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Mexico’s best beaches

Everyone has their own idea of a perfect beach. Some want Robinson Crusoe style seclusion, others want the calmest waters for their little ones to bathe safely in. Maybe you think a heavenly beach isn’t complete without a tropical beach bar and swaying palms, or perhaps a beach butler and king size beach bed is more your style.

Whatever your preferences, we’re sure that Mexico has the perfect beach for you. Here we’ve listed some of our favorites, from world-famous to secret gems. Take a look, and find your own perfect beach!

We’ve divided our favorites into these categories:

Desert island seclusion – when you want the beach all to yourselves
Family fun – child friendly beaches with calm water and space to play
Resort style – a beautiful beach with amenities and service
Beach bar style – sun, sand, and a cold beer or cocktail

Desert Island Seclusion

Want to see no other footprints but your own? You need to discover some of Mexico’s most remote or lesser known beaches. Most are just two or three hours from a major airport, and your lodgings range from simple to luxurious.

Caleta Blanca, Cuixmala beach

Cuixmala, Costalegre

Drive two hours south of Puerto Vallarta airport and you’ll find yourself on the pristine Costalegre. This beautiful coastline is home to some of the country’s best hideaways, from luxury villas to exclusive resorts.

This spectacular beach, called Caleta Blanca, is part of the prestigious Cuixmala Estate, where you can stay in extravagant private villas or surprisingly affordable casitas that can sleep from 2 to 6 people. This beach is one of several within the estate and is a short drive from the accommodations. Access is managed so that you’ll often be the only guests there.

If you don’t mind sharing with a few other people, take a look at the cute and comfortable Playa Rosa Bungalows located nearby on the beach of the same name.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve beach

Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve

Now that celebrities have discovered Tulum’s stunning beaches, it takes more effort to find your own stretch of sand nearby. You can do that easily if you head south into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve, paying a nominal admission fee and arming yourself with a sturdy vehicle. The road is unpaved and often ungraded, so four wheel drive or jeeps are necessary at some times of the year.

To experience the tranquillity and enjoy warm hospitality in a slightly less remote location, stay at one of the quieter properties in Tulum, such as Suenos Tulum, where you can still enjoy privacy and endless white sands, then explore the reserve by car.

Beach, Isla Espiritu Santo

Baja Camp, Isla Espiritu Santo

If you’re open to an adventurous vacation, you can truly have a beach all to yourself. Baja Camp is a tented hotel on the otherwise uninhabited Isla Espiritu Santo. You’ll sleep under canvas in a king size bed, and enjoy gourmet food cooked by the Italian owner that features the freshest fish imaginable.

There may be three or four other tents in the camp, but your vacation includes excursions to snorkel with sea lions or take a picnic on your very own beach, with no-one else in sight.

Family Fun

When you’re travelling with young children, the beach often is an important part of the vacation. These are our favorite family-friendly beaches, where the ocean is usually calm and perfect for paddling or water activities.

Playa Norte, a beach on Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

This is beautiful Playa Norte, the main beach on Isla Mujeres. It’s a fantastic beach for kids, since the sands shelve so gently that you can walk far into the water and still be only waist-deep.

There are several hotels and a scattering of beach bars behind the sands, and you’re within walking distance of the island’s charming town. Our favorite place to stay on the beach is hotel Na Balam, which also has a shady swimming pool and a nice restaurant.

Nizuc Resort and Spa beach

Punta Nizuc, near Cancun

Punta Nizuc was formerly the site of a Presidential palace, but is now the spectacular setting for the luxurious Nizuc Resort and Spa. Here there are two beautiful beaches, both of which are great for children. The main beach, pictured below, is shallower and ideal for wading, and calm enough for stand up paddle boarders too. This resort’s kids club is close by, and also features a children’s pool.

Punta Nizuc’s exclusive location is just outside the hotel zone, within easy reach of the airport. If you’d rather stay in the hotel zone proper, the Presidente Cancun has one of the calmest and shallowest beaches that’s just perfect for youngsters.

Majahuitas beach

Majahuitas Resort

One of our favorite beaches on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is at Majahuitas Resort. This rustic and tropical little hotel is a wonderful adventure for children aged 6 and upwards. It’s a stunningly beautiful beach with crystal clear water that’s ideal for snorkeling, kayaking and for just splashing around in.

