The Best Beaches in Mexico — From Quiet Paradises to Surfing and Party Hot Spots

The best beaches in Mexico run the spectrum from all-inclusive havens to pristine, wild paradises.

Paradise Beach also called Playa Paraiso at sunrise - beautiful and tropical caribbean coast of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Simon Dannhauer / Getty Images

Mexico is so much more than just sun and sand. Its food, art, culture, and design are famous, but there's no denying that the country is also home to some of the most renowned beach getaway destinations in the world.

The best beaches in Mexico are not only some of the most beautiful in the world, they also offer an impressive variety — there's truly something for everyone. Whether you're looking for the ultimate escape with white sand and crystalline water, an adrenaline-pumping surf spot, a golden-hued coastline with more sea turtles than people, or a barefoot party destination, Mexico has a beach to match your mood.

There are countless sandy stretches along the country's 6,910-mile coastline, so where should you start? Here's our list of Mexico's best beaches to help you plan your next getaway.

Playa del Amor, Baja California Sur

View of the famous beach Playa del Amor in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

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Cabo San Lucas' El Arco rock formation is one of Mexico's most iconic backdrops. It also happens to sit near one of the best beaches in Mexico, Playa del Amor, a.k.a. Lover's Beach. This famous stretch of golden sand lies on a small peninsula southeast of Cabo's downtown and is easily reached by water taxi from the marina. While the waves here are very gentle — a rarity in Los Cabos — and the sand is sun-baked, keep in mind that you should only swim on this side of the peninsula. The opposite side, often referred to as "Divorce Beach," is known for its choppy, rough surf and strong undercurrent.

Playa Sisal, Yucatán

Row of vacation beach houses setting back from the public beach in a Mexican village with bright blue sky and palm trees blowing in the wind

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With its famous mix of resorts, nightlife, and historical sites, the state of Quintana Roo has long drawn the lion's share of visitors to Mexico. For travelers in search of something more understated, however, the neighboring state of Yucatán offers a worthwhile alternative. While less-visited than Cancún or Riviera Maya, Yucatán has spectacular beaches with powder-soft sands and calm waters. Just an hour's drive northwest from the state capital, Mérida, Playa Sisal has bone-white sand, crystal clear water, and a quiet charm all its own — don't expect more than a few beachside palapas and quaint al fresco seafood restaurants.

Playa Carrizalillo, Oaxaca

Beautiful Turquoise waters at the tropical paradise beach of Playa Carrizalillo, Oaxaca, Mexico

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While everyone is soaking up the rays and downing margaritas on Playa Zicatela, you'll want to make your way over to Puerto Escondido's smaller, more secluded beach, Playa Carrizalillo. A longtime favorite for locals, it sits at the bottom of more than 160 steps. Those who make the trip down are rewarded with turquoise-colored water and a crescent-shaped beach ringed by swaying palm trees.

This is also a beach that is beloved by beginner surfers, and locals are always on hand to book a quick lesson. Beyond that, you'll find a row of laid-back, barefoot casual beach shacks and snack bars. Pro tip: The one on the far right has delectable coconut shrimp. Don't skip the ice cream man, either — he pushes his cart along the beach each afternoon.

Playa Delfines, Quintana Roo

Aerial view of "El Mirador" at Playa Delfines beach in Cancun
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Cancún's Playa Delfines is beloved by locals and visitors alike for its wide stretch of powdery sand, electric blue water, and relatively quiet atmosphere. It's the only beach in the Hotel Zone without a high-rise hotel looming over it, and also happens to be one of the rare surfing spots along Mexico's Caribbean coast. The vibe here is just different—it truly feels like a local beach in one of the most touristed spots in the world.

Playa Mayto, Jalisco

Pounding surf on Mayto Beach, Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco state, Mexico. Mayto Beach is a long usually deserted stretch of coastline that has a vicious shore break that discourages swimmers
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One of the longest and most remote beaches in Mexico, this secluded stretch is a roughly two-hour drive south from Puerto Vallarta, on the coast of Cabo Corrientes. To reach the beach, travelers must brave a dusty road that branches off from federal highway 200 in the small town of El Tuito.

Once you get there, you'll find nearly seven miles of relatively untouched sand, a handful of hotels and restaurants within walking distance of the beach, and most notably, one of Jalisco's largest sea turtle protection camps, which has been leading research and conservation projects in the area since 2005. Reach out through the camp's Facebook page to see whether you can volunteer during your trip or, if you're staying nearby, check with your hotel to see whether there are opportunities to visit the turtle camp for the day.

