Last Updated on June 6, 2023 by Janine
Dreaming of a beach vacation? These incredible beach towns in Mexico offer a memorable escape for every type of traveler.
It’s no secret that Mexico has incredible beaches. Destinations like Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, and Cancun have been iconic escapes for decades now, while spots like Tulum, Isla Holbox, and Bacalar have been growing increasingly popular recently.
While those tried and true beach towns are well-worth visiting, there are so many more options you may not have even heard of.
With over 9,000 kilometers of coastline, there are beach towns in Mexico for every type of traveler. Whether you prefer a world-class surf break, laid-back hippie vibes, breezy luxury, or a sleepy fishing village, you’re sure to find it somewhere in Mexico.
To help highlight the best of Mexico’s beaches, I teamed up with some fellow travel bloggers to put together this list of alluring beach destinations that are perfect for your next getaway.
MEXICO BEACH TOWNS ON THE BAJA PENINSULA
1. Rosarito Beach, Baja California
By Mikkel of Sometimes Home
Don’t you just love unexpected pleasant surprises when you visit a city or town you have no expectations for?
It often provides grounds to be wowed! And that’s exactly what happened for us with Rosarito Beach, just south of Tijuana on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
We went to visit Tijuana as the main attraction for the weekend and someone in our group suggested Rosarito Beach as an overnight destination for the trip. We were so glad we went! We knew nothing about it and we were blown away by all the incredible things to do in Rosarito!
This city is a beautiful place to vacation for a few days to relax with a margarita in hand listening to the waves of the Pacific Ocean lap against the shoreline. It’s an easy drive from San Diego if you’re in the states and want to drive to Mexico – it’s just an hour and a half drive.
There are delicious places to eat, like Susanna’s, owned by an American expat (and strong female businesswoman herself!), and a gorgeous resort, we highly recommend Rosarito Beach Hotel.
We were also able to find beautiful street art if you’re into public murals and no shortage of photo-worthy spots in Rosarito!
Planning a trip to the Baja Peninsula? Check out these awesome things to do in Baja California before you go!
2. Loreto, Baja Sur
By Jenn and Ed of Coleman Concierge
Loreto is a remote town in Baja Sur, about three hours up the coast from La Paz. There is an international airport where you can fly in for a weekend journey, or you can make it a rest stop on a long road trip through the Baja.
No matter how you reach Loreto, you’ll find one of the best beach towns in Mexico. Why? Because it actually feels like you’re in Mexico when you’re walking through the town square with its Spanish mission and not like you’re on some gringo pub crawl.
The beaches in town are nice, but nothing spectacular. However, a short boat ride to the nearby islands will blow your mind.
On the way over, you might see blue whales in the winter and whale sharks in the summer. Most captains will stop at Isla Coronado for lunch, exploration, or doing nothing at all.
The desolate white sand beach stretches out as far as your eyes can see. Warm turquoise water rolls onto the shore. This scene is paradise by any definition.
There is no shortage of incredible things to do in Loreto, so don’t hesitate to add it to your Baja bucket list!
WEST COAST BEACH TOWNS
3. Sayulita, Nayarit
By Luke of The Coastal Campaign
Located on the west coast of Mexico you will find the quaint little surf town of Sayulita. This beautiful town is just an hour’s drive north of Puerto Vallarta although it feels like it’s a million miles away.
It is our favorite place to visit in Mexico and this is mainly due to the laid-back surf vibe and culture that makes for such a great atmosphere around the town.
Sayulita is home to some great waves, with options for both beginners and advanced surfers. We rented a couple of boards, and after slapping on the sunscreen, paddled out into the line-up to score some waves. Unlike many surf towns, the local surfers were really friendly and it was a fun few hours catching waves.
After a tough day surfing, we needed to fill our bellies and there was no shortage of delicious local food on offer. There are numerous rustic cafes serving food all day and a cold drink is never too far away.
Sayulita is also home to plenty of boutique shops offering clothing, jewelry, surf gear, and more. Sayulita is a magic little surf town and we can’t wait to get back to soak up the atmosphere again soon.
Click here to learn about more incredible beaches near Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas!
