Baja California Sur
- Beaches in Jalisco
- Beaches on the Riviera Nayarit
- How to get around in Mexico
Beaches in Cancun
Cancun is home to many exotic beaches of Mexico. It’s a renowned tourist destination with long stretches of flat white sand on its beaches, luxury resorts, backpacker hostels, and a vibrant nightlife. You can even swim with the whale sharks there if you visit during summer.
Even though every beach in Cancun has its own charm, it takes quite a lot of time to explore them all. If you’re looking for the crème de la crème of Cancun beaches, here are my top three recommendations.
It’s not a coincidence that the name means “dolphins” in Spanish. The beach is known for its dolphins, surfing, and its wide space. Playa Delfines has a popular mirador with the iconic colorful Cancun sign that you see in many Cancun pictures with an incredibly turquoise sea as a backdrop. It’s a public beach so everyone has free access to it. But that doesn’t mean it’s always crowded, you can find peaceful spots to relax and unwind, take a long walk along its stretch, or even take surfing classes. The beach is one of the few with free public parking in Cancun if you opt to drive there by yourself.
Keep in mind that currents are quite strong and it can be dangerous to swim far from the shore. You can rent beach chairs and umbrella.
If you’re looking for a peaceful swim in crystal clear and calm waters without dangerous currents, Playa Langosta is one of the few beaches in Cancun that offers exactly that. You can enjoy long, uninterrupted walks, explore tide pools, or just enjoy the stunning sunrise there. Since the place is popular among local families to spend the Sunday and make large picnics, if you go on weekends, the best time to visit this beach is before noon. During the week you might find groups of athletes training early morning and a desert in the day. The perfect beach to relax.
Read also: The 10 best beaches in Cancun
Not exactly a beach, but still a great place if you’re looking for amazing beaches. Isla Mujeres is a small island off the Yucatan Peninsula coast where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet each other. It’s just a short ferry ride from Cancun. Among the other beaches there, Playa Norte tops the list when it comes to swimming, sunbathing in the sand, and watching the sun setting behind Cancun city, and bring out a collage of pink, green, and yellow hues in the sky.
Isla Holbox (Quintana Roo)
Three hours north of Cancun, Isla Holbox is the place where it’s less touristy and more peaceful. With its deserted, white-coral beaches, the place makes for wonderful escapades. The water of Isla Holbox is crystal-clear and shallow, so it’s great for windsurfing and swimming.
Apart from the beaches there, Isla Holbox is part of an environmental protection program. You’ll find many seabird species thriving there, and lots of nice boutique beach hotels for any budget to make your stay more enjoyable.
From Isla Mujeres you can also take tours for swimming with whale sharks as well.
El Cuyo – Yucatan
The Yucatan state of Mexico is not exactly famous for its beaches but for its amazing cenotes, archeological sites, and its cultural heritage, but there is an amazing beach town that I have fallen in love with. It’s El Cuyo, a laid-back tiny village with a spectacular infinite beach that has not the colors of the Caribbean but still amazing emerald green nuances. The sea is calm and the beach mostly deserted. It’s been discovered by kitesurfers who found here their paradise but anyone who doesn’t love the crowd of the Riviera Maya will love it here.
Beaches in Riviera Maya
The Riviera Maya is just as famous for its picturesque views and calming waves on the 100-mile coastline that runs alongside it. The Carretera Federal, the road that runs along the Riviera Maya is lined with amazing beaches on one side and a thriving jungle with hidden cenotes on the other side. It’s the best place to vacation if you love nature. So if you fancy gorgeous shores and tons of beach activities, you can try the following beaches in Riviera Maya.
Tulum is the boho-chic town that grew its fame for its spectacular long stretch of beach starting from the beautiful Mayan archeological site (that you should not miss, by the way) and ending in the biosphere of Sian Kaan (also a must-see). The beautiful and pristine beach is lined with fancy boutique hotels and a lush jungle as a backdrop. Tulum beach is also a great place for kite surfers and shortboard surfers (only in certain points). But if you want to take a refreshing swim and bask in the sun it’s perfect too.
Read also: Things to do in Tulum
Xpu-Ha beach is believed to be one of the best Riviera Maya beaches, if not the best. But despite being one of the most charming beaches there, not many visitors make their way to it. Consequently, it’s a tranquil repose from the teeming activity of Playa del Carmen, or Cancun. You can take a trip to Xpu-Ha to swim, take nice walks or simply relax on the bright white sands. Make sure you avoid weekends if you don’t like crowds. Read my post on Xpuha beach to know more about how to get there and the best hotels that you can find on the beach.
Akumal means “place of the turtle” in the Mayan language. And as the name implies, it’s a place for sea turtles to lay their eggs. You can watch sea turtle hatchings, swim with them in the waters, or go snorkeling in the nearby coral reef. Despite being a popular tourist attraction, the beach has lots of space for everyone due to its huge size. You can read more on how to visit and things to do on my dedicated post on Akumal beach.
