Mexico – information about the best resorts
Mexico is the most popular foreign tourist destination for U.S. residents. More than 32 million U.S. residents visited Mexico in 2019. Mexico has almost everything vacation travelers look for: warm seas, good climate, sandy beaches, delicious food, restaurants and nightclubs. Surf lovers will find a good wave in Mexico, and fishing enthusiasts will find a big catch. Mexico also has unique historical sites.
Our guide will help you prepare for your trip to Mexico: hotels, flights, tours and tickets.
In 2019, Mexico was the 7th most visited country in the world and second in North America. Most tourists come to Mexico from the United States and Canada. The most popular resort city for residents of European countries is Cancun.
Mexico is bordered on the north by the United States, so tourists from the United States do not need to take a long flight to get to Mexico. (The length of the border is 1,950 miles, 3,140 kilometers.)
So many people like to spend their vacations by the warm sea. Mexico has many good places for beach vacations, diving, and fishing. Mexico is washed on the west by the waters of the Pacific Ocean (and the Gulf of California). To the east are the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico (Atlantic Ocean).
Mexico’s coastline is about 9,330 kilometers (5,800 miles) long. Approximately 7,340 kilometers (4,560 miles) of coastline are on the west (Pacific Ocean) and 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles) on the east (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea).
There are a lot of good beaches in Mexico. It is generally accepted that the best place for a beach vacation is the Yucatan Peninsula, but there are many good beaches on the west coast as well.
If you are planning to go on vacation to Mexico, you can find a package tour here.
Mexico’s East Coast
It is generally accepted that the best beaches in Mexico are on the east coast, the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Yucatan Peninsula is located in the southeasternmost part of Mexico. To the west of the peninsula is the Gulf of Mexico and to the east is the Caribbean Sea. The peninsula is home to Mexico’s most popular resort destinations for foreigners. The city of Cancun is among the best resorts in the world. The resort coast of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, the islands of Cozumel and Mujeres are situated to the south of Cancun. The ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is also located on the Yucatan Peninsula.
(You probably know that the Caribbean Sea is also home to other great tourist destinations such as Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.) (The distance from Mexico to Cuba across the Yucatan Strait is about 210 km.)
– Havana (Cuba) – 500 km.
- Cancun – Miami – 860 km.
- Cancun – Acapulco – 1,450 km.
- Cancun – New York – 2500 km.
- Cancun – Moscow – 10 10 km.
Cancun is the largest and most visited city on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. So many Americans and Canadians choose Cancún as their vacation destination in Mexico, but many tourists go to other cities on the coast. Most hotels and the best beaches are located in the area called Isla Cancún, which is a narrow strip of land (width 300 – 500 meters) separating the lagoon Nichupté from the Caribbean Sea. Learn more about the resort of Cancun.
The Riviera Maya is a resort area on the Caribbean coast in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, south of the city of Cancun. There are several towns popular with tourists, many good beaches, hotels, and restaurants. The resort towns along the coast are Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Tulum. In this region not far from the coast there are also two popular tourist islands: Cozumel and Mujeres.
How long is the coastline of the Riviera Maya? You will find different values in different sources. The fact is that this region is constantly developing, so its length is also increasing. The length of the Riviera Maya can be from 140 to 200 kilometers.
Chichen Itza .
Chichen Itza is one of the main archaeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. The ancient city of Chichen Itza was founded by the Mayan people around A. D. 500. Chichen Itza is about 125 miles (200 km) west of the city of Cancun. You can rent a car to get to where you want to go.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, in the middle of the Riviera Maya tourist area, about 50 kilometers from Cancun Airport. There are excellent sandy beaches right in and near the city. The main pedestrian street is Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue). In the southern part of the city is built tourist area Playacar. Playacar has hotels, villas, a golf course and a beach. Ferries to the island of Cozumel depart from the pier.
