The 31 best beaches in Mexico to visit in 2023
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If you’re a fan of beaches, you will love all the amazing beaches in Mexico. With its almost 6000-mile-long coastline, Mexico beaches are some of the most popular attractions and the reason why it’s a world-famous tourist destination.
Of course, there is much more to see in this fascinating country than its amazing beaches but it’s undeniable that the beaches in Mexico are what make thousands of tourists flock every day to the Mexican coastline, from the Caribbean shore all the way to the Pacific coast.
That’s why I thought I would compile a list of the best Mexico beaches to help you decide which one to visit and what not to miss during your trip to Mexico.
So without any further ado, here are the best beaches in Mexico, divided by destinations.
Mexico Beaches – Cancun
Cancun is home to many exotic beaches in Mexico. It’s a renowned tourist destination with long stretches of flat white sand on its beaches, luxury resorts, backpacker hostels, and 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 best among Cancun beaches, here are my top three recommendations.
1. Playa Delfines
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 umbrellas.
2. Playa Langosta
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 and one of the best beaches in Mexico for sure.
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 during the day. The perfect beach to relax.
3. Isla Mujeres
Not exactly a beach, but still a great place if you’re looking for some of the most amazing beaches in Mexico.
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, watching the sun setting behind Cancun city, and bringing out a collage of pink, green, and yellow hues in the sky.
4. Isla Blanca
Despite its deceiving name, Isla Blanca is not an Island, but a secluded beach north of Cancun.
It’s better to rent a car in Cancun to enjoy your trip to Isla Blanca as the local buses are scares and not reliable.
Drive along the Avenida Bonampak and follow the road until you pass the residential area of Playa Mujeres. You will find a well-paved highway flanked by mangroves and a lagoon on the left until it interrupts and becomes a dirt road lined by a few private homes and hotels in between wild bushes.
You will literally be bumped to the beach. You can leave the car in a private parking lot which you need to pay but it’s safer than leaving the car on the road.
That’s where the endless white sand beach starts. Unfortunately, there are no facilities so make sure you take sunblock and plenty of water with you.
Isla Blanca is a paradise for kite surfers and you can find a small hotel right there called Ikarus that’s managed by kiters. They have a surf school and they can rent you the equipment.
5. Isla Holbox (Quintana Roo)
Three hours north of Cancun, Isla Holbox is home to some of the most amazing beaches in Mexico.
With its deserted, white-coral sand, 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 Holbox, you can also take tours for swimming with whale sharks as well.
6. 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 whose beach deserves to be included in the list of the top beaches in Mexico.
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 is 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.
At el Cuyo, you will find the best beach in Yucatan.
The best Beaches in Mexico: the 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.
7. Tulum Beach
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 and quite safe.
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. However, make sure you pick the best time to visit Tulum if you want to enjoy it fully.
8. Xpu-Ha Beach
Xpu-Ha beach is arguably one of the best Riviera Maya beaches, if not the best. But because it’s so large and extended even on the most crowded days you can find a lot of tranquillity and peace. .
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 though. 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.
9. Akumal 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 in my dedicated post on Akumal beach.
10. Paamul Beach
Most of the time ignored, Paamul Beach will surprise you with its tranquil and private white sand piece of paradise and transparent emerald waters. If you love to be far from the noisy crowds, this best-kept secret beach is for you.
11. 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.
Its endless stretch of beach is perfect for any sort of traveler. The party lovers will enjoy the noisy beach clubs with music all day long while peace seekers will appreciate the peace and quiet the further north of the beach by the new Quinta Avenida or in the residential area of Playa Car.
Beaches in Mexico: 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.
12. 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.
13. Playa Palancar
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
Best Mexico Beaches: Oaxaca coast
Oaxaca coastline is a favorite spot for surfers and expats from all across the globe. Here you can find some of the most fascinating beaches in Mexico but sometimes dangerous to swim.
In fact, 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.
Luckily, no mass developments have taken place here so you can find local joints, nice hotels, and restaurants, along with a natural charm here.
14. Zipolite Beach
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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Playa Carizalillo in Puerto Escondido
Only a few kilometers 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 chairs while watching pro surfers riding spectacular waves.
Not the best place to learn for beginners as the current are quite strong here.
18. Huatulco Beaches
The lesser-known region of Huatulco has some of the most amazing and secluded beaches. There are nine bays in the area with over 30 beaches!
Most beaches are easily accessible by car and it’s fairly easy and cost-effective to get there by taxi. Some of the best Huatulco beaches are Playa Maguey, Playa La Entrega, Playa Santa Cruz.
So Among all the amazing things to do in Huatulco, exploring some of its amazing beaches should be a priority.
Best Beaches in Mexico: 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, the spectacular rugged coast, endless roads among cacti, and the red rocky desert, go snorkeling or diving in the Sea of Cortez, the world aquarium.
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 🙂
19. 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, though.
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.
20. 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 the rocks on the shore are nothing short of therapeutic.
21. Playa Balandra – La Paz
If the beaches in Cabo San Lucas are touristy and too crowded for your liking, Balandra Beach in La Paz has located a 2-hour 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 is certainly the best beach in La Paz.
