As frequent visitors to the beautiful country south of the USA, we’re often asked our choices for the best beaches in Mexico. With more than 9,000 km of coastline and nearly 500 beaches to choose from, there’s no quick answer.
To make the question even more complex, beaches in Mexico are as diverse as the country itself.
For starters, on the west coast, you have the golden sands and dark blue of the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California. While the east coast has the powdery white sand and azure seas of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
Add to this the varied natural backdrops, the cultural contrasts, the overall vibes, plus the different beach activities and amenities, and picking the best beaches in Mexico becomes an even tougher task.
So, which part of Mexico has the best beaches?!
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We’ve worked long and hard doing on-the-ground research to prepare for just such a challenge. Of course, selecting the best of anything can be pretty subjective, especially with so many variables.
So, to level the playing field a little, we’ve listed our choices for 15 of the best beaches of Mexico (from the west coast to the east coast) along with the things that make each one so special.
Whether you dream of an idyllic tropical paradise, adrenaline-pumping water sports, epic diving and snorkelling, or a lively beach party vibe you’ll find your perfect Mexican beach right here.
While it may not be named the most beautiful beach in Mexico it’s definitely the most fun and popular in the state of Jalisco.
Los Muertos beach runs along the edge of colorful Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta giving easy access from the cobblestone streets full of shops, bars and restaurants.
The beach itself is also lined with a great assortment of places to enjoy a meal or a drink and is the best people-watching in town. In my opinion, one of the best things about Los Muertos Beach is the eclectic mix of visitors you’ll be joining.
Here you can mingle with local families, retired ex-pats, lively groups of young people, honeymooning couples and proud members of the LGBTQ community who make up a large portion of the visitors to gay-friendly Puerto Vallarta.
Be sure to take a stroll on the iconic modern pier to watch the local fisherman and maybe catch a boat ride to explore beautiful Banderas Bay — one of the top attractions in Puerto Vallarta.
Location: In the heart of Peurto Vallarta, Jalisco 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best for: Lounging, swimming, families, partying, water sports, beach vendors
Amenities: Restaurants, bars, pier, sunbeds, umbrellas
There are numerous places to stay in Puerto Vallarta, and here are a couple of the best near the beach.
Playa Los Arcos Resort & Spa
This beachfront hotel is in the heart of Zona Romantica meaning you have easy access to everything Puerto Vallarta has to offer.
You can choose from European plan or all-inclusive for food and drink at the ocean view restaurant and bars. Other features are comfortable suites and guest rooms, an infinity pool, and spa. Click here to learn more.
Hotel Boutique Rivera Del Rio
If you’re looking for something special and don’t mind being back from the beach a little this stylish all-villa boutique hotel may suit you.
The unique and private setting and decor have attracted celebrities and high fashion magazine shoots. Plus you can enjoy features like a rooftop hot tub with a spectacular view of one of Mexico’s best beaches. Click here to learn more.
Not too long ago Sayulita was a sleepy town known mostly to backpackers, surfers, and artists. It had a boho-hippy vibe with a sprinkling of casual bars and cafes and a couple of surf shops.
Word has since spread of Sayulita’s beauty and today it’s well on the tourist and ex-pat radar as one of the best beaches in Mexico.
Although the days of being a surfer’s secret have passed it’s still an awesome spot for a cool Mexican beach town experience.
The small crescent beach is picture-perfect and you’ll be entertained by the surfers honing their skills just offshore. If you’re a surfer yourself or want to learn to be one, there are plenty of options for rentals and lessons.
Tip: If you long for the sleepy Sayulita of yesterday head a few miles north to San Pancho for a glimpse of what Sayulita was about 10 years ago.
Location: 40 km north of Puerto Vallarta 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Surfing, paddle boarding, lounging, families
Amenities: Restaurants, bars, surf and paddleboard rentals and lessons
There are numerous places to stay near Sayulita’s beach, here are a couple of the best:
Luxury suites and condos with one, two or three bedrooms are suited for couples, families or a group of friends.
Amenities vary and can include full kitchens, spacious living rooms, and private patios. Many of the suites also have ocean views and a plunge pool. Click here to learn more.
Stay here for something a little easier on the budget but with comfort, charm and a central location. The boho-chic Aztec decor and rock and roll themed rooms make this one of the most unique and fun places to stay in Sayulita.
Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) is one of the most famous beaches in Mexico due to the stunning ocean views and the Land’s End rock formations.
You can only reach this unique Mexican beach by boat but it’s easy to catch a water taxi from Playa Medano, Los Cabos’ most popular swimming beach.
