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The Seven Best Small Beach Towns in Mexico

Mexico boasts nearly 6,000 miles of coastline from tranquil tourmaline waters of the Caribbean to the wild rougher swells of the Pacific.

As a result, beach lovers have many stretches of sand to choose from. And while most of us are familiar with the more popular big-name coastal destinations as Cancun, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel, it’s those smaller, more quaint, less familiar and yes – less crowded beach towns that call to us. This is where you’ll find the magic.


This charming town is located near the southeastern coastal area of Mexico in the state of Quintana Roo. Once a Mayan region, it’s situated near Belize border and though it doesn’t have sandy beaches, it is known for its stunning Bacalar Lagoon, often referred to as the "Lagoon of Seven Colors" due to its varying shades of blue.

The freshwater lagoon with crystalline waters is approximately 42 kilometers long and is fed by numerous cenotes (sinkholes) that add to its beauty. So much so, the town has often been called “The Maldives of Mexico.” Visitors can enjoy various activities such as kayaking, swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, and boat tours.

Todos Santos

It’s only about an hour drive from Los Cabos to this “pueblo magico” situated between Baya California’s Pacific Ocean and the Sierra La Laguna Mountain range. The town with its narrow cobblestone streets is dotted with lovely restaurants and boutique shops. It’s also home to artists, craftsmen, musicians, filmmakers and farmers all seeking escapism from a busier world.

Its diverse range of ecosystems makes Todos Santos a fascinating place. On one hand you’ll find a tropical oasis and secluded beaches and the other, miles of cactus-laden desert leading to towering ocean cliffs. Surfers love catching a wave at Playa Cerritos and for those who want to be the only footprints in the sand, there’s Playa Las Palmas, one of the most isolated and picturesque beaches in all of Baja.


A “Gilligan’s Island” lookalike, this tranquil village can be found on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the Bahía de Banderas (Bay of Banderas) south of Puerto Vallarta. Yelapa is known for its stunning natural beauty, secluded beaches, and laid-back atmosphere. Accessible only by boat, this hidden gem attracts travelers seeking a peaceful escape from more touristy destinations.

Yelapa boasts several beaches with soft golden sands and clear blue waters. Playa Principal is the main beach near the village, offering a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying local seafood at the beachfront eateries. Playa Isabel, a short stroll away, is another charming beach with a relaxed vibe.

One of Yelapa’s main attractions is the impressive "Cola de Caballo" (Horse Tail) waterfall. Accessible by a moderate hike through the lush jungle, the waterfall cascades into a refreshing pool where visitors can swim and cool off. It’s stunning!


Though Sayulita is a vibrant beach town on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Nayarit, it’s also renowned as a laid-back surf destination and a bohemian paradise. Located just 26 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, the warm welcoming town offers stunning beaches and colorful streets with a mix of relaxation, adventure and cultural experiences.

Sayulita’s beaches are wonderful. The central beach, Playa Sayulita with its seaside bars, restaurants and surf schools offers gentle waves suitable for beginners. More experienced surfers can find larger swells at nearby stretches like Playa Los Muertos and Playa Carricitos. Playa Los Muertos, a short walk from the town center, is known for its tranquil cove and the beautiful "Hill of the Dead" overlooking the beach.

The surrounding area also sports lush jungles, hidden waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Back in town, guests can wander the village dotted with galleries, boutique shops and markets along with street murals and other artistic creations.

Puerto Escondido

This beautiful beach town also on the Mexican Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca is known for its world-class waves, stunning beaches, and relaxed atmosphere. Puerto Escondido has become a popular destination for surfers, beachgoers, and travelers seeking to unplug and unwind.

Zicatela Beach is often called “The Mexican Pipeline” for its powerful, consistent waves and hippie-like vibe. Playa Carrizalillo is known for its gentler waves and calm waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

What we also love about this region is its sea turtle conservation efforts. From June to December, you can witness the nesting and hatching of Olive Ridley and other sea turtle species on the beaches supported by local organizations. And certain times of the year, Puerto Escondido experiences stunning bioluminescence in its waters. Witnessing the surreal blue glow created by bioluminescent organisms is a magical and unforgettable experience.

The town is deeply tied to fishing so if you’re into it, local operators offer fishing trips for those hoping to land their own dinner of tuna, mahi-mahi and marlin catches. In addition, you’ll want to visit Puerto Escondido Mercado for a taste of authentic Mexican life with its fresh produce, seafood and handmade crafts.

San Pancho

Another charming coastal town in the state of Nayarit, San Pancho also known as San Francisco offers a relaxed and authentic Mexican ambience. Visitors can swim, sunbathe and beachcomb on its magnificent beaches with golden sands and gentle waves.

The local Huichol indigenous culture is an integral part of San Pancho's identity. You can find art galleries and shops that showcase traditional Huichol artwork, including intricate yarn paintings and beadwork.

San Pancho is also known for its polo club, where visitors can catch matches and even take lessons if you're interested in trying out this equestrian sport. Those into eco-travel and outdoor activities will fall in love with the surrounding natural beauty and opportunities for eco-tours, horseback riding, birdwatching, and exploring nearby jungle trails and waterfalls.

Isla Holbox

We love the off-the-beaten-trek of Isla Holbox, a small, enchanting island located off the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The island is known for its pristine beaches, crystalline turquoise waters and abundant wildlife. It’s a tranquil getaway for those who love a more remote destination feel. And because it’s not connected to the mainland by bridge, the only way to get there is by boat or ferry.

One of the top reasons travelers come to Isla Holbox is the opportunity to swim with whale sharks from May to September when the gentle giants migrate to these waters. The island is also a haven for other marine creatures and birdlife including flamingos, pelicans and frigate birds.

Eco-tourism is a significant focus of the island and one of its most unique features is that you won’t find any cars here. Residents and tourists get around on foot, bicycle or golf cart.

The island’s consistent winds make it a great spot for kiteboarding and other water sports. And sunsets here are spectacular. Similar to other Mexican coastal areas, Isla Holbox also offers bioluminescent experiences.

If you’re into beach destinations but those without the crowds, these laid-back, nature-focused, bohemian places should land at the top of your must-do list.

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