Best Beaches in Mexico

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 votes for the best beaches in Mexico below. (Note: In 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued travel warnings for several Mexico states due to increased crime. As such, destinations designated "Do Not Travel" did not qualify for the rankings this year. Consult the U.S. Department of State website for the latest information as you plan your vacation.)

SUMMARY

Best Beaches in Mexico

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    Cozumel

    #1 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    This Mexican island 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 superb snorkeling opportunities at El Cielo Beach, and active types should check out 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.

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    Cancun

    #2 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 sand at Playa Tortugas and laud the less-crowded and scenic Playa Delfines. And because Cancún is so well liked by tourists, vacationers can find plenty of restaurants, shops and a wide range of resorts when it's time to retreat from the sun.

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    Playa del Carmen

    #3 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. Beaches like Playa Mamitas and Playa Calle 10 are still hip and 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. If you'd rather relax than go clubbing, head to the outskirts of town for gems like Xpu-Ha and Playa Maroma.

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    Tulum

    #4 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    One of Mexico's best beach experiences can be found near the Tulum ruins. 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. 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 visitors warn that seaweed has been clogging up this shoreline lately.

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    Punta Mita

    #5 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Set on Mexico's Pacific coast less than 28 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 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 atmosphere. What's more, because the lodging options are limited, the beaches are less crowded and well maintained. If you don't mind a bit of a trek, take a boat to secluded beaches like La Lancha and Playa Escondida.

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    Huatulco

    #6 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Composed of nine bays and dozens of beaches, Huatulco sits on Mexico's Pacific coast, stretching along 20-some miles of shoreline. Those looking for beaches safe 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.

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    La Paz

    #7 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Set about 100 miles northwest 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, 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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    Sayulita

    #8 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Located roughly 25 miles northwest of the busy town 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 at the 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 safer swimming conditions, 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 Mujeres

    #9 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    Isla Mujeres is situated 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, the main beach, features calm waters, beach bars and chair and umbrella rentals. Meanwhile, stretches of sand like Playa Garrafón and Playa Tiburon are ideal for snorkeling with fish, nurse sharks and other aquatic species.

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    Costa Maya

    #10 in Best Beaches in Mexico

    This popular hub for cruise ships occupies a coveted part of Mexico's east coast. Costa Maya's port area is filled with restaurants and vendors, but it boasts an array of easily accessible beaches with waves safe for children. Dine at one of the eateries located next to Mahahual Beach that provide all-inclusive beach passes to patrons. And if you have time, venture 38 miles southwest of Costa Maya's port to Xcalak, where you'll find quiet beaches overlooking a stretch of the Mesoamerican Reef.

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    Playa Zicatela

    #11 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 summer or fall 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 like Playa 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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