The water taxis will often take you past the iconic El Arco so have your camera ready. Another option is to visit Lover’s Beach on an excursion that also includes snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez. Click here for details about that day trip.
Snorkelling and swimming off the beach on the Sea of Cortez side is great but don’t attempt it on the Pacific side as the water can be rough with dangerous undertows.
Location: Close to Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas. Reachable only by boat from Playa Medano 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Swimming, snorkelling, scenery
Here are a couple of great accommodation options.
Bahia Hotel and Beach House
A modern and chic boutique hotel steps from popular Modano Beach where you can get a water taxi to Playa del Amor.
Featuring comfortable and stylish Mexican decor rooms, a free-form pool, three excellent restaurants, and the trendy and lively Bar Esquina. Click here to learn more.
Pueblo Bonita Pacifico
If you’re looking for a stunning all-inclusive adults-only resort look no further than Pueblo Bonita Pacifico. It’s not as centrally located but that’s what makes it so peaceful and special.
Plus you have everything you need right on site; incredible pools, a spa, golf course, world-class dining, and your own private terrace. Click here to learn more.
Long known as a surfer’s paradise this “Hidden Port”, which is the meaning of Puerto Escondido, offers challenging “breaks” to even the most seasoned surfer.
If big surf is what you’re after then Playa Zicatela may be the best Mexican beach for you.
However, if you’re looking for gentler waters and a quiet piece of paradise to lounge on head to Playa Carrizalillo, Puerto Escondido’s prettiest beach.
You have to descend 167 steps down a cliff but the effort is well worth it and you’ll definitely not question why it’s named one of the best beaches in Mexico.
Once there you’ll find a peaceful place to swim, snorkel and lounge in the sun. It’s also a good place to try surfing for the first time as the waves are small and easier to manage. There is board rental and lessons available also.
Understandably, this idyllic spot is popular with families and couples and is rarely busy due to the location at the bottom of a cliff.
Location: Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca State 📍Click here to find it on the map.
Best For: Families, couples, relaxing, swimming, snorkelling, beginner surfing
Amenities: Some food and drink available, surfing rentals and lessons
There are numerous places to stay in the town of Puerto Escondido. Here are a couple of the best accommodations.
The villas are sitting on a cliff overlooking the bay of Carizalillo but yet are still very centrally located. There are 12 villas ranging from one, two and three bedrooms each uniquely decorated.
Amenities include a restaurant, pool, and terrace bar but the sunset views are what will wow you the most. Click here to learn more.
For a tranquil getaway head just outside the town of Puerto Escondido to this peaceful hideaway on a pristine beach. Sixteen ultra-private cabanas are fitted with king-size beds and individual plunge pools.
There’s also a long infinity pool right on the sandy beach and a wonderful spa. Click here to learn more.
Balandra beach is one of the most serene and naturally beautiful beaches in Mexico. It sits on a bay that looks more like a lagoon with shallow, calm water.
It’s a perfect spot for kids and all ages to safely swim, snorkel, and kayak in the clear blue, warm sea and there are lots of little coves and caves to explore.
Being a registered protected area means that the spectacular views of the water, desert mountains, and unique rock formations will never be spoiled and the sea and bird life should remain in abundance.
The remote location and lack of amenities are a blessing that keeps this beach pristine and fairly quiet compared to some other Mexican beaches. A visit here is definitely one of the top things to do around La Paz.
Location: 24 km north of La Paz 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best for: Soft sand, safe swimming, snorkelling, quiet, families, views, nature
Amenities: Kayak and paddleboard rental, umbrellas, some food vendors
Here are a couple of great accommodation options.
Hotel Catedral La Paz
One of the most highly rated hotels in the center of La Paz with beautiful city views and a rooftop pool. Guest rooms and suites are comfortable and modern with two queens or a king-size bed. Click here to learn more.
Costa Baja Resort & Spa
This is the first luxury resort in La Paz and it boasts a stunning view of the Sea of Cortez and the marina. There are a range of guest rooms and suites, all with garden or sea views and private decks. Click here to learn more.
Playa las Gatas is one of the best beaches in Mexico for snorkelling. This is due in part to the breakwater reef which legend says was built by a Tarascan king to create a sheltered place for his daughter to swim.
There are also some lovely rocky coves to snorkel or kayak out to.
The beach has soft white sand and lounge chairs for rent and is lined with some simple but good, fresh seafood restaurants making Playa Las Gatas a great place to spend the whole day.
There’s also a lighthouse (El Faro) on a cliff with some lovely views. The trail to the lighthouse is somewhat hidden but any of the restaurant staff can direct you.