Cozumel is considered one of the best places in the world for scuba diving. The island is located in the Caribbean Sea, about 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Playa del Carmen. The island is 45 km long and 14 km wide. The island’s coastline is mostly rocky, but the island also has some excellent beaches. Ferries run between the island and Playa del Carmen daily (weather permitting). The trip takes about 45 minutes one way. (The fare was $12 in 2020.)
This is the second busiest airport in Mexico after Mexico City International Airport. Cancun Airport serves more international destinations than Mexico City Airport. The airport is about 15 kilometers away from the center of Cancun. You can get from the airport to downtown Cancun by ADO buses. If you need to get to the tourist area of Cancun or other places on the Riviera Maya, you better take a cab. You can book a transfer in advance.
Mexico Pacific Coast
Mexico’s Pacific Coast (west coast) also has great beaches. (Although it is generally accepted that the best sandy beaches are in the east of the country, on the Yucatan Peninsula.) The Pacific coast offers many activities for sports and outdoor enthusiasts: surfing, diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, whale watching, and nature walks.
The west coast of Mexico has big cities with an active nightlife and crowds of tourists. But if you are looking for a quiet vacation, you will find good places, small towns and sparsely populated beaches. Would you say that the west coast of Mexico is more suitable for active and sporty people, independent travelers? What is your opinion?
The total coastline is about 4,550 miles (7,350 kilometers) long, with the Baja California Peninsula making up almost half of it.
Some distances (for travel by car):
- Tucson (U.S.) – Nogales (border crossings) – 60 miles (95 km).
- Tucson (USA) – (Lukeville border crossings) – Puerto Peñasco – 205 miles (330 km).
- Nogales – Guaymas – 255 miles (410 km).
- Guaymas – Mazatlán – 470 miles (760 km).
- Mazatlán – Puerto Vallarta – 270 miles (430 km).
- Puerto Vallarta – Acapulco – 590 miles (950 km).
San Diego – La Paz (Baja California) – 960 miles (1,500 km).
Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular resort cities in Mexico. The city is located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in the Bay of Bahia de Banderas. Puerto Vallarta is a popular vacation destination for residents of the western United States and Canada. (Tourists usually just call the town Vallarta, while visitors from English-speaking countries sometimes abbreviate the name to two letters – PV.)
There are several excellent beaches right in the city limits. As in any resort town, tourists love to stroll along the waterfront (e.g. Malecon Promenade), visiting stores and restaurants. Sea excursions are also among the most popular tourist attractions.
About 9 kilometers north of downtown Puerto Vallarta (north of the airport) is the town of Nuevo Vallarta. It can be considered as a separate town or as a tourist area of Puerto Vallarta. Here are created conditions for a comfortable stay for foreign tourists: excellent hotels, restaurants and beach.
Puerto Vallarta International Airport named after Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport) is located approximately 6 kilometers north of the city center. Most international flights arrive from cities in the United States and Canada.
- You can get to the city center from the airport by bus, but the most convenient form of transportation is a cab. You can order a cab in advance, online.
- When choosing a hotel, it is useful to read customer reviews. You will surely find a good hotel here.
Acapulco is one of the oldest beach resorts in Mexico. It became popular with wealthy residents of the United States as early as the mid-20th century. Nowadays, not only the very rich, but also people with average income can afford a vacation in Acapulco. Since then, many other resort towns have sprung up in Mexico and you have a wide variety of places to spend your vacation now. Acapulco Bay is said to be one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The city has great beaches, many hotels, and stores. There is a downside as well. Acapulco has repeatedly been called one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. But I think that if you behave reasonably, your vacation will be quite safe.
When choosing a hotel, pay attention to customer reviews. Here you will find links to the best sites for hotel reservations.
Acapulco International Airport (Juan Álvarez International airport) is located 15 miles (25 km) from the city. The airport has a well-organized cab service with fixed rates. You can also book a cab in advance.
Distance (by road): Acapulco to Cancun – 1,900 km. Rent a car and travel around Mexico however you want.
