18 Best Mexican Beach Towns to Visit in 2024: Written by a Local

There are dozens of gorgeous beach towns in Mexico that are often the entire raison d’etre that many tourists decide to travel here in the first place. Places like Tulum, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Los Cabos are perhaps among the first destinations that spring to mind at the mention of a coastal Mexico vacation.

While these places are absolutely gorgeous and well deserved of their popularity, there are so many more places that simply don’t get the attention they deserve. 

There are still so many Mexican beach towns that remain well off the beaten path and where you can have entire stretches of coastline to yourself, even in the peak season. 

You are in good hands here because I live in Mexico, and have traveled the through the country extensively in order to compile this list. (I know, I know, how horrible for me).

18 Best Beach Towns in Mexico to Visit in 2024

It can be overwhelming to decide where to go for your coastal Mexico vacation, I get it. If you are looking for somewhere that offers nightlife, serviced beaches and beach clubs, excellent gastronomy and all of the amenities and home comforts you would expect at home, I would recommend somewhere like Los Cabos, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen or Mahahual and Akumal, although the latter two are definitely on the quieter side of things. 

If you want somewhere secluded and tranquil away from the hordes, check out El Cuyo in the Yucatan, or rent a car in Merida or Cancun and do a road trip along the Ruta Esmerelda through all of the beach towns along the Gulf of Mexico. (Progreso, Yucalpeten, Sisal, Celestun, etc). 

Do note that hurricane season affects Mexicos Carribbean and Pacific Coast between June and October, with the heaviest rains and storms usually hitting in August and September. The Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Southern Jalisco have a wet, humid tropical climate so if you hate this kind of humidity, you might prefer sticking to Baja California Sur where the Mediterranean-style climate is more similar to what you will find in Southern California.

Watching the sunrise in El Cuyo

El Cuyo, Yucatan 

El Cuyo is tiny coastal village in the northeastern part of the Yucatan state that is little more than just a pristine stretch of coastline and a small handful of hotels and restaurants set in thatched palapa huts. In many ways, El Cuyo feels like what Tulum was like some 10-15 years ago before it was discovered by the masses. 

Gorgeous Playa El Cuyo offers soft, powdery white sand that borders translucent aquamarine waters that would rival those that you find in the Mexican Caribbean. The sunrises and sunsets here are among the most breathtaking in the Yucatan peninsula and you will often find that you have the entire stretch of coastline entirely to yourself. 

The only reason that a beach town exists here at all is thanks to a small group of windsurfers, travelers and locals that fell in love with the area and started to build houses and touristic businesses nearby. Since it can get quite windy here, El Cuyo is perfect for kitesurfing and even if you have zero experience in the sport whatsoever, you will find numerous schools offering lessons for complete beginners. 

The best time to visit El Cuyo is now before word gets out and it becomes another Riviera Maya.

The golden sand beach at El Maviri, Northern Sinaloa

El Maviri, Sinaloa 

Few travelers take the time to visit Northern Sinaloa, largely because of the safety concerns and security warnings in place for Sinaloa state. The adventurous few that do, may pass through Los Mochis on their way to take the scenic Copper Canyon railway route through Northern Mexico. 

But Los Mochis doesn’t need to be seen as an unsightly unnecessary evil to pass through, when there is a gorgeous beach town just 20 minutes away. El Maviri is a Sinaloan beach that is actually set on an island and connected to the mainland by a sequence of bridges.

There is usually nobody else on the golden sands of this beach during weekdays, while at weekends, groups of locals head down from Los Mochis to have picnics and crack open a couple of cervezas. The vendors here sell fresh oysters sourced from local waters and “coco locos” – crazy fresh chopped coconuts topped with hot sauce, chamoy salsa, nuts, candies and all manner of interesting toppings. 

You can tie in a visit to El Maviri with a trip to the town of Topolobampo – a port town where the residents have painted their houses in bold, vibrant colors. From here, you can take a boat trip out to the various coves and beaches of the area and learn about “El Pechocho”, the adorable lone dolphin who has been calling these warm waters home for decades.

