To help you find the perfect Mexican destination for beach travel, sunbathing on the sand and splashing in the waves, I have made up this list of the best beaches in Mexico to consider for your next beach travel destination. Into consideration are factors such as scenery, water clarity, crowd congestion and nearby amenities. I’ve come up with the best beaches from the Yucatán to Baja
del Sur. Let me know which beach you will want to drop your towel and flip flops on!
#1 Playa Paraisio
The wide beach of Playa Paraisio is in Tulum, Mexico just north of the Tulum ruins. It makes a relaxing topper to a day exploring the area ruins. With the recent arrival of the Nuddy Beach Club, the beach has grown extremely popular with Playa del Carmen or Cancun day trippers as well as Tulum vacationers. The beach doesn’t have a seclusion factor, but makes up for in activity. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, plus a few hammocks, lounge chairs and umbrellas to choose from (if you get the ruins early you’ll arrive at the beach in time to secure one) and a few beach bars should you want refreshment.
The best time to visit Tulum is between October and December. You’ll get the benefit of post hurricane-season breezes, plus the hotel prices are reasonable. Not to say that it’s hard to find good room rates at other times of year — this small pocket of the Yucatán has one of the widest ranges of price points on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. If you’re concerned about crowds, however, avoid the region from January to March. For information on the Riviera Maya and it’s beaches visit Riviera Maya Beaches.
#2 Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is the third largest city in Quintana Roo. It has carved its own Euro-chic niche along the Yucatán Peninsula. Sophisticated visitors relax at the beach side lounges, upholding this small enclave’s budding reputation as the place in Quintana Roo to see and be seen. The area’s main draw is El Zócalo, and is similar to Mediterranean beachfront towns like Nice. The funky little public square is within walking distance of the beach. Running parallel with the shore is La Quinta Avenida featuring 20 blocks worth of delicious eateries and quirky shops. This beach-front destination makes Cancún so 10 years ago, with today’s savvy beach goers choosing the cosmopolitan “Playa.” For information on the Riviera Maya and it’s beaches visit Riviera Maya Beaches.
#3 Playa Norte
Playa Norte is on Isla Mujeres. Here you will find calm, turquoise waters and soft white sand making it ideal for sunning, swimming and snorkeling. Playa Norte (North Beach) is considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and it deserves the honor. The soft white sand, palm trees and water so blue the sky looks pale, make it the perfect place to relax and unwind from the rigors of life. There is almost no current and you can wade out very far with the water still only coming to your waist. In front of the hotels on Playa Norte there are beach bars offer lounge chairs and umbrellas (for a fee) with waiter service on the sand. You can also rent water toys, kayaks and snorkeling gear.
The climate is tropical, with year-round hot, humid weather. Peak season is during the winter months when temperatures are cooler. Summer temperatures are sweltering, with blazing sun and highs well over 90 °F, although summer visitors (from mid-May through September) have the opportunity to see whale sharks which gather in nearby waters in groups that can contain up to 400 sharks. For more information on the Mexican Riviera and it’s beaches, visit Mexican Riviera Beaches.
Cozumel’s clear turquoise waters and powdery sands bring travelers by the hundreds from cold winter climates to this wonderful island off the Yucatán Peninsula. Cruise ships are a constant feature of Cozumel’s coastal views, and the atmosphere on this charming island is often interrupted by tourist chatter. In fact, Cozumel’s charms are so effective that the shopping plazas along the waterfront stay congested much of the year.
But crowds shouldn’t deter you from discovering what this tiny Yucatán island has to offer, especially as Cozumel’s real allure is far away from the downtown area. You can hire a fishing or diving charter boat to discover the shallow reefs along the coast (this is arguably one of the best diving destinations in the world), take a glass-bottom boat on a tour around the island, or simply find a quiet beach where you can relax and do nothing. Once the cruise ships clear out, you should head down to the plaza for some live music and the real skinny on this little island. The major cruise lines unload at Cozumel’s piers, so avoid them at all costs—it’s one expensive tourist trap. If you must shop, head into San Miguel where the souvenirs are cheaper.
The best time to visit Cozumel is from May to July. The island enjoys daytime temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures in the 70s. Winters are slightly cooler, with temperatures ranging between the upper 60s and the lower 80s, so we recommend packing layers. Summer and early fall mark the rainy season, and hurricanes have been known to wreak havoc on the island.