4. Islas Marietas, Nayarit
By Christina of BuenQamino
The Islas Marietas are a tiny group of uninhabited islands off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. Similar to the Galapagos Islands, this national park is home to the Blue-footed Booby and is protected by the Mexican government since it is a UNESCO reserve.
These islands are also home to the Instagram-famous, Hidden Beach (Islas Amor). It’s a crater beach only accessible at low-tide and via permit (just 116 visitors allowed per day/five days a week).
When researching, you will find that although there are plenty of Islas Marietas tours (from Punta Mita or Sayulita), however, none truly guarantee you will step foot on Hidden Beach.
I personally went with Marietas Islands Tour and paid $125 for a three-hour snorkeling tour that started at 9 AM from Punta de Mita. We heard stories that these tours fill up quickly, so we made reservations weeks in advance.
Upon arriving via boat to the islands, there were government officials checking permits and wristbands and notified our tour guide of when our 30-minute window to swim into the beach would be. Unfortunately, two people who hopped onto our tour last minute weren’t allowed to access it due to the island already reaching capacity for the day.
You are given both life jackets and helmets in order to swim underneath the rock into the beach. It might have been the adrenaline talking, but I didn’t find it a particularly difficult swim. Enjoy!
5. Las Animas Beach, Jalisco
By Nathan of Live, Dream, Discover
Las Animas Beach near Puerto Vallarta is a great spot to spend a day or two. The best part about this beach is it is only reached by boat or by hiking to it.
The hike to Las Animas starts in Boca de Tomatlan and goes along a beautiful coastline with hidden beaches, coconut filled jungle, and a couple of unique spots for a drink along the way.
The hike takes about 2-3 hours and you end up at Las Animas beach where you can swim, eat and drink to your heart’s content.
After you have finished cooling off and enjoying the area you can take a boat back to where you started the hike in Boca.
This hike has become very popular in the last few years so you will probably see tourists along the way.
Make sure you have a bathing suit as you will want to swim in the picturesque playas along the way. Bring water and keep in mind that it’s best to wear tennis shoes or some hiking shoes. Though, I have seen folks do it in flip flops.
If you are staying in Puerto Vallarta there is a bus that goes from PV to Boca to start the hike to Las Animas.
6. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Puerto Vallarta has long been one of Mexico’s standout beach towns. Unlike some of Mexico’s premier resort towns, Puerto Vallarta hasn’t been completely “Americanized” with massive shopping centers, glitzy resorts, and endless American chains.
Don’t get me wrong: it does have that, but it also retains a lot of charm.
You’ll find cobblestone streets and Spanish-style architecture draped with colorful bougainvillea, which give the city a lovely, romantic feel.
On top of being one of Mexico’s most aesthetically appealing cities, there is just no shortage of things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Whether you want to lounge on the beach, go on a snorkeling tour, hike to a waterfall, ride a zipline through the jungle, or enjoy the city’s lively nightlife, you’ll have no problem filling your itinerary.
Puerto Vallarta also happens to be Mexico’s most gay-friendly resort town, with an array of gay clubs, bars, hotels, and more.
Spend your days in Puerto Vallarta visiting the beaches, shopping in the lovely boutiques, or people-watching as you stroll along the oceanfront malecon.
If you find yourself getting restless, take a day trip to Bucerias, Yelapa, or Sayulita for a change of scenery!
7. Mazunte, Oaxaca
By Sean of Living Out Lau
The chill and relaxing beach town of Mazunte is located only an hour away from another popular Oaxaca beach town, Puerto Escondido.
Puerto Escondido is definitely a place for wild parties but if you want to take it down a notch in a place with peace and quiet, beautiful scenery, and amazing beaches, then you might want to look into Mazunte.
Don’t come here expecting lots of things to do or excitement every corner. Mazunte is a proper place to chill out and relax. WiFi is limited in most areas so you can spend some quality time with nature, your friends and family, or just yourself.
The town is just a few streets long and has some of the best seafood I’ve ever had in Mexico (the fish tacos there will blow your mind).
For sunset, take a 20-minute hike to the beautiful lush cliff with breathtaking views called the Punta Coma. Locals and travelers alike spend the half-hour trek from the main road to all gather around there for sunset. Watch the waves crash underneath you while you are standing on massive cliffs.
