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The length of Mexico’s coastline is a well-disputed fact. The CIA World Factbook says it has 9,330 kilometers of coastline. However, if you ask the National Statistics Institutes (INEGI), the answer is 11,122 kilometers. Either way, it’s hard to choose the best Mexican beach towns and seashores. From golden sand bays and rocky coves to powdery carpets of white, memory foam-like sands, you can find your paradise.
But have no fear. We’ve done the work for you and gathered all the info, so you can focus on vacationing, sipping margaritas and perfecting your tan.
Experience movie romance in Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco)
People appreciate the passion and romance of Puerto Vallarta, made famous by the scandalous affair Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had while he was filming The Night of the Iguana in the 1960s.
One of the best beach towns on the Pacific coast, it’s loved for its family-friendly atmosphere and old-world charm. But it also has a large party scene and an even larger LGBTQ scene—the largest in the country.
Restaurants and bars along the famed Playa Los Muertos provide creature comforts, with hotels offering superb sea views right behind the golden sand beach.
Puerto Vallarta has many amenities smaller beach towns in Mexico lack, such as shopping malls and sports facilities. Plus, jungle excursions, whale watching, and ATVing await visitors.
Dive into Puerto Escondido’s small-town life (Oaxaca)
Your Mexico itinerary should include a trip to Puerto Escondido, one of the hottest Mexican surf towns in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Arguably one of the best hippie beach towns in Mexico, Puerto Escondido is popular with backpackers and globetrotting beach lovers.
Would you rather take it easy than paint the town red?
If so, you’ve got to check out the baby turtle release programs at Playa Bacocho. It’s an endless deserted strip of glistening white sand where the Pacific crashes ashore in thundering blows. Learning about how the country protects sea turtles will make your face light up, as will Manialtepec’s lagoon with its bioluminescent plankton.
Down for some beach time? Head for the small bay of Playa Carrizalillo. Climbing down and back up 150 stairs takes effort, but you will be rewarded with a fiery sunset after a lazy afternoon.
Go boho in Sayulita (Nayarit)
While no one would call Sayulita a non-touristy beach town in Mexico, it’s still one of the best beach towns in the country. It has a laid-back feel that yogis, wellness enthusiasts, and spiritual travelers adore.
You can’t help noticing the bohemian vibe, from vegan restaurants and organic food eateries to colorful flags and boho shops. But it’s not all meditating, smoothies, and veggies. You can also find fresh, mouthwatering seafood and surfing galore.
Due to the consistently big waves, the town in Riviera Nayarit is popular with surfers of all levels. Bars, restaurants, and surf schools line Playa Sayulita, the town’s central hub of activity.
Sayulita has plenty of chill-time beaches like Playa de Los Muertos, an easy 15-minute walk from the town center. It’s a sheltered cove where the water is calmer, providing a relaxed atmosphere for swimming.
Feed your adventurous side in Cabo San Lucas (Baja California Sur)
Unlike Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas has a swanky feel with all its posh hotels, though not everything will blow your budget.
Affordable pastimes are snorkeling, kayaking, and standup paddling to Land’s End, where a thirty-foot high, uniquely curved rock formation called The Arch juts out of emerald waters.
Land’s End is the very southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific merge in a churning, bubbly water mass. It’s only accessible by sea.
Hand’s down, the best Mexico beach in the area is Lover’s Beach, probably because of its location at Land’s End. And the pelicans and sea lions agree. They love this rocky coastline. It’s a true natural paradise, well worth a yacht or catamaran trip along Pelican Rock, Neptune’s Finger, and El Arco.
Cabo has about 350 staggering days of sunshine each year. So, if you are tired of being lazy on the beach (is that even possible), try camel riding, off-road ATVing, canyoning, bungee jumping, and ziplining—all catering to daredevils.
Relax on a quiet beach in Playa del Carmen (Quintana Roo)
Some of the best beaches in Mexico are in Playa del Carmen. It’s a Caribbean town in the easternmost state of Quintana Roo on the Riviera Maya, which sits on the Yucatán peninsula. Its white-sand beaches slope to calm, turquoise waters protected by reefs.
Unlike Cancun, with its ebullient nightlife, Playa del Carmen has a more laid-back feel. Mind you, you can find lively areas, like Playa Mamitas, and all along 5th Ave near the restaurants and hotels, though nothing like you’d see in Cancun.
Be sure to visit Playa del Carmen’s cenotes and be gobsmacked at the crystal water. Playa Punta Esmeralda boasts a cenote that flows directly into the sea.
If you’ve got family in tow, you can check out the aquatic parks of Xcaret and Xel-Ha. Or you can try ziplining and ATVing across the damp forests of Yucatán’s ecoregion.
If you have time to spare, you can drive up north past Cancun and visit Isla Holbox. It’s a paradise island with virtually no one ruining your privacy below the sway of palm trees.
Swim with whale sharks at Isla Mujeres (Quintana Roo)
Isla Mujeres is a dream island accessible by ferry from Cancun. Popular with locals and foreigners looking for a change of scenery from wild Cancun, the pace of life is significantly lower here. No one is rushing to get anything done, making it ideal for unwinding for a few days.
Are you a beach bum?
Spread your towel on the palm-fringed Playa Norte, a long stretch of powdery white sand lapped by bright blue waters. We encourage you to put on your goggles if you can summon the energy to get up for a quick dip. There is a lot of marine life to see. And May to September is when whale sharks pass by on their annual migration.
Explore the archeological ruins of Tulum (Quintana Roo)
Known for archeological ruins peeping down the cliff, Tulum snuggles up on the turquoise Caribbean Coast. It can get crowded and heavy on your pocket, but there are ways to visit on a shoestring. And you should.
Hippie stores and chic restaurants with fresh ceviche and ice-cold cervezas are within spitting distance of the beach. Before exploring Tulum further, don’t miss swimming in the cenotes – they’re on par with the best Mexican beach towns’ heavenly waters.
There are so many places to go in Mexico, and Bookaway can take you there. Check out all our routes in Mexico.
The best time to soak up Mexico’s top beaches is the dry season from November to March, after the hurricane season when temperatures are nice and warm.
If you use common sense, it is. Stay where the people are, don’t flaunt jewelry, and listen to your gut feeling.
Mexico’s beach town climate is generally hot and humid, so bring a water-to-go bottle to stay hydrated. Also, reef-safe sunscreen is an excellent idea to take sustainability seriously. As for clothes, you’ll want to pack light-colored, breathable clobber and anything that doesn’t put your sweat on display. And, of course, swimwear!