Puerto Peñasco is a very popular destination for tourists from USA. Why is Puerto Peñasco so popular? It is not only the beautiful beaches and warm climate that attracts tourists. It is also the closest Mexican resort town to some of the cities in the United States, and not too difficult to get to on your own. It is only 62 miles (100 km) from the US border (Arizona). Puerto Peñasco is often referred to as “Arizona Beach” in the US, as it is the closest beach to Arizona (USA) cities like Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma. Fishing is also a popular tourist attraction. An annual fishing festival is held in Puerto Peñasco in early June. There are many vacation homes, hotels, and campgrounds in and around the city. (For example, RV Rental AT ROCKY POINT MEXICO.) You can find the right place to stay here. (Tourists recommend Rocky Point Sonoran Sky, for example.)
Baja California Peninsula
The Baja California Peninsula (Baja California Peninsula) stretches along the Mexican mainland almost from the U.S. border to the southeast. The peninsula is about 775 miles (1,250 kilometers) long and 25 to 200 miles (40 to 300 kilometers) wide. The peninsula separates the Gulf of California from the Pacific Ocean. It is a great place for nature lovers, sport fishing, and surfing.
Gulf of California
The Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez) is between the California Peninsula and the continental coast of Mexico. The bay is 700 miles (1,120 km) long and 30-150 miles (50-240 km) wide.
The Pacific side of the peninsula is thought to be better for surfing, while the eastern shore is more attractive for beach lovers.
In the south of the peninsula are the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo (municipality of Los Cabos). These are popular tourist destinations that offer vacationers fishing, surfing, golf, and whale watching in addition to beach holidays.
General Abelardo L. Rodriguez International Airport (TIJ IATA ) in Tijuana and San Jose del Cabo International Airport (SJD IATA ) are the most popular points of entry to the Baja California Peninsula from all over Mexico.
Los Cabos International Airport is located in the south of the Baja California Peninsula, near the municipality of Los Cabos. The main international destinations are the United States and Canada. The distance from the airport to San Jose del Cabo is 15 km, and to Cabo San Lucas – 45 km. You can get to your destination by bus. This is the cheapest mode of transport. But it is most convenient to order a cab.
Tijuana is the largest city of the Baja California Peninsula. The city is located on the Pacific coast of Baja California, near the U.S. border. Tijuana is only 15 miles (25 km) from San Diego, USA, and is the most visited border city in the world. Tourists can cross the border at San Ysidro Port of Entry either by car or on foot (PedWest).
- There are excellent beaches in Mexico on both the Pacific coast and the Yucatan Peninsula (Cancun, Riviera Maya).
- It is believed that the best places for surfing are on the west coast. For example: Ensenada (Baja California), Mazatlán (Sinaloa), Sayulita (Nayarit), Cuyutlán (Colima), Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.
- The best places for whale watching are on the Pacific coast of Mexico (and the Baja California Peninsula): Bahia de Banderas, Los Cabos, Sayulita, Rincon de Guayabitos, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos.
If you are planning to go on vacation to Mexico, you can find a package tour here.
Mexico’s 10 Best Beaches
There are endless opportunities to enjoy all kinds of beach vacations in Mexico. This is no surprise, as the country has a coastline on the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of California sides.
There are secluded beaches along the Gulf where you can come with your own motorhome and have the best beach vacation “wilderness” of your life. Plus, there will be a chance to meet gray whales in person.
On the Pacific coast, you’ll see local fish taco vendors standing by almost every cove where the traveler will be greeted by calm sheltered waters. On the Caribbean side are numerous all-inclusive resorts with their sandy beaches.
We have compiled a list of the best beaches for different interests: for those who like secluded vacations, active entertainment or partying.
This strip of hidden coves lies south of Mulega in Southern Baja California, and is considered the most beautiful coastline in the Gulf of California, if not all of Mexico. Concepcion Cove attracts adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. Many independent travelers choose this region as their final destination and stay here for weeks. Pleasant blue-green waters, quaint rock formations and abundant marine life make it a great option for kayaking enthusiasts. And the sheltered coves are perfect for swimming.
