Mexico is one of the most highly traveled countries for Americans. It doesn’t hurt that Americans can get there on relatively inexpensive and quick flights. And, some of the most unbelievable locations to visit include beaches that are scattered up and down the thousands of miles of coastlines that Mexico has.
While recent tobacco control measures like the Jan 15th public access ban may have lessened the allure, particularly for smokers, there are still many tobacco crossover’ists that’d love nothing less than to make the trip.That said, let’s take a tour of the 10 most highly rated beaches Mexico has to offer.
Cancun, Quintana Roo
If you haven’t heard of Cancun, you might be living under a rock. It is a destination of many cruise lines, and for good reason: the location is at the most eastern point of the Yucatan Peninsula and almost straddles the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, which offers vast open, clear, warm waters with plenty of palm trees and sun for days.
Take in your fill of everything from authentic fresh food, go snorkeling or scuba diving, or bask in the neverending night life that lives at your fingertips all along the Hotel Zona, which is a collection of hotels lined up along the shore and are known for their fun vibes, restaurants and entertainment venues. There’s never a dull moment, even in the off-season.
Tulum, Quintana Roo
Just a two-hour drive south of Cancun lies the picturesque area of Tulum. With the amazing white sandy beaches on one side and jungles dotted with ancient Mayan ruins right behind them, you’re bound to get your fill of pic-worthy moments to make everyone at home jealous. Don’t miss out on the combination of these two extraordinary sights at the Playa Ruinas where a 13th-century Mayan stone ruin sits atop rocky cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
When you’ve had your fill of land activities, make sure to take in the abundance of water action that includes snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing and, if you’re up for a very unique experience, swim the cenotes, which is a natural sink hole filled with crystal clear fresh water.
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Take a trip back in time with a stay in Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico. Countries throughout Europe aren’t the only ones that boast charming cobblestone streets, charming local shops and amazing restaurants. Puerto Vallarta is a destination location that intermingles the beach and jungles all in one with a touch of amour in Zona Romantica in Old Town.
If you’re in the mood for doing all the touristy things, schedule a tour of the colonial architecture found around the city, walk out on the unparalleled Malecon beachfront boardwalk, or be truly adventurous with ATV rides and zip lining through the jungle.
Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
Also located on the western coast of Mexico, but is part of the finger-like peninsula right below California. This area is quite different from the other destinations already listed due to the more desert atmosphere where giant cacti and rolling sand dunes bump right up against a deep blue sea. This is the perfect place to “do it all.” If you golf, there are world-renowned courses to play on. If higher adventure activities are your thing, tackle a few of the sand dunes on ATVs and then cap it off with zip lining. Don’t forget that the city is known for its nightlife with plenty of bars, clubs and other amazing live entertainment.
Another part of the allure is the ease in which you can fly there. With so many direct flights from major U.S. airports and the short flight times makes it a simple last-minute, long-weekend vacation hotspot.
Cozumel, Quintana Roo
Hopping back over to the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, you’ll find the island of Cozumel just off the mainland coast. Visitors can take advantage of great hotel deals or simply do a day-trip to take in the mix of Mayan, Spanish and Mexican cultures. It is easy to explore the many local museums, galleries as well as several Mayan ruins including the San Gervasio archaeological site.
Don’t worry when it comes to water activities, Cozumel is one of the top diving destinations in the world due to the excellent visibility, wide variety of marine life and some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea. And after all that, take in the local, fresh cuisine and spectacular tropical drinks at nearby restaurants, bars and clubs.
Although the state of Sinaloa has a reputation for being unsafe, Mazatlan and its beaches are some of the safest areas in Mexico. The light sandy beaches are home to the Malecon seaside boardwalk that runs for 13 miles of the city’s coastline and connects resorts, shopping and entertainment all along the way. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of a cycling or runner’s marathon; the city loves to host many exciting activities on and around the boardwalk.
If you’re one to do things a little differently, take the hike up to El Faro’s lighthouse to get stunning views of the city and the ocean. Or if dolphin and whale watching are more your speed, schedule a tour, especially in the off season to be one with nautical nature. And as always, take in the vibrant nightlife that is full of everything from classical Mexican cultural performances to a hometown baseball game (yes, I said baseball) at the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium.
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
For the diehard surfers out there, Puerto Escondido is calling your name! Didn’t think Mexico boasted truly surfable waves? Well, suit up for waves and pipelines that are perfect for anyone just getting started all the way up to professionals looking for a new destination to totally crush.