Playa del Carmen beaches
Another famous beach in the Riviera Maya is Playa del Carmen, the most popular town of the Riviera Maya mainly known for the Quinta Avenida, its main street lined with shops and restaurants. It’s endless stretch of beach is perfect for any sorts of travelers. The party lovers will enjoy the noisy beach clubs with music all day long while peace seakers will appreciate the peace and quiet on the further north of the beach by the new quinta avenida or in the residential area of Playa Car.
Beaches in Cozumel
This small island off the Yucatan Peninsula attracts thousands of tourists every year, especially during winter, because of its turquoise waters. Cozumel is known for its snorkeling and diving opportunities all around the world.
Playa El Cielo
Playa El Cielo is a scenic white-sand beach in Cozumel where you can go snorkeling in the stunning turquoise waters, take boat tours, or just sit back on the white sand and admire the multi-shaded blues of the water.
If you’re more of an adventurer and like kayaking and sailing, Playa Palancar would be a more suitable beach for you during your visit to Cozumel. Palancar Beach is famous for its watersports. I recommend exploring the Palancar Gardens if you’re into diving. And if you like cruising, Palancar Beach is where you will find the best experiences.
You may also like:
- 8 fun facts about Cozumel
- The best Cozumel Vacation Rentals
- Cozumel Travel Guide
- How to get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancun
Beaches in Oaxaca
Oaxaca coastline is a favorite spot for surfers and expats from all across the globe. The beaches here, with their strong undercurrent and high waves, are perfect for surfing and makes it one of the best surf destination in the world. Fortunately, no mass developments have taken place here so you can find local joints, nice hotels, and restaurants, along with a natural charm here.
Zipolite Beach is ideal for surfing and swimming. With thatch-roofed restaurants lining the coast, eating by the beach has a very atmospheric feel to it. It’s important to note here that swimming in the water can be quite dangerous, so make sure to always remain in the safe zones where lifeguards are always present.
Playa San Agustinillo in Mazunte
At about one hour bus from Puerto Escondido and a few km from Zipolite, Mazunte is a tiny trendy town home to many expatriates who chose beach life in one of the most secluded places in Mexico. Don’t expect good wifi here, like anywhere on this side of the Mexican coast. But San Agustinillo is one of the few places where you can find some peaceful spot where to swim in pristine waters without strong currents thanks to the protected bay.
It’s actually my favorite place to stay on the Oaxaca Coast and you can find many hotels for different budgets. If you are willing to splurge, though, I would suggest Zoe Hotel a luxury property with private pools perched on a hill overlooking the bay offering unbeatable views.
Zicatela beach in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido Beach is another beach ideal for surfing. With not much mass development in this municipality, and waves going as high as 10 feet, many expats and surf-lovers find it to be a great place for budget-friendly beach visits and surfing. It’s also the place where they make international surf competitions.
Playa Carizalillo in Puerto Escondido
At only few kilometer from Zicatela, you can find this spectacular bay nestled between a lush tropical jungle. Walk down a few stairs and you can enjoy the free beach or rent some comfortable beach chair while watching pro surfers riding spectacular waves. Not the best place to learn for beginners as current are quite strong here.
Beaches in Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur is one of my favorite places in Mexico. Here you should just rent a car and go explore the hidden beaches, and the spectacular rugged coast, endless roads among cacti, and the red rocky desert. You can read more about it on my road trip in Baja California post or check out all the most amazing things to do in Baja California.
Here below you can find the most popular beaches in Baja California but not all of them 🙂
Medano Beach – Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas has beaches that are never short of strong waves and undertows. As a result, swimming in most of them is almost always challenging. Not to worry, tough. There are still some of the most amazing beaches in Cabo San Lucas that you can visit, one of which is Medano Beach, the opposite of many other beaches there.
In fact, it’s famous for all the watersports and activities you can do here. From jet skiing to boat tours to banana boat rentals, you’ll find it all there. What’s more, it’s perfect for swimming, unlike the other Cabo San Lucas beaches.
Playa Del Amor – Cabo San Lucas
Only accessible through a water taxi, the Lover’s Beach boasts astonishing rock formations—including the El Arco, which is a rock arc formation in the ocean, one of the unmissable places to see in Baja California Sur. Located at Land’s End, it’s a very beautiful beach where you can watch the waves meet the sand and rocks on the shore are nothing short of therapeutic.
Playa Balandra, La Paz
If the beaches in Cabo San Lucas are touristy and too crowded for your liking, the Balandra Beach in La Paz is located at 2 hours drive. And that’s why I always suggest renting a car, especially in Baja California where public transport is not very good.
Playa Balandra is probably one of the most scenic beaches in Mexico, if not “the most” It’s a stunning stretch of sand and sea that resembles a lagoon because of the high cliffs encircling the waters.
The water is shallow, and the beach is wide and white sand, all of that making it an excellent choice if you have children along with you. But also adults enjoy paddling or kayaking around the calm bay. I would suggest you should plan to spend the day there until the sunset to enjoy the spectacular show from the hill above Playa Balandra. It’s located about 15 minutes drive from La Paz.
Just opposite Playa Balandra, on the other side of the coast, you will enjoy Playa Tecolote, less scenic but still a beautiful beach with shallow water, perfect for swimming and relaxing. On weekends it’s more crowded, just so you know. Also, there is no phone signal there.
