The Best Beaches in Mexico (and Where to Stay Nearby)

See recent posts by Leon Beckenham

Whether it’s pristine, picture-postcard beaches of the Caribbean or the dramatic sweeping bays of its Pacific coast, it’s no secret Mexico is home some of the most swoon-worthy stretches of sand and sea in the world. We’ve taken on the challenging task of narrowing them down to a list of Mexico's best beaches, with top hotel picks on where to stay nearby, too. Mexico beaches, here you come.

Las Palmas Beach in Tulum

Despite the accelerated development along Tulum’s once-virginal coastline, you can still find spots that feel barely touched by tourism. Las Palmas Beach is one of them, an impossibly picturesque stretch of white powder sand backed by dunes and jungle. It’s located a little farther south from the more populated, though still gorgeous, Playa Paraíso, and is also just a half-hour stroll along the sand to Tulum’s iconic clifftop Mayan ruins. While this stretch of coastline has generally been blighted by both seaweed and an Instagram-fueled boom in recent years, it certainly remains a must-visit part of the Mexican Caribbean.

Our Las Palmas Beach Hotel Pick: Mezzanine Colibri Boutique Hotel

Mezzanine Colibri Boutique Hotel is a three-minute drive north of Tulum’s Maya ruins and right on a picturesque stretch of beach. It draws couples seeking a hip spot to sip mixologist cocktails, dip in a rocky lagoon pool, and lounge on the sundeck. It has a popular (and fun) margarita happy hour and the restaurant serves a celebrity chef-curated Thai menu. Each of the rooms is air-conditioned (a rarity in Tulum’s beach Hotel Zone), outfitted in East Asian or bohemian-chic decor, and have mini-fridges or minibars, beach bags, and yoga mats. Beach + Zen + Party = Tulum

Playa Norte Beach on Isla Mujeres

For decades Isla Mujeres has been the quieter, more sedate alternative to its brasher party-bro neighbor Cancun — and it continues to maintain that vibe today. As well as its more laid-back vibe, many are drawn to the island’s main beach – an L-shaped stretch of sand backed by palm trees and low-key hotels.  When the sun shines, the sea here is as turquoise as it gets. Calm waters means it’s popular with families with smaller kids, and also makes it ideal for the multitude of water sports on offer here.

Our Playa Norte Hotel Pick: Mia Reef Isla Mujeres

The Mia Reef Isla Mujeres is an all-inclusive property on its own island in Isla Mujeres. Guests love the fun atmosphere and private beach.  All 156 rooms, villas, and suites are fresh and modern with contemporary Mexican touches, and come with free minibars, air-conditioning, and Wi-Fi. Some rooms feature terrace whirlpools, kitchenettes, or personal kayak and snorkel equipment. For fun, features include a natural rock pool, kids’ club, 24-hour grab-and-go cafe, and a main buffet. There are also a gourmet specialty restaurant, snack bars, and a popular taco shack — plus two bars. This might be as close as it gets to a private island Mexican getaway.

Xpu Ha Beach Near Puerto Aventuras

Another outstanding spot in the Mexican Caribbean, Xpu Ha beach is easily accessible from Puerto Aventuras, but with views along the coast unsullied by anything above two stories high. It’s particularly popular with locals, and even during peak season you don’t need to venture far to find a stretch of sand to call your own. There are some beachfront facilities if you fancy a cold beer or fish taco. Expect the Maya Riviera’s signature white sands and aquamarine waters, but without the crowds — for now, at least.

Our Xpu Ha Beach Hotel Pick: Barcelo Maya Beach 

Hotel Barcelo Maya Beach is one of the five resorts that make up the Barcelo Maya Grand Resort complex. While water sport activities, a gym, and spa are common all-inclusive features, a haunted house, mall, mini-golf, and Dolphinarium are not — and that’s what sets this huge beach hotel apart. The beach is almost private for guests and it rarely gets crowded. Meanwhile, the pools are fun and offer separate sections for adults and kids. Modern suites are renovated and some have exceptional beach views.

Holbox Beach on Isla Holbox

Not so long ago, Holbox island was barely a blip on the radar for most travelers — remarkable considering its proximity to Cancun. Those days are well behind it, however, as this slender isle in the northeastern corner of Quintana Roo now features prominently on many a backpacker’s itinerary. It’s part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, and it’s small sleepy town is fronted with a wonderfully unspoiled beach where silky sand slopes gently into calm Caribbean water. Wildlife has been allowed to thrive here, both under and above the water, including a healthy population of flamingos.

