12 Best Beaches in Mexico

Beaches in Mexico are some of the very best in the entire world.  The Mexican coast ranges over the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of California and the Caribbean Sea and boasts of over 450 beaches along the way.

There are those that are in desert locations or are surrounded by lush jungles or ancient ruins.  There is also a wide variety of climates on all of the Mexico beaches that make some more ideal for surfing, or others that are very calm and good for the youngsters to swim in.

There are those beaches in Mexico that are near large cities and are crowded with a lot of fun activities and parties going on, or those that are lesser known and very isolated so are very tranquil and not crowded.

No matter what you are looking for in that perfect vacation, or what your favorite water sport is, there is most certainly one or more of the perfect beaches in Mexico that will make your vacation one that you will never forget.

Listed below are some of the best beaches in Mexico, whether you are looking to scuba dive, surf, fish or enjoy any other water sport or just sunbathe and enjoy the local flavors.

The Best Beaches in Mexico


1. The Riviera Maya

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Dominick


The Riviera Maya stretches along the Caribbean coastline. It was once full of small fishing villages, but has since been developed into a long strip of coastline that caters to the tourist. It has all of the very best of high-end luxury resorts, fine dining, nightlife, spa retreats, shopping and golf in Mexico, but most importantly it has many of the very best beaches in Mexico.The stunningly blue waters of the Caribbean that bound over the pristine white sand beaches, shaded by swaying palm trees make these some of the top destinations worldwide.  While the waterfront has been developed, much of the land surrounding this has been preserved and is protected, which leaves the natural beauty of the Riviera Maya, along with all of the native animals and plants, for all to enjoy.

There are also some underground sink holes called cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula where you can go snorkeling and cave diving in freshwater instead of the saltwater of the sea.  You will also want to take time and visit some of the many Mayan ruins Tulum, Coba and El Rey and take part in some of their events, which is one of the most popular of the Mexico attractions.  The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve at the far end of Riviera Maya, is also one of the most interesting places to see in Mexico.  It is an unpopulated section of the Caribbean and offers one of the best beaches in Mexico for raw and unspoiled beauty and more tranquility than some others.

Related article: The Best Beaches in Guatemala 


2. Ziggy Beach

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: equilibrio2001


Ziggy Beach is one of the Mexico beaches that is in Riviera Maya, and is one of the most popular bays here. There is an amazing expanse of the coral reef system that is home to an amazing variety of marine life that makes for some of the greatest diving and snorkeling in the area. The beach is divided into two separate sections, with one being for the exclusive use of guests of the Ziggy Beach Club.

But there is plenty of room on the public section for sunbathing, beach volleyball or whatever else you would care to do.  Water sports of all kinds can be enjoyed here, including jet skiing, sailing, paddleboarding and many more.  There are plenty of places nearby that will rent you whatever equipment you need.  There are also many places to get food and drinks to cap off that perfect day.


3. Akumal Beach

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Stickwork-Steve


Akumal, with its magnificent pearl white sand and plenty of palms trees for shade, has become one of the most popular Mexican beaches in the Riviera Maya for both locals and tourists alike. The name “Akumal” means “Place of Turtles” and for good reason. Large sea turtles have always held this as a favorite place to mate and lay their eggs.  Watching nature in motion, especially when the newly hatched baby turtles make their mad scramble to the safety of the ocean, is one of the most amazing Mexico attractions. “Las Bahias de Akumal” is a stretch of Akumal that encompasses five different bays, starting with North Akumal Beach near Yal-ku Lagoon that wraps around Half Moon Bay.  It has a freshwater river running through it and dumping into the sea, which adds a whole different dimension to the snorkeling and scuba diving.  There are also magnificent coral beds that are amazing to explore, with various fish and marine life particular to this area.

The next bay south of this is Jade Bay with Central Akumal being in the middle of the five bays.  Several shops, restaurants, bars and other venues are in this bay, making it a great place to see in Mexico for getting some souvenirs and strolling the beach and then having a wonderful meal and tropical drinks while watching the sun set. South Akumal Beach is the next bay, while the Las Bahias de Akuma ends with Aventuras Akumal to the south.  Jade Bay, South Akumal Beach and Aventuras Akumal are all best known for the beautiful beachfront villas and condos that can be rented by vacation-goers.  Just imagine having the ocean right at your front door while on your dream vacation!

All five Akumal Bays are simply fantastic for enjoying any water sport you could imagine, or go deep sea fishing, kayaking, diving, snorkeling – whatever your heart desires.  All of them have areas that are full of activity, with places to get food and drink or rent equipment and find guides.  They also have expanses that are much less crowded where you can enjoy your favorite activity or sunbathe in a more tranquil setting.  Whatever mood strikes you at the moment, you will not find a better beach in Mexico.