Take in the beautiful sun as it disappears behind the horizon and the sky changes color from blue, yellow, orange, and then pink, before finally sinking into the darkness. It is a surreal experience you will not forget.
8. Huatulco, Oaxaca
By Michele of A Taste for Travel
One of the best beach towns in Mexico, the sunny resort destination of the Bahias de Huatulco (as it’s officially known) features nine beautiful bays and 36 beaches. Situated in the state of Oaxaca on Mexico’s southwest coast facing the Pacific Ocean, it’s got a wealth of attractions that make it appealing to all types of travelers.
The top things to do in Huatulco include snorkeling the pristine offshore reefs, whale-watching, whitewater rafting, exploring ancient archeological sites, splashing through waterfalls in the Sierra Madre Sur mountains, and witnessing sea turtle nestings on many of its beaches.
And of course, there is the food. The state of Oaxaca is famous for its cuisine which means you’ll enjoy artisanal mezcal, a vast array of moles, tlayudas, and other traditional dishes, Pluma Hidalgo mountain-grown coffee, fresh seafood at its beach bars as well as world-class gourmet cuisine at one of the town’s many upscale restaurants and luxury, all-inclusive resorts.
But for beach lovers, Huatulco has an added attraction.
Much of its coastline and marine areas are protected from development. It has the distinction of being awarded both Green Globe Certification and EarthCheck Gold Certification, one of the world’s highest standards for sustainable tourism practices and environmental protection.
The region’s modern sewage treatment plant means Huatulco’s beaches regularly top the list for cleanliness determined by SEMARNAT, the government agency responsible for monitoring the water quality of the beaches in Mexico.
There is no sargassum seaweed to contend with on this coast of Mexico so you’ll also not have problems with smelly, rotting seaweed. Huatulco is definitely a beach town in Mexico you don’t want to miss.
BEACH TOWNS ON MEXICO’S YUCATAN PENINSULA
9. Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo
By Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel
Located approximately 6 miles off the north coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, about two hours by car north of Cancun, this 21-square mile island is part of the Yum-Balam Biosphere Reserve.
Isla Holbox was once a sleepy fishing village, and even now this relatively quiet (compared to its neighbors in the Riviera Maya) ecotourism haven doesn’t allow cars.
Visitors can get around quickly via golf carts and mopeds, but even the most remote Isla Holbox hotels and resorts are just a 10-minute walk from the heart of town.
There are lots of things to do in Isla Holbox, but the most popular activities include fishing, kiteboarding, snorkeling, and kayaking in the nature reserve.
The shallow lagoon that separates Holbox from the rest of Quintana Roo is a birdwatchers dream, home to Cormorants, Flamingos, Herons, and countless other bird species.
An island-hopping boat tour can take you to swim in nearby cenotes, visit a bird sanctuary, and other local highlights.
And most Isla Holbox tour operators offer opportunities to swim with Whale Sharks, who gather off the coast of Isla Mujeres every year (June through September) in great numbers to breed and feed on krill.
But if you want to visit in the peak summer season, make sure you book early, as this formerly under-the-radar slice of tropical paradise is getting more popular with each passing year!
10. Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo
By Mitchell of Project Untethered
When most people think of beaches in Mexico, Cancun is one of the first places that pops in their mind. And while there’s loads of fun stuff to do in Cancun, if you want a truly spectacular beach town experience, I recommend taking a quick ferry over to Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres is the perfect place to disconnect, unwind, and enjoy the slow pace of island life. It’s a tiny island that can be explored by bike, scooter, or golf cart in half a day.
Some of my favorite activities were visiting the Turtle Sanctuary, eating delicious street tacos, and drinking piña coladas on the beautiful white-sand beaches. The waters are also crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling.
The island has a laid back vibe and is the perfect place for solo female travelers.
That said, I do want to give one word of caution— be careful where you swim! Our group went out for a midnight dip on an abandoned beach, and genuinely thought we were all going to die. Apparently, there was a sign that said “DANGER! NO SWIMMING!” but I guess we missed it in the dark.
11. Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo
By Nikki of She Saves, She Travels
The sleepy little fishing village of Puerto Morelos is a perfect spot for some laid-back beach vibes. It’s located about 30 minutes south of Cancun but is often overlooked by tourists.
