12 Secluded Bungalows in Mexico for Your Next Beach Vacation
So book your flight and let thoughts of moonlit rooms, canopied beds, sandy adventures, outdoor showers, and plunge pools for two lead you to your next adventure.
El Dorado Maroma Palafitos, Playa del Carmen
El Dorado Maroma has been a standout on Mexico’s beach scene for years, but the owners have raised the bar even further with the debut of 30 stilted cabins that stretch out over the Caribbean Sea. The rustic-luxe bungalows bring the overwater huts that the South Pacific is famous for to North America, along with its envy-inducing panoramas. You’ll get the same glass flooring, ladder-access swimming, and private infinity pools that travelers across the globe brag about, but with a look and feel that’s completely Mexico (local palm leaves, Yucatán wood, traditional fabrics, white Mexican granite). Kids aren’t allowed, so grab your lover or friends and know there won’t be any underage spring breakers or screaming toddlers disturbing the peace as you gaze over the azure waters and sip on cocktails blended with local fruit and herbs. El Dorado is all-inclusive in the best way; serving up food you actually want to eat and craft cocktails that aren’t watered down.
It takes a 50-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta, a 30-minute panga boat ride, and a steep climb to reach this hilltop escape in the Selva Tuita jungle, which overlooks the hippie-chic town of Yelapa. The trek may not be for everyone, but it is worthwhile for those who favor privacy over convenience. Once there, you’ll find 10 distinct, hand-built spaces (from papaya-colored casitas to open air palapa-style bungalows with cement half-walls and thatched roofs). The eco-friendly accommodations are simple, but have everything you need to relax in comfort, and the welcoming staff is on-hand to arrange picnics, mezcal classes and fishing adventures (bring back your catch and the chef will cook it for you). Verana, run by a former film-set designer and his French wife, also provides the perfect basecamp from exploring the secret beaches of Marietas Islands.
Hotel Escondido, Puerto Escondido
In 2018, a new coastal highway will make Puerto Escondido much more accessible, cutting down travel time from Oaxaca from seven to two hours. But for now, this sleepy surf village remains one of Mexico’s sanctuaries and Hotel Escondido is one of the best places to stay. Just 30 minutes north of town, 16 cabins (with private pools, hammocks and sun beds) are spread out among a beach that’s ideal for surfing and swimming. The small resort is owned by Grupo Habita, so while the look and amenities are in-tune with the locale’s unspoiled setting, the hotel doesn’t lack in creature comforts. There’s even a soundproof underground club that thumps late into the night without disturbing chilled-out guests above.
Las Alamandas, Costa Careyes
Parisian Isabel Goldsmith-Patiño inherited this slice of heaven on Mexico’s Costalegre, near Cuixmala, from her grandfather, Bolivian tin magnate Simón Iturri Patiño. He planned to build a mega-lodge, but when the conservationist took over, she opted to preserve the area by minimizing the resort’s footprint. She commissioned seven unassuming yet luxe haciendas with 16 private suites, now favored by shelter-seeking celebs including Robert De Niro. There’s no nightlife or shopping nearby; and you won’t be tempted to venture far anyway given the horse riding, surfing, salsa dancing, and spa offerings on-site. Goldsmith-Patiño celebrates Las Alamandas' location in Jalisco’s tequila country with more than 120 brands at the bar and tequila-based dishes at the inn’s restaurants.
Mahekal Beach Resort, Playa del Carmen
The family that opened this Playa del Carmen retreat started with five small bungalows set up for backpackers. Now, Mahekal has 196 private villas, and designer Todd Fiscus (whose clients include Tom Ford and Ferragamo) and Mexican architect Hilda Espino spearheaded a recent $16 million makeover. Some of the changes include a revamped dive center (the oldest in the area), a new 2,500-square-foot spa, and a restaurant where chefs resurface ancient Mayan recipes. Despite its posh offerings, the resort maintains its low-key vibe with hand-laid stone paths separating the bungalows and enough amenities to keep you happily sequestered in your room (plunge pools, outdoor showers, terraces with hammocks).
