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Mexico Beaches

An opinionated list of the best beaches in Mexico.

Mexico Travel Guide › Best Beaches
Updated: August 4, 2020

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The 11 Best Beaches in Mexico

1. Tulum

Best beach in Mexico, Tulum.
The Best Beach in Mexico: Tulum is a 90 minute drive south of Cancun. Awesome restaurants (both in town and at the beach), small boutique hotels steps from the water, and just over-all wonderful atmosphere. Be sure to rent bikes to get around the town, the beach, or between the two.

2. Sayulita

Best beach in Sayulita, Mexico.
Sayulita is a fantastic and fun beach town. Relaxed surfer vibe (and a great place to take surf lessons), good restaurants, and a handful of cool bars. But be warned: Sayulita has become super popular over the last decade and the town can get very busy.

3. Isla Mujeres

Best beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Isla’s North Beach is the best kid-friendly beach in Mexico. The town is walkable, friendly, relaxed, and feels close to idyllic. The downside? Almost no local culture and the atmosphere is a little on the lame side. Oh, and you really have to hunt (and get out of the main town) to find good Mexican food.

4. Puerto Vallarta

Best beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
PV is a lively Mexican city with a very cool beach front: half is beach and the other half a walkable promenade (The Malecon).

5. Yelapa

Best beach in Yelapa, Mexico.
A sleepy beach town (accessible only by boat) about an hour south of Puerto Vallarta. The beach is wonderful and there are a half-dozen very good restaurants.

6. Playa del Carmen

Best beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
PCD is a mid-sized Mexican town with top notch food and lots of atmosphere. The beach is great, though water is often rough and choppy. (This is where you catch the ferry to Cozumel.)

7. Bucerias

Best beach in Bucerias, Mexico
A quiet beach town with lots of expats and good restaurants. A bit on the boring side but if you’re here for the beach it’s pretty darn nice.

8. Los Cabos

Best beach in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Cabo San Lucas has the beach. San Jose del Cabo has the funky and fun shops and restaurants. If you’re here for a week split your time between the two towns.

9. Cancun

Best beach in Cancun, Mexico.
The Cancun beach is lined with 5-star luxury resorts and great sand and swimming. There are several wonderful day trips from Cancun spread out around the Yucatan.

10. Mismaloya

Best beach in Mismaloya, Mexico.
Mismaloya is a cool little fishing village 30 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta. If you want to avoid the tourists and eat some good local food this might be the place.

11. Ixtapa

The beaches of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
Ixtapa has luxury resorts and water sports. Nearby Zihuatanejo has a low-key vibe and small town feel. Both have great beaches.

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30 replies on “Mexico Beaches”

Hi David, thank you for the post! You seem to know Mexico very well, I hope I can pick your brain a little. Two years ago I attended a wedding in Tulum and absolutely loved the place. I loved the pristine white sand, eco chic flavor, combination of luxury and hippie vibes. Since then, I’ve always pictured my wedding there. So my wedding will take place next year, and in July of this year we went to Tulum for a little getaway and to look at some venues but were shocked with the amounts of sargassum seaweed everywhere. The entire Caribbean coast of Mexico seems to be swamped by it, and it looks like nobody, not even scientists can predict if its a temporary phenomenon or there to stay. For now, its been there for half a year or more. Needless to say, I would want to avoid having seagrass on my wedding pictures. Also, I love swimming in the ocean and so do a lot of our friends, so I wouldn’t want to disappoint people and have a sub-par experience knowing about this in advance. I am now researching an alternative for Tulum. Is it Sayulita in your opinion? If so, what would you picture as the drawbacks of Sayulita based on what I have described as my likes of Tulum?
Elena