Also read:  62 of the Best Cenotes in Mexico


4. Paamul Beach

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: matteo dello ioio


Paamul Beach is a small bay that is much more laid back beach on the Riviera Maya. It is located north of Puerto Aventuras. This is one of the beaches in Mexico that has limestone mixed into the sand, so footwear is required.  That discourages some of the party crowd which makes it a much less crowded beach. This just adds to its popularity for locals and other people wanting a quieter day on the beach.It is one of the most popular Mexico attractions because of the spectacular, well preserved offshore coral reef here.

Scuba divers and snorkelers find this breathtaking coral garden and all of the colorful tropical fish that call it home one of the best beaches in Mexico to explore.  People from all over the world have second homes along this bay because of the tranquility it offers.  There are restaurants, bars, and shops here and even a beautiful beachfront swimming pool if you prefer that to the saltwater.  There are some private stretches along the beach, but most is for everyone to enjoy and have a spectacularly fun day at.

Related article: The Best Beaches in Goa, India 


5. Tankah Bay Beach

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Tankah Shores


Tankah Bay Beach is one of the more unusual Mexico beaches in the Riviera Maya due to several factors. One is the lush mangrove jungle that surrounds it which keeps much of the noise of outside civilization to a minimum. There is an outer reef break that helps quiet the waves and keep them from crashing onto shore.  The sand on this beach is also very different from other beaches in Mexico.It is comprised of pulverized coral and shells that is a nice change from the soft sands of others.  While footwear is not required in this type of sand, you may want to consider some water shoes to make it a little more comfortable.

Manatee Cenote is an amazing mangrove cenote that is full of awesome marine life. A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole and were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.This particular cenote is from an underground river that dumps into the sea, so has a combination of freshwater and saltwater fish and marine life.  This is a spectacular place to explore, whether diving, snorkeling or swimming.  There is also an offshore coral reef full of beautiful coral species as well as many colorful fish.  Tankah Bay Beach is simply one of the most peaceful and best beaches in Mexico!


6. Xpu Ha Beach

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Justine Camacho


Xpu Ha Beach is another one of the Mexico beaches that is part of the Riviera Maya. It is one of the lesser known beaches to tourists, which makes it more of a favorite for the local residents.  It is located just south of Puerto Aventuras, and is not that crowded even during the peak tourist season.  You can almost always find a game of beach volleyball or soccer going on that you can join.Or take part in a yoga session that is taking place.  These are always much more fun in the soft sand by the ocean than they are in some studio back home!

You will most certainly want to play in the water, whether it is swimming or in a canoe or kayak.  You may also want to try your hand at some fishing which is always a real fun adventure.After a day of playing in the sand, sun and water, you will want to cool off with a cold beer or other tropical drink and try out some of the local seafood at one of the vendors along the beach.  With the palm trees swaying in the breeze and providing shade while you are enjoying all there is here, and enjoying a beautiful sunset while sipping your drink, this could arguably be the best beach in Mexico.


7. X’cacel Beach

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Maria Arguelles


X’cacel Beach is the top best beach in Mexico, and namely on the Riviera Maya, for seeing the sea turtles mate and nest. It is often called the “turtle paradise of Riviera Maya”, and each spring to early summer you can enjoy watching this phenomenal event. The turtles then hatch in October and the babies race for the sanctuary of the ocean.  All of this is protected and occurs at night, but you can still watch from a short distance while this miracle of nature occurs.The beach itself is tucked away in a more remote location, between Chemuyil and Xel-Ha water park, and can be easy to miss.

There is also a small freshwater jungle cenote that is such fun to swim and snorkel in.  There is also plenty of snorkeling offshore that is easy to get to from the shore, which means everyone can easily enjoy the beautiful underwater marine life there is here.  There is also a small coral reef that is so beautiful and fun to explore.  All of these attractions, as well as the secluded nature of this area, makes it a favorite Mexican beach among the locals.

Related article: The Best Beaches in Curacao 


8. Tulum Beaches

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Christian Haecker


Tulum Beaches is one of the most unique and amazing of the Mexico beaches. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans and is still proud of its history.  It is the only  archaeological site located along the shores of Riviera Maya, and is one of the main reasons people spend so much time at this beach.  The beach is right in front of the Tulum ruins and is the main section of the beach where most people spend their time.

