The Best Beaches In Mexico

Updated: April, 2015

An opinionated list of the best beaches from Cabo to Cancun

The Best Beach in Mexico: Tulum Beach near Cancun

The Best Beach in Mexico: Tulum beach is a one hour drive south of Cancun. It has better beaches than Cancun, cooler hotels, and more authentic food.

Sayulita is great for surfing and family fun.

Runner Up: Sayulita beach and town, about a one hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta. The best place in Mexico to learn how to surf and the town is one of those places you never want to leave. Very family-friendly too.

A beach near Manzanillo

Manzanillo on the Pacific Coast of Mexico

A beach at the Westin Cabos Resort in Baja California

A beach at the Westin Cabos Resort in Baja California

The beach at Zihuatanejo

The beautiful beach at Zihuatanejo

The beach at Zipolite

A quiet beach at Zipolite

A beach in Baja California near Cabo San Lucas

A beach in Baja California near Cabo San Lucas

Acapulco on the Mexican Pacific coast

Acapulco on the Mexican Pacific coast

One of Cancun's many beautiful beaches

One of Cancun’s many beautiful beaches

Cozumel in Mexico's Yucatan region.

Cozumel in Mexico’s Yucatan region.

Isla Contoy in the Yucatan which is popular with bird watchers.

A short day trip from Isla Mujeres is Parque Nacional Isla Contoy

La Paz on the Baja

La Paz on the Baja

The beach in Old Town Puerto Vallarta

The best swimming beach is south of here, but the Old Town of Puerto Vallarta is great for evening walks.

Playa del Carmen on the shores of the Caribbean

Playa del Carmen on the shores of the Caribbean

Beach near Los Cabos

Another great beach near Los Cabos

North beach on Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres might be the most family friendly beach in Mexico.

The beach in Mazatlan

The beach in Mazatlan with the Old Town in the background

Puerto Vallarta is packed with great beaches.

Playa de los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta

A ride through Ixtapa by gondola

A gondola ride up from the beach in Ixtapa

Holbox Island in Quintana Roo

Holbox Island in the Caribbean Sea

Huatalco beach in South West Mexico

Playa Entrega in Huatalco in southwest Mexico

Playa Mazunte near Oaxaca

Playa Mazunte near Oaxaca

Puerto Escondido is known for its great surfing

Puerto Escondido is known for its great surfing

Yelapa beach near Puerto Vallarta

Just a short boat ride from Puerto Vallarta is the fantastic Yelapa beach. I love this place.

Pictures: ZaskodaLizard10979kretyendustin.askins,  lightmatter,  georgia.kralDieselDemonJSF306,
adpowersSergeMelkiAlaskanDudeTanenhaus,  WonderlaneyentoncesŠarūnasBurdulis, ~!,
HSanchezrhobinn,  jaritoKevinHutchinsonelfidomxJoSimono¬.

Further Reading:

21 questions and comments

  1. Best Beach with Kids

    Awesome to find this! I am trying to decide where to take my family (1 6yo daughter). We went to Tulum and LOVED it, but want something different this time..really want a beautiful beach that can be entered (no jellyfish Big wave etc.) nice sand, good local markets so we can make our own drinks and food and when we want to go out EXCELLENT food..oh! and would prefer this place to be affordable and not completely blown up by tourism…looked at Loreto (seems expensive) todos santos (so dry and arid) Sayulita (heard its CROWDED and expensive) Yelapa (heard its jellyfish beach and super touristy) Zihuat (don’t know much) Manzanillo (not much) Isla Mujueres (considering it) any thoughts are much appreciated! thanks for the great pics!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Sayulita has the closest vibe to Tulum. Also great for learning how to surf. Yelapa has the closest style of beach to Tulum (and I’ve never seen a jellyfish there). Isla Mujeres has the calmest beach and very pedestrian friendly town. All are great for kids.

      Reply
  2. Sayulita vs Isla Mujeres

    Hi these pictures look great!!
    I have two questions:
    1 – Sayulita or Isla Mujeres? We’re travellers who don’t like resorts, we are more laid back and want to relax with a bit of culture. Good food, good bars, etc.
    2 – Which is better for Jan/Feb? Weather? Water temperature? Tourists?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Sayulita has a cooler vibe, more places to eat, better food, more Mexican tourists, and you can surf or take surf lessons. Isla Mujeres is much more low key. The beach has nicer sand and is more idyllic. Very few waves. Restaurants are good but lean ever so slightly to boring tourist food (though it’s easy to rent a golf cart – which is how most tourists get around the island – and seek out some great taco stands where only locals eat). I slightly prefer Sayulita.

