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Best Beaches in Mexico

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Mexico is filled with breathtaking shores that are ideal for everyone from partiers to R&R-seekers. To help you find the perfect Mexico beach destination for sunbathing on the sand and splashing in the waves, U.S. News considered user votes and factors like scenery, water clarity, crowd congestion and nearby amenities to create this list. Help us determine next year's ranking by casting your vote for the best beach in Mexico below.

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#1 Zihuatanejo

#1 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Sitting on Mexico's Pacific coast, about 160 miles north of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo – or Zihua, as it's called by locals – features miles of pristine beaches and cobblestone streets. Playa La Ropa, which is bordered by picturesque palm trees, is the most popular stretch of sand and surf, whereas Playa Manzanillo is an ideal spot for snorkeling. Zihuatanejo stands out because it's not as commercialized as many of Mexico's other beloved vacation destinations, allowing visitors to enjoy some quality rest and relaxation. Year-round temperatures rest in the 70s and 80s here, but the best time to visit is from November to May to take advantage of clearer skies.

Zihuatenejo
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#2 Cozumel

#2 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Cozumel is home to excellent beaches and stands as one of the world's premier diving and snorkeling destinations. Paradise Beach is popular with families thanks to its calm waters and various nearby vendors. You'll encounter striking turquoise water, boat tour options and excellent snorkeling opportunities at Playa El Cielo, and active types should hit Palancar Beach for kayaking, sailing and other adventures. However, Cozumel's sandy shores come with one big downside: thick crowds. Swarms of tourists and cruise ship passengers descend on the island every year, making it hard to find a secluded spot to stretch out. Read More »

Beach View 28 photos
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#3 Cancun

#3 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Cancún's beaches are some of the most popular in Mexico, recognized for their vast sands and clear blue waters. While many will stick to the shoreline outside their resort, visitors should consider exploring the area's other options, too. Travelers love the relaxed vibe, calm surf and clean beach at Playa Tortugas and laud the less-crowded and scenic Playa Delfines. And because this beachfront city is so well-liked by tourists, visitors can find plenty of restaurants, shops and a wide range of resorts when it's time to retreat from the sun. Read More »

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#4 Playa del Carmen

#4 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Playa del Carmen once had the ambiance of a sleepy European coastal town. Now, these beaches are among the most popular along the Yucatán Peninsula. They're still hip and are no less crowded than those in Cancún, but beachcombers come here to see and be seen. Numerous Playa del Carmen resorts trace the coastline, so chances are you'll have direct access to the beach from where you're staying. Plus, many offer water sports options, such as snorkeling and sailing, directly on-site. Read More »

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#5 Tulum

#5 in Best Beaches in Mexico

One of the best beach experiences in all of Mexico can be found near the Tulum ruins. Come in the early morning or later in the evening to enjoy the sands beneath El Castillo – the old Mayan temple – without interruption. Playa Paraiso is the most highly touted beach in Tulum. Here, travelers can lounge on the white sand and take in the varying blue hues of the ocean. Those looking for more things to do should consider a sunrise yoga class in this wellness hot spot. However, recent travelers warn that seaweed has been clogging up this shoreline lately. Read More »

Tulum Beach View 25 photos
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#6 Punta Mita

#6 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Set on Mexico's Pacific coast, about 25 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita is an incredible luxury beach vacation spot. The area is home to a handful of upscale vacation rentals and five-star hotels, including the St. Regis and the Four Seasons. Exclusivity and seclusion is what sets Punta Mita apart from neighboring Mexico beaches, allowing travelers to soak up the tranquil and scenic atmosphere. What's more, because the lodging options are limited, the beaches here are less crowded and well-maintained.