It’s a stunning stretch of sand and sea that resembles a lagoon because of the high cliffs encircling the waters.
The shallow water makes it easy access to the spectacular Sea of Cortez where you can snorkel and dive, kayak, or paddleboarding.
I would suggest you should plan to spend the day there until sunset to enjoy the spectacular show from the hill above Playa Balandra.
It’s located about 15 minutes drive from La Paz.
22. Playa Tecolote
Just opposite Playa Balandra, on the other side of the coast, you will enjoy Playa Tecolote, less scenic but still 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.
23. Playa el Caymancito
I found out about this lesser-known beach just after the 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.
24. La Ventana
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.
Best beaches in Mexico – 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.
25. Puerto Vallarta Beaches
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, and you can reach with a 10 minutes walk from Playa de Muertos.
26. Yelapa beach
Located a one-hour boat ride from Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa makes a great day trip if you are staying in the vibrant city of Puerto Vallarta and decide to explore its surroundings.
You can also get a bus to Boca de Tomatlan and then get a taxi boat from there. In fact, Yelapa can’t be reached from the road.
27. Quimixto Beach
Just like Yelapa, you can reach Quimixto Beach from either Puerto Vallarta or Boca de Tomatlan by boat. Quimixto Beach is my favorite in the area and has a great restaurant for a delicious lunch.
You can go on a short hike to see a waterfall and then enjoy the rest of your day on this deserted beach.
It’s less touristy than Yelapa and therefore less crowded.
Top Mexico 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.
29. 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 the currents can be strong.
30. 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 within your budget.
31. La Lancha
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 the 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 bus or renting a car.
Discover Cars Mexico Review
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
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 buses 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 a 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 advise 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 your windscreen in dozens. Drive safe and enjoy the beautiful phenomena of nature.
Read more about driving 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!
Best Beaches in Mexico: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the nicest beach in Mexico?
It is a very individual question. In my opinion, visually, the nicest beach is Balandra Beach, however, if you love to swim Playa Balandra is not ideal because the water is very shallow so it is difficult to swim around. In this case, Tulum has a very swimmable Beach and so has El Cuyo, Holbox or Isla Mujeres, and some beaches in Cancun.
What are the top 10 beaches in Mexico?
The top Beaches in Mexico are the following ones, in my personal opinion
- Balandra Beach, BCS
- Tulum beach, Quintana Roo
- Cancun Beach, Quintana Roo
- Playa Santa Cruz, Huatulco
- Xpu-ha beach, Quintana Roo
- Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo
- El Cuyo Beach, Yucatan
- Isla Blanca, Quintana Roo
- Bahia Conception Loreto BCS
- Playa Conchas Chinas, Jalisco
Which beach has the clearest water in Mexico?
Definitely, Playa Balandra is the beach with the clearest water in Mexico.
What part of Mexico has the prettiest beaches?
Overall, the state of Quintana Roo has the biggest concentration of the best beaches in Mexico, probably for being on the Caribbean Coast.
Which place is better Cancun or Cabo?
Between Cancun and Cabo is a tough race, as both destinations are very similar when it comes to the party scene and night entertainment.
However, in Cabo, you will find the majority of marine life and a surreal landscape where the Cacti dotted red rocky desert meets the ocean.
In Cancun, you find the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. They are both spectacular destinations with many similarities and many differences. You can check out more details in my article Cancun vs Cabo.
Why is Cabo so popular?
Cabo has become very popular for many different reasons, including its spectacular upscale resorts, and the abundant marine life, including whales migration and Mobula rays, sea lions, and sharks. But also for its vibrant nightlife.
What is the nicest part of Mexico?
That is not for me to say. Mexico is a fascinating country and you can choose to travel to its different destinations according to the kind of vacation you are looking for. I am hoping this blog will help you find out what’s the best one for you.
Which side of Mexico has the best beaches?
Both sides have an abundance of incredible beaches, some are more visually appealing others are more suitable for swimming, and others for surfing. It is really up to you but they are all spectacular.
What is the safest beach destination in Mexico?
I find beach destinations in Mexico pretty safe overall.
Is Cancun or Puerto Vallarta better?
Cancun and Puerto Vallarta are very different destinations for many different reasons. You should check my article linked above to find out why.
The Best Beaches in Mexico: Final Thoughts
I hope you found this post useful. I am sure you have realized by now that it is difficult to establish which beach is better in Mexico. They are all spectacular and suitable for different activities. My best advice then is to decide what kind of vacation you want to have and pick your beach accordingly.
Isabella, author, editor, and founder
A passionate traveler and photographer, in love with life and adventures, Isabella is the founder and editor of Letstraveltomexico where she shares her love for Mexico, a fascinating country that she’s proud to call home. When she’s not exploring a new place you will find Isabella in a cafe, writing on this blog, or on her other sites Boundless Roads, Mexico Cenotes and Ruins and Letstraveltocancun.com where she loves to share her travels on and off the beaten path in Mexico and around the world.