The Absolute Best Beaches in Mexico

There are so many beaches in Mexico to love. Whether you want to lay on white-sand and look out at absurdly turquoise waters or you’re more interested in surfing big waves, this list of the best beaches in Mexico will definitely have at least one you’ll love!

While I’ve been living in and traveling around Mexico for almost three years now, I still haven’t come close to seeing all of the best beaches in Mexico. It would take a lifetime to explore the country’s coastline (although, challenge accepted!).

So I’ve reached out to some of my favorite Mexico expats and fellow travel bloggers who have had the chance to see even more beaches in Mexico than I have.

Best Beaches in Mexico

Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo is without a doubt one of the best beaches in Mexico. Located in the quiet East Cape in the state of Baja California Sur, you’re worlds away from the bustling Cabo San Lucas in this place.

If you are looking for solitude, beautiful turquoise waters, and some of the most incredible marine life to check out just off the shore, you’ll want to get yourself to Cabo Pulmo.

The town of Cabo Pulmo is where you’ll find the majority of the accommodation, mostly cute little bungalows for about $5o a night. We stayed at Alicia’s Bungalows, which you can book via Whatsapp: +52 624 191 2550.

This is also where you’ll find most of the restaurants and all of the dive and snorkel shops. You can’t go wrong with any of the spots along the main street that leads to the waterfront. They all run fantastic, sustainability-focused tours around the local reef.

However, if you want to experience white-sand beaches, calm waves, a place where the mountains meet the sea, and great swimming, head south along the East Cape Road to Los Frailes. This is the place where you’ll enjoy having a beach almost entirely to yourself (especially after high-season ends in April). Just be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and maybe even an umbrella, because that sun is strong!

cabo pulmo is one of the best beaches in mexico
The sandy golden beaches in Cabo Pulmo are without a doubt some of the best beaches in Mexico!

San Pancho

San Pancho, short for San Francisco, is a tiny little beach town in the Mexican state of Nayarit.

If you love artsy towns with galleries, good restaurants, and bars where you can drink cold Pacificos and eat fresh ceviche with your toes in the sand, then San Pancho is one of the best beaches in Mexico.

Although the town is smaller than neighboring (and more popular) Sayulita, it’s a much nicer and cleaner beach.

The nearest airport is Puerto Vallarta. From there, your best option is to rent a car and drive north to San Pancho. It takes about an hour to get to from there. However, if you don’t want to rent a car and you plan only to stay by the beach and relax in town, you can take an Uber to San Pancho and then just organize for a local taxi to return you to the airport at the end of your trip.

playa del carmen beach

Puerto Peñasco

As recommended by Jaime of Jaimesays. Find her on Instagram.

“Why is Puerto Peñasco my favorite beach town in Mexico you ask?  First off, it is on the glorious Sea of Cortez, on the east side of the Gulf of California.  Jacques Cousteau referred to the Sea of Cortez as the “world’s aquarium” because of the incredible diversity and quantity of wildlife.  It is a scuba and snorkel lover’s paradise. The beach sand is soft and warm on your feet, and little tide pools filled with tiny shells and hermit crabs mark where high tide falls.

Secondly, it is fairly quiet for a beach town.   Massive amounts of tourists that you encounter at popular Mexican hotspots do not typically make it down to Puerto Peñasco’s beaches. The malécon on the shoreline is filled with local restaurants and souvenir shops, not chain restaurant like Señor Frogs. Thus, there is a certain level of authenticity in this small fisherman village.

Puerto Peñasco also has the best food I have had at any beach town in Mexico.  While some tourists to Mexico may expect menus filled with chips and salsa, tacos, and standard “Mexican” fare, Puerto Peñasco restaurants serve gourmet dishes.  Delicious steaks, charcuterie, paellas, and delicious seafood ceviches pepper most menus.  Fish is outstanding and of the freshest quality in this neck of the woods.  On top of the incredible food, most restaurants serve filtered water with filtered ice cubes. Finally, most wine lists source the very best wine from nearby Valle de Guadelupe.  These wines rival some of the best of Napa Valley.