 Our Holbox Beach Hotel Pick: Spirit Holbox

Spirit Holbox is an eco boutique hotel, right on the beach. Guests can bike into town, or stay at the hotel and enjoy The Rooftop. It’s part infinity pool, part sun deck, and part sushi restaurant — with a whole lot of gorgeous Mexico beach views.

Playa Palmilla in Los Cabos

Set half away along the tip of Baja California peninsula, this mile-long stretch of sandy beach is surrounded by luxury oceanfront homes, exclusive golf courses, and calm blue sea. The scene is laid-back and peaceful, with a beach bar and scattering of parasols, though as part of the Cabo San Lucas it’s also within easy reach of the area’s numerous restaurants and buzzing nightlife. You’ll also find sea kayaks and pangas (fishing boats) available for hire if you fancy exploring along the endless sands that stretch around the scenic coast.

Our Playa Palmilla Hotel Pick: One&Only Palmilla

One&Only Palmilla is definitely one of Mexico’s most luxurious beach properties. The velvet-gloved treatment includes personal concierges, butlers, aromatherapy turndown service, and some of Cabo’s best dining, including Asian-Mexican fusion and Mediterranean options, plus a steak house by Michelin-star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The rooms and villas blend classic Mexican design with Venetian stucco and walls of windows to create bright, elegant spaces. All have terraces, many with direct ocean views, and some include private pools. And the beach? The resort has one of the area’s only swimmable beaches — the manicured-jungle setting adds to the charm.

Balandra Beach in La Paz

Famous for its mushroom-shaped rock formation, the beautifully untouched Balandra Beach is part of a sheltered bay that neighbors La Paz, in Baja California. There’s something almost ethereal about its powder-sand dunes, gin-clear water and calm, lagoon-like waters. Surrounding rust-tinged hills scattered with cacti give it a ruggedly remote feel. There’s nothing in the way of facilities to distract you from its pristine beauty — so don’t forget to bring your own supplies. To help maintain the blissful peace, the bay and adjacent mangrove forest are best explored on SUP board.

Our Balandra Beach Hotel Pick: Costabaja Resort & Spa

Tucked away along the Sea of Cortez near Baja’s capital is CostaBaja Resort & Spa. It’s upscale and affordable, with panoramic views in all directions. Amenities run rampant with three pools, access to La Paz Beach, an 18-hole golf course, a private marina, and a spa. Then add tennis, a yoga deck, and free use of non-motorized water sports. Rooms feature partially exposed walk-in showers and balconies for cheery vantage points. Steinbeck’s restaurant boasts a boggling number of tequilas, and the Beach Club is the place for stellar sunsets.

Playa del Amor in Cabo San Lucas

Playa del Amor is a genuine stunner, flanked by the Land’s End rock formations on a finger of land where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific in Cabo. While it has the rugged look of remoteness, it’s easily accessible by water boat from the Cabo San Lucas marina nearby. It’s also one of Baja California’s most famous beaches, with its fine yellow sand and clear water attracting a mix of tourists and locals to sunbathe, swim, and snorkel. The other side of the peninsular, the jokingly-named Playa del Divorcio, is a great spot for sunsets — but the sea is rough and should be avoided.

Our Playa del Amor Hotel Pick: Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa

Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa is located on a dramatic beach behind the mountains of Land’s End. The classically luxe hotel offers an exhaustive list of amenities — eight pools, three restaurants, and a beachfront spa. Spacious rooms are decorated with a blend of modern and traditional Mexican styles, and come with flat-screen TVs, kitchenettes (or kitchens), free Wi-Fi, and ocean-view balconies. Beach bliss at its best.

Yelapa Beach

If you’re looking for a genuinely off-the-beaten-track Mexico beach, then the remote fishing village of Yelapa could be just what you’re after. It’s located on the southern side of Banderas Bay in Jalisco which it shares with Puerto Vallarta, though it couldn’t be further from the mega-resort in terms of character. You can only get there by boat, giving the place a deserted-island getaway vibe, and its beach is a blissfully unspoiled crescent of sand lined with frond-roofed restaurants. Tucked into a cove, the sea is largely calm, clear and great for snorkeling, plus nearby waterfalls offer gorgeous spots to cool off while soaking up the loveliness of it all.

Our Yelapa Beach Hotel Pick: Hotel Lagunita

Hotel Lagunita is a rustic beachfront hideaway and getting there is half of the adventure. There are no roads, so a 45-minute speed boat ride is the only option for arrival. Lagunita offers a lovely rock pool, a nice restaurant right in the sand, and a yoga studio. The pool and ocean views are worth the journey themselves.

