10 Best Beaches in Mexico (2024)

By Cait KontailsCait KontailsCait KontailsCait is a Chicago-based Greek-American but spends most of her year floating around the globe. She holds a B.A. in Communications and a M.A. in Nonprofit Management. Her favorite destinations include visiting her homeland in Greece, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and wherever her partner is stationed abroad.Meet Our Team | Updated on May 9, 2024 | Posted In: Honeymoon Destinations

With its stunning coastlines, Mexico is home to many of the most breathtaking beaches on the planet. Each beach has its special charm, offering a blend of pristine sands, crystal-clear waters, and spirited local cultures. From secluded paradises to bustling resort towns, Mexico’s beaches cater to every type of traveler seeking sunshine, surf, and relaxation.

This list of the 10 best beaches in Mexico is your guide to discovering these heavenly coastal retreats. Here, nature and adventure meet. Whether you’re planning a relaxing escape or an action-packed vacation, these destinations promise unforgettable experiences by the sea.

1. The Riviera Maya

Photo by Laura LaBrie on Unsplash

Located just south of Cancún, the Riviera Maya is a stretch of coastline that encompasses several towns and cities, including Playa del Carmen. It offers a more laid-back and authentic experience compared to Cancún, with a focus on eco-tourism and sustainable travel:

  • Beaches: The beaches in the Riviera Maya are just as beautiful as those in Cancún, with the added bonus of being less crowded. Playa del Carmen’s main beach is Playa Mamitas, which offers a mix of relaxation and water sports.
  • Cenotes: The Riviera Maya is home to numerous cenotes, which are natural pools formed by underground rivers. These cenotes are perfect for swimming, diving, or just admiring their crystal-clear waters.
  • Mayan Ruins: The Riviera Maya is also rich in Mayan history, with several ruins located throughout the area. The most famous site is Chichén Itzá, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Other notable sites include Cobá and Tulum.
  • Eco-Tourism: The Riviera Maya has a strong focus on eco-tourism, with many activities and attractions centered around preserving the environment and supporting local communities. Visitors can participate in activities such as turtle conservation, bird watching, and visiting traditional Mayan villages.

2. Cancún

Just a short flight from Miami and sitting on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancún is a wildly popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches and energetic nightlife. Despite being a bustling city, Cancún also offers plenty of opportunities to relax in paradise:

  • Beaches: One of the main draws of Cancún is its stunning beaches. The most famous is Playa Delfines, which boasts crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand. Other popular beaches include Playa Tortugas and Playa Chac Mool.
  • Mayan History: Like Cozumel, Cancún is also rich in Mayan history. Visitors can take a day trip to the nearby ancient city of Tulum or explore the ruins of El Rey, located within the Cancún hotel zone.
  • Eco Parks: For those looking for an adventure, Cancún has several eco-parks that offer a variety of activities such as ziplining, snorkeling in underground rivers, and swimming with dolphins. Xcaret and Xel-Ha are two of the most popular options.
  • Nightlife: Cancún is famous for its nightlife, with numerous bars and clubs catering to all tastes. The most famous party spot is Coco Bongo, a high-energy club that combines music, acrobatics, and special effects for an unforgettable experience. But it’s got a price tag!

3. Cozumel

Cozumel is a popular honeymoon destination located on an island in the Caribbean Sea, just off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is known for its crystal-clear waters, beautiful white-sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs.

This small island has a barefoot feel, but it’s packed with honeymoon pleasures. This captivating, informal island is one of the few places in the world where non-divers can stand in the water with a mask to watch colorful marine life swim by. Here are some reasons why Cozumel should be next on your travel list:

  • World-Class Diving and Snorkeling: Cozumel is home to some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the world. The island’s coral reefs are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest reef system in the world. Visitors can spot an incredible variety of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins.
  • Mayan Ruins: Cozumel is also rich in history and culture, with several ancient Mayan ruins scattered throughout the island. The most famous site is San Gervasio, a sacred site dedicated to the goddess of fertility and love.
  • Water Sports: In addition to diving and snorkeling, Cozumel offers a plethora of other water sports, such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and windsurfing. Visitors can also take a boat tour to explore the island’s stunning coastline and hidden coves.

4. Los Cabos

Photo by Lisa Soots on Unsplash

Located at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos (which translates to “The Capes”) is a popular destination for travelers seeking sun, sea, and adventure. With its dramatic desert scenery, stunning beaches, and vibrant nightlife, this region has something for everyone.

  • Cabo San Lucas: Full of energy and excitement, this bustling city is the hub of entertainment in Los Cabos, with a variety of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs lining its marina.
  • San José del Cabo: Known for its charming colonial architecture and art scene, this quiet town offers visitors a glimpse into traditional Mexican culture through its galleries, boutiques, and local markets.
  • El Arco de Cabo San Lucas: One of the most iconic landmarks in Los Cabos, this natural arch formation at Land’s End is a must-visit for Instagram-worthy photo opportunities.
  • Snorkeling and Diving: The clear waters of Los Cabos make it an ideal destination for snorkeling and diving, with opportunities to spot a diverse array of marine life, including whale sharks, sea turtles, and colorful tropical fish.
  • Whale Watching: Every winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Los Cabos to give birth. Visitors can take boat tours to witness these majestic creatures breaching and playing in the ocean.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Los Cabos offers a plethora of outdoor activities, from zip-lining and ATV tours to horseback riding and camel safaris. The rugged desert landscape also provides opportunities for hiking and rock climbing.
  • Cuisine: No trip to Los Cabos is complete without indulging in local specialties such as fish tacos, ceviche, and margaritas. The region’s proximity to the sea also means fresh and delicious seafood is readily available.
  • Luxury Resorts: Los Cabos is home to some of the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, offering visitors a chance to relax and unwind in style. Many of these resorts also boast world-class spas and golf courses.