In some ways, Sayulita and Tulum have a similar vibe – a laid-back hippie feel. In other ways they’re very different. Sayulita is a bit rougher around the edges and can feel like a little Mexican village by the beach. When you’re at the beach in Tulum you feel like you’re in an idyllic bubble, not so much in Sayulita. In Sayulita there’s more going on, both at the beach and in the town. Perhaps it comes down to the fact that the beach and town are separated by a few miles in Tulum. In Sayulita they’re pretty much one and the same. The beach is nice in Sayulita but not as nice as Tulum. On the plus side there’s good surfing in Sayulita for everyone from beginners (you can take courses that are very fun) up to intermediate (and advanced if you want to hop in a car); the food is probably a tiny bit better in Tulum. In Tulum you’re surrounded by some wonderful day trips. In Sayulita you can make a trip into Puerto Vallarta (or spend a few nights there) and it’s a great place. Both are worth a visit and many times more interesting than Cancun. I will mention one other place south of P.V. called Yelapa. It has the beautiful beach like Tulum with a few restaurants. There’s a town perched above it that has a couple really good restaurants but is very small. I think there’s one market, one cafe, one ice cream shop. Not much else. Almost no nightlife. You get there by boat from either P.V. or Mismaloya. It’s a very cool place if you’re looking to chill and relax.

Hi
We are a family of 4 (2 children, 5 months and 5 years old) from Australia and we are planning a trip to Mexico in April. I have been reading your posts and very confused as to where to go and stay. We will be flying in from LA and want a family friendly resort with kids club and some babysitting, nice beach (no seaweed) and dont have to travel to far once we get to Mexico for the kids sake. Where would you recommend as we are open to all places and the choices are making me confused.
Thanks in advance.
Clare Passlow

Cancun is not my favorite place in Mexico but for what you’re looking for it’s probably best. Lots of resort with kids clubs. Most are all-inclusives.

I have been to Cancun a couple of times the area where we stayed the water was very rough and not enjoyable. What are the best swimming beaches in the Cancun area?

Jerri McDonald

Playa Tortugas and Playa Langosta are both good for swimming. Cancun beach is shaped like a 7 and these beaches are located along the top of the 7 and thus are somewhat protected from the intense direct waves of the ocean.

David, we are planning a trip (our first to Mexico) right around Thanksgiving. We have 3 kids (8, 5 and 2 yo). What would be the best/calmest beach that you would recommend, any good kid friendly resorts you would recommend? Thanks for the input.

Hercules

The most kid-friendly beach in Mexico is the North Beach on Isla Mujeres (a short ferry ride from Cancun). There are some nice low-key hotels there, but no large resorts – for those you need to go to Cancun but the beach there is more exposed and not so kid-friendly.

How do you feel about Puerto Vallarta? For a relaxing couples getaway…

Is the beach nice?

I wanted to go to Cancun because the water is warmer but wanted to avoid spring breakers… I was told puerto Vallarta is a nice relaxing trip. Please let me know your thoughts.

Nic

Puerta Vallarta is great and the town has a real Mexican vibe (unlike Cancun which is just a strip of big resorts). The beach is good in town but not wow, incredible. For the best beach near Puerto Vallarta take a boat to Yelapa (from the pier in Puerto Vallarta). You can do this as a day trip or stay at a hotel there right on the beach – idyllic and very quiet. As far as spring break parties, neither Puerto Vallarta nor Cancun get big spring break crowds like some places used to.

Hi! This is a fabulous list, thanks.

We’re looking for a beach town that isn’t too far of a trip for a weekend, out of Tijuana. We’ll be flying but don’t want to fly too far. We have two kids, 2.5 yo and 7 mos. We want a nice beach of course and will be going the first week of February. Would Sayulita fit the bill? Also, we are hoping to find an AirBnb place, any particular neighborhoods to target or stay clear of?

Thanks!

Sayulita is awesome and yes, would definitely work for what you’re looking for. Lots of rentals there, just be sure you’re walking distance to downtown (the Sayulita Plaza on Google Maps).