Location: 5 miles south of Zihuatanejo, accessible by boat or risky footpath 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best for: Snorkelling, swimming, lounging
Amenities: Restaurants, lounge chairs, snorkel gear and kayak rentals
These are a couple of the best options for accommodation near the beach.
This beach resort is part of the Hyatt group so you know to expect quality. The resort sits beachfront but is surrounded by lush jungle landscape interspersed with waterfalls and lagoons.
Be sure to enjoy a meal or drink under the romantic, candlelit palapa of the Ceniza restaurant. Click here to learn more.
Hotel Villa Mexicana
A more moderately priced beachfront hotel with traditional Mexican decor and all the amenities including three pools a restaurant and bar. Rooms are a good size and many have a balcony and ocean view. Click here to learn more.
Yelapa is a small authentic fishing village on the edge of one of the prettiest beaches in Mexico.
It’s accessible only by water and you can catch a water taxi from Puerto Vallarta or Boca de Tomatlan and be on Yelapa beach in 30-40 minutes.
With golden sand and a clear, protected cove on the Bahia de Banderas this is one of the best beaches in Mexico to escape the crowds and enjoy the peaceful beauty of nature.
There are a few simple restaurants and bars on the beach and some shops in the village for essentials.
If you’re up for a hike there’s a path leading from the beach, through the village and up into the mountains where you’ll find a lovely waterfall.
Location: 40 minutes by water taxi from Puerto Vallarta 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Unspoiled, peaceful and uncrowded beach, an authentic fishing village
Amenities: Some small beach bars and simple restaurants
These are a couple of the best, peaceful accommodation options near Yelapa Beach.
Pura Vida Wellness Retreat
This is where you go to completely unplug and get away from it all. You’ll stay in simple but lovely and comfortable cabins, most of which have only three walls and a roof with the fourth wall open to the sea.
Pura Vida also hosts a variety of wellness retreats for those looking for a healing and therapeutic experience. Click here to learn more.
There are several private casa rentals in Yelapa ranging in size to sleep couples or families. The casas will have everything you need for a peaceful stay including a full kitchen, terraces and even WiFi. Many of them can be found through your favorite booking site. Click here to search on Booking.com.
This lovely beach is still mostly under-the-radar with the exception of surfers and those in search of an eco-tourism making it one of the best beaches in Mexico for a peaceful and secluded experience.
This somewhat secret Mexican beach is three miles long and never crowded so you’ll always be able to find a peaceful spot of your own to watch the surfers and pelicans ride the waves.
Be sure to walk the length of the beach in search of turtles and find a warm tidal pool to relax in.
If you’re up for something more active this is a perfect beach for riding horses and there are also some great hikes in the Sierra Madre mountains nearby.
Location: 35 km north of Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Unspoiled nature, surfing, relaxing
Amenities: Small restaurants, surf and paddleboard rentals, drink truck comes by regularly
These are a couple of the top spots near the beach:
This elegant ten-suite boutique hotel has managed to create a romantic, modern and sophisticated space that you feel fine walking around barefoot.
This is the type of place you go to and don’t leave since everything you need for a dreamy Mexican beach vacation is right there. Click here to learn more.
Casa de Oro
There are not many traditional hotels in Troncones but there’s a lovely villa and a couple of bungalows for rent at Casa de Oro.
The villa sleeps up to five people and has a gourmet kitchen, open-air living room, free-form pool and an outdoor cooking area and palapa. Click here to learn more.
Paraiso means “paradise” and this Mexican beach definitely lives up to its name.
It really is the epitome of a tropical paradise with silky-soft white sand, warm turquoise water, palm trees, and a never-ending sea view. It’s not surprising it’s one of the best beaches in Mexico.
Tulum has grown in popularity over the last few years and has lost some of its secluded peaceful vibe, but it’s still easy to venture down the long stretch of sand and find your own quiet spot.
Even in front of the Playa Paraiso Beach Club the feeling is chill compared to beaches in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
Playa Paraiso is just down from the famous Tulum Mayan ruins and is a perfect place to relax and go for a cooling swim after visiting the ruins.
Location: Tulum, Quintana Roo 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Lounging, swimming, snorkelling, chill vibe
Amenities: Beach club, restaurants, beach bars, hammocks, sunbeds and umbrellas
These two options have amazing views of the sea!
La Zebra Beach Hotel
This family-friendly boutique hotel sits right on one of the best beaches in Mexico. All 15 suites have an ocean view and some even have a private plunge pool.
There are no TV’s in the rooms but the kids won’t miss it with one of the best beaches in Mexico beach right on their doorstep. Click here to learn more.