Punta Mita
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#7 Puerto Vallarta

#7 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Puerto Vallarta is an excellent destination for vacations with many different types of travelers. Offering something for everyone, this destination maintains its small-town feel while providing plenty of options for activities, dining and accommodations. At the buzzing Playa Los Muertos, sports junkies can enjoy everything from parasailing to beach volleyball to windsurfing. Those looking for a more relaxing or secluded beach should head to Playa Las Gemelas, a short drive from the city center, to find soft white sand, less-crowded shores and excellent swimming conditions. Read More »

City on the Water View 24 photos
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#8 Cabo San Lucas

#8 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Soaking up some sun while admiring impressive coastline scenery is what a beach vacation in Cabo San Lucas is all about. There are numerous beaches to choose from here, including Chileno Beach (excellent for snorkeling) and Playa Médano (rife with activities like kayaking and parasailing and one of the few beaches where you can swim). Once you've had your fill of the beach, try fishing, go whale watching or sample your way through delicious seafood at the beachfront eateries. Read More »

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#9 Mazatlan

#9 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Sure, the sands may not be as coveted as those in Cancún or Puerto Vallarta, but Mazatlán's golden shoreline will surely satisfy the average sun-seeker, especially those on a budget. Hotel rates in this Mexico vacation spot are extremely affordable: You can find numerous accommodation options for less than $100 a night. When it comes to picking the right beach, Playa Olas Altas and Playa Las Gaviotas are the top spots to explore. Plus, high temperatures rest in the high 70s to low 90s, so it's pretty much beach weather year-round. To avoid crowds and rain, plan a trip for early summer or fall. Read More »

Serene Coastline View 16 photos
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#10 Manzanillo

#10 in Best Beaches in Mexico

A resort and port town along the Mexican coastline, Manzanillo offers ocean-loving travelers two bays to choose between. The main bay, Bahía de Manzanillo, has a handful of beaches to explore, along with a boardwalk and a wharf. Visitors recommend spending time at Playa La Boquita and Playa Miramar. Bahía de Santiago also has several beaches – and you won't want to miss the sunsets from Playa Santiago.

Manzanillo
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#11 Huatulco

#11 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Consisting of nine bays and dozens of beaches, Huatulco sits on Mexico's Pacific coast, stretching along 20-some miles of shoreline. Those looking for safe beaches for relaxing and swimming should check out Playa Arrocito and Playa La Entrega. Visitors seeking a bit of adventure can travel to beaches that are only accessible via boat or hiking trails, such as Cacaluta. Other things to see in Huatulco include waterfalls and nature parks.

Huatulco
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#12 Ixtapa

#12 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Just a short drive north of Zihuatanejo, this town is known for its numerous high-rise resorts and picturesque, sandy shoreline. Ixtapa's main beach is Playa El Palmar, which is populated with water sports vendors and concessions stands. The beautiful scenery and impressive sunsets draw travelers to this beach town. Keep in mind, though, that the waves and current at the beach can be rough, so take caution while swimming.

Ixtapa
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#13 Isla Mujeres

#13 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Isla Mujeres is located off the northeastern coast of Cancún and could make for an ideal daytrip from the mainland, a long weekend getaway or a weeklong vacation. The beautiful beaches that line this island are characterized by white sand and framed by green, swaying palm trees and brilliantly blue water. Playa Norte is the main beach, which features calm waters, beach bars and chair and umbrella rentals. What's more, this island destination offers everything from snorkeling and scuba diving to Mayan ruins and a turtle farm that visitors can explore.

Isla Mujeres
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#14 La Paz

#14 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Set about 100 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on Baja California's southeastern coast, La Paz overlooks the Gulf of California. La Paz features a small beach that lines its waterfront promenade, but the standout beaches are a short trek from the city center. Balandra Beach, about 15 miles north of the city, features long stretches of white sand, plus warm, shallow water ideal for families to splash around in. Visitors can rent kayaks here as well. Travelers interested in seeing the coastline and the more remote Ensenada Grande Beach on Isla Partida may want to consider a boat tour.

La Paz
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#15 Acapulco

#15 in Best Beaches in Mexico

Back in the 1950s, Acapulco was the go-to vacation spot for many A-listers like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Today, this city is making a comeback – the beaches are vast, the water sports are aplenty, the hotels are renovated and the prices are affordable. Perched on the Pacific coast, Acapulco offers several beautiful beaches that travelers can easily access from the city center, including Playa Hornos, Playa Condesa and Playa Icacos. Read More »

Cliff Diving View 21 photos
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