5. Puerto Vallarta

Photo by Nicole Herrero on Unsplash

Puerto Vallarta, another tucked on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is famous for its beaches, impressive cultural scene, and friendly locals. This picturesque town seamlessly blends traditional Mexican charm with modern amenities. It’s quickly become a favorite among both national and international travelers.

  • Zona Romántica: This lively neighborhood is in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s old town. It features cobblestone streets, quaint cafes, and a variety of shops selling handmade crafts and souvenirs.
  • Playa Los Muertos: The most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta is known for its lively atmosphere and iconic pier. It even lights up beautifully at night!
  • Vallarta Botanical Gardens: A peaceful retreat located just south of the city. It offers visitors a chance to explore diverse plant life, hiking trails, and birdwatching opportunities within its extensive grounds.
  • El Malecón Boardwalk: A must-visit for any traveler, this bustling boardwalk offers spectacular sea views, sculptures, and performances by street artists, especially during sunset.
  • Mismaloya: A small beach village famous for its scenic beauty and historical significance, as it was the filming location for the movie “The Night of the Iguana” which brought Puerto Vallarta to international attention.

6. Riviera Nayarit

Located just 25 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit is popular for its combination of excellent beaches and luxury resorts. With 200 miles of Pacific coastline, it offers a variety of outdoor activities and cultural experiences.

  • Marietas Islands: Take a boat tour to these uninhabited islands for an opportunity to swim, snorkel, and spot unique wildlife such as dolphins and blue-footed boobies.
  • San Pancho: Also known as San Francisco, this laid-back beach town is home to a turtle sanctuary and offers a more authentic Mexican experience.
  • Punta Mita: This exclusive resort town boasts luxury hotels, world-class golf courses, and gorgeous beaches perfect for water activities such as surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
  • Bucerias: This traditional fishing village is a popular spot for its local markets, delicious seafood restaurants, and relaxed beach atmosphere.
  • Sayulita: A great day trip option, this charming surf town offers beautiful beaches, colorful street art, and a lively atmosphere with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from.

7. Mazatlan

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Situated on the Pacific coast of Mexico, Mazatlan is a colorful city known for its lively atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and delicious seafood. It also has a rich cultural history dating back to the 16th century.

  • Playa Olas Altas: This popular beach offers both swimming and surfing opportunities, as well as beachfront bars and restaurants.
  • El Faro Lighthouse: Climb up 300 steps to the top of this iconic lighthouse for stunning views of the city and ocean.
  • Plazuela Machado: This charming square is lined with colorful colonial buildings and is a hub for live music, street performers, and local vendors.
  • Malecon: Take a stroll along this 13-mile boardwalk to enjoy beautiful ocean views, street art, and delicious street food.
  • Isla de la Piedra: This nearby island is a popular spot for snorkeling, fishing, and relaxing on pristine beaches.

8. Manzanillo

Manzanillo, located on Mexico’s west coast, is a popular destination known for its beaches and world-class fishing. It also offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, zip lining, and ATV tours. The area achieved Hollywood fame when the sexy movie classic “10” was filmed in nearby Las Hadas.

  • Playa Miramar: This picturesque beach is perfect for swimming and relaxing, and it has calm waters and soft sand.
  • Santiago Bay: Explore this tranquil bay by kayak or paddleboard, or take a boat tour to see the stunning rock formations and marine life.
  • Las Hadas Golf Course: Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf at this beautiful course with ocean views.
  • Barra de Navidad: A charming seaside town known for its laid-back atmosphere and delicious seafood restaurants – perfect for a day trip.

9. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo

Photo by Josué Torres on Unsplash

Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are two neighboring beach towns on Mexico’s Pacific coast, offering a diverse range of experiences. Ixtapa offers modern amenities and luxurious resorts, while Zihuatanejo maintains its traditional charm with a traditional fishing village atmosphere. Together, they provide visitors with the best of both worlds–from peaceful beaches to adventurous water sports.

  • Zihuatanejo: This 2-mile stretch of white sand is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or horseback riding.
  • Ixtapa Island: A short water taxi ride away from Ixtapa, this island is popular for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Zihuatanejo Bay: Take a stroll along the picturesque bay and explore the local craft markets for unique souvenirs.
  • Marina Ixtapa: A modern marina with a variety of restaurants, shops, and water activities available.

10. Acapulco

Photo by Andrés Montes De Oca on Unsplash

Acapulco is an eclectic city beach that marries the beauty of its golden sands with a rich history and lively nightlife. Once the playground for Hollywood’s elite in the 1950s, Acapulco still echoes with tales of glamor and opulence.

Its colorful past makes it a fascinating destination for history buffs and beach lovers alike. The city is renowned for its stunning cliffs, The most notable cliff is La Quebrada, where professional cliff divers leap into the Pacific. Plus, it has a pulsating club scene for couples looking to dance until sunrise. 

  • La Quebrada Cliff Divers: Watch skilled divers plunge from heights of up to 55 meters (115 feet) into the sea–a tradition since 1934.
  • Playa Condesa: Offers a bumpin’ beach scene with ample opportunities for water sports and beachfront dining.
  • Fort of San Diego: Visit this historic fort for a glimpse into Acapulco’s colonial past and stunning bay views.
  • Barra Vieja Beach: Ideal for those seeking a quieter, more relaxing beach experience.

About The Author