Majahuitas Resort, Puerto Vallarta
In 1996, a few friends decided they wanted to give eco-conscious travelers the opportunity to discover this protected cove on the Bay of Banderas. They built Majahuitas on waterfront communal grounds belonging to the Chacala Indians. The land cannot be bought, sold or altered in any major way, which means things won’t be changing much around here. The eight bungalows are minimalistic, powered by the sun, gadget-free, accessible only by boat, and hold up to 30 people, so your chances of bumping into anyone are slim to none. Rates start at $250 in June and kids are allowed for an extra $50.
Casa Las Tortugas, Isla Holbox
The 25-mile Isla Holbox is becoming less and less of a secret, but you won’t see mass tourism happening on this Gulf Coast spot near Cancún anytime soon. Of the few places to stay, Casa Las Tortugas has 21 rooms in palapa-roof huts built around a central pool and hot tub. Each room is individually decorated with artwork donated by travelers, bright ceramic bowls and lamps, and floral-embroidered linens. Beachside furnishings include canopied beds hanging under shady palm trees and colorful cushions for lounging. From June to September, the staff can book you on one of the whale watching tours Holbox is known for, and kiteboarding lessons are available year-round.
If you’re looking for luxury, 24-hour room service, or electricity, look elsewhere on this list. Most of this laid-back resort is lit by candles to promote serenity, and more practically, to protect the turtle inhabitants, who might be confused by competing light as they make their way to the sea. The 15 treehouses built between the jungle and the beach aren’t glamorous, and for that reason, Azulik tends to fly under the radar, attracting those looking for a sense of old-world Mexico in Tulum. Though the rustic accommodations are a big draw, many go to partake in the spa’s temazcal (sweat lodge) experience, an ancient practice where soul-searchers sit in a heated dome structure to release fear and toxins. Azulik was built with the intention of promoting and preserving sacred traditions. Ask the receptionist for maps to the nearby hidden ruins, lagoons, and communities believed to be charged with spiritual energy.
Playa Viva, Acapulco
Just north of Acapulco, this 28-room, modestly sized eco-lodge has a strict commitment to the local flora and fauna, meaning there’s no AC or TVs in this 100-percent solar-powered resort. But who needs any of that when you have your own perched casita with unobstructed views of ocean, free yoga, and three fresh meals a day? Recently, Playa Viva debuted its first treehouse, an open-air, two-story pod with thick curtains standing in for walls. Guests can hike up the mountains to meet a local family and explore the beaches on horseback.
Hotel Xixim, Celestún
Located on the 146,000-acre protected Celestún Biosphere Reserve near Merida, where locals still live by the codes of Mayan fishing culture, Xixim touts itself as a wellness escape. Everything about the design (created in line with Mayan cosmology), mindful service, sea-to-table menus and spiritually guided programming is meant to help travelers commune with nature. Book a cooking class to learn how Mayans drew energy from the sea, partake in a round of sunset yoga, or go on safari to spot flamingoes, songbirds, ocelots, monkeys, and sea turtles in their natural state. In any case, you can choose do nothing at all in your room — one of 32 thatched-roof, breezy huts with canopied beds and hammocks facing the sea.
Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco
Acapulco isn't the first place you picture when you think of a quiet, seaside retreat, but the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques gives you the best of both worlds. There’s easy access to Acapulco’s restaurants, famous cliff-diving shows, and nightlife nearby; and a remote tropical hideaway as soon as you enter Banyan’s tranquil fortress. Drive up a one-way road to a lush wall of palms and mangroves. Inside, bungalows etched into the cliffs reflect the beauty of the land with simple palettes and big windows that show off the coastal vistas. Villas 408 to 411 have the best views, but there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Besides, you can always take in the sunset from the infinity pool that seems to spill out onto the sea, some 300-feet below.
Chileno Bay Resort and Residences, Cabo San Lucas
This brand-new Auberge resort in Los Cabos is not quite like its rustic-leaning companions on this list, but that’s why we like it. Opened in February, Chileno Bay’s modern design creates a seamless indoor and outdoor experience. Thirty-two villas range from 3,300 to 11,000 square feet and are adorned with handmade tiles and natural wood furnishings to reflect Mexico’s heritage, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive terraces. The H2O Cave makes the most of Cabo’s tranquil waters through snorkeling rentals, glass-bottom kayaking and water cycling; and in the main restaurant French Laundry alum Yvan Mucharraz, shows of his know-how on Latin American dishes. If you totally fall in love (and can afford it), you can buy one of the villas on the property, which is also home to a Tom Fazio-designed golf course.