Mexico is a country of contradictions. Where modernity meets ancient culture, beach resorts meet archaeological ruins and all-night parties meet untamed jungle. It is a land of adventure and exploration. There are a myriad of reasons to visit Mexico.
You can be swimming in an underground lake in the morning, then climbing a towering pyramid in the afternoon. Or maybe you just want to kick back and relax with a mojito and plate of tacos on one of Mexico’s seemingly endless (and effortlessly beautiful) beaches. The good news is that you can enjoy all of these activities in one Mexican beach town, especially in these three popular destinations.
Plus, if you want someone else to handle the plans and transportation, there are lots of Mexican tours that cover these beautiful places.
Three Beautiful Mexican Beach Towns
Following are just three of the popular beach towns in Mexico that offer an array of activities, great food and of course, gorgeous beaches.
Tulum has held multiple titles throughout its lifespan, from a Maya trade hub in pre-colonial Mexico to one of the best beach towns in the world today. The walled city is easily reachable from Cancun and sits on a bluff jutting out into the Caribbean Sea.
The coastal city has three main things going for it. Naturally, it has gorgeous beaches with teal-blue waters and shimmering white sands, all lined with lively beach clubs. But, in contrast, it also has some of the best-preserved ancient archaeological ruins left over from the Mayan empire. The three most popular are El Castillo, which was once a Mayan lighthouse; the temple of Persicos, with a breathtaking multi-colored mural inside; and the humbling temple of the descending god.
However, what Tulum is perhaps most famous for is being close to multiple cenotes. These are water-filled sinkholes formed from ancient caves that have collapsed in on themselves to make magical underground lakes, perfect for swimming in. There are a myriad of them to choose from, with Gran Cenote being the biggest and most popular. A tour will take you to a range of cenotes, each with its own personality. Some have zip wires, and there’s even one with a friendly crocodile living inside.
After a hard day of exploring, swimming, and relaxing under the Mexican sun, you can enjoy some ice cream drowned in tequila or head to the restaurants on the edge of the jungle. Come nightfall, these restaurants transform into open-air clubs that run till dawn. For LGBT+ visitors who happen to come at the right time of year, just to the north of Tulum is the beautiful Playa Del Carmen, which hosts one of the biggest gay circuit parties each year.
Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful coastal city in southeast Mexico that looks out over the Pacific Ocean. It has a unique mix of cobblestoned colonial charm and modern sophistication. Given its reputation as the “San Francisco of Mexico,” it is understandable why Puerto Vallarta attracts a lot of gay tourists from around the world to its sunny shores, but the extremely hospitable locals welcome everyone and anyone. Known for its snorkeling and horseback riding on the beach, Puerto Vallarta offers something for every type of traveler making it one of the best beach towns in Mexico.
Zona Romantica in the center is easy to lose yourself in as you admire the Mexican architecture and artwork scattered around before heading down to the stunning Los Muertos Beach. El Malecon, a mile-long boardwalk along the coast of downtown Puerto Vallarta, is at the heart of the action and is brimming with bars, restaurants and local stores.
Puerto Vallarta is also renowned for being an artistic city and on El Malecon, you’ll find an outdoor art museum full of sculptures, paintings and modern art pieces to marvel at. If you’re up for the challenge, it is worth a climb up the Mirador de La Cruz for an awesome view over the city.
Many trips are possible out of the city to the range of cascading waterfalls nearby, such as Palo Maria Waterfall, for those willing to make the hike. Alternatively, boats travel out to the plethora of islands just off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, such as the enigmatic Islas Marietas, a pair of unspoiled islands with a secret beach within them. Why not take advantage of the vibrant gay scene and the drag shows that go along with it?
The Cabos (Cabo San Lucas & San Jose del Cabo)
Rated as one of Mexico’s five top destinations and found at the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas has quite the reputation for being a party city—indeed, it’s a key Spring Break destination. However, the Cabos are actually two cities, one being the party destination and the other its more reserved sister city, San Jose del Cabo, leaving it up to you which vibe you prefer.
If you choose the wilder option of Cabo San Lucas, you’ll find bars and clubs that compete with those in Cancun. The most iconic club is Cabo Wabo Cantina, a nightclub founded by Van Halen member Sammy Hagar. It is named after their hit single, Cabo Wabo. Yes, it is as wild as you’d expect.
Among the bars and clubs, there’s also a microbrewery, Baja Brewing Club. In short, you’ll never be at a loss for a place to find a drink in the Cabos. Then there are the beaches. Playa El Medano is busy, but undeniably pretty to the eyes. Venturing past the marina will take you to Cabo`s signature sights, including the aptly named Playa Del Amor (Lover’s Beach) and El Arco, a natural arch in the cliffs. For the adventurous, there’s also the option of putting on your birthday suit at the clothing-optional Marina beach.
If you’re looking for one of the more quiet beach towns in Mexico, San Jose del Cabo is a charming town with a more traditional Mexican feel to it. Cobblestone streets cut through squares filled with boutique stores, galleries and picturesque chapels and churches. The central Plaza Mijares is the perfect place to enjoy a chilled beverage and free concerts and street performers that frequent it.
From both cities, you can take an ocean ride out to see dolphins and whales or take part in water sports such as fishing, snorkeling, free diving and parasailing. Last but not least, a notable quality of Cabo is that it is nestled between sea and desert. For a truly memorable experience, nothing quite beats a horse ride through the desert as the sun sets over your Mexican adventure.
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.