The barrier island in southeastern Mexico is a go-to spot for beaches, golfing and nightlife. Cancun also remains one of the most affordable vacation destinations in the Western Hemisphere. You could find a great deal of less than $600 per person for an all-inclusive vacation along these Yucatán sands, even during the spring break season.
Cancun’s beaches are magnificent spot to try some jet skiing and parasailing. There’s also plenty of after-hours activities, you’ll want to be sure to check out the acrobatic dance performances at the Coco Bongo Cancun. This area is also close to one of the most recognizable sites of Mexico, the Chichen Itza. Don’t miss out on the chance to visit this large Mayan archaeological site that is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Go all-inclusive in Cancun. Cancun is heavily populated with all-inclusive resorts. Some of the best packages include all your meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, gym access and even tips.
The best time to visit Cancun is from December to April during the peak season. Even though the crowds are heavier, you’ll experience near-perfect weather and find some of the cheapest flight and room rates for a winter getaway at the beach. Just try to avoid traveling from mid-March to early April — that’s when spring breakers descend on the Yucatan’s shores. There are also significant discounts in late spring, summer and fall, but Cancún summers are sweltering and the fall months are prone to bad storms.
#6 Puerto Vallarta
Crystal blue water, vine-hung foothills and an idyllic old town have made Puerto Vallarta one of Mexico’s most popular travel destinations. Puerto Vallarta boasts miles of pristine beaches. From secluded sanctuaries to hopping hot spots, the resort can meet any expectations. One of the town’s most famous and popular beaches is Los Muertos, located in the Zona Romántica (Romantic Zone).
Los Muertos is among Puerto Vallarta’s liveliest beaches. The area is full of hotels, restaurants and bars. The south section of the beach is part of Blue Chairs resort, the most popular gay beach in the area.Playa de Oro beach, which is located north of the city, is another popular spot. Playa Conchas Chinas stretches to the Sierra Madre Mountains and is said to be one of Puerto Vallarta’s most luxurious and peaceful areas.
Playa de Sayulita, about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, offers surfer-friendly waves and fishing opportunities. El Anclote, on the northwest peninsula of Banderas Bay, draws surfers year-round. Movie enthusiasts can visit Mismaloya Beach and see the movie ruins from the 1963 film “Night of the Iguana.”
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is between April and June when the weather is pleasant and the room rates are affordable. During these months, rain is scarce and there are fewer tourists. If you’re interested in whale watching, however, visit from January to March. Just prepare yourself for the area’s highest travel fares. For more information on the Mexican Riviera and it’s beaches, visit Mexican Riviera Beaches.
Akumal is part of the Riviera Maya. Akumal means “Place of the Turtle” in the Mayan language, and if you snorkel here, you just might see one swimming alongside you. (Don’t touch it, though. That’s prohibited by law.) You’ll definitely see coral and beautiful fish in the clear, sparkling waters. This tourist-friendly little town is about an hour south of Cancun—but it seems light-years away. Akumal has a beautiful bay with a wide white sandy beach, wonderfully warm blue-green water and great snorkeling. Akumal is one of the best places to visit in the Mexican Caribbean for its great variety of beautiful beaches and tourist services. It’s a cute little town with several restaurants.
The best weather for visiting Akumal is November through February. Temperatures tend to be in the low to mid 80s, and the humidity is not too bad. It is the “dry season” for this part of Mexico, with rain only falling on 6-12 days of each month and then maybe only an inch of rain per month. For information on the Riviera Maya and it’s beaches visit Riviera Maya Beaches.
Acapulco, a resort city on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is set on a large bay backed by high-rises and the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. Made famous by the jet set in the 1950s and ’60s, it’s known for its high-energy nightlife, beaches and golf. From its iconic La Quebrada cliff, performers dive 40m into a small cove every day and night. In Acapulco, you can opt for a lively party vibe by staying in the city, with its creative food scene, bustling waterfront promenade, and lively nightlife. Or you can escape to nearby villages where a beach chair, bucket of cold beers, and a good book is about as much excitement as you’ll find. The best times to visit Acapulco are April, May, October, and November. The weather is consistently sunny, hot, and humid during these months, and deals abound. Dry season occurs from November through May, while the rainy season occurs June through September. Average highs throughout the year are in the upper 80s and lower 90s, while the average lows stay above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For more information on the Mexican Riviera and it’s beaches, visit Mexican Riviera Beaches.