Majahuitas Resort is accessible only by sea and the accommodations are delightfully quirky, with windows or even walls open to the breezes, outdoor showers and solar electricity. Some casitas are just for couples, others can sleep families of up to 6 people.

Holbox beach

Isla Holbox, Yucatan

Isla Holbox is one of the Yucatan peninsula’s best kept secrets. It can be reached from Cancun in three hours, and yet is a word apart from that resort city. On Holbox the streets are made of sand, there’s little vehicular traffic (you’ll be transported by electric golf cart), and the beaches are scattered with seashells.

Holbox’s beaches are quiet, calm and ideal for children. Our favorite hotel on the island is the Villas Delfines, which has a peaceful location within walking distance of the cute and colorful town. The tropical bungalows can comfortably accommodate a family of four, and the hotel has a nice swimming pool too.

Resort Style

So you like to relax on an amazing beach, but want a few more amenities close by – fine dining, world class spas, beach butlers and the like? Some of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches and bays are home to a collection of resort or boutique hotels, so you can enjoy a privileged location and outstanding service.

Mayakoba beach

Mayakoba, Riviera Maya

The Mayakoba estate boasts beautiful beaches backed by mangroves, canals and lagoons, making it a unique destination on the Riviera Maya. Three exclusive properties share the unspoiled coastline, the Fairmont Mayakoba, the Rosewood Mayakoba, and the Banyan Tree Mayakoba.

Of these, the Fairmont is the biggest, most family friendly and has arguably the best stretch of beach. The Rosewood is our top choice for luxury, and the Banyan Tree for privacy.  Guests at any of the three properties can enjoy transportation to each resort’s restaurants and beach clubs by boat or by road, and nature tours along the canals are a highlight of a stay here.

Xpu-ha beach

Xpu-ha, Riviera Maya

Beautiful Xpu-ha bay is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and is home to a selection of fine hotels plus beachfront cafes and water sports centers. The softest white sand beach gives way to gorgeous multi-hued Caribbean waters that are perfect for swimming.

Chic little Al Cielo hotel has one of the best restaurants in the area, and eight romantic rooms and suites. Next door, the luxurious Hotel Esencia has lavish beachfront suites, garden villas and extensive spa facilities.

Maroma beach

Maroma Beach, Riviera Maya

Voted one of the top ten beaches in the word by the Travel Channel, Maroma beach is two miles of perfection. The exclusive Belmond Maroma once had this picture-postcard setting all to itself, but it is now joined by a number of other upscale properties.

If you’re torn between a boutique hotel or a private villa rental, take a look at Kin Sol Soleil – it’s an idyllic mix of both styles of vacation, with lavish one and two bedroom suites enjoying spectacular Caribbean views.

Beach Bar Style

Join the young trendsetters at these beautiful beaches, where you can hop from one tropical beach bar to the next. Organic, freshly squeezed juices are the order of the day in some places and heady cocktails in others.

The beach is still the main attraction here but it’s nice to have a cold drink to hand, and it’s fun to try out new places along the bay.

Tulum Beach

Tulum, Riviera maya

Bohemian Tulum has some of the areas most beautiful beaches but a lack of infrastructure has prevented it from becoming overdeveloped – so far. For the moment at least, you can enjoy miles of unspoiled beaches dotted with small hotels, simple restaurants and thatched roof beach bars. It’s still a place for early nights rather than nightlife, but there are some great beach bars to enjoy while the sun sets.

One of our favorite places to hang out is la Zebra, where you’ll find colorful beachside cabanas and a lively bar-restaurant that’s cooled by sea breezes. Visit on Sunday for the beach barbecue with live salsa music and dance lessons on the sands.

Playa del Carmen beach

Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya

For sizzling nightlife and chic cocktail lounges, Playa del Carmen should be your destination. You can party until dawn at sophisticated clubs or sit with your feet in the sand and enjoy live music at a number of beach clubs.

We’re not much into nightlife ourselves, but we love Playa del Carmen for its huge choice of restaurants, from relaxed outdoor dining on lively 5th Avenue to inexpensive local restaurants on the back streets. It’s also a lot less expensive here than many nearby resorts, and it’s a great base for a long stay.

For lodgings, Be Playa matches the trendy, modern vibe and has a cool rooftop pool, whilst Riviera del Sol is more traditional and good for families.