While the rest of Sonora is a desert full of cactus and incredible rock formations, the gem of the state truly is the beach town of Puerto Peñasco.”

what beaches to go to in Mexico

Puerto Vallarta

As recommended by Lauren of Northern Lauren. Find her on Instagram.

“While I complain about being too hot and finding sand in my clothes weeks after I’ve left, my favorite Mexican beach town is the first one I ever visited—Puerto Vallarta.

Situated on the west coast of the country, in the state of Jalisco (my former home and long-time love), Vallarta and its many, many beaches may not be blessed with the azure oceans and pristine white sands of the Caribbean coastline on the other side of Mexico, but they hold their own. Whether you’re into swimming, surfing, or just lounging about on the sand, there’s a beach for you along the Puerto Vallarta coast.

My personal favorite is Colomitos, not because I’ve spent much time there, but because when we crossed by on the way to Playa Las Animas, we got accosted by an enormous black dog that followed us the rest of the way. Funny now, but not at the time. Giant animals aside though, Colomitos is teeny weeny and picture-book perfect with possibly the clearest waters and sun-bleached sand of any beach in the area.

Puerto Vallarta is well worth a visit, especially when you know where to look for the coolest spots and, of course, the best beaches to visit.”

best beaches in mexico

Sisal, Yucatan

As recommended by Cassie of Mexico Cassie. Find her on Instagram.

“Sisal is tiny and quiet and really only visited by locals. I happened to meet my best friend in Mexico there because we were both busy being pretty happy with ourselves for being the only foreigners on the beach…until we saw each other. So yeah, Sisal is special because it’s gorgeous and because it gave me a really special friend.

Sisal has next to nothing going on, which is what makes it so special in my opinion. There are a few small seafood restaurants, one or two tiny stalls selling touristy things made of shells and that’s it.

Once you get to Sisal, just drive until you see the sea. Park your car anywhere and head straight to the beach (or a restaurant). Enjoy walking on the tiny pier and then hire a palapa (thatched roof table and chairs), order some drinks, and go for a splash in the sea. We once saw hundreds of tiny fish jumping out of the water here. My son and I spent a good hour just mesmerized by them.

So, yeah, if you are looking to escape the tourists that so often crowd out beaches on the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula, Sisal could well be a beach for you, just don’t tell everyone about it, please.”

Best Beaches in Mexico - sisal

Bacalar

As recommended by Amy of Page Traveller. Find her on Facebook.

Though not strictly a “beach town”, the lakeside town of Bacalar is easily one of the most beautiful places I visited during my trip around Mexico. Bacalar Lagoon is also known as The Lake of Seven Colours due to the clear waters which reveal vibrant shades of blue and green against the white sand and mud.
 
Aside from being a picturesque and tranquil “beach-style” destination, there are also lots of things to do in Bacalar, from watersports such as stand-up paddleboarding and diving in some of the clearest and largest cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula, to exploration of the town and the old fort – Fuerte de San Felipe, to swimming around the largest living organism on Earth – the Cocalitos, or “living rocks”.
 
The town itself has a very relaxed vibe. There are some great restaurants around the Zocalo, including vegan restaurant Mango y Chile, Italian fare at Pizzeria Bertilla and bar and restaurant La Playita, which is right on the lake and has an amazing view.
 
Bacalar is a little out of the way in the south of Quintana Roo, a few hours by bus from Tulum, not too far from the border to Belize. However, I highly recommend that you make time to visit the impressive Bacalar Lagoon, if only for a few days of chilling by the lake and swimming in the warm, clear waters.
 
swimming at the beach in bacalar
While not technically a “beach town” this inland fresh-water lake is SO incredible, it deserves to be on the list of the best beachs in Mexico!

Mazunte

As recommended by Sarah and James of The Whole World or Nothing. Find them on Instagram.

