Each year, millions of people go to Mexico to experience the culture, sights, and sounds that make the country so popular. This dazzling country also includes over 9,330 kilometers (5,800 miles) of coastline, home to some of the world’s top beach towns.
There is a lot of variety in seaside communities along the Mexican coast, so anyone who goes there can find something they like. Popular places to visit in the country range from large, all-inclusive resorts to quiet villages. Many travelers who visit end up staying for a long time or moving there permanently, thanks to its affordability.
Here’s a look at the top beach towns in Mexico to live and visit, in no particular order:
Puerto Vallarta might be the most beautiful beach town in all of Mexico, with its lively cobblestone downtown and miles of clean beaches. Because of its coastline, variety of water activities, and abundance of local resorts, this city of 291,839 (2020 census) is a top choice for vacationers from all over the globe.
The weather in Puerto Vallarta is always tropical because it’s on the same latitude as Hawaii and just two meters above sea level. As you stroll around the Malecon, you may see works by renowned local and international sculptors. There are many art galleries in the area and many events all year long. These things make the area appealing as a permanent or seasonal home for families, young professionals, and seniors.
Off the coast of Vallarta, you can enjoy snorkeling, sailing, swimming, and scuba diving. Nap on the sands of the beach as the world goes by. Seeing whales in their native Banderas Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that no Puerto Vallarta visitor should miss. Destiladeras Beach has thatch-roofed seafood shacks serving simple grilled fish about a half-hour north of the busier main beaches.
Tulum is a beach town of 46,721 (as of the 2020 census) on the Yucatan Peninsula, popular for its soft, white dunes and clear, shallow water. This coastal community is on the world-famous Riviera Maya and has some ancient Mayan ruins, making it an excellent place for a beach vacation and a cultural trip.
Great beaches and ancient ruins aren’t the only attractions in this town; there are also rainforests, lagoons, cenotes (cave-like sinkholes filled with pure water), and a posh nightlife scene. It’s an ideal location for young individuals to start their careers, particularly if they can work remotely.
Tulum’s cenotes are among the best in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving, and there are over 6,000 in the region. During their trip, guests can get the rest they need by going to a yoga or health retreat.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is a popular place to live and visit because of its wonderful weather and beautiful scenery. Located on the south point of the Baja California Peninsula, this city of 351,111 (as of the 2020 census) offers stunning views of both the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean.
Cabo is well-known for its laid-back vibe and lively nightlife, in addition to its gorgeous San Lucas Bay, where the Sea of Cortez joins the Pacific Ocean. You’ll only need to know a little Spanish if you plan on using the services of Cabo’s tourist sector since most employees do so speak English.
In the city center, chain restaurants, shops, and restaurants have an Americanized flair. Because of its diverse population and many services, this city is ideal for transplants of all ages.
This location, dubbed “Land’s End”, is physically gifted with mountains, desert, and coastal views, as well as some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ll ever see. You’ll find pristine beaches in every direction of town waiting to be explored.
Medano Beach, Chileno Beach, Santa Maria Beach, Cannery Beach, and Lover’s Beach are some of the best beaches in Cabo for swimming. After a day of working on the tan and swimming in the ocean, crash at one of the town’s many luxury accommodations.
Cancun, located on the southern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, is a vibrant vacation destination because of its proximity to the Caribbean Sea, hotels, and restaurants. The area is a hotspot for spring breakers, but it also serves as a traditional getaway for families and is home to many ex-pats.
On January 23, 1970, resort construction began in Cancun, which had just three residents and is now home to 888,797 (as of the 2020 census). El Centro, a more traditional downtown neighborhood, and Zona Hotelera, a long, beachside strip of high-rise hotels, nightclubs, stores, and restaurants, make up Cancun.
Along with its well-deserved outdoor recreation reputation, the area has several cultural attractions, such as beautiful museums and archaeological sites. When you’re looking to get your heart beating, you can do everything from ziplining to riding in monster trucks to going on a submarine tour.
Living in Cancun may be an inexpensive and enjoyable way to reside near the beach while learning about a different culture. The shores in and around town will be the highlight of your stay if you’re a visitor, thanks to its many water activity options like snorkeling, flyboarding, and surfing.
Playa Delfines is Cancun’s largest, busiest, and arguably most beautiful public beach. This famous beach is on everyone’s to-do list, surrounded by long stretches of sand mostly taken up by resorts.
La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur, a state with a population of around 250,141 permanent residents (2020 census). Whether you’re just passing through on vacation or planning to call this charming metropolis home for a while, you’re sure to be impressed by its many attractions, restaurants, and sights.
In the 1600s, a Spanish sailor named Fortun Ximenez is thought to have been the first European to set foot on this part of Baja California. The historic core of La Paz now has brightly painted buildings and murals. First-time visitors should stay along the waterfront Malecon (their equivalent of a promenade) to be near the action and in prime position to see the city’s famous sunsets.
