Today you won´t get a new travel report, instead you will receive a list of my top 5 beaches in Mexico! Here you will find definitely something for your next trip after the crisis.
I love the beach and the ocean! That´s why I always need to plan at least one or two days at the beach during my travels. How about you? Mexico is place 13 on the list of countries with the longest coastline worldwide. With more than 9.330 km it comes directly after Great Britain - which consists only of islands^^.
This article is also available in English.
My recommendation: The best travel guide for your trip through Mexico*.
Beaches of Mexico - Characteristics
Während meiner vielen Besuche und meines Expateinsatzes in Mexiko in den letzten Jahren bin ich viel durch das Land gereist und habe tolle Strände entdecken können. Das Land lässt euch die Wahl zwischen dem Golf von Mexiko und dem karibischen Meer im Osten sowie dem Golf von Kalifornien und dem Pazifik im Westen.
The west side is a bit colder and more rough: There are higher waves for surfers, whale watching and every kind of water sports. The best time for a visit is between November and April. May is the hottest month, between July and September it rains often. The water temperature varies between 25°C in winter and 31°C in summer. The most famous places on the sea are Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos:
On the east side of the country mainly the beaches on the carribean sea in front of the yucatán peninsula are from interest. The water is more calm, there are less waves, the water temperature is a bit higher (between 28°C-35°C). During the hurricane season between June and October it can be very rainy and stormy. That´s why the best time for a visit is also between November and April. The Belize barrier reef is located in front of the coast line, it is the second biggest reef system in the world and invites to scuba and snorkle. The most famous places by the sea are Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Aber auch kleinere Orte und Inseln ziehen immer mehr Touristen an, zum Beispiel Cozumel:
Die meisten von euch kennen wahrscheinlich die Gegend um Cancún. Die Halbinsel Yucatán hat für jeden Urlauber extrem viel zu bieten, doch es gibt auch noch andere Ecken, die ihr in den kommenden Jahren definitiv einplanen solltet. Hier kommen meine Top 5:
#1: Tulum: Zona Hotelera
Ihr werdet jetzt wahrscheinlich denken: “Tulum? Das kennt ja schon jeder, was soll daran so besonders sein?”. Stimmt, Tulum (Report) developed a lot during the last 20 years and is popular with tourist from all over the world.
It is still my number 1, because:
- Beach: Very clean, fine sand, no stones and because tourists are so important for the area the sea weed is cleaned asap. During my last visit there was no sea weed at all.
- Hotels: No big ressorts like in Cancún, but many small boutique hotels.
- Restaurants/Bars: There are many nice bars and restaurants along the Zona Hotelera. There is only one street and the jungle reaches till the beach. That´s why many restaurants are located directly in the forrest - this atmosphere is amazing.
- Clubs: If you like cocktails and music on the beach then you will love Tulum. You won´t find big clubs and overcrowded beach bars like in Cancún or Playa here.
What I don´t like:
- Preise: In den letzten Jahren sind die Preise extrem gestiegen. In der Hotelzone entlang des Strandes könnt ihr kaum noch zu normalen Preisen essen oder ausgehen.
- Traffic: There is just one (dirt) road through the hotel zone - which means: Traffic jam, dust and a lot of cars.
Hotel recommendations for Tulum:
- Budget: Las Palmas Maya* - simple rooms with mosquito nets, fans and own bathroom. The AC only works during the night (to save electricity), beakfast can be booked additional (but there is always free coffee at the reception). The staff is really friendly. The hotel is not located directly at the beach, you will find it on the other side on the road (towards the jungle). But this is not a problem because you can access the beach through a tunnel to the Taquieria La Eufemia.
- Very good: Habitas Tulum* - Pool, own part of the beach, many additional services (bicycles, yoga, mezcal tasting, massages, maditation, ...), showers under the clear sky, very good breakfast (not inclusive).
- Superb: Hotel Ma’xanab Tulum* - 5* Hotel, Pool, own part of the beach, gym, additional servies (bicycles, spa, ...), very good breakfast (inclusive)
No hammock at the hotel?*
Let´s continue with Yucatán: The Island Holbox (travel report) is located in front of the north coast of the yucatán peninsula. Holbox stand for a small paradise: Relaxed boutique hotels, long beaches, no cars (only beach buggies on sand roads) - sounds good, or? Also there are some other sights nearby: A bay with Dinoflagellaten (bioluminescence), Flamingos, a nice nature reserve and some small islands.