If you’re not into surfing, plan your trip around watching the sea turtles nesting along the beach or taking an all-in-one hike that will get you to the Atotonilco Hot Springs, visit the nearby waterfalls of La Reforma and top it all off with a tour of the Pluma Hidalgo coffee plantations. Honestly, you could spend weeks in Puerto Escondido and only experience a fraction of what the city, beaches and cuisine has to offer.
Balandra Beach, Baja California Sur
Often referred to as the most beautiful beach in Mexico, Playa Balandra or Balandra Beach is actually more of a bay is a natural protected area filled with lush mangroves, home to numerous fish and bird species, and is full of sandbars that are visible during different tide schedules.
Due to the inherent cove the bay creates, the waters are calm and perfect for kayaking and paddle boarding. Easily go from one side to the other in the shallow waters that are also ideal for swimming and snorkeling. One thing to keep in mind when planning your trip here, there aren’t a lot of usual amenities, so be prepared to pack your own picnic, bring some of your own gear and bring a good pair of water socks for those shallow water, because you never know if a stingray is lurking close by.
An hour north of Puerto Vallarta is a trendy little city that touts surfing, golfing and a laid-back vibe with an abundance of things to do. Sayulita is a magical city that lets visitors experience horseback riding, hiking, zip lining and then a pampering spa treatment to end your day. And, please don’t tell me you don’t love a good massage and facial, because we love a little indulgence when on vacation.
If there is one place you should absolutely visit while in Sayulita, take a tour of the uninhabited island of Islas Marietas. Surrounded by turquoise waters and full of warm beaches and coves, the island is a water sports fanatic’s dream come true with snorkeling, scuba diving and hidden beach destination discoveries. Pack your bags for fun ‘til the sun goes down… everyday!
Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo
To round us out, Isla Mujeres is another island very close to Cancun and a location full of unique adventure both above and below the waters. Isla Mujeres is home to one of the largest underwater sculpture gardens anywhere in the world. Venture out in the sea to see a very diverse and memorable collection of life-sized figurines depicting a variety of scenes.
Then when you’re back on land, make sure you take a stroll through the city during the day to take in the rich colors of the homes, buildings and promenade. It’s impossible to be anything but happy when you are surrounded by every shade of red, orange, yellow, blue and green imaginable. And the nightlife is nothing short of colorful, too. With authentic cuisine and exotic drinks aplenty, you can dance and eat until the sun comes up.
Bonus - Ensenada, Baja California
Just for the hell-of-it, we thought we’d throw in Ensenada because… why not? Home of surf, sand, sun and… skydiving(?) Yes, skydiving in Ensenada from an airplane, helicopter or balloon just off the Pacific Ocean is an experience like no other.
When that kind of adventure is too much for you or after an awesome jump, take a tour of one of the premier vineyards and wineries that Ensenada has to offer. Visitors can take tours, sample some wines and take in the beautiful landscapes that make it a truly memorable location.
Worried about traveling?
Sometimes there are worries when it comes to traveling outside the United States, and can be a little daunting when going to countries that speak different languages. The wonderful thing about Mexico and these travel destinations is that English is widely spoken and understood. Don’t worry if your high school Spanish classes haven’t made you fluent; you’ll be able to get around, negotiate and enjoy your vacation without having to pull out a translating dictionary. Plus, nowadays with translation software of phones, you can point at a sign and the phone will translate, or have someone speak and the phone will render it to English.
When it comes to safety, being aware of your surroundings is always recommended no matter where you go, and it’s no different in Mexico. Beaches, resorts and restaurants are conscious of tourists and want to see you back next year, so they make sure your experience is as safe as possible.
Carry your ID and don’t leave your passport out in the open at a hotel or any lodging location. These are your tickets to getting back home without the headaches of going to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Even if Mexico can sometimes feel like you’re in the states, you’re in a foreign country.
Don't forget the Rogue
You may not be aware that Mexico is one of the world’s strictest countries when it comes to tobacco. Many hotels, beaches and parks are now tobacco-free zones, including e-cigarettes and vaping. However, nicotine pouches, tablets, gum and lozenges are allowed in your carry-on and checked bags as well as in private and public locations in Mexico. Be sure to check with your airline to understand use of nicotine products while on the flight, but carry Rogue confidently with you as you travel to any or all of these phenomenal destinations.