A visit to Mexico is a popular choice for many reasons. It is a country of great ruins, culture, food, and especially beaches. In fact, beach lovers usually find that the beaches are enough of a reason to visit Mexico all by itself. Its extensive coastlines include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Depending on the region of Mexico that you choose, the beaches and the water around it will be different. Some of the species of whales, turtles, and other large animals also differ between the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the country. Here is the lowdown on the best beaches in Mexico:
10. Playa de Akumal[SEE MAP]
This fabulous snorkeling region near Playa Del Carmen has a reef that stretches from 20-300 feet offshore, offering views for all different levels of swimmers. Turtles, tropical fish and more are common sights here, and the water is safe and calm enough for even the young snorkelers to enjoy. For those who aren’t into snorkeling, the sand is white and the water has no waves, so it is lovely for swimming and relaxing too.
9. Bahia Balandra[SEE MAP]
This is the premier family beach in the Baja region of La Paz. Perhaps best known for the rock formation called Diamond rock, Bahia Balandra is a mix of sand and beautiful wind and water-worn rock formations. It is sheltered in almost every direction for safe swimming, and the location is shallow enough that the chilly Pacific water warms early here. Because amenities are not beachside, it is often not as busy as other local beaches.
8. Playa del Carmen[SEE MAP]
The beach here is lovely- for those who like to relax, the sand is clean and the water calm. Though often jammed with Europeans, in many ways Playa del Carmen still feels like the sleepy fishing village it once was. A mixture of large resorts and small hotels, cruise ship visitors, and easy boat access to Cozumel and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef make this a favorite location to be able to venture to other ports, while still enjoying the best of the Mexican water, sand and hospitality.
7. Zipolite[SEE MAP]
A remnant from the hippie days, this beach was known as a free love center from the 60’s to the 80’s, and a huge counterculture destination. It gained notoriety as one of Mexico’s few nude beaches, although the majority of sunbathers remain clothed. Today, it attracts an international class of sun lovers, shirtless yoga gurus and surfers. While there are still plenty of budget lodgings, a number of midrange hotels and classier restaurants have appeared at the west end of the village. The rocky headlands against red-tiled round architecture is an impressive sight, and the pounding surf is great for more vigorous water activities.
6. Puerto Vallarta Beach[SEE MAP]
This Pacific oceanside resort town is nestled along a string of beaches that can please almost any visitor. Protected coves make great snorkeling destinations while there are also opportunities for whale watching and deep-sea fishing. This is one of the most popular resort towns in Mexico, and one look at the coastline makes it abundantly clear why this is true. The town is an interesting mix of large resort areas, and a central Zona Romantica, where the old town, quaint shops, and smaller hotels lie. Much of the older architecture and old-town charm is found here, flanked on the edges by larger, newer resort regions and “Gringo Gulch”, a residential area with large, foreign-owned homes.
5. Playa La Ropa[SEE MAP]
The “Beach of Clothing” got its name when a Spanish galleon wrecked, and its cargo of colorful fabrics washed ashore along this beach. Today, this is the main water sport beach for Ixtapa. Parasailing, jet skis and hobie cats are all available for rent here, and there are a large number of restaurants to enjoy after a good outing on the water. Steer clear of swimming in the river at one end of the beach, however, as it is known for crocodiles.
4. Cancun Beach[SEE MAP]
The vacation destination of Cancun is well-known for its gorgeous beaches and turquoise waters. This strip along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is full of many different resorts, restaurants and shops that are great places to stay and play. The region is reminiscent of the Vegas strip, with all of the resorts being close together in a line, with miles of sand around them. There are a dozen nearby beaches to check out as well, with turtles, whale watching, snorkeling and much more to do here.
3. Playa del Amor[SEE MAP]
Nestled at the meeting between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, the secluded two-sided Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) is one of the most famous beaches in Mexico. The beach is easily accessible by water boat from the marina of Cabo San Lucas. It is well worth a visit- with the towering Land’s End rock formations, endless ocean views, and great snorkeling on the sea of Cortez side, the place is exquisite. Travelers should be warned though that tides can get extremely rough on the Pacific end.
2. Playa Norte[SEE MAP]
Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun is popular for relaxing and wildlife watching. Sea Turtles and Whale sharks are two of the most popular species to see here. The northern end of the island is Playa Norte which has a wide swatch of sand that is lined with palm trees and also a few beachfront restaurants and bars. While some come here to get away from the spring break hot spot in Cancun, it needn’t feel isolated here. This is a great beach for partiers and wildlife watchers alike, and just a short hop from the mainland.
1. Tulum[SEE MAP]
For the history-lovers, this beach sits in the shadow of the famed Tulum Mayan ruins. Though this alone would make this a tourist destination, the wide sandy beaches here have gained their own fame as well. Situated at the southern end of the Riviera Maya, the beach at Tulum has the pristine white sand, palm trees and turquoise water that creates the quintessential beach vacation that everyone dreams of on a snowy day. Located about two hours south of Cancun, the region has great beach hotels to stay and relax while enjoying the beaches.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Tulum