The best beaches in Mexico

written by Andy Turner
updated 3/14/2023
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Mexico boasts a mesmerizing coastline of around 9,330km, with millions of tourists coming here solely for the country’s exceptional beaches. The following are the best beaches in Mexico. They have been selected as much for the scene – whether backpacker or spring-breaker – as much as sand quality, water and scenery.

This article is inspired by our Rough Guide to Mexico — your essential guide for travelling in Mexico.

Explore ancient ruins at Playa Ruinas, Tulum

Off of the Caribbean coast lies the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum. These well-preserved ruins can be breathtaking, despite the small scale of their buildings. On a sunny day, this effect is doubled by the stunning coastline that backdrops this archaeological site.

The site itself takes only an hour or so to see. However, you will want to allow more time to swim at this small and special Tulum beach. These calm waters are expansive and intensely blue. Beachgoers are often visited by local iguanas in search of food.

Dreaming of seeing the world's most ancient sites? See our guide to the great lost cities of the world.

Where to stay in Tulum:

Or browse other accommodations in Tulum.

Tulum Mayan ruins on the sea in Yucatan, Mexico © Shutterstock

Discover the nightlife of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

Like many of the beautiful beaches in Mexico, Playa del Carmen is a great place to enjoy powdery sand and crystal-clear waters. This gorgeous coastal gem sits in the very heart of the Mexican Caribbean Sea. However, what makes this a popular beach destination is the local nightlife.

Playa has emerged as the area’s main “alternative” nightlife centre to Cancún. The venues here have a much more hip style, more conscious of trends from Mexico City and abroad. Try Alux — a labyrinth of romantically intimate spaces deep down in a real cave. Or Coco Maya — for all-night parties featuring an adventurous slate of Mexican and international DJs.

Where to say at Playa Del Carmen:

Or find your dream accommodation in Playa del Carmen.

Beach on Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mexico © Shutterstock

See the Cardon cacti of Playa Balandra, La Paz

This alluring beach consists of shallow lagoons of crystal-clear water, meeting a wide stretch of white sand. Cardon cacti — the largest known species of cactus in the world — line the arid mountains that serve as a backdrop.

Due to the shallow waters, Balandra beach is a favourite among beachgoers with families. Be sure to check the hours of this beach before making the trip out.

Ready to take your dream trip to Mexico? Our Amazing Mexico tailor-made trip takes you from Mexico City to Oaxaca City to the La Merced Market. Our trips are crafted by local travel experts and are completely customisable.

Balandra beachexico © Shutterstock

Visit the sea turtles of Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte is one of the best beaches in Mexico and is a great place to enjoy a sunset. You'll find here extremely pristine and calm waters. This is a perfect place for snorkelling and one of the best swimming beaches in the area. It is also a fantastic place to enjoy the white sand under swaying palm trees.

While here, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Tortugranja Turtle Sanctuary — which safely houses endangered sea turtles. The eggs are rescued from predators and raised until hatched before being released back into the wild.

Planning a trip but on a budget? See our list of the 20 cheapest places to travel.

Isla Mujeres – a quiet option near to Cancun © Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

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For an all-inclusive experience try Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo

If you are looking to spend your beach holiday in absolute luxury, this is certainly the beach for you. This palm-tree hemmed coast is located within walking distance of many great resorts and restaurants.

Spend your day in the powder-soft sand while waiters come to take your drink order. La Ropa beach is one of the best beaches in Mexico for an all-inclusive experience.

Where to stay near La Ropa Beach:

Browse more accommodations in Play La Ropa.

Beautiful Mexico beach — Playa La Ropa © Shutterstock

Secluded Lover's Beach or Playa del Amor, Cabo San Lucas

The hidden cove of Playa del Amor, or Lover's beach, is arguably the most beautiful beach in Cabo San Lucas. One must take a water taxi to access this hidden beach. Get a good view of the sea life in the area by taking a glass-bottomed boat.

Once there, you will find a secluded and serene golden sand oasis, flanked by large rock formations. This beach is just a climb away from its counterpart, Divorce Beach.

Where to stay in Cabo San Lucas:

Or browse other fantastic accommodations in Cabo San Lucas.

Lover's Beach, or Play del Amor, Cabo San Lucas © Shutterstock

Watch the sunset at Puerto Vallarta Beach, Jalisco

Puerto Vallarta Beach is known for its mesmerisingly orange sunsets and endless stretches of white sand backed by the Sierra Madre Mountains. Located off of the Pacific coast, this is a great place for those who wish to witness the frolicking of local humpback whales.

Visit the nearby Puerto Vallarta for a charming beach town that is known for its street food and raicilla. It is a popular stop for LGBTQ+ travellers and is over time becoming known as an emerging gay centre in Mexico.

