A country awash in natural beauty, Mexico is particularly beloved for its gorgeous beaches and sunny climate that makes a seaside getaway a year-round possibility. Yet despite its embarrassment of riches, many travellers never venture beyond the well-trodden beaches of Cancun, Tulum and Los Cabos to find the countless other stretches of sand that beckon with crystal-clear waters, pristine natural surroundings, and no crowds in sight. Such a shame for them… but not for us. We’ve gathered a list of 15 exquisite secret beaches all across Mexico, just waiting to be discovered on your next trip.

The Caribbean & Gulf Of Mexico

El Cuyo
Right on the edge of the Ria Lagartos nature reserve, this small town accessed by an unpaved road rewards intrepid travellers with white sands, clear waters and one best kitesurfing spots in Mexico. Off the beaten tourist track, about 162 kilometres from Cancun, the area maintains the magic and charm of a place removed from time. There are no ATMs, so try to bring cash. At the end of the day, head to the pier for one of the most beautiful postcard sunsets you’re likely to find.

Isla De Enmedio
Located on the Gulf of Mexico in the state of Veracruz, this tiny slip of an island has all the marks of a Caribbean paradise, with its white sands and turquoise waters. And though its utter calm seems a world away from hectic city streets, it’s only a 20-minute boat ride from the mainland. Don’t forget to bring your snorkelling gear; the shallow depths and clear waters are perfect for appreciating the abundant marine reef life.

Isla Aguada
This small fishing town in the state of Campeche, on the western side of the Yucatán Peninsula, rests on a bar of land separating the Gulf of Mexico from Términos Lagoon, about 40 kilometres from Ciudad del Carmen. The magic of this place lies in its rusticity, with miles of pristine beaches awaiting, perfect for enjoying sea, sand and sun in total serenity. The sand is rather coarse, so consider wearing water shoes for wading. Also remember to bring cash, as there are no ATMs around. Our tip: Take a boat ride to see dolphins, which are commonly spotted in this area.

[Photo: Bernard Dupont/Flickr]

Playa Sisal 
Backed by the El Palmar State Reserve (a perfect place to spot flamingos!) and featuring an array of restaurants along the shore serving up typical local cuisine, it’s easy to see why Sisal was named as one of Yucatán’s ‘Magical Towns’ in 2020. Pull up a chair, stick your toes in the sand, and soak in the relaxing atmosphere of natural beauty.

In a picturesque fishing village with just 300 residents, about 68 kilometres from Mahahual and almost on the border with Belize, this is the most southerly beach of the inimitable Mayan coast. Because of its remoteness, it remains relatively untouched and uncrowded. We recommend a visit to La Aguada, a mangrove area perfect for birdwatching. And if you have a PADI certificate, don’t miss Banco Chinchorro, a paradise for wreck divers.

Xcacel Xcacelito
A protected natural reserve and sanctuary for the conservation and preservation of sea turtles, this is one of the few truly virgin beaches left on the Riviera Maya – all the more enticing and surprising, considering that it’s just 20 kilometres from the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum. In addition to a bright turquoise bay, the beach has a small cenote framed by mangroves. As it is a reserve, food and beverages are not allowed.

Isla Pasión 
This blink-and-you-miss it strip of private island just off the northern part of Cozumel is home to some of the most impossibly paradisiacal real estate in the whole of the Riviera Maya. It is 4 kilometres of fine, blindingly white sand and perfectly crystalline waters. To get there, you’ll need to book a speedboat or catamaran excursion (we recommend the latter). Included in the price of the visit are a buffet and open bar. Hammocks and lounge beds are available, and you can kayak and paddleboard off the shores.


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The Pacific Coast

El Requesón
Tucked away 43 kilometres from the nearest town (Mulegé, in northern Baja California Sur state), Bahía Concepción is a secluded bay offering expanses of beaches with calm, crystal clear water and rugged surrounds. Of the stretches of sand to choose from, El Requesón is a gem among gems: easy to access but with no hotels or restaurants nearby, it is still only known among locals. The area is ideal for kayaking and snorkelling, as well as for family outings. It’s great for children, as the water is not very deep and the swell is low and gentle.

Piedra de Tlacoyunque 
Located in Guerrero state, in the municipality of Técpan about a 2.5-hour drive west along the coast from Acapulco, Piedra de Tlacoyunque is a unique site in Mexico: Smack-dab in the middle of the beach rises a large rock more than 35 metres high, concave in the central part and with two holes where the constant sea swell enters and exits.

Playa Santa Maria 
This horseshoe-shaped beach surrounded by magnificent rock formations is one of the least crowded strands on the outskirts of Cabo San Lucas and is one of the best in the area offering smooth waters for swimming and snorkeling. Consider bringing your own food for a picnic, as there are no restaurants.

[Photo: Tanenhaus/Flickr]

Playa de Yelapa 
Looking to escape the crowds of Puerto Vallarta? This idyllic beach in the small, isolated town of Yelapa is nothing short of a daydream: a little bay awash in the deep blue hues of the Pacific, and backed by hills draped in lush jungle. Take the opportunity to try the famous pies sold on the beach, they are simply delicious! To get to this paradise, the best option is to catch a water cab at Playa los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta (the ride takes about 45 minutes). Otherwise, it’s a three-hour drive through the backcountry of Jalisco.

El Madresal
The southern state of Chiapas is home to this stunning destination, especially alluring for nature lovers and travellers with an eye for sustainability. Perhaps one of the least-known beaches in the entire country, you’ll have this strip of pristine land practically all to yourself – all the better for relaxing and sighting the local wildlife. To get to El Madresal, you’ll have to cross a narrow road through mangrove forests, where you might even glimpse crocodile hatchlings.

La Boquilla
Though small – only 120 metres long and 20 meters wide – La Boquilla is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the seaside destination of Huatulco, in south-central Oaxaca state. Its sand is golden, the water a mystical green-blue – an exquisite place for swimming and snorkelling. Located in a secluded area, it is not very frequented by tourists and only has one rustic restaurant. The best way to get there is by boat.

Cacaluta Bay
Further east along the Oaxacan coast, this virgin bay is characterised by its charming heart shape. Though it gained some notoriety as a setting for Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 film Y tu mamá también (And Your Mom Too), its location inside a protected area has shielded it from becoming too touristy. It feels like a secret paradise. Here you can observe all manner of local wildlife, from pelicans and seagulls to herons, vultures, dolphins and turtles; it’s home to leatherback turtles during nesting season. You can get there by boat, hike or a cycling tour.

Playa Tejón
Less than 10 kilometres from Cacaluta Bay is this quiet, unspoiled beach. Th perfect place to relax. Another intimate shore, just 125 metres long and 30 metres wide, the waves here are moderate, the sand is coarse, and the colour of water can vary from emerald to turquoise blue. There are no food services available, so pack a picnic.

[Photo: Heather Paul/Flickr]


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