For ultimate luxury right on the best beach in Tulum you can’t beat Encantada. Each rustic-chic cabana sits on soft white sand with breathtaking views from a private deck.
Delicious meals are served in the lovely restaurant, on your deck or on the beach. Click here to learn more.
Playa Mamitas is the place to go if you’re looking for Mexican beach party experience.
It does have the typical Caribbean white sand and azure water but the big draw is the lively atmosphere that attracts the young, fun, and beautiful.
There are several restaurants and bars that have rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas for use when you purchase a minimum amount of food or drink.
Mamitas Beach Club offers paid entrance to a private area with luxurious beach beds, a spa, a swimming pool, a bar and restaurant plus fun DJ dance parties.
If you don’t want to pay for beds and food there’s plenty of open sand to throw down a blanket and enjoy your own food and drink.
Location: Just off 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Lively atmosphere, partying, lounging, watersports
Amenities: Restaurants, beach club, bars, spa, sunbeds and umbrella rentals
With numerous options for places to stay in Playa del Carmen, it can be hard to choose. But, these two are a good bet:
Mahekal Beach Resort
If you like the idea of a resort with the feel of Swiss Family Robinson you’ll enjoy the beachfront Mahekal Resort. Each authentic palapa-style bungalow has a view of the water or tropical gardens and a deck with a hammock.
For a really unique experience book one of the treehouses. Click here to learn more.
The Reef 28
This adults-only resort sits in a great location between the beach and bustling 5th Avenue giving you easy access to both. If you’re looking for a perfect combination of luxury and fun, Reef 28 is the place.
Amenities include a gorgeous spa and a lively rooftop pool and bar with DJ events. Click here to learn more.
There’s no argument that Maroma beach is one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Mexico, if not the world.
If you’re wondering which beach in Mexico has the clearest water, this is definitely one of them. It’s also one of the safest in the country as well.
Maroma beach is long and wide with perfectly white, soft sand and the clearest, bluest water you’ll ever see. And, if you’re looking for beach activities you’ll find them all here.
Snorkelling off Maroma point is excellent, kayak rentals and water sports are available and if you’ve always dreamed of riding a horse along the beach this is the place to do it.
Although all Mexico beaches are technically public, Playa Maroma is only accessible to guests of the resorts there or the Riviera Maya Beach Club.
Many consider the cost worth it to spend the day at one of the absolute best beaches in Mexico.
Location: 15 km from Playa del Carmen near km 55 of the Cancun-Chetumal Highway 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Swimming, lounging, beauty, peaceful tropical paradise, white sand
Amenities: All amenities are through the resorts or Beach Club
While these accommodations may cost a bit more than other places in Mexico, they’re worth the cost to access this stunning beach!
Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa
A family-friendly luxury boutique beachfront resort with a focus on providing personal attention to every guest.
The beach setting is stunning and with multiple swimming pools, tennis courts, beach and water activities and a spa there’s something to please everyone. Click here to learn more.
Secrets Maroma Beach
This top beach in Mexico is only accessible by staying at one of the resorts and you can’t go wrong with Secrets Maroma.
It’s adults only and registered as providing “unlimited luxury” meaning that all the incredible food, drink, amenities and activities are included. Click here to learn more.
This is the type of perfect, palm-tree-lined tropical Mexican beach you see in all the beach vacation ads. Plus it’s on an island for that extra touch of paradise.
The water is calm and safe for swimming, the sand is soft and there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. A visit to this beach is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.
If you get hungry or thirsty there’s an array of restaurants, bars and beach clubs with comfy beds to relax with a tropical cocktail.
Tip: The ferries from Cancun drop off at the western end of the beach which means it’s busier and more casual. For quieter experience and more comfortable sunbeds head to the eastern end of Playa Norte.
Location: Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Snorkelling, lounging, swimming, water sports
Amenities: Beach clubs, restaurants, bars, lounge chairs and umbrella rentals
For such a small island, there are numerous places to stay. Here are our top 2 picks:
Ixchel Beach Hotel
You’ll be just steps from the beautiful Playa Norte when you stay in one of Ixchel Hotel’s comfortable rooms. Relax poolside or on the sand and enjoy food and drink from the restaurant and bar. Click here to learn more.
Escape to a jungle beach retreat and stay in a charming wooden private cabana. It will feel like you’re miles away from everything but in fact, you’re just a short walk to all the bars and restaurants in Isla Mujeres. Click here to learn more.
Isla Holbox is no longer a secret but it’s still one of the most perfectly unspoiled, non-commercialized beaches in Mexico and a personal favorite of ours.
The island is small (42 km long and less than 2 km wide) so we’re not going to pick just one beach. Actually, the roads are mainly sand with no cars so it’s like the whole island is a beach!