View of Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta © Ferenz/Shutterstock

Cancun Beach, Riviera Maya — one of the best beaches in Mexico

Virtually every kind of modern architectural fantasy can be found in the Cancun Hotel Zone. Neo-Parisian mansions rub lawns with Las Vegas-Baroque and neo-Maya pyramids. This bustling area is home to over seventy of the area's luxury hotels and resorts.

Cancún provides luxuries on tap and on a big scale: glittering restaurants, eye-popping nightclubs, and stunning pools with swim-up bars. Cancun beach is a giant 23km (14-mile) strip of white, white sand located off the Caribbean coast. Many activities are within easy reach here, such as windsurfing, scuba diving, jet-skiing, sailing or deep-sea fishing.

Where to stay near Cancun Beach:

Browse hundreds of accommodations near Cancun Beach.

Cancun beaches are some of the best beaches in Mexico © Pixabay

Scuba dive at Playa Las Gatas, Zihuatanejo

Because of its blissfully calm and pristine waters, Playa Las Gatas is one the best beaches in Mexico for scuba diving and snorkelling. This lesser-known spot is a fantastic place for those in search of secluded beaches.

This magnificent crescent-shaped beach off the pacific coast is mainly reached by boat from Zihuatenejo. It gets it's namesake "Cat Beach" from the wildcats that used to live in the area.

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Our tailor-made service allows you to travel without the hassle. Our Mexico's Nature and Beaches trip will take you through the Yucatan peninsula. Explore the nature and wildlife of Mexico from sea turtles to whale sharks.

Las Gatas Beach Zihuatanejo, Mexico © Shutterstock

Relax at the white sand oasis of Playa Paraiso, Tulum

Another great Tulum beach, Playa Paraiso is laid back stretch of white sand beaches. Paradise beach lives up to its name and is without question one of the best beaches in Mexico. This relaxing oasis is known for its perfect water temperature and inexpensive local seafood restaurants.

The Playa Paraiso beach club is a great place to grab a drink and enjoy one of the many comfortable sunbeds.

Ready to explore Mexico's culinary scene? Don't miss our guide to the best Mexican food.

Pristine beaches of Tulum, Mexico © Shutterstock

Surf the Mexican Pipeline at Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido

Playa Zicatela is a massive expanse of pristine beaches with golden sand. Located in Oaxaca off of the Pacific Ocean, this beach is known for its notorious 'Mexican Pipeline'. Surfers from around the world flock to this site for tubular swells of up to 20 feet. Not for the faint of heart, Playa Zicatela is one of the best beaches in Mexico for those who surf.

The nearby small beach town, Puerto Escondido, is also worth a visit. This charming area is known for its great laid-back restaurants and surfer culture.

Planning your trip to Mexico? Don't miss our guide to the best things to do in Mexico.

Puerto Escondido's Playa Zicatela is reportedly one of the finer surfing beaches in southwestern Mexico © Shutterstock

Playa la Entrega — the best of the beaches of Huatulco

Huatulco is known for its nine popular beaches. With thatched roof structures and calm glittering waters, Playa la Entrega is clearly one of the best. Less crowded than its neighbouring beaches this is a fantastic place to spend the day snorkelling. Or spend the evening enjoying the sunset.

Don't forget to bring cash in order to enjoy the beachfront restaurants and local seafood. While in the area, don't miss the chance to explore the local waterfalls and coffee farms.

Want to experience Mexico, but without the hassle of booking and planning? Our Mexico Tomb Raider Experience trip offers you the experience of seeing many of the ruins that Mexico has to offer up close and in person.

This hidden beach is one of the best beaches in Mexico © Shutterstock

Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit - one of the best beaches in Mexico for beginning surfers

Punta de Mita is more developed than Bucerías (19km away), with most of the bars, cafés and seafood restaurants along the handsome beach attached to hotels and resorts in the area known as Playa Anclote.

The beach here is a wide, kilometre-long curve of silky coral sand, and the water is shallow with long wave breaks, making it perfect for beginning surfers.

Find accommodation options to stay in Riviera Nayarit

Boats in Punta Mita (Nayarit, Mexico) © Irra/Shutterstock

Relax in the tranquillity on Mahahual beach, Costa Maya

Puerto Costa Maya, where the cruise ships dock, is out of sight north of Mahahual. Its influence is felt on cruise-ship days when the village springs to life with souvenir stands and jet-ski rentals along the slick seafront promenade, an extremely miniature version of Playa del Carmen.

It’s a surreal juxtaposition with the rest of the ramshackle town. To avoid any crowds and capture the real Robinson Crusoe vibe, just head down the bumpy dirt beach road south of town.

Find accommodation options to stay in Costa Maya

Mahahual beach, Costa Maya, Mexico © lunamarina/Shutterstock

This list could truly go on. There are countless fantastic things to do in Mexico.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Mexico without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Travel advice for Mexico

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written by Andy Turner
updated 3/14/2023
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