Puerto Morelos has a picturesque town square that begs to be explored. Its brightly painted buildings will catch your eye and lure you in. You just might find a new beach hat, a travel-sized hammock, or delicious lunch.
Shop the open markets for artisan crafts, blankets, and other handmade goods. Or check out the local selection of fruits and veggies in the farmers’ market, just off the town square.
Puerto Morelos is a great spot for water activities, especially fishing tours or snorkeling. Right off the coast is the second-largest reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef. If you’re interested in snorkeling in Puerto Morelos, you won’t be disappointed!
If you’re looking for some R&R, try some yoga on the beach. You’ll likely find it pretty empty.
There is more seaweed off the shores of Puerto Morelos than its neighbor to the north. But the water is very warm and gentle, making this destination perfect if you’re looking to escape the crowds.
12. Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
Situated right in the heart of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring this region.
A mid-sized city, Playa has everything you could possibly hope to find in a beach destination: stunning white-sand beaches, incredible hotels and resorts, endless shopping and dining options, and a lively nightlife.
Needless to say, there’s plenty to do in Playa del Carmen beyond the resorts.
Spend your days diving in cenotes, snorkeling with tropical fish on coral reefs, or simply lounging in the sand on Playacar beach.
If you’re feeling adventurous, join a tour to visit Chichén Itzá, take a day trip to Cozumel, or spend the day at XCARET or one of the other eco-parks in the area.
In the evening, do some shopping along La Quinta Avenida. Fill up on aguachile at Patio 8, then grab a cocktail in the sand at Fusion Beach Bar, or hit up Kitxen for some live music!
Related Reading: How to Spend 5 Magical Days in Playa del Carmen
13. Cozumel, Quintana Roo
Just 40 minutes off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel Island makes an incredible destination for day trips or longer stays.
Most of the island is undeveloped, and the opportunity to visit beaches without giant hotels looming in the background is reason enough to make a trip to Cozumel.
Popular activities on Cozumel include snorkeling along the Palancar Reef, which is lauded as one of the most impressive diving destinations in the world.
Apart from snorkeling, you can visit virgin beaches, soak up the sun at beach clubs, check out Mayan ruins, or shop ‘til you drop.
Or, rent a Jeep, cruise the island with the top down and partake in all of the above!
My favorite spot on Cozumel is El Cielo Beach in Punta Sur Eco Park. It’s a completely undeveloped beach with an unobstructed view of the ocean, a fantastic swimming spot, and a bar that serves cold beer. What more could one ask for?
If you find yourself in the Riviera Maya, I highly encourage you to visit Cozumel, even if just for the day! You can easily get to Cozumel by ferry from Playa del Carmen!
Related Reading: Popular Day Trips from Playa del Carmen
14. Akumal Bay, Quintana Roo
The peaceful village of Akumal sits halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum in the Riviera Maya. This stunning beach is a nesting ground for sea turtles, and visitors come in droves to swim with the turtles in the wild.
While snorkeling with the sea turtles is certainly a huge draw, Akumal actually has a lot more to offer!
There are a handful of all-inclusive resorts situated along Akumal Bay. Each of them would make a peaceful escape for travelers who are looking to relax and enjoy a stunning view.
However, there are plenty of adventures to be had as well. Akumal is a great base for exploring nearby cenotes (Dos Ojos and Eden are popular options). You can also take sailing tours, diving tours, or visit the Yal Ku Lagoon for a snorkeling adventure.
Because Akumal is just 30 minutes from both Tulum and Playa del Carmen, day trips to either city couldn’t be easier. For travelers looking for a relaxing escape away from the chaos of a city, Akumal shouldn’t be missed!
15. Punta Allen, Quintana Roo
By Claire of Claire’s Itchy Feet
Punta Allen is right at the tip of Sian Ka’an and the sleepy little town feels more like you are in Belize than Mexico thanks to its laid back Caribbean vibes.
Sadly, Punta Allen doesn’t make it onto most peoples’ itineraries as it isn’t very well known, which really is a tragedy!
Getting here feels a bit like journeying to the end of the earth. To reach Punta Allen you have 2 options: take a colectivo from Tulum, or visit on an organized tour.