Why is Holbox my number 2?
- Atmosphäre: Hier geht es sehr entspannt zu – das kleine Fischerdorf erwacht erst gegen Mittag so richtig zum Leben. Es gibt keinen Autoverkehr, fast alles ist fußläufig erreichbar.
- Beach: Long sandy beach with many bars and deck chairs to rent. The sand is not as fine as in Tulum and sometimes there is a bit of sea weed (but never to much that it would disturb you).
- Hotels: There are a few bigger hotels directly at the beach - but no ressorts like in Cancún. You can also find apartments and boutique hotels.
- Prices: Holbox is cheaper than Tulum and not that famous yet. There are still some hidden bars and restaurants.
What I don´t like:
- How to get there: You can reach Holbox only by ferry from the small village Chiquilá. Either you take a rental car in Cancún or a bus (cheap/slow) or a taxi (fast/xpensive). To get there is definietly more difficult then to get to Tulum for example.
Hotel recommendations for Holbox:
- Budget: Hotel Mittoz Holbox* - in the village (1 Min. to the beach), small rooms (some with view on the sea), roof top with small pool, new hotel
- Very good: Hotel El Pueblito* - in the center of the village, nice rooms (very colorful, but a bit small), Pool, good breakfast, restaurants and bars around the corner
- Superb: Villas Caracol* - directly at the beach, pool, good breakfast, deck chairs/umbrellas/hammocks at the beach, drinks at the beach, free kayaks
Don´t miss your beack blanket:*
#3: La Paz: Playa Balandra
Balandra (travel report) was often rated as the most beautiful beach in Mexico. Everybody who was there before knows why. The water is very clear and shines in many different tones of blue. Due to the low depth you can almost walk to the other side of the bay.
What I like about Balandra:
- Water: Narrow, almost no waves, very clear - what else do you want?
- Silence: The more you walk direction east the less tourists you will meet. Perfect to spend a relaxed day.
Why Balandra is only my number 3 if it was rated very often as the most beautiful beach?:
- Location: Balandra is located in the middle of nowhere. You only reach the beach by car and often you need to park far away because the parking place is full.
- Facilities: Because you are inside a nature reserve there are no bars, restaurants, deck chairs, etc.. Also you won´t find many toilettes there.
Hotel recommendations for La Paz:
- Budget: Seven Crown La Paz Centro Historico* - in the historic city center, within walking distance of restaurants, bars and the malecón; pool, good breakfast, bar, good staff
- Very good: Hotel La Posada & Beach Club* - Pool, beach, gym, spa, Temazcal sauna, good breakfast, five minutes from the center of the city
- Superb: Puerta Cortes Residences: Vistamar* - 5* ressort, big pool, beach club (with infinity pool), golf club, tennis courts, gym, spa, different restaurants, outside the city
Because there are no beach bars in Balandra you need to bring your own drinks and food. This box suits perfect for this reason:*
#4: Puerto Escondido: Playa Zicatela and Playa Carrizalillo
Let´s visit the surfers paradise in Oaxaca! Puerto Escondido (travel report) is famous with many surfers due to the Mexican pipe, one of the best waves worldwide. Swimming is possible here, but you need to calculate with big waves. North of the city you can release turtles into the ocean and on the small malecón you can find good beach clubs. Playa Zicatela: Zicatela is perfect for long walks on the beach (>4 km). At the south end you will find pretty boutique hotels, apartments and cool bars. It reminded me a lot on Tulum, but is less crowded and much cheaper. Playa Carrizalillo: Small, central beach in a bay - you need to take a picture here!
What I liked:
- Beach: Perfect for long walks (>4 km length of the beach), perfect for surfing (Mexican pipe - but not for beginners).
- Atmosphere: Not overcrowded yet, at the south end of Zicatela you can find nice boutique hotels, bars and cafetarias.
- Nightlife: The small malecón has nice beach bars and clubs.
What I didn´t like:
- Waves, waves, waves: Relaxed swimming is not possible here.