Playa Bacocho in Puerto Escondido

While the sweeping bay of Puerto Escondido, and the reliably powerful waves of Zicatela Beach, have been surfing hotspots for decades, the nearby Playa Bacocho provides an altogether mellower stretch of coast. Although the water can be a little rough here too, this picture postcard beach stretches as far as the eye can see, backed with lush greenery and a generous scattering of palm trees. You can also find a couple of chilled-out beach clubs, or clamber over some rocks and there’s a secluded bay, Playa Coral, where some take advantage of the privacy to get an all-over tan, if you know what we mean.

Our Playa Bacocho Hotel Pick: Pasado Real Puerto Escondito

Located at the southern end of spectacular Bacocho Beach, the Posada Real is Puerto Escondido’s only all-inclusive property. It has 100 rooms overlooking palm tree grounds leading to the Pacific Ocean. The resort’s biggest highlight, however, is Coco’s Beach Club — an exclusive beachfront haven tucked into a lush, jungle-fringed beach corner, where guests spend their time relaxing, swimming, dining under the open-air palapa, and enjoying the beach.

Playa Las Gatas in Zihuantanejo 

Set in a small bay within the huge Bay of Zihuatanejo, on Mexico’s south pacific coast, Playa Las Gatas provides a fabulously secluded spot to soak up the sun and sea. There’s no road access, so most visitors take a water taxi from Zihuatanejo pier or a coastal footpath (and some rock clambering) from neighboring Playa La Ropa. The journey is rewarded with water that seems more Caribbean than Pacific, in both calmness and luminosity, as well as a good offering of beachfront shacks selling grilled seafood and chilled beers. An ancient breakwater that’s grown over with coral also provides hands-down the best snorkeling in the area.

Our Playa Las Gatas Hotel Pick: Amuleto

Perched on a hillside overlooking Zihuatanejo Bay, the tiny Amuleto tops the area’s list of boutique hotels. The decor is an elegant and reserved blend of tropical design with subtle nods to ancient Mexican culture. With a gourmet terrace restaurant and stunning infinity pool, the hotel is distinctly different from the crowded all-inclusive resorts found in the neighboring town of Ixtapa. Each of the hotel’s individually decorated rooms intentionally omits technology — while providing high-end amenities like outdoor garden showers, minibars, and private plunge pools in some. As a note, this hotel isn’t on the beach, but it does provide exceptional beach views.

Playa Delfines in Cancun

It would be remiss to not include one of Cancun’s beaches in this collection, and Playa Delfines stands out as one of its finest. Its silky white sand and shimmering aquamarine waters are certainly exemplary of this famed stretch of Caribbean coast, but with the rare advantage of being completely devoid of hotels, restaurants, or bars cluttering up the scene. It’s one of the few places in the area offering free parking close by. There’s also a scattering of umbrellas available to rent and beach vendors if you’re in need of refreshment. Coconuts anyone?

Our Playa Delfines Hotel Pick: Seadust Cancun Family Resort 

Visitors love the Seadust for the GORGEOUS beach access and the features. You’re getting four pools (including a kiddy water park), 10 restaurants, two kids’ clubs, a constant barrage of activities, and a gym and spa. Rooms are clean, and come with furnished balconies and ocean views.

Punta Mita Beach in Riviera Nayarit 

If you like a bit of exclusivity with your beach break, then the coast around Punta Mita offers just that. Located just north of Puerto Vallarta, this 1,500-acre private peninsular is home to some of the region’s most luxurious hotels, gated communities and multimillion-dollar villas. So it’s hardly any surprise that the coast here is befittingly stunning, with mile upon mile of dreamily idyllic beach fringed with tropical flora that draws the 0.1% and A-listers to its balmy climes.

Our Punta Mita Hotel Pick: The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort

Go big or go home. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is a luxury property sitting on 22 lush acres of beautiful oceanfront land. It offers refined rooms and suites with butler service, minibars, balconies, and bathrooms with huge outdoor showers. Upgrade to a suite for a private pool. Hungry? There are a beachfront bar, an oyster and Champagne bar, and a fine dining Mexican restaurant. Families and couples co-exist thanks to kid-friendly, adult-only, and public beach club areas, each with their own outdoor pool. A huge white-sand beach offers water sports, hammocks, and cabanas. Mexican beach dreams can come true.

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