Playa Camarones in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 

The Jalisco beach town of Puerto Vallarta likely needs no introduction as this is one of the most popular travel destinations in Mexico. The beaches here may not have the same aquamarine waters of those on the Caribbean coast, but they can definitely compete when it comes to natural beauty. 

There are several beaches within the city center which, while sometimes crowded, offer clear, calm waters that are perfect for swimming in, and stunning natural rock formations. Playa Los Muertos and Playa Camarones are two of the most popular spots in downtown Puerto Vallarta. 

They are just a short walk away from the Malecon, so you have a ton of restaurants serving mouthwatering traditional Mexican fare and international eats just a stones throw away. Playa Camarones literally translates to “shrimp beach”, a name awarded because of all of the street food vendors here who wander up and down the sand selling perfectly grilled shrimp on a stick. 

If you are seeking something a little more secluded, you can head out to Mismaloya, a quiet spot that gives you an unparalleled view of the Bahia de Banderas and the obscure rock formations of Los Arcos national park, or Conchas Chinas, a white pebblestone beach that is seldom crowded and is set in the “Beverly Hills” of Puerto Vallarta. 

The gorgeous turquoise waters of Mahahual

Mahahual, Quintana Roo 

In the Costa Maya region of southern Quintana Roo, you will find the charming little beach town of Mahahual. A couple of years ago, Mahahual was little more than a fishing village and most of its residents worked in fisheries and trade. 

Slowly but surely, talk of Mahahual’s beauty got out. The town is still something of an unknown and sees only a fraction of the visitors seen by Tulum, Cancun, PDC and other Riviera Maya beach towns. 

The waters here are impossibly turquoise and since Mahahual is very small, a visit here is mostly about relaxing on the paradisical beach, enjoying good food, and taking the time to disconnect. If you have access to a car, you can tie in your trip with a visit to nearby Lake Bacalar, the Chacchoben Mayan ruins, and Lake Noh Bec.  

A quiet morning in Progreso

Progreso, Yucatan 

The Yucatan beach town of Progreso is the closest beach to the city of Merida, and it is the place where tons of locals will flock to at weekends to make the most of their time off work. As such, Progreso has a very “Mexican” feel about it and it can be interesting to see a beachtown that caters more to domestic travelers rather than foreign tourists. 

Progreso beach is pretty, though it can get crowded during the weekends. There are a couple of excellent beach clubs here where you can lounge around on cabanas all day, rent water sports equipment, hang out in the pool, and enjoy the amenities. 

The Marymar beach club is a great place if you are on a budget and you can stick around for as long as you like, as long as you keep buying drinks and snacks. Silcer beach club is a little more exclusive and requires you to purchase a day pass, but it offers a more luxury feel. 

Coffee shops, bars and restaurants catering to every taste line the Progreso Malecon and as more and more tourists discover the Northern Yucatan, it feels as though new businesses are popping up every week. At night, the area really comes to life as the beachfront fairground opens, and street vendors set up their stalls selling everything from elotes to marquesitas. 

Arriving by boat to Yelapa, Jalisco

Yelapa, Jalisco

Yelapa is a quaint beach town in the Mexican state of Jalisco, just south of Puerto Vallarta. It is known for its “no car” way of life and since it is a little awkward to get to, it is seldom if ever crowded. 

The best way to get to Yelapa is to take a water taxi from Los Muertos beach pier in Puerto Vallarta, or in Boca de Tomatlan. Expect to spend around 30 minutes making the journey to Yelapa in a little wooden boat which as of January 2024, costs 240 pesos per person for a round trip.

Rest assured, little Yelapa is worth the effort to get to. Once you arrive, you are greeted with rolling golden sand dunes tucked away in a secluded cove backed by dense, lucious jungle. 

If you are the type to get restless sitting on the beach all day, don your best hiking shoes and set off in search of one of the various waterfalls in the area. The largest (and best) waterfall necessitates an hour long scenic trek through the jungle, but you can usually have the area to yourself and can easily while away several hours here as long as you pack drinks, snacks and sunscreen. 

