Mexico has long been known for its rich culture, amazing food, ancient ruins, lively music, and of course its beautiful beaches.
With a coastline that stretches for more than 9000 km, it’s no wonder that Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
You may be familiar with the popular resort beach towns such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Baja California, but did you know that Mexico is full of many wonderful smaller, lesser-known beach towns?
Some of these towns are so tiny that most people have never heard of them, such as Mazunte or Mahahual, but they all have stunning beaches.
You’ll find a variety of beaches all over Mexico such as the black volcanic beaches of Playa La Bocana, the wide, endless stretches of beaches in Puerto Escondido, or the stunning powdery white sand of Tulum – Mexico has it all.
If you’re looking for the best beach towns in Mexico, we have you covered with our in-depth list.
Sayulita has recently risen to fame as one of the best beach towns in Mexico and is also sometimes referred to as the “Hippy Capital of Mexico” for good reason.
Just an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta, the quiet little town is a lot less developed and therefore less crowded than Vallarta.
Sayulita is a very bohemian town and has a strong community vibe, popular with surfers, hippies, and spiritual seekers.
One of the enticing things about Sayulita is its affordable accommodation, whether you’re looking for a hostel, campsite, condo, villa, or boutique hotel, this small town has it all.
The hippie town has a great variety of seafood, bars, restaurants, and of course – and idyllic beaches you’ll be hard-pressed to find the likes of anywhere else in Mexico.
Once a small port town used to ship coffee, Puerto Escondido literally means ‘Hidden Port’ in Spanish after the legend of a Mixtec woman who escaped her pirate captors and hid there.
Puerto Escondido has recently become very popular within the past 5 or so years and especially during the pandemic as tourists that would normally go to Southeast Asia flocked here, as Mexico was still mostly open.
What makes Puerto Escondido one of the best beach towns in Mexico is its lack of high-rise buildings and resorts, wide and long beaches, excellent surfing, a growing party atmosphere, backpacker scene, and its more affordable compared to other beach towns.
Playa Zicatela is its most famous beach, which became popular for its surfing competitions held every year in November.
The impressive beach is 50 to 100 meters wide in some spots, and 4 km long, with waves as high as 16 meters! There are other fantastic beaches outside of Puerto Escondido such as Playa Palmarito, Punta Colorado, and Playa Carrizalillo.
Just two hours north of Cancun you’ll find a small little stretch of the island called Isla Holbox. Perhaps one of the most charming beach towns in Mexico, Isla Holbox has recently gained popularity thanks to its underdeveloped infrastructure, dirt roads and casual hippy vibes atmosphere.
Locals and tourists alike typically take weekend trips here from Cancun, Playa or Tulum. It’s really a place to disconnect from technology, make friends, walk along the 26-mile stretch of beaches, experience bioluminescent plankton or swim with whale sharks.
How can you talk about the best beach towns in Mexico without including Tulum? Yes, it may be pretentious at times, full of Instagram influencers and ‘Tuluminatis’ but it’s blessed with some of the nicest beaches in all of Mexico, with powdery white sand and bright blue water.
The coast of Oaxaca is full of hidden beaches and cute little towns, and Mazunte is quickly becoming one of the most popular.
Only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Puerto Escondido, Mazunte is a very laid-back spot full of hippies (yes again), surfing, and people aimlessly walking around the cute little streets, checking out unique shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Playa Del Carmen
We don’t like including overly developed, ‘Americanized’ resort towns on our list but we can’t resist including Playa Del Carmen.
Playa Del Carmen is really known for its nightlife, maybe even more so than its beaches. The beaches tend to be quite narrow and crowded, however, if you head a little south to Playacar beach you’ll find it much more enjoyable.
Two hours north of the popular Cabo San Lucas resort town you’ll find the much more subdued and less crowded La Paz, situated on a bay in the Baja peninsula facing the Sea of Cortez.
The brown desert landscape dotted with cacti with the stark contrast of the dark blue ocean makes for one of the most unique beach towns in Mexico.
There are plenty of things to do in La Paz besides lounging on the beach all day, consider kayaking at Balandara Beach, sand boarding in the dunes, whale watching, or spotting sea lions at Isla Espiritu Santo Island
Located two and a half hours south of Tulum, Mahahual is situated on what is known as Costa Maya, a picturesque beach and coast that’s a popular cruise ship stop. The town is both developed and underdeveloped at the same time.
In the north of Mahuahual, you’ll find more resorts and modern developments, popular with cruise goers. In the south, it’s more disconnected, quiet, and authentic.
We definitely recommend staying in the southern part of Mahahual where you’ll find cool little beaches, restaurants, and all sorts of camping spots if you’re looking to get off the grid.