cenote in mexico

Plunge into the Il Kil cenote, a few steps away from Chichen Itza. (Photo: Elijah-Lovkoff / Getty Images)

Beach Travel

Soak Up Sun, Sand and Shimmering Waves at These Mexican Beaches

Blazing sunshine and usually minimal rain make any time ideal to relax on a sun lounger on one of Mexico’s pristine beaches.

The beaches tend to get busy with national and international tourists, but those who prefer to get away from the crowds can usually find a hidden bay or two a little out of way with less people.

Mexico’s beaches all offer something a little different, so here is our guide to help you choose which one is right for you.

Cancun: Come for the Party but Indulge in the Culture

Think ‘spring break’ and you might immediately conjure up images of Cancun. This area of Mexico’s Caribbean is synonymous with nightclubs, parties on the beach and a whole lot of fun. The famous Boulevard Kukulcan is home to the big, bold nightspots like Coco Bongo and Dady’O where you can party until the sun comes up enjoying world-class DJs and live performances.

However, Cancun isn’t entirely about partying, the town center has a more relaxed feel and visitors can take in the majestic Maya culture, visiting nearby archeological sites like Chichen Itza (one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) or swimming in underground cenotes that were considered sacred paths to the underworld by the ancient Maya.

Watersports abound too, with an underwater museum and jet ski adventures among the options, and if you want to go full barefoot bohemian, a trip out of Cancun to one of Tulum’s holistic spas will be the perfect day trip.

Puerto Vallarta: A Low-Key Cancun Packed with Tradition

There’s definitely partying to be done in Puerto Vallarta, should that be what you are looking for. While it is a little less dramatic than the party scene in Cancun, Vallarta has clubs and bars lining the Malecon.

However, Puerto Vallarta retains a more traditional feel, with its quaint town, overlooked by the baroque structure of the Parish of our Lady of Guadalupe. This is a destination for those who want to be sure that they are still in Mexico, with great Mexican food options and a deeply rooted local vibe.

Watersports abound and there is many a virgin stretch of beach to explore. A stroll along the Malecon at sunset or during the day to check out the local shops and boutiques is a great option and art lovers can enjoy art walks to learn about the sculptures that line the seafront.

Los Cabos: A Classy Option for Adventure Sport Lovers

Located on the very tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, Los Cabos offers luxury in the extreme. Great restaurants and classy bars with great sunset watching spots like Sunset MonaLisa give it rather a romantic feel.

There are nightclubs such as Mandala and Coco Bongo, or vacationers can head to San Jose del Cabo for more low-key bars offering locally brewed craft beers and great tacos. The famous art walk will take you on a stroll around the streets of the town exploring different galleries with drinks along the way to refresh yourself in the balmy Cabos’ evenings.

During the day, your adventurous heart will be sated with everything from snorkeling among the reefs, ATV tours through the desert landscape and kayaking around the rugged coast.

Punta Mita: An Exclusive Destination for Ultimate Luxury

St. Regis hotel gardens
In Punta Mita, you will feel worlds away from it all. (Photo: Jennifer Fernández Solano)

While just a forty-minute drive from the international Puerto Vallarta airport, when you enter the gated beach destination of Punta Mita, you will feel worlds away from it all. One of Mexico’s most exclusive vacation spots, it is popular with both international and Mexican celebrities.

The position of the coastline means there are areas with great waves for surfing, while there are also bays with calm waters for paddle boarding. Just offshore, the protected reef is home to an abundance of wildlife, making it a great place to snorkel.

Onshore, you can enjoy upper-class dining at the five diamond, AAA restaurant Carolina or you can snack on some fish tacos with your toes in the sand at Mita Mary.

Golf lovers will love two Jack Nicklaus signature Golf Courses and those who want to turn the relaxation up a notch can indulge in a whole variety of spa treatments, with everything from traditional massages to Tibetan singing bowl sound therapy.