The wide rustic beaches belonging to the charming town of Mazunte in the state of Oaxaca are hands down some of the best in Mexico. Despite being one of the country’s famed Pueblo Mágicos and boasting some seriously gorgeous sunsets along its golden shoreline, Mazunte is a small place with a laid-back vibe.

The main beach is called Mazunte Beach and is split in two by a craggy rock formation. One half is dotted with bars and restaurants serving great seafood tacos, the other half is quieter and where the small tour and fishing boats are stationed. Early morning sails will take you out onto the waves to see turtles and dolphins.

A short peninsula jutting out into the Pacific ocean called Punta Cometa is one of the best places to head for sunset, or if you fancy a bite to eat whilst watching the sun go down take a first-row seat at El Copal on secluded Mermejita beach. One word of caution, you can swim in some places in Mazunte but the waves are crazy strong so please be careful if taking a dip.

the best beaches in Mexico

Tulum

So what’s MY favorite beach in Mexico? Tulum. I’ve been once and I could have stayed forever. There’s just something about the beach, about the bicycles, and about the little one-street town that made me feel at home. I stayed in a little house in the town of Tulum and rode my bike to the beach every afternoon once the sun went down a little bit.

Tulum is easy and cheap to get to from Cancun airport. You can turn a trip here in to a luxury vacation by staying at one of the beachside resorts and dining at all of the fancy seaside restaurants or it can be super low budget, too. There are yoga studios, fresh juice vendors, amazing street tacos, and great little bars.

It’s also home to some of the most beautiful ruins in Mexico. The archeological site in Tulum sites right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It’s about as picturesque as it gets in my opinion. You can follow a few steps down to the ocean and swim in the sea with ancient Mayan ruins hovering over you.

Check out my guide to Tulum here and see tons of stunning photos of this little town here.

what to see in mexico

Playa Balandra

I recently visited this stunning beach in the city of La Paz and I fell in love. The water is so shallow that you want nearly walk across the whole bay without every having to actually swim. It’s calm and colorful with different shades of blue and green as you look out into the horizon.

There are so many amazing beaches in La Paz, but this is definitely my favorite one. Some even say it’s the best beach in Mexico (like me!)! Just be sure to bring your own food and drinks (unless you love soda and ceviche together). There aren’t any restaurants nearby and it’s a 30-minute drive back to town. 

what to do in la paz

Playa Carrizalillo

You might look at the 200+ steps you have to head down to get to this beach and think, “do I really want to climb back up these later?” The answer will always be no. But this beach in the town of Puerto Escondido is worth the climb.

It’s like a little horseshoe bay with the calmest waters in a town otherwise known for its huge surf waves. This beach has a few beachside restaurants where you can have some seafood and ice cold beer, but otherwise, you’ll be left alone. No one is trying to sell you trinkets or massages. It’s quiet and relaxing and if you come in the morning (before 9am) for a swim, you’ll have the whole beach to yourself.

Just be sure to save some energy for that climb back up the stairs.

conejos beach in huatulco
The beautiful Bahia Conejos in Huatulco. The color of the sand was totally different to all of the other bays I went to in Huatulco.

Playa Conejo, Huatulco

This list is heavy with beaches from Oaxaca, but there’s a reason for it- it’s so damn beautiful down there. Never mind the fact that some of the best food in the country is from Oaxaca, it’s also one of the more untouched states. This means fewer resorts, fewer tourists, a more local feel, and lots of delicious Mexican food.

Huatulco is a lot easier to get to than it used to be thanks to a newly refinished airport. The best way to get here is to connect in Mexico City, that way you can get a direct flight to Santa Maria Huatulco. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Oaxaca City or Puerto Escondido (which has a few international flights available).

Stay in the town so that you can be close to the good food and affordable accommodation, but then hop on the local bus to the beach or to Huatulco national park where you can hike, ride horses, or go four-wheeling. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the area are an hour hike through the forest, but you’re well rewarded when you get there. 

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the best beaches in mexico

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