Unless you want to stay for a few days I recommend just taking the tour as the road to Punta Allen can be pretty treacherous. This is not a road you want to be driving down in a rental car or even in a colectivo if you can help it.
Even if you do go it alone on the colectivo, be sure to ask the driver to drop you so you can take the boat into Punta Allen.
The boat trip really is the ‘thing to do’ here as you have the opportunity to see dolphins in the wild, snorkel on the second largest reef system in the world, and do some bird watching.
Once in Punta Allen there isn’t much to do other than relax in a hammock, enjoy eating plenty of fresh fish and drinking a michelada or two.
As a solo female traveler, I love visiting here as I always feel extremely safe.
Related Reading: 8 Solo Travel Safety Tips for Riviera Maya, Mexico
16. Bacalar, Quintana Roo
By Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped
Bacalar is like no other beach town in Mexico. Technically, Laguna Bacalar isn’t a beach town as it is on a lake. It’s often as the “Lagoon of Seven Colors” and the “Maldives of Mexico,” all of which we agree with. The shades of blue are out of this world.
Bacalar is located in the Yucatan region of Mexico and a great day trip for those staying in Tulum (2 hours 20 mins) or Playa del Carmen (3 hours 15 mins). It’s best to rent a car and drive yourself to make the most of the trip, this is what we did.
If you have time, it’s a great place to spend a few days relaxing by the lake. The most popular thing to do is to take a tour of the lake. Spend the day exploring the mangroves, snorkeling, seeing wildlife, and much more.
Boat tours are super cheap, you can easily find one for $35 for a 4-hour tour. Our favorite stop on the tour was the Canal de los Piratas Bacalar, the color of the water is insane. You just have to see it in person to believe it.
We know on our next trip to Mexico we’re saving a few days to spend in Bacalar.
17. Mahahual, Quintana Roo
By Annick of The Common Traveler
Looking for a small beach town in Mexico? Don’t skip Mahahual!
This small town in southeast Mexico, in Quintana Roo, is often overshadowed by nearby Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Best known as Costa Maya to cruise ship visitors, there is plenty to do in the area regardless of whether you’re cruising or the town is its own destination.
The town is popular with families, so it does not have much of a nightlife. Mahahual enjoys a lovely beach waterfront plentifully populated with bars and restaurants.
Several resorts play music to attract tourists, but you can find quieter spots to enjoy the quiet sounds of the ocean.
Resort beaches are kept clean (from the invasive sargasso) so you can sunbathe, swim and snorkel. Stand-up paddleboards and kayaks are available for rent at multiple locations.
Nearby, explore Mayan ruins at Dzibanche, Kohunlich, and Kinichna. The nearby Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is an ecological beauty admired by lovers of nature. At the Bacalar Rapids, visitors can float through stromatolites formation.
Do keep the cruise schedule in mind when visiting. Cruise ship days give an entirely different feel to the town as it becomes crowded with thousands of people.
Unless you’re looking for more action by hanging out with the new crowds, remember that tour companies will be catering to the cruisers and the bars and restaurants will be crowded! Use this day to relax instead.
Mahahual is a lovely place with a small community of expats. The expats all know each other and happily include you and keep an eye on you during your visit. If you’re looking for a low key destination, add Mahahual to your list of places to go!
Continue Planning Your Trip!
Mexico Guide Books
This Mexico phrasebook will help you communicate, even if your Spanish skills are lacking.
This Mexico travel guide is packed with all the info you could ever need.
I use a combination of Booking, Airbnb, and VRBO to find accommodation throughout Mexico.
Some cities in Mexico have more listings on VRBO than Airbnb (or vice versa), so it’s best to check both to find the perfect place!
Rental cars add tons of flexibility to your travel plans. If you opt to rent one, I recommend using Discover Cars to find the best rates!
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding the best deals on airfare.
Never leave home without travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers super-affordable policies that cover things like medical expenses, trip interruption, and lost luggage. They even offer coverage for some expenses related to COVID-19. Their policies are particularly great for long-term travelers, making them a great option for Mexico.
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Still have questions?
Join my Female Travelers in Mexico Facebook group, a supportive community of fellow Mexico travel enthusiasts, where you can find answers to all your travel questions!