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Best Beaches in Mexico

Mexico is filled with breathtaking shores 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 votes for the best beaches in Mexico below. (Note: Destinations designated "Do Not Travel" by the U.S. Department of State did not qualify for the rankings this year. Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

SUMMARY

Best Beaches in Mexico

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    Isla Mujeres

    #1 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Isla Mujeres is situated off the northeastern coast of Cancun and makes for an ideal daytrip from the mainland, a 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, the island's most popular beach, features calm waters, beach bars and chair and umbrella rentals. Other idyllic stretches of sand include Playa Tiburón, which is home to numerous nurse sharks, and Garrafon Natural Reef Park, where colorful coral reefs attract snorkelers in droves.

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    Cozumel

    #2 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    This Mexican island is home to excellent beaches and is one of the world's premier diving and snorkeling destinations. Paradise Beach, a beach club on the island's western side, is popular with families thanks to its calm waters and various nearby vendors. Travelers in search of striking turquoise waters, boat tour options and superb snorkeling opportunities will love visiting Playa El Cielo. Meanwhile, Playa Palancar is made for active types keen on kayaking and sailing. However, Cozumel's sandy shores suffer from one big downside: thick crowds. Tourists descend on the island annually, making it hard to find a secluded spot.

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    Cancun

    #3 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Cancun'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 (perfect for snorkeling) and clean sand at Playa Tortugas and laud the relatively less-crowded and scenic Playa Delfines. And because tourists tend to favor Cancun, vacationers can find plenty of restaurants, shops and a wide range of resorts just steps from the sand when it's time to retreat from the sun.

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    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 Yucatan Peninsula. Central beaches like Playa Mamitas are just as hip, loud and crowded as those found in Cancun, 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. If you'd rather relax than go clubbing, head to the outskirts of the city for gems like Playa Punta Esmeralda, Xpu-Ha and Playa Maroma.

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    Sayulita

    #5 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Located roughly 25 miles northwest of the busy city and crowded beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is the perfect destination for surfers and anyone in search of peace and quiet. Catch a massive wave or spend a calm afternoon sunbathing at secluded Playa Carricitos. Or if you're a beginner, sign up for a surf lesson at one of Playa Sayulita's many surf schools. For slightly safer swimming conditions and excellent people-watching, visit Playa de los Muertos. When you need a break from the sand, check out this relaxed town's colorful shops and cafes.

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    Isla Holbox

    #6 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Separated from the northeastern tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula by a shallow lagoon, Isla Holbox offers calm, quiet beaches. The island contrasts its rowdy southern neighbors Cancun and Playa del Carmen. On the western side of the island by downtown Holbox sits Playa Punta Cocos, a stunning stretch of sand known for its incredible sunsets and prime bird-watching and fishing opportunities. There's also the more secluded Punta Mosquito, which boasts a sandbar and shallow water for relaxing strolls and swims. While on Isla Holbox, keep an eye out for the numerous flamingoes that call it home.

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    Tulum

    #7 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Just beyond the Tulum Archaeological Site lies one of Mexico's best beach experiences, Playa Ruinas. Come to Playa Ruinas in the early morning or later in the evening to enjoy the sands beneath El Castillo – the old Mayan temple – without interruption. Also save time for Playa Paraiso, the most highly regarded beach in Tulum. Here, you can lounge on the white sand and take in the ocean's varying blue hues. If you're looking for something to eat, swing by the beach club for ceviche and drinks. However, some visitors warn that seasonal seaweed occasionally clogs this popular shoreline.

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    La Paz

    #8 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Set about 100 miles northwest of Cabo San Lucas on Baja California Sur's eastern coast, La Paz overlooks the Gulf of California. It features a modest beach that lines its waterfront promenade, but the standout beaches are a short trek from the city center. Playa Balandra, which sits approximately 15 miles north of the city, features long stretches of white sand, plus warm, shallow water ideal for families. 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.

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    Punta Mita

    #9 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Situated on Mexico's Pacific coast less than 27 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita is an incredible luxury beach vacation spot. The area is home to upscale vacation rentals and five-star hotels, including a St. Regis and a Four Seasons. Exclusivity and seclusion set Punta Mita apart from neighboring Mexico beaches, allowing travelers to soak up the tranquil atmosphere. What's more, because the lodging options are limited, the beaches are less crowded and better maintained. If you're hoping to enjoy even more elbow room while sunbathing, take a boat to secluded beaches like La Lancha and the Islas Marietas.

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    Playa Zicatela

    #10 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Known by many as a top place to surf in Mexico, Playa Zicatela hosts several annual surfing competitions. Expert surfers should aim to visit Playa Zicatela in late spring or summer when the waves can swell up to 20 feet. But remember, the beach's dangerous undertow is not safe for beginners or casual swimmers. However, other nearby shores, including La Punta and Playa Principal, offer calmer waves. Once surfers need a break from hanging 10, they can take advantage of Playa Zicatela's abundant bars, restaurants and shops.

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    Huatulco

    #11 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Composed of nine bays and dozens of beaches, Huatulco occupies 20-some miles of Pacific shoreline in Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca. Those looking for beaches safe for relaxing and swimming should check out small, clean Playa Arrocito and bustling Playa La Entrega, which is known for its snorkeling and restaurant offerings. Visitors seeking a bit of adventure can travel to beaches that are only accessible via boat or hiking trails, such as Bahia de Cacaluta in Parque Nacional Huatulco. Other things to do in and around Huatulco include waterfalls tours and fishing charters.

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