Mazatlan is a Mexican resort town along the Pacific shoreline in the state of Sinaloa. Sandy beaches line its 21km-long malecon (boardwalk), and its harbor is renowned for big-game fishing. In its historic center, 19th-century landmarks include the performance hall Teatro Angela Peralta and the towering Immaculate Conception basilica. The modern district of Zona Dorada is known for its nightlife and high-rise hotels. Mazatlan enjoys a tropical climate, with moderate humidity and year-round warmth.
The best time to visit Mazatlan is the fall, specifically October or November. The rainy months of summer are over, and the expensive, hectic winter travel season has yet to start. Beginning your search early is crucial; if you’re lucky you could book a week-long trip to Mazatlan for less than $700 per person (airfare, hotel and taxes included). You can also save a buck by visiting in April or May. For more information on the Mexican Riviera and it’s beaches, visit Mexican Riviera Beaches.
#10 Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas, a resort city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, is known for its beaches, water-based activities and nightlife. Playa El Medano is Cabo’s main beach, with outdoor restaurants and numerous bars. Past the marina is Land’s End promontory, site of Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) and El Arco, a natural archway in the sea cliffs. Cabo San Lucas is known for its rowdy nightlife, its slew of trendy restaurants, and its lively beaches. The sport-fishing fleet is headquartered here, cruise ships anchor off the marina, and there’s a massive hotel on every available plot of waterfront turf. A pedestrian walkway lined with restaurants, bars, and shops anchored by the sleek Puerto Paraíso mall curves around Cabo San Lucas harbor, itself packed with yachts.
The best time to visit Cabo is from May to June, when the wintertime crowds have gone home and the summertime storms have yet to hit. October and November are also nice months for a vacation, but you’ll need to begin your hotel search early if you want to save money. It could be that your motivation for visiting is not the beach: If you’re into whale-watching, plan to visit between December and March. If you like to fish, look to come in the late summer or fall. For more information on Cabo San Lucas and it’s beautiful beaches, visit the Cabo San Lucas Travel Guide.
Is it safe to travel to these areas?
Mexico is a dangerous country. But it’s also a hot vacation destination, attracting millions of US tourists every year, according to the US Department of State. For the most part, drug-related violence and crime is limited to the country’s border areas and trafficking routes. The level of crime in resorts and tourist cities isn’t nearly as high. But that doesn’t mean tourists are completely safe in Mexico. The Department of State reported that 100 US citizens were murdered in the country in 2014 (up from 81 in 2013), and over 130 US citizens were kidnapped between January and November of last year.
So while this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan a trip to Mexico, it does mean that you should be aware and cautious in terms of where you go and what you do. Although the Department of State has not issued advisories directly in any of Mexico’s major tourist areas (which are commonly along the coast), there are advisories in effect in some nearby areas (usually in cities and towns farther inland).
No matter where you’re traveling in Mexico, the Department of State advises keeping a low profile — don’t display any valuables such as cameras, watches, or expensive jewelry. Don’t venture far from your resort and avoid traveling at night or isolating yourself.
Below is a list of some of the most popular tourist destinations that are actually safe for travelers:
Acapulco, Ixtapa, and Zihuatanejo
While Acapulco is safe to visit, it should only be reached by airplane or cruise ship (not by car). Acapulco is one of only three cities safe to visit in the state of Guerro; the other two are Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, which are also popular tourist destinations.
Travelers to Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo — located in the state of Baja California Sur — should know that there has been an increase in crime-related violence in La Paz (the city registered its highest crime rate since 1997 in 2013), which is the state’s capital. The Department advises travelers to use caution when visiting La Paz. However, the rest of the state, including Todos Santos, is generally considered to be safe.
Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and the Riviera Nayarit
Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara are also safe, but travelers should avoid any cities that border the states of Michoacán or Zacateca, which are neighboring states of Jalisco — where Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara are located.
Travelers to Riviera Nayarit should avoid any areas that border the states of Sinaloa or Durango, as well as any rural areas or secondary highways.
Riviera Maya (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum)
All cities in Quintana Roo (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum) are considered to be safe. Generally, the Riviera Maya, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, is safe.
Besides the cities listed above, there are multiple other popular tourist destinations in Mexico that are completely safe for visitors. These include Oaxaca, Puebla, San Miguel de Allende, and Yucatan.
Check out 10 things you must do in Puerto Vallarta!