The coves by the water have many budget-friendly camping areas. We advise going there with some time to spare, as there is a high risk that you may want to linger.
If you are interested in a secluded vacation, but without being too “savage,” we recommend contacting Todos Santos Eco Adventures. They have three glamping sites (a term coined from the words “glamour” and “camping”) that can make you forget about the rest of the world. Camp Cecil de la Isla is located in Espirito Santo Bay. Here you will find several luxury tents, chef services, as well as: swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and sapboarding. There are also qualified naturalists and guides ready to take you on fascinating excursions that will teach you about the ecology of the island and the bay. But this camp is also perfect for those who plan to spend their days reading books and sipping cocktails.
And, of course, you’ll have a great time, because TOSEA works hard to offer its clients a unique experience. Working together with naturalists, nature reserves and locals, they are implementing a program to reduce plastic waste in the Todos Santos area. Glamping vacations are structured so that no trace will be left behind after your presence in nature.
Mexico has quite a few good beaches with their own twist, but Tulum is our favorite. The picturesque coastline with fine sand, azure waters and fragrant breezes is what makes this beach one of the best in the country. Plus, where else is all of the above complemented by the epic Mayan ruins?
This beach is for those looking for scenic spots, stylish restaurants and Instagram-worthy views. There’s also plenty of entertainment around, in case you decide to break away from your lounger in the afternoon.
You can stay right by the beach – the prices here will be higher, but also the views are better. Budget rooms can be found in hotels in the historic center.
In our opinion, a great option is Hotel La Posada del Sol, located by the beach. Hot tip: If you want to try the original taco or the dish “cochinita pibil” (fried pig), head to the Taqueria Honotio establishment.
The Pacific coast near the city of Oaxaca is beautiful and lacks large-scale development. The local golden sand beaches offer a good place to relax, as the shoreline is almost empty and the lagoons are full of sea creatures. The gem of the region is Salcha Beach, which is located between the western tip of Huatulco National Park and the town of Puerto Angel.
The water can be a bit rough on the main beach, but there are several areas nearby where conditions are more suitable for swimming. Nearby is the town of Huatelco, founded in the late 1980s with a more prominent emphasis on environmental stewardship than many of Mexico’s larger resorts. There are more than 100 snorkeling spots in the nearby waters and 45 hectares of coral reefs. As a consequence, it is an ideal area to explore the underwater world without spending too much money. Dolphins, turtles and humpback whales constantly appear near the coast.
The best tours are organized by Huatulco Salvaje, which employs certified local guides. Many of them grew up in families that moved when the National Park was created, so they know the local wildlife well.
The city of Puerto Vallarta has lost a bit of its popularity due to Cancun’s growing prominence. However, it is still a very tempting place, which is located by the shimmering waters of Banderas Bay, surrounded by palm-covered mountains. There is also a strong nightlife scene and plenty of entertainment options for the LGBT community.
One of the beaches near the city is Yelapa. It is the farthest southern beach and is nestled in a pleasant, secluded bay. On the local pier you can regularly see members of the local community catching fish. The beach can be crowded with tourists in the morning but becomes less crowded in the afternoon. Moreover, there are good accommodation options if you want to enjoy the beach in the quieter evening.
Las Islitas Beach
Riviera Nayarit is popular with family vacationers, and for good reason. Punta Mita and Sayulita are two charming coastal towns with clear emerald water, white sand and great food. You can also tour the wildlife of the stunning mountain jungle here.
The beaches here – Los Cocos, Miramar and Las Islitas (our favorite) – are popular with surfers. All beaches have traditional palapas huts where you can relax and drink coconut water. Las Islitas beach has excellent swimming conditions due to the soft waves (even the less confident swimmers will be comfortable here).
If you want to go surfing, you should head to the town of Troncones with the beach of the same name. For several years now, surfers from all over the world come here. You can ride a bicycle in the local mountains, and the day tours include visits to a nearby cave with ancient petroglyphs or the local hot springs, which are good for relaxing after surfing.