      The weather in February is slightly warmer and slightly dryer than January for both Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta but not a huge difference. Early January will see more tourists than late January and February.

      Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, there is a daily bus from Puerto Vallarta to Zihuatanejo that takes about 14 hours. It makes a stop in Manzanillo along the way and costs about M$500. Breaking the trip into 2 legs would probably be a good idea and make for two manageable segments. Lots of great beach towns along the route.

      Reply
  3. Jan Shields

    Hey David,

    Can you tell me a great place to relax on the beach AWAY from resorts and people? Any info is appreciated, thanks!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Sayulita is a great beach town about an hour from Puerto Vallarta. To the south of PV there are a string of beaches that have few (if any) resorts. Farther south Zipolite and Mazunte are budget hang outs with great beaches.

      Reply
  4. Mila

    HI, I’m just wondering what you’d recommend or what to consider for a 5 day visit in April where we go in and out of Cancun airport? We are a couple traveling with our 16 year old son and high on our list is snorkeling, maybe an intro course in scuba, and some fishing for the guys. We like good basic Mexican food, but have no interest in night clubs. Next time I’ll consider Sayulita, but since we route through Miami to visit family, the Caribbean was it this trip. So, Tulum or Isla Mujeres? That is the question. Any insight and input would be most appreciated. Recommendation for accommodations in either Tulum or Isla de Mujeres, if any, would be welcome as well.
    Thanks so much.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I would pick Isla Mujeres for lazy beach time and swimming. Tulum to see some historical sites and visit the cenotes, so there’s a bit more to do there. The food should be better in Tulum too.

      For hotels, these 2 links should find you some great deals: Isla Mujeres and Tulum.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  5. Dal

    This is a great summary of Mexico’s beaches and you’ve nailed almost all of my favorites. I’ve made 11 trips to Mexico over the last 8 years and have been to most of these. It really depends what you’re looking for in a beach to recommend one. My top 3 beach towns are Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Tulum. Isla Mujeres is right up there too. I’m not much of a surfer, but my good buddy is and he’s dragged me along to Puerto Escondido which is top notch for surfer types. For the best stretch of beach I’d have to say for Cancun though it can be terribly busy during December and January. P.V. is the best for a collection of great beach nooks and towns. I have never been to the Baja so can’t comment on it.

    Reply
  6. Kelly

    Hi David,

    I am a Cali -girl who has moved to the little town of Mexicali, Mexico ( too hot then too cold… and too far from the beach) My hubby, my 7 mo old boy and I are moving to Cabo this April.
    I cannot find any info about how many people with children actually live in Cabo…. do you think Mommy and me type things will be a problem- or what would be the best way for me to make new friends for me and my lil one in a place where most are just visiting?
    Thanks for the advice
    Kelly

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Kelly. I did a 10 minute look around for you trying to find some good local websites but couldn’t come up with anything. I suspect once you’re there you’ll find a lot of locals that have good advice. For now, I’d go on tripadvisor and ask a question, as many of its forums have an engaged expat community that comments regularly. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  7. Riz

    Las Gatas and Madera beaches in Zihu. Good beach vibe. If you get out far enough then you can do some bodysurfing at Madera but other than that it’s pretty calm. Zihuatanejo is a jewel and shouldn’t be missed. Zipolite very nice too.

    Reply
  8. Meli

    Love the beaches around Cabo. La Paz has more culture and a mexican feel, so it’s great to do a week up there and then come down to Cabo for a more typical beach holiday. The surfing is great up the Pacific Coast. There are ferries from Cabo across to Mazatlan which go daily (I think)j.

    Isla Holbox is a great place but haven’t visited the rest of the Yucatan. Belize is fantastic too – though I guess a different article.

    Reply
  9. shelley

    We are San Pancho fans — Sayulita is good tho! We have place at Garza Blanca beach about an hour south of Sayulita, and always make the drive north at least once each visit to check on San Pancho and let our boys do some surfing!

    Thanks for all the great articles! We are huge travelers and find your posts really helpful! Especially the ones about taking kids to SE Asia! Gracias!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Playa Norte, which is the best one for kids and is part of the main town where most of the restaurants and hotels are.

      Reply
    1. David Post author

      There aren’t any regular schedule boats that I know of. Though you could always hire a private one if you were really committed to getting there by boat. The bus will get you there in about 2 hours. A taxi takes about an hour and costs around $40 if you know how to bargain. ($70 if you don’t.) Is it worth it for a day trip? Maybe. I’d try to get up there for at least a night. The beach has a couple of really low key restaurants where it’s great to hang out as the sun falls. It’s perfect. Mornings are lively around the town square and there are some great breakfast places.

      Reply

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