This is a great list with some very helpful insight! I am planning my little girls (5 yr.old) first international experience. We only have a week. She doesn’t swim by herself yet but loves the water. I’m trying to pick the best spot to have an easy beach vacation but also expose her to a unique cultural experience and have an opportunity to see some unique wildlife. Tulum sounds the best so far but do you have any other recommendations? Aaron Livingston

Tulum is awesome so yes, I’d highly recommend it. Great beach, great food, good cultural sights, and cenotes to swim in too.

Hi David
My husband and I are looking to visit in July. I’ve been looking at Riviera Maya but I’m confused on where to go after so many comments. We’re into the nightlife but like a nice beach ( no rocks or seaweed)) also local shopping. We enjoy authentic Mexican food. We don’t mind staying at resorts. Any help is appreciated. Thank you
Melinda Medina

My wife and I visited playa Del carmen for our honeymoon 2 years ago, and I was not impressed by the beach. I was expecting baby blue water and it was nothing like that. I’ve been reading that Tulum is the place to go for beautiful beaches in Mexico. What do you suggest? Rene

Tulum is wonderful and one of my favorite beaches in Mexico. Isla Mujeres also is great and probably even more idyllic with turquoise water.

Hi David! Great list – thank you for sharing. In your opinion, what is the safest beach that is family (2 children under the age of 5) friendly? We (like many other folks, I am sure) are planning a Christmas getaway. Thanks again! Amy D NY, NY

Isla Mujeres’s main beach (Playa Norte) is shallow, calm, beautiful, protected from the wind and waves, and great for kids.

Agree with Isla Holbox – great for quiet and solitude. My current love affair is with Xcalak, a small beach town way down the Yucatan peninsula. The sand on the beach is so-so, but the water is what blows me away – the barrier reef makes snorkeling super easy and the different blues in the water are spectacular. Tough to get to, and amazingly pristine.

I do not know how you can qualify Los Cabo as a safe place to go swimming. The undertow there is incredibly unsafe and just about lost our lives, just walking on the sand. Diane

Hmmm. I don’t see where I recommended the Los Cabos beaches as great for swimming. I agree, there are many beach areas that have rough waves and are not ok for swimming (these are usually marked with red flags). There are some good areas, however. The stretch of beach east of Cabo San Lucas has swimmable water.

Hi Dave
I had never been to Mexico until recently, but I’ve been fives times in the past three years to Tulum, Playa, Cancun and Isla Mujeres. I have been disappointed by the amount of seaweed each time except at Isla. I typically don’t mind seaweed as it’s a natural occurrence, but there have been days on my trips where the seaweed was 6-8 feet wide and multiple feet tall, making it difficult to climb over to get into the water and causing quite a smell. The reason I tend to stick to the Gulf side is that my children and mother like clear, calmer waters. Are there beaches you would recommend on the Pacific Coast that have soft sand and calm waters? I assume this would rid me of the gulf Sargassum problem. Or am I asking for an impossible Caribbean style beach outside of the Caribbean?
Thanks!

Yelapa is my favorite beach on the west coast for calm waters and great sand. It still isn’t like the Caribbean side but as close as you get on the west coast. It’s reachable only by boat and has several very good restaurants. Casas Garcia is right on the beach and a great place to stay in Yelapa.

HIgh David I am from Argentina travelling to Miami in late January, with my wife and two sons (10 and 13). Our plan is to fly to some destination in the Carribean area and spend most of our 15 days, I am looking for a nice beach with some waves for the kids to enjoy some boogieboarding. Can you recommend a place for us? Kind regards!

Tulum is my favorite beach on the Mexican Caribbean. Waves are decent for boogie boarding and body surfing. There are lots of Miami to Cancun flights and then it’s a 2 hour drive from there.

Hello

Looking for a beach spot that is not resort-style but with cultural value and true Mexican vibe. Can you please recommend. Flying in from Australia so connecting airports and transfers are important.

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