Cosumel is the best place in Mexico for scuba diving (scuba diving or just snorkeling). The local reefs are well known around the world, and for good reason. The water provides high visibility at all times of the year, and the richness of marine life will impress even experienced divers, as there are: eagle rays, morays, sea bass, barracudas, turtles, sharks, brain corals and huge sponges.
El Cielo Beach (“Heaven”) lives up to its heavenly name. Relatively shallow emerald waters await you, with ideal conditions for snorkeling. A great chance to swim among starfish, stingrays and other small but colorful fish. And it’s the perfect place to take a little break after some serious diving.
If snorkeling is your main goal, you should go to Cosumel in September or October, when weather conditions are optimal. You can book a tour with Aldora Divers, which is one of the best operators of such services in Cozumel. They will take you to the right side of the island, depending on the weather, and show you the sleeping shark caves.
This lagoon is an area of 60 kilometers covered in white sand and washed with crystal clear water. These conditions are perfect for camping, swimming, kayaking and lazing amid a color palette of blues, greens and shimmering whites (it feels like you’ve gone from reality to a filtered world).
The small and semi-sleepy city has enough infrastructure to give you something to do and where to eat. But let’s be honest – you should enjoy the local beauties to the fullest without fuss and in silence.
If you have a dream of owning a house by the sea, go to the complex “Rancho Encantado”. Here’s a sample day of life at this gorgeous hotel: rise, have breakfast by the lagoon, kayak or swim in the calm, clear water, and relax in the Jacuzzi in the evening.
Los Algodones Beach.
This beach is located near the little-known town of San Carlos, and is considered the most beautiful in northern Mexico. The sand is soft and white, the water is blue and calm, and the view from the beach is straight to the picturesque mountains.
Above the quiet town of San Carlos are the two peaks of the Tetacavi hill, which take on a magical reddish hue at sunset. The main attraction in these places (besides relaxing on the beach itself) is kayaking. However, you can go hiking in the mountains or horseback riding in the desert.
The northern part of Mexico is rarely visited by foreign tourists, but on weekends there may be many vacationers from the nearby town of Hermosillo. Despite this, there are still fewer travelers (especially foreigners) in the state of Sonora than one would assume, based on the number of interesting places and striking beauties.
The beach of Zipolite is huge (it is almost three kilometers long) and there are big waves. It is famous for a large number of nudists: at any time of the day here you can see completely naked people swimming, sunbathing on the sand or just strolling around. To be fair, this is more characteristic of the coves at the western end of the beach (one of them is called Playa del Amor or “Love Beach”).
The town of Zipolite is a quiet series of huts, beach houses and rustic boutique hotels. It is the largest of the three beach towns west of Puerto Angel, known for its excellent surfing conditions as well as an atmosphere of doing nothing with a touch of bohemian magic.
The thing about Zipolite is that there are minimal options for organized entertainment. In this place, you can just hang around doing nothing and twist the knobs of your own laziness to the maximum. Every once in a while, however, you’ll need a bite to eat, which you can do at La Providencia, which features modern Mexican cuisine and has a great terrace.
Ah, Puerto Escondido! We guess this is where surfers go when they die. Many places in the world claim the title of the perfect surfing beach, but Sicatela near Puerto Escondido is consistently in the top 10 for all lovers of the sport. The beach is 3.5 kilometers long and offers huge waves. The heart of the action is the Mexican Pipeline at the northern end of the beach. However, if you want to learn from the best, head to Carrizalillo Beach.
This small and beautiful secluded cove west of the central beach is considered the real star of Mexico. Here you can hang out, swim, and generally live the life of desperate surfers. In fact, the place is geared toward beginners. Book a lesson, and by the end you’ll already be able to ride a couple or three times. When you’re done, a whole strip of beach bars will help you come to your senses.
Directly in town, we recommend checking out the Rinconada neighborhood, which has become the local culinary center. If you are a fan of nightlife, you should know that in the beach bars of Sicatela, incendiary dance parties last until late.