Just before sunset in Celestun

Celestun, Yucatan

Celestun is a charming fishing village set in the far west part of the Yucatan state, close to the border with Campeche state. It boasts pristine white-sand beaches, quaint seafront eateries whose tables and chairs are set right on the sand, and crystal-clear aquamarine waters that capture the heart of all those that visit. 

Celestun is still relatively new to tourism and it isn’t yet anywhere near as built up as the beaches along the Riviera Maya in Northern Quintana Roo. There are a couple of mid-range hotels and cosy guesthouses but most travelers come here on a day trip from Merida.

Once you have gotten your fill of swimming, snorkeling and lounging on the beach, walk through town, grab some traditional Yucatecan fare for lunch, and head to the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve. Here, you can take a boat tour through the mangroves with a local guide. 

Between November and April every year, close to 40,000 North American flamingos migrate to this reserve in order to mate. The celestun boat tours allow you to witness them in their natural habitat, while still maintaining a respectful distance. 

Crocodiles, pelicans, roadrunners, and hundreds of other types of birds call the mangroves their home and during your visit, you will hopefully be fortunate enough to witness a fair few of them. (Sometimes the boats get alarmingly close to the crocs so tourists can take good photos!) 

Sunrise in San Bruno

San Bruno, Yucatan 

San Bruno in the Yucatan is perhaps more of a beach hamlet than a beach town since only ten permanent inhabitants call San Bruno their home. Still, it is worth a mention here since San Bruno is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful (and underrated) beaches in the Yucatan.

It sits in the heart of the Yucatan’s “Ruta Esmerelda” (Emerald Coast): A 98 km long coastal road that runs along the Gulf of Mexico from Celestun in the west to San Crisanto and El Cuyo in the east. 

This spectacular beach is long, narrow, and rarely crowded. Since the beach itself is not serviced, you should pack a picnic, some beach towels and perhaps an umbrella, and just plonk yourself down wherever you find a comfortable spot for the day. 

The only two businesses here are the Kokomo Beach Club, where you can purchase a day pass to use the pool and rent kayaks and other equipment, and the Casa Ku luxury hotel. The stand alone units at Casa Ku are designed to look like little birds nests and the property oozes the same bohemian chic style that you would expect of Tulum. 

Since there are very few upscale accommodations like this in the Northern Yucatan away from Quintana Roo, staying here is a special experience. Anyone can eat at the hotel restaurant or drink at the bar – you don’t have to be a hotel guest. 

The food here is some of the best I have eaten in the Yucatan (and I have lived here for 2.5 years!) Their hamburgers with melted cheese tucked right inside the patty are to die for! 

Playa Las Dunas, Chuburna

Chuburna, Yucatan 

At first glimpse, the Yucatecan beach town of Chuburna may look like nothing to write home about. However, the Playa de las Dunas beach here is one of the Yucatans best kept secrets and is arguably one of the most gorgeous stretches of coastline in the entire country. 

As the name suggests, the beach is known for its rolling sand dunes, which are breeding grounds for sea turtles. It is usually pretty quiet here and the beach is completely unserviced, with nothing but rolling hills behind you and flocks of pelicans flying overhead, occasionally diving into the water for fish. 

From the Puentes Chuburna dock nearby, you can take a tour in a little wooden fishing boat and sail out to Isla Columpios, Isla Choventún and Isla De Los Pájaros, a scattering of off-the-beaten-path islands that few people realize exist in the Yucatan state.

There are a couple of Yucatecan restaurants and comida economicas in Chuburna town, but a highlight of passing through the area are all of the street vendors selling coconut desserts. Try the pay de coco, my personal favorite – a fluffy, creamy pie with fresh coconut and a tasty homemade pie crust, or opt for a coconut helado (ice cream). 

The quiet town awaits approximately 40 minutes away from the Yucatan capital of Merida, and 20 minutes from Progreso respectively. 

The Instagram-famous Daniel Popper statue in Tulum

Tulum, Quintana Roo 

The pueblo magico of Tulum is one of the hottest destinations in the world right now and a tourist favorite in the state of Quintana Roo. There are some spectacular Mayan ruins here perched on the edge of a jagged cliffface overlooking the Carribean that are what remains of the Ancient Mayan city of “Zama”. 