Some of Mexico’s finest swimming beaches may be found in La Paz, where the water is usually clean and tranquil. Although the Malecon is located on the water’s edge, the nicest bathing beaches are well outside the city.
Espiritu Santo Island, located just off the coast of Baja California, is another tropical paradise with stunning volcanic rock formations, white sand beaches, and turquoise seas. Snorkeling among the colorful fish and other sea life in the coral reefs is a must-do.
Southern Mexico’s Pacific Ocean resort town of Huatulco is approximately six hours-drive from Oaxaca City, the state capital. Though it lacks the glitz and glam of certain resort cities, the town’s hotels provide all the comforts of home.
Approximately 50,862 permanent inhabitants (as of the 2020 census) call this region home; it’s said to be the original home of the Toltecs and Quetzalcoatl. Visitors favor Huatulco for several reasons: it has fewer people, beautiful golden beaches, breathtaking sunsets, arid forest scenery, and welcoming locals.
Tourists who want to get away from the same old chain eateries and souvenir shops will appreciate the area’s local flavor. Those thinking about relocating to Mexico will get a lovely taste of the country’s illustrious past in the Huatulco region and enjoy beach life and a nature lover’s paradise.
Huatulco is an excellent place to visit if you like basking in the sun since it has nine bays and 36 beaches. The local seashores have beautiful landscapes and warm water, and several also provide excellent conditions for learning how to surf.
Wading in the ocean, a mud bath treatment on the beach, or visiting a waterfall or coffee farm are all fantastic things to do on other coasts. River rafting and exploring the jungle are just two of the many things you can do instead of lying on a beach.
A few hours’ drive north of Cancun lies the undeveloped, tropical island of Holbox, pronounced: “hol-bosh”. Besides being known for its lively seas and whale sharks, its gorgeous blue waters, lovely beaches, and slow pace of life are enough to entice anybody.
Back in the day, buccaneers often hid in this region, and over time, the island attracted a population of fishermen, many of whom settled there permanently. Even though most of the area is still untouched, there is a charming village with places to eat, stay, and other tourist necessities.
Tours may be arranged to see the 40,000 pink flamingos that flock to the neighboring isle of Isla Pajaros between April and October to feast on the island’s little red crabs. With a population of about 1,198 (as of the 2020 census), this little piece of heaven may be the ideal spot for retirees to unwind for a vacation or a move.
Holbox beaches are lovely and excellent for snorkeling, sunbathing, and swimming. When you want to learn how to kiteboard, it provides one of the best places to do so. The beach is great for beginners because it has shallow water, a long, wide beach with few obstacles, lots of windy days in the winter, and a school nearby with qualified teachers.
Located on the Pacific coast, opposite the southernmost point of the Baja California Peninsula, lies the city of Mazatlan. Many Mexicans visit yearly for their family vacations since it is one of the country’s most economical tourist spots (with a population of 501,441 as of the 2020 census).
Mazatlan is a Nahuatl term meaning “place of deer”, and it was used by the Spanish and indigenous people who created the city in 1531. Foreign investors and retirees who want to live in Mexico still think of Mazatlan as a place that is “off the beaten path”.
Since more tourists have made other places along the Pacific coast of Mexico more expensive, this is a rare chance and an affordable alternative. The area around the historic district’s plazas and patios has a vibrant assortment of art galleries, boutiques, and high-end restaurants to the area’s already impressive collection of luxury apartments.
One of Mexico’s longest, the 13-mile-long Malecon Trail winds its way through some of Mazatlan’s most colorful communities. The beaches in town range in character, with some being more suitable for surfing and others for swimming.
This city is one of the few in the nation with a thriving economy, a well-preserved historical quarter, and a coastline that can hold its own against the best in the world. The Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) is an area of around four miles of beachfront property, primarily hotels and condos, and popular with tourists.
Loreto is situated on the Baja California Sur coast, looking east towards mainland Mexico. This village is a haven where you can take your time, wander along the breaking surf, take in views of the Islands, and maybe even see humpback whales swimming.
The city of Loreto was founded in 1697 when the first of the historic California Missions was constructed. Loreto Bay Baja Golf Club is the only golf course in town, yet the absence of nightclubs and ostentatious new boutiques is part of what makes this place so attractive.
The city’s walkable downtown has many historic buildings, delicious traditional cuisine, and fun annual events. With a population of 18,052 people as of the 2020 census, this little coastal community is perfect for retirees and remote workers seeking a more relaxed way of life.
The Loreto beaches on the mainland are stunning, even if they don’t have the same powdery white sand as those on Isla Coronado, which is also nearby. As a bonus, the water is often very clear, which makes snorkeling at some beaches a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially in the summer.