Playa Troncones, Guerrero

Beach chairs and umbrella under palm trees at Troncones, Guerrero

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In the past, visitors to Guerrero flocked to the glitzy and glamorous beaches of Acapulco, but lately the state's lower-profile destinations have been attracting more attention from travelers. Playa Troncones, for instance, is about as low profile as it gets, usually occupied by surfers looking to ride some of the best waves off the southern Pacific coast. But this quiet town is home to one of the best beaches in Mexico. Visitors here are rewarded with a three-mile stretch of pristine golden sand, cobalt-colored waves, and that laid-back lifestyle that attracted them to Mexico in the first place.

Playa Balandra, Baja California Sur

Day time aerial view of Playa Balandra, an iconic beach in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

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About a half-hour drive north of La Paz — a town on the Sea of Cortez that should also be on your radar — Playa Balandra is simply jaw-dropping. Far off the tourist trail, this postcard-perfect crescent of sand overlooks a bay masquerading as a lagoon, with calm, turquoise waters gently lapping against the sugary shores. If you want to explore marine life, this is the destination for you. The Sea of Cortez is one of the most magnificent snorkeling spots in the world, and Playa Balandra is the perfect place to get up close and personal with some amazing creatures.

Puerto Progreso, Yucatán

Summer time sunset at Progreso, Yucatan

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While checking out the historic city of Mérida, you ought to bake in some time to head north and check out the beach town of Progreso. Here, cruise passengers disembark onto the world’s longest shipping pier — an astounding four miles — before exploring the shops, snack bars, and restaurants that line the Malécon, the town’s beachfront promenade. Kick off your sandals and tuck into some fresh ceviche under one of the palapas on the beach while enjoying views of the Gulf of Mexico — and perhaps a pink flamingo or two.

Playa El Médano, Baja California Sur

Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas during golden hour

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While many Los Cabos beaches are not safe for swimming, Médano Beach is one of the few that are. In fact, this is the main beach in Cabo San Lucas, as it's two-and-a-half miles long and has some of the gentler waves in this part of Baja. It also happens to be one of the more popular beaches, so you may have to compete for space at the bars and restaurants that line the shore. It's for good reason, though — this is the place to be. The energy here is palpable, and you're never far from a frosty beach cocktail or five-star resort.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Quintana Roo

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site. It is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. Quintana Roo, Mexico.

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A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is a protected area of 1.3 million acres just south of Tulum. Here, you'll find undeveloped, white-sand beaches, languidly swaying palms, thick mangrove forests, and glittering cerulean waters. Pack your camera — this is where you'll see some of the best wildlife in the Mexican Caribbean, including dolphins, whales, spider monkeys, jaguars, and ocelots, among other creatures.

Playa Tangolunda, Oaxaca

Tangolunda Bay Sunrise, Huatulco, Mexico
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Huatulco, located in southern Oaxaca, is known for its nine picturesque bays — and the many beaches and gorgeous sunset views that go along with them. Most of the beaches here are in protected areas, so they’re free of development. At Playa Tangolunda, you’ll find plenty of natural beauty, as well as opportunities for sailing and scuba diving, several luxury resorts, an 18-hole golf course, and heaps of shopping and dining establishments in the neighboring town of La Crucecita.

Playa Maroma, Quintana Roo

Riviera Maya Maroma Caribbean beach marina pier in Mayan Mexico
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Ask anyone about the best beaches in Mexico's Riviera Maya and Playa Maroma would certainly be on the list. This exclusive stretch is occupied by a few select hotels, whose guests enjoy the pearly white sand and calm, brilliantly blue water. This also happens to be one of the only places in Mexico where you can find a hotel with overwater bungalows. You won't stumble upon beach clubs or bars here — instead, you'll find exactly what your imagination dreams up when you think of an idyllic, tropical beach in paradise.

Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo

Boats ashore at sunset in Holbox, Mexico
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Isla Holbox is located just off the northern coast of Quintana Roo in the Gulf of Mexico. Once a must on the backpacker trail, the island has recently become a hotbed of Boho luxury. This dressed-down beach destination begs for bare feet and cold beer. Bring your yoga mat (and plenty of bug repellent) and listen to the faint sound of steel drums from Raíces, a seafood restaurant dishing out serious Caribbean vibes.

Playa Mujeres, Quintana Roo

Umbrellas on the beach of Isla Mujeres - Aerial view
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Up until a few years ago, Playa Mujeres had a collection of hotels that you could count on one hand. This area, just north of Cancún's Hotel Zone, was a bit of a secret spot, beloved for its fine white sand and relative seclusion away from more raucous sections of the city. While the scene has certainly changed as more and more hotels have opened, the beach's original charm and beauty remain. You can still find peace and tranquillity with your special someone at the couples-only Beloved Playa Mujeres, or bring the whole crew to a larger resort like the TRS Coral Hotel or its sister property, the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa.