These are the only known Mayan ruins to have been built by the coast, and of course, there is a wonderful beach (Playa Ruinas) at ground level below the ruins where you can swim against a backdrop of structures that are thousands of years old. Playa Paraiso and Playa las Palmas are also popular spots that boast cerulean waters and soft, powdery white sands. 

There are some excellent beach clubs in the Tulum hotel zone, but do be prepared to pay a hefty fee and be sure to reserve your spot(s) in advance. My best beach club recommendations are Delek, Kanan, Hotelito Azul and Dos Ceibas. 

In 2024, a new airport has been opened in Tulum, making it much easier to get to the area directly without having to first fly into Cancun. 

A private stretch of beach beside the Hotel Marina Kinuh, Telchac Puerto

Telchac Puerto, Yucatan 

Telchac Puerto is a little fishing village in the Northern Yucatan that you have probably never heard of unless you know Southeastern Mexico super well. However, it makes a wonderful stopping point during any Yucatan road trip itinerary, especially if you want to do something a little out of the ordinary. 

The public beach here is pretty nice, and at night, the boardwalk that runs parallel to it is filled with vendors selling little juguetes (toys), marquesitas and micheladas in various different flavors. A highlight though is a stay at the luxury Hotel Marina Kinuh which overlooks the Sayachaltun nature reserve so that you can see the mangroves, and tons of spectacular endangered birds and animals in their natural habitat. 

(You can even arrange a tour of the mangroves with a local fisherman). The hotel has its own private stretch of beach and the concierge can organize for you to take a golf cart back and forth to your private cabaña.

Nearby, be sure to check out the Mayan ruins of Xcambo, and the Laguna Rosada pink lakes. 

Hanging out at the Fairmont Mayakoba, Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo 

Playa Del Carmen has long been known as one of the trendiest spots to see and be seen in the Riviera Maya. While the beaches here may not be as pristine as those further north, the laidback bohemian beachy vibes here are second to none. 

Stroll for trinkets and gifts along the citys fifth avenue (La Quinta Avenida), hang out at chic PDC beach clubs, and visit the Mayan ruins of Xaman-Há – a settlement that dates back to the 13th century and which few tourists are even aware about.

If you want to escape the crowds and find your slice of coastal peace and serenity, take a day trip out to Playa Xpu Ha, 30 minutes from the city center.

If you want to treat yourself to an indulgent stay in absolute luxury during your time in Mexico, there are several gorgeous properties and high-end hotels here, particularly within the nearby Mayakoba complex. 

Isla Aguadas, Campeche State 

Unless you know southeastern Mexico extremely well, chances are that you have never heard of Isla Aguadas, a small island in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the coast of Campeche state. It is one of the Yucatan peninsulas best kept secrets that the locals have been keeping to themselves. 

Isla Aguadas is actually one of 12 pueblo magicos in the Yucatan peninsula, despite being something of an unknown. It also played quite an important role in regional history as after the Yucatan caste war, many Spaniards fled here. 

Today, the island is connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. Playa Coquitos, Playa Cayo Arenas, and Playa Pública are amazing spots to unwind and are reminiscent of a paradise island you would expect to find deep in the heart of the Carribean. 

There are only a handful of accommodation options here currently, but many of them exist in the form of quaint thatched cabanas and huts right on the beach, adding to that desert island paradise vibe. 

The beach at San Crisanto is backed by luscious coconut groves

San Crisanto, Yucatan

San Crisanto is an adorable little beach town set in the far eastern part of the Yucatan state. It is one of the final stopping points along the Ruta Esmerelda and the golden stretch of sand here is backed by lucious, dense coconut groves that go on for miles. 

Just like in Chuburna, many of the locals make and sell desserts created using the fresh coconuts that grow in abundance in the area. However, San Crisanto takes it one step further and the town hosts the annual Yucatan coconut festival every July. 

You will see few other tourists here, just a handful of locals enjoying their time by the sea. Most of the restaurants here are cash-only and serve up an array of sumptuous seafood dishes made with love using fresh fish sourced in nearby waters. 