The Sea of Cortez provides calm seas for swimming, and the beaches along its coastlines are some of the greatest in the world. Ensenada Blanca, La Darsena, and La Salinita are some of the best beaches in the region.
Beachgoers can find Puerto Peasco, or “Rocky Point”, in the northwest part of Sonora, right on the Sea of Cortez and approximately 70 miles south of the Arizona border. You might feel like you’ve been whisked to another universe on the town’s lovely beaches or in the stunning desert surroundings.
Since the late 1990s, the area has been actively marketed to tourists, becoming one of the most top places in northern Mexico. As a result, the town of 62,689 (as of the 2020 census) is also becoming more popular, with Americans and Canadians looking to settle down in a warm climate for the long term.
During the day, the Malecon Plaza—also called the Old Port or the Fish Market—becomes a bustling cultural hub. Residents and visitors alike can buy anything from artisanal trinkets and souvenirs to tasty fare from food carts and restaurants.
Sandy Beach is the largest in town and is also where many of the area’s coastal resorts and facilities are located. Swimming, jet skiing, and riding banana boats are also common, and much of the gear can be rented by the water.
Playa Hermosa, Playa Encanta, and La Cholla are other fantastic options if you’re looking for a beach to spend the day at. Las Conchas is a sizeable beachfront neighborhood ideal for beach home rentals, family gatherings, and relaxing vacations.
On the Pacific coast of Mexico, approximately 33 miles (53 km) north of Puerto Vallarta, lies San Pancho, also known as San Francisco, Nayarit. This coastal town, home to 1,431 people (as of the 2020 census), encourages a more low-key, environmentally conscious kind of travel.
On the Malecon, located at the end of the main street, you can buy unique souvenirs made in the area. This will take you to the shore, where you may stop at one of the beachside bars for a refreshing margarita as you watch the sunset over San Pancho Bay.
A growing population of digital nomads has made San Pancho their temporary home because it allows them to work remotely while still enjoying the benefits of a relaxing beach lifestyle. Some of the best amenities in town include yoga, high-speed internet access, delicious food options, and many fun recreational pursuits.
The main beach in San Pancho spans a decent distance and has soft, white sand bordered by verdant jungle vegetation and scenic rocky points on each end. The beach is backed by stunning beachfront mansions at its northern end, while at its southern end, a lagoon teems with tropical birds.
Travelers who want to enjoy a more quiet seashore will appreciate the lack of vendors and attractions on the sand itself. San Pancho is a fantastic spot for shortboard surfers of intermediate to advanced skill levels.
Playa del Carmen
On the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is a thrilling place for tourists. This town has some vibrant nightlife options and is also home to stunning beaches and natural scenery.
Playa del Carmen was formerly a sleepy fishing village, but it has transformed into a tourist destination due to its proximity to Cozumel, a popular scuba diving island. The town’s prime position makes it an ideal base to see everything that the Riviera Maya offers.
In this city of 304,942 (2020 census), you can see almost every significant attraction on the Yucatan peninsula in a single day. Playa del Carmen is an excellent alternative to the more expensive all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and the more costly hotels in Tulum, both of which are becoming more popular.
The town is known for its superb beaches with soft sand and clear water. Even if your hotel is not directly on the sand, you can still take advantage of Playa del Carmen’s fantastic waterfront location and nearby beaches.
In its name, “Playa” is short for “beach”, so you can imagine how popular its coasts are. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, and windsurfing are some water sports that may be enjoyed, and if you prefer land, you can always check out the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Puerto Escondido, in the state of Oaxaca, is a terrific tourist destination and working port on the Pacific coast. With a population of 29,903 in 2020, it’s the most populous coastal community in Oaxaca and a significant water sports hub.
Even though native people had lived around Puerto Escondido for hundreds of years, there were no large settlements there before the Spanish arrived or during the colonial period. These days, Puerto Escondido is a legitimate surfing hotspot, and plenty of surf businesses sell equipment and repair damaged boards.
It’s recommended to take a cab or share a ride into town from Puerto Escondido’s airport, and once there, you can easily navigate about on foot. The laid-back atmosphere is excellent for retirees, but the lively nightlife brings in digital nomads and workers from far away.
Enjoy shrimp tacos on the beachfront, surf lessons from the experts at Playa Zicatela, or take a boat excursion to see sea turtle nesting grounds and schools of dolphins. On the other hand, couples and families can enjoy Carrizalillo Beach’s calm waves, clear water, and safe shoreline. Manzanillo Beach is one of the best beaches in Puerto Escondido to go swimming and snorkeling.
Any one of Mexico’s magnificent beach towns is a top place to live out your dreams of soaking up the sun and listening to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. This country’s coasts have something for everyone who loves being near the water, from college students on spring break to retirees looking for a quieter life. Viva Mexico!