Playa el Caymancito
I found out about this lesser-known beach just after lockdown while I was in La Paz and it was a blessing. It’s not crowded and it’s at a short uber drive. The shallow water makes it easy to swim and a great place for snorkeling as you can find small colorful fishes swimming around.
La Ventana is a laid-back beach resort located a 1-hour beautiful drive from La Paz. It’s the best place for kite surfers for the frequent and strong wind and shallow water which makes it also the perfect place for newbies.
There you will also find a camping ground and a few small hotels and homes to stay but it’s pretty much isolated and very quiet, with not much to do besides a beach life and kite surfing.
Beaches in Jalisco
Jalisco is known for its mariachi music and tequila, both of which are believed to have originated here. In fact, the famous idiom, “Jalisco is Mexico”, is associated with the state because many things that are part of the Mexican culture have their origins here. But the place isn’t only famous for its landmarks and history, there are also some amazing beaches in it that you absolutely need to visit at least once.
Puerto Vallarta Beach
Located on the Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular beach destinations in Mexico, especially in the US. The city has so much to offer and the beach is one of the reasons why so many tourists chose Puerto Vallarta as their favorite destination. You can also find tours that include whale-watching, sailing, and snorkeling. Among Puerto Vallarta beaches Playa de Muertos is the most famous one lined with nice restaurants for a great breakfast or lunch on the beach, while Conchas Chinas is the most secluded and tranquil, that you can reach with a 10 minutes walk from Playa de Muertos.
Beaches on the Riviera Nayarit
Sayulita was a small fishing village that became one of the most popular surf destinations and then also one of the trendiest places for party lovers, but also yogi and beach seekers. Although Sayulita beach is not the best, the pretty town is surrounded by incredible secluded beaches that are waiting to be discovered. And that’s why it’s best to rent a car. It’s located only 1 hour from Puerto Vallarta airport.
San Pancho beach
San Pancho is a new emerging best beach resort on the Riviera Nayarit. Laidback and much quieter than the neighbor Sayulita only 3 miles away. There are so many things to do in San Pancho and things to love about this tiny Mexican town, especially great hikes, delicious cuisine, and a more authentic vibe. The beach in San Pancho is spectacular, always empty, and suitable for pro surfers. Not very good for swimming as currents can be strong.
Punta de Mita
Punta Mita is the high-end part of the Riviera Nayarit, where you can find spectacular luxury resorts and their private beaches. Definitely the perfect place if it’s in your budget.
La Lancha is the favorite beach for surfers and swimmers alike. Located at only 15 minutes drive from Sayulita, this huge pristine beach is perfect for pro surfers and newbies but also for those who only want to swim. Water is shallow and current not strong. There is also a great fish restaurant on the road before entering the beach.
How to get around in Mexico
Now that you know all the beaches you will be visiting in Mexico, among all the amazing places to visit in Mexico you must definitely include a couple of beaches.
Now, it’s time to up your navigation skills when you’re there. There are two modes of traveling in Mexico, either by buses or renting a car.
Traveling in Mexico by bus
If you’re using buses as your primary travel mode, it’s quite easy to get around. The huge network of busses goes almost everywhere you would want to go. Many bus companies operate in Mexico, so I’ll tell you the ones I particularly liked for their service and facilities in each area.
In Northern Mexico, Estrella Blanca is the bus service that is very reliable, despite not being too luxurious. In the Southern part of Mexico, ADO has comfortable buses and a very strictly maintained operation going. While you’re in Central Mexico, you can use ETN. They have the most luxurious seats, and their buses have WiFi and TV.
Mind that in Baja California busses are not so reliable so that is one place where renting a car is much more convenient.
Renting a car in Mexico
If you want a more personal way to travel around in Mexico, renting a car is the way to go. Despite what many people think, driving around in Mexico is pretty easy. There are many car rentals that you can use there. Though, keep in mind that car rentals there are tricky businesses. Look out for overcharges and extra costs, because many rentals try to coerce you into paying more than what is due. You also need to look out for the following while you’re on the road.
- Topes: Speedbumps in Mexico are indicated using this term, but many times they are not. Look out for them, especially when you’re driving around rural areas of Mexico. They can be very big sometimes and might damage your rental.
- The police: The police are another thing you might want to look out for. They sometimes pull over tourists with made-up excuses to browbeat bribes out of them. Always wear your seat belt and be mindful of the speed limit.Those are valid reasons for the police to stop you.
- Driving at night: I always advice against driving at night when you’re in Mexico. It’s harder to see the infamous potholes and people walking by the roadside, and it’s not safe to drive at night, either. So, avoid it unless you really need to get somewhere.
- Butterflies: It might be surprising to read butterflies on this list, but it’s a thing in Mexico. During the spring, thousands of butterflies appear out of nowhere. So make sure to pay attention to the road while they’re tackling you’re windscreen in dozens. Drive safe and enjoy the beautiful phenomena of nature.
Read more about Renting a Car in Mexico.
That brings my list of best Mexican beaches to an end. I hope you found it helpful in your beach pursuits. Enjoy your visit and do let me know if you want me to cover any topic of your interest. Have fun!