Los Cabos, Baja California Sur 

Los Cabos has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico for decades and that is not likely to change any time soon. Some places are popular for a reason. 

“Los Cabos” is actually made up of two different places: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, both of which sit at the southern tip of Baja California Sur. 

Revel in the views of the iconic Cabo San Lucas rock arch at Medano Beach, take a sunset cruise and if you are traveling between January and March, book a spot on a whale-watching tour to see humpback whales in their natural habitat. Cabo San Lucas is a pretty well-renowned party spot, where if you are looking for something a little quieter, you might enjoy treating yourself to a stay at one of the exclusive hotels and resorts in Palmilla.

A morning in Chicxulub

Chicxulub Puerto, Yucatan 

Chicxulub (pronounced “chick-su-lube”) is a peaceful fishing town in the Northern Yucatan. Most of the town’s 4,000 or so residents still work in fishing and trade, but a steady trickle of tourists are gradually starting to discover Chicxulub during their adventures through the Yucatan. 

It was actually here where the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs smashed into the earth 65 million years ago. (That same meteor was responsible for creating all of the 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula that are so loved by tourists and locals today). 

The beach here is small but charming. There is a nice wooden pier that acts as something of a rendezvous-point for locals who sit on its edges, sharing bottles of coca cola and catching up on local gossip. 

If you are interested to learn more about the history of the dinosaurs, you can visit the nearby Sendero Jurásico which has been built around the impact site. This walking trail contains giant sculptures of different species of dinosaurs and is a great educational experience for kids and adults alike. 

If you want to find an even quieter beach, you can head out to Playa Uaymitun nearby. Access to Uaymitun is made via a dirt trail that veers off from the main road and even many locals aren’t aware of its existence. 

A quiet afternoon in Sisal, Northern Yucatan

Sisal, Yucatan 

Located in the northwestern Yucatan, Sisal is one of seven pueblo magicos in the Yucatan state. Mexican Pueblo magicos (magic towns) are places that have been recognized by the Mexican tourism board for offering a particularly special culture, gastronomy, or natural beauty so when a place is designated as such, it is usually a pretty good indicator that it is somewhere worth visiting. 

The stretch of coastline in Sisal is absolutely stunning. Some residents are not happy about the “pueblo magico” designation as property developers are starting to build many new luxury accommodations, hotels and condos in the area so in a few years from now, we may be looking at a very different Sisal. 

Come now before it becomes another mainstream Mexican destination. 

Gorgeous Baja California Sur

La Paz, Baja California Sur 

La Paz is a charming Mexican beach town that offers the best of both worlds. Its historic center is a great place to experience local life in Mexico and its colorful streets are filled with excellent mercados, taquerias and street food stands. 

You then only have to head a short distance away to find yourself immersed in some of the most gorgeous nature in Baja California. The La Paz malecon is a great place to go for a stroll, especially when the sun goes down, and it connects Playa El Coromuel beach in the north, to Marina La Paz in the south. 

La Paz was also the location of the 2017 “Ciudad Mural” project which saw 26 different artists commissioned to decorate various walls, structures and building facades with vibrant murals. It can be fun to embark on a self guided street art tour and seek out the various pieces.

Take a day tour to the uninhabited UNESCO-protected island of Espiritu Santo, snorkel with sea lions in the Sea of Cortez and head to the awesome rock formations at Cerro de la Calavera to watch the sunset.

Chuburna, Northern Yucatan

Final thoughts on the best beach towns in Mexico

As you can see, there are tons of gorgeous beaches and beach towns in Mexico, particularly along the Carribbean and Pacific Coasts and along the Gulf of Mexico. You really cant go wrong with any of the destinations that you choose on this list. 

As I mentioned, I live in Merida, Yucatan and I try and explore as much of my new home in Mexico as much as I can. As I discover more and more new places, I will add them to this list. 

Do you have any further questions, concerns, or recommendations to add for other travelers? Please dont hesitate to drop me a comment below, or connect with me via email or social media.

Safe travels and enjoy Mexico! Buen Viaje! Melissa xo 

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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