If you like the idea of an unspoiled, idyllic tropical beach with a Bohemian vibe, slow-pace and nothing much to do but relax, then Isla Holbox will be your #1 choice for best beaches in Mexico.
You can get food and drink along some of the stretches of beach but there are no big resorts or fancy beach clubs here — which is a big part of the attraction for many.
Time slows on Holbox and you’ll find yourself in no hurry to do anything but enjoy the natural beauty.
Location: Off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Unspoiled beach, laid-back vibe, swimming, snorkelling, lounging
Amenities: Hammocks everywhere, some areas have small restaurants and bars, kayak and paddleboard rentals, sunbeds and umbrellas. Other areas have no amenities
These are our top 2 choices for where to stay on Isla Holbox:
This special hotel is the inspiration of artist Sandra Perez. She handpicked all the original artwork and used local materials in the design. It’s a place of beauty, harmony and luxury. Click here to learn more.
Casa Las Tortugas
A lovely boutique hotel right on one of the best beaches in Mexico but yet centrally located near the main square. The decor is boho-chic with a focus on natural materials and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. Click here to learn more.
Akumal beach (aka “Place of Turtles”) is one of the best beaches in Mexico to swim with turtles.
The water is a clear Caribbean blue, however, the fine white sand on the bottom gets churned up as the day goes on so best to go early if seeing turtles is your goal.
The area of Akumal consists of 5 bays which definitely have some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. This includes the Central Akumal beach, Half-moon Bay, Jade Bay, and Yal Ku Lagoon.
The coral reefs are teeming with tropical sea life which can be seen by snorkelling right off the beach. If you want to go diving, there’s a dive shop and boats ready to take you out deeper.
Location: 100 km south of Cancun 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Swimming, snorkelling, diving, turtles, kayaking, lounging
Amenities: Restaurants, bars, dive shop, palapas, bathrooms, lockers, shops
There are numerous accommodation options in and around Akumal. Here are our top two picks:
An adults-only luxury resort with multiple pools, restaurants and bars plus a spa and fitness center. There are 434 suites each with a balcony or terrace and pool, garden or ocean views. Click here to learn more.
Grand Bahia Principe Akumal
A large family-friendly resort set on a private beach with 2 pools and multiple restaurants and bars. There’s plenty to keep everyone entertained with a spa, golf course, and water-park on the massive complex. Click here to learn more.
Xpu Ha is not quite the secret beach in Mexico it once was but it still has a hidden beach feel to it.
Spend the day relaxing in a perfect Caribbean setting without the crowds and noise of the busier beaches in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
The water is usually calm and perfect for swimming and snorkelling and there are other waters sports like parasailing and kite surfing available. Follow up with a relaxing beach massage for a perfect day at Xpu Ha.
The food and drink options are basic but decent and you can enjoy them under the shade of a palapa.
Location: Between Playa del Carmen and Tulum 📍Click here to find it on the map
Best For: Uncrowded, laid back, swimming, scenery, water sports
Amenities: A couple of small restaurants and bars, sunbed, snorkel gear and kayak rentals
Here are our top two picks for places to stay near Xpu Ha.
If you want a different Mexican beach vacation experience try luxury glamping right on the sand at Serenity Camp.
This eco-friendly resort offers safari-style tents for a comfortable night, lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf. They also have a bar, restaurant and pool. Click here to learn more.
Catalonia Royal Tulum
A bit further down from the public Xpu Ha beach this adults-only, all-inclusive resort is a more luxurious option to glamping.
Surrounded by lush jungle, just steps from one of the best Mexican beaches, you’ll be whisked away into a dreamy oasis of lagoons, gardens and bridges. Click here to learn more.
Located around an hour and a half drive from the popular city of Merida, this underrated destination is one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.
Backed by a colorful little town, the beach with the same name offers powdery-blue waters and soft white sand.
This is the place to go for relaxing. There are a few beachside restaurants serving up seafood and beers on the beach. Bring a book and spend the day here. The only thing to note is that winds generally pick up in the afternoon, so better to arrive early.
Find Playa Sisal on the map here.
We have spent more than two years in Mexico over the past seven years and have seen a lot of amazing beaches but we’re nowhere close to having seen all of them.
Therefore, this list of best beaches in Mexico is sure to be missing some favorites and we know our personal list will keep growing as we continue to explore.
If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, make sure to have a look at our complete travel guide to Mexico! It covers everything from when to visit, the pros and cons, health and safety, where to go, how to get around, what to eat, and so much more.
Note: Images in this article are courtesy of Shutterstock.com.
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