Playa La Punta, Oaxaca

Surfers in the water at Puerto Escondido
Courtesy of Jamie Ditaranto

Playa La Punta, named for the promontory that forms the curving southern end of Playa Zicatela, is the slightly quieter section of Puerto Escondido’s most popular beach. This part of town has long been a hippie haven — roads are dustier, restaurants are more casual, and hostels reign supreme. But its reputation is changing these days, with more and more design-forward boutique hotels, and even a new outdoor food court. What remains, though, is the picture-perfect beach that is still everyone's favorite front-row seat at sunset.

Playa Paraiso, Quintana Roo

Paradise Beach also called Playa Paraiso at sunrise - beautiful and tropical caribbean coast of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Simon Dannhauer / Getty Images

You cannot talk about Tulum without mentioning Playa Paraiso — arguably the most beautiful beach in the area, and one of the best beaches in Mexico. Just south of the iconic ruins, this spacious spot of sand is one of the top in Tulum for maximum chill. Day trippers from the area flock here just to see its picture-perfect color palette of white, turquoise, and green. It's also an activity hotbed for Tulum, whether you're interested in snorkeling, scuba diving, cooling off at a beach bar, or soaking up the sun.

Playa Blanca, Guerrero

Located about 10 miles southeast of Zihuatanejo, Playa Blanca may conjure up images of Andy Dufresne and Red reuniting on what looks to be the whitest sand known to man. And while that iconic scene from "The Shawshank Redemption" was actually filmed in the Caribbean, you can still find beaches that evoke the same "paradise found" feel. For Zihua, this has to be Playa Blanca, located outside of town near the airport. This seemingly endless stretch of sparsely developed beach gives off major Robinson Crusoe vibes — and is home to some of the most stellar sunsets we've ever seen. Hotel options are limited, but Las Palmas Luxury Villas will have you feeling like you've slipped off the beaten path and onto your own private beach estate.

Costalegre, Jalisco

Costa Careyes, Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

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Mexico's Costalegre is much more than a single beach — it's an entire stretch of coast along southern Jalisco, near the border of the state of Colima. The region's sheer rugged beauty makes every beach here worthy of this list. These days, many travelers come to this part of the state, south of Puerto Vallarta, to stay at luxury enclaves like Cuixmala and Careyes.

But with the promise of a new airport, better highways, and more luxury hotels, this is an area of Mexico that could soon be operating at a Los Cabos level of luxury. It's easy to see why — craggy cliffs spill down to pristine, golden-hued beaches, while green peaks climb in the distance. Palm trees and sea turtles outnumber tourists, and you'll often only hear Spanish being spoken at the beachfront seafood shacks.

Playa Cerritos, Baja California Sur

Surfers ride a wave at "Los Cerritos" beach as part of the sport activities practiced in the town of Todos Santos on February 5, 2021 in La Paz, Mexico.

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If Todos Santos is not already on your radar, it certainly should be. The Pacific Coast town is about an hour's drive north of Los Cabos, and has long been a hideaway for artists and surfers. Today, you can expect to find unique shopping, art galleries, and an oysters-and-Champagne crowd. Todos Santos has always been a choose-your-own-adventure type of place, and that's still true these days.

The area's most famous beach, Playa Cerritos, has been a surfing mecca for decades. Not only that, it's one of the few Pacific beaches in Baja that's totally safe for swimming. And while it may be a bit more populated now than it has been in decades past, it's undeniably one of the best beaches in Mexico.

Playa Canalán, Nayarit

Playa Canalán, a long, wide stretch of warm, white sand bookended by lush, jungle-covered mountains, was until recently completely undeveloped. Today, it's home to the One&Only Mandarina, the Canalan Beach Club, and the Italian restaurant Allora — all part of Mandarina, a new planned community that occupies some of the most coveted real estate on the coast.

Lagunas de Chacahua, Oaxaca

Surfers in the water at Lagunas da Chacahua
Courtesy of Jamie Ditaranto

It's going to take a little extra legwork to get to this beach, but for those who brave the journey, the reward is simply sensational. A water taxi ride through Lagunas de Chacahua National Park, not far from Puerto Escondido, leads travelers to one of the most remote and idyllic beaches in all of Mexico.

This beach lies on the northern side of the inlet where Chacahua Lagoon spills out into the Pacific Ocean. Beach huts brim with adventurous surfers — many of whom have traveled from as far away as Australia to catch the perfect waves. "Lights out" is taken seriously in this part of Mexico, too — with almost no light pollution, you'll see stars for days. Don't expect flashy services, if any at all. This is truly a backpacker's paradise, where fresh ingredients, simplicity, and a surfboard are really all you need.

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