The ruins are so amazing to view and explore and you will not want to miss seeing them.  You can also enjoy the long stretches of magnificently white sandy beaches and calm seas that are so amazing and private.  The extremely soft sand is perfect for those long walks on the beach in your bare feet.  With the Mayan ruins as a backdrop, powder-soft sand and magnificently blue waters to play in, this is one of the most amazing beaches in Mexico.


9. Los Cabos

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Raul Vega


Los Cabos is at the tip of Baja California Sur and is most certainly one of the best beaches in Mexico. It is often referred to as “Land’s End” because it is at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula south of California. It is such an amazing place to see in Mexico, where the beautiful blue waters of the Sea of Cortez meets the desert and mountains of the region.The shoreline is divided up into three areas – San Jose del Cabo then a 20 mile long Corridor connecting it to Cabo San Lucas.

San Jose del Cabo has been kept as an authentic Mexican town, complete with cobblestone streets, a mission church and many shoppes and restaurants around the town square where you can buy wonderful souvenirs and taste some of the best foods the country has to offer.At the other extreme is Cabo San Lucas with its party atmosphere and more modern malls, luxurious resorts, impressive spas and championship golf courses they are famous for.  There are several other beaches, such as Medano, along the Corridor where you can also spend time enjoying any water sport you love or want to try. So whether you are looking for a laid back, tranquil day at the beach or a fun, rambunctious time – or a little of both –  you can find it all at any one of these fantastic Mexico beaches.


10. Cancun

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Pablo Pola Damonte


Cancun is 14 miles of pristine white beaches shaped like a number “7” located on the northeast corner of the Yucatan Peninsula.  It is one of the more well-known beaches in Mexico for people worldwide, as it was developed strictly for tourism.  Originally it was a part of the ancient Mayan civilization and is still considered the gateway to El Mundo Maya (the Mayan World).  Many Mexico attractions are in this region, both ancient and modern. There are jungle tours an five golf courses in the immediate area along with all conveniences tourists from all over the world may want.

The beach itself is simply fantastic with its pristine white sand and the crystal-clear blue waters of the Caribbean to play in.  The ocean has an incredible coral reef that you can spend the day at either snorkeling or scuba diving, exploring the various corals and all of the colorful tropical fish that live there.Or spend the day fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding or any other water sport you could imagine.  There are many restaurants and bars, both open air and more modern facilities, where you can enjoy the finest food and drink to make your vacation complete.  For anyone looking for that picture-perfect vacation, this is one of the best beaches in Mexico.


11. Puerto Vallarta

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: Ted McGrath


Puerto Vallarta, which is along the Pacific Ocean, is another one of the most famous beaches in Mexico. It especially became famous after movies such as The Night of the Iguana, featuring Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in a steamy affair, which makes it one of the most popular Mexican attractions.  It is located in the middle of the Bay of Banderas and has an almost perfect tropical climate with almost no rainy days.  It is divided into several different sections, each with its own character and attractions.The River Cuale divides the town into north and south, while the Ameca River on the north side of the city forms a natural boundary between Jalisco and the state of Nayarit where newer resorts and developments form the Riviera Nayarit.

There is a quaint Romantic Zone, with Playa los Muertos and its magnificent golden sands.  Old Town is north of the River Cuale and leads up to Gringo Gulch and along Plaza de Armas (town square).The famous Malecon stretches from the Romantic Zone to the Hotel Zone and is another fantastic Mexico beach.  The town has beautiful cobblestone streets and has the Sierra Madre Mountains in the background.  Of course, the magnificent waters of the Pacific are perfect for diving, sailing, fishing and any water sport you could imagine.  For an overall experience, from beautiful rivers, amazing towns and the spectacular ocean, this is simply one of the best beaches in Mexico!


12. Cozumel

best beaches in Mexico
Flickr Credit: kakekula


Cozumel is an island just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent to Playa del Carmen and is one of those Mexico beaches that is unforgettable. It is known all over the world for its amazing scuba diving because of the crystal-clear waters having one of the world’s largest reef systems that teems with tropical fish and marine life.  There are also several ecological parks like Chankanaab and Faro Celerain (Punta Sur) which are very popular sites to dive and snorkel.The waters are also perfect for all of the water sports you could imagine, and is considered one of the best beaches in Mexico.

San Miguel is the only town on the island and is a wonderfully laid back town that has an amazing array of restaurants, cafes, boutiques and colorful shops selling unique souvenirs and traditional Mayan handicrafts. You will also find amazing jungle trails, lush botanical gardens, enchanting lagoons, delightful dolphin encounter programs and sea turtle sanctuaries that you will love to see.  With everything Cozumel has to offer, you could easily spend several days here.