Hotel recommendations for Puerto Escondido:
- Budget: One Love Hostal Puerto Escondido* - colorful bungalows with palapa roofs, yoga courses, hammocks, several bars and restaurants around the corner
- Very good: Punta Zicatela Hotel* - directly at the beach, pool, roof top with bar, hammocks, view on the ocean
- Superb: Villas Carrizalillo* - good location at the nice Playa Carrizalillo, very good restaurant, perfect view, Pool
No deck chair? Make yourself comfortable:*
#5: Puerto Vallarta: Playa los Muertos
Puerto Vallarta (travel report) is not known to many europeans, but many US tourists know it. In the past many travellers from the USA stayed here, but now they often go to Baja California (Los Cabos) und in Vallarta findet man wieder viele einheimische Touristen. Das Gebiet um Puerto Vallarta ist komplett touristisch erschlossen – von Sayulita über Punta Mita, Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta und weiter nach Süden findet ihr unzählige Strände. Für jeden Geschmack ist etwas dabei: Wer das volle Programm möchte (Bars, Restaurants, Nachtleben), der wird am Playa los Muertos oder den sich weiter nördlich anschließenden Stränden Playa Olas Altas oder Playa de Oro fündig. Wer es eher ruhig möchte, der fährt aus der Stadt raus, z.B. zum Playa Majahuitas (nur per Boot erreichbar) oder nach Norden in Richtung Sayulita.
What I liked:
- Atmosphere: Many nice restaurants, Malecón with some sights, many activities (e.g. turtle release, whale watching, water sports).
- Nightlife: Good selection of clubs and bars
- Surroundings: Many other beaches nearby - something for every taste.
What I didn´t like?:
- Puerto Vallarta is completely touristic - during the high season it is overcrowded here.
Hotel recommendations for Puerto Vallarta:
- Budget: Hotel Paloma del Mar* - Pool, restaurant, 1.8 km from the city center, two blocks from the beach
- Very good: Hotel Porto Allegro Puerto Vallarta* - in the center, roof top, small pool, gym, breakfast inclusive, 3 minutes to the beach
- Superb: Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive & Spa* - big pool area, directly at the beach, several restaurants, sauna, spa, steam bath, gym, all inclusive program possible, several acitivities available in the hotel
In any places only mineral suncremes are officially allowed. Especially in places near coral reefs, like Cozumel, you should avoid unnecessary chemical - so future generations can also enjoy visiting the reef:*
Other beaches in Mexico:
Of course there are many more beaches. The following list contains only a few of them:
- Los Cabos: At the south end of Baja California you can find the two cities San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas - often named as Los Cabos. This area is very famous with US tourists - which means in my opinion: Big hotels/ressorts, few public beaches, expensive prices and bad food.
- Mazatlán: The city with the longest Malecón. Not very famous with foreign tourists. Here you can find a very long beach which almost disappears during hight tide. The ground is very hard and not sandy like in Tulum and other locations.
- Acapulco: In the past one of the most famous sea baths in Mexico. The high crime rate during the last years reduced tourism a lot. Acapulco is a bit rundown and looses significance.
- Cancún: Probably the most famous place in Yucatán. The beach in front of the hotel zone is very good - no stones, very clean, many bars and restaurants. But here are many big ressort and because of the US tourists it is quite expensive.
- Isla Mujeres: Small island in front of Cancún - nice for diving or lying at the beach. Unfortunately very crowded during season.
- Isla Cozumel: I like Cozumel a lot! The island is located east of Playa del Carmen and can be reached by ferry. On the west coast you won´t find many nice beaches, but the less populated east side has a lot of nice beaches to offer. I made a dive course in Cozumal (I will write the report soon) because the island is located on the Balize barrier reef.
- Mahahual: I didn´t really understand this place. On one side it is a fishing village, on the other side a port for big cruise ships. If there is no cruise ship the place is basically dead. Also the construction of the village is strange - between the houses of the locals you can find small boutique hotels. The beach was also not very convincing.
- Bacalar: Kein Strand im eigentlichen Sinne, sondern eine Lagune (“Lagune der sieben Farben”). Ein toller Tipp für eure Tour durch Yuacatán: