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Beaches, Mexico

South America has many spectacular beaches to enjoy, and Mexico itself has countless golden sands to visit, offering prime sunbathing and relaxing palm trees swaying in the breeze. Head to the Riviera Maya, where you can discover magical sea turtles, revel in the laid back cultural town of Puerto Vallarta, or drop by Cancun, also known as the “Mexican Las Vegas”.

Balandra Beach – La Paz

Mexico’s extensive coastline is home to some of the most amazing beaches in the world. The Balandra Beach at La Paz, with its bay of pristine white sand and crystal-clear blue waters, is just one of these magnificent beaches.

This idyllic beach is definitely worth a visit. The sea here is fairly shallow in most areas and when the tide starts to go out in the afternoon, small sand islands begin to appear. These views make the beach great for the children, who love to imagine they are on their very own treasure island. For adults, why not take a leisurely stroll along the sand and shallow waters, until you can see the famed Mushroom Rock out in the sea?

The palapas (thatched-roofed open-sided structures) are available to provide shade from the hot Mexican sun, with sunbeds, umbrellas and kayaks all available to hire. Vendors on the beach also sell a variety of drinks, including alcoholic beverages, as well as coconuts, ice-creams and a host of artisan crafts.

Los Muertos

Los Muertos is one of the liveliest beaches in Puerto Vallarta, being extremely popular with tourists and locals alike. This gorgeous sandy beach is the ideal place to swim and build sandcastles with the little ones. Why not try out parasailing, join in a beach game or just people-watch on your sun lounger?

There are plenty of amenities here, with many bars, cafes and restaurants serving a host of different foods and drinks, while the beach vendors sell everything you could possibly want, including massages, hair beading, tattoos and a copious selection of jewellery and trinkets.

The vibrant, energetic atmosphere of this beach makes it the ideal spot for those looking to take in the energetic culture of Puerto Vallarta while relaxing by the sea. This beach has also become a fashionable venue for gay guys across the globe.

In the evening, the beach bars are busy and full of life, but you can still enjoy a romantic, gourmet meal at one of the quieter restaurants if you wish, while watching one of the famous Vallarta sunsets.

Nuevo Vallarta

Due to its five-kilometre stretch of soft golden sands and clear turquoise water, the main beach at Nuevo Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular holiday resorts, especially for families.

The expansive size of Nuevo Vallarta means that it never feels crowded, and you can stroll along the shoreline as far as Bucerias, if you wish. If you are staying in one of the hotels lining the beach, you can find your own sun loungers and parasols to use. Plus, guests can experience excellent waiter service, bringing your choice of refreshments directly to you as you relax on the beachfront.

Alternatively, if you’re just simply visiting the beach for the day, join the other beach-goers and hire a sunbed and a palapa (thatched umbrella), to enjoy a relaxing day of sunbathing and swimming. For active beach visitors, there are a number of water sports to partake in, including jet-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, diving, scuba diving and snorkelling. Also, don’t forget to take a look at one of the fascinating turtle farms as you pass by.

Playa Bacocho

Playa Bacocho is one of the largest beaches along the Oaxacan coastline, featuring 25-kilometre length of golden sands, rows of palm trees, attractive flora and clear-blue waters. Many joggers use this beach for their early morning run, but it’s also an ideal location if you just want to take a leisurely stroll along the beachfront, admire the scenery and take some snaps.

The large waves here provide excellent conditions for surfing and bodyboarding, with many people visiting this beach for that reason alone. Visitors can pay a small fee to one of the two clubs that are on the beach to use the public amenities here, which will then entitle you to use their deckchairs, showers, tennis courts, pools and cafes.

Why not sit on one of the sun loungers here, sip a delicious cocktail and watch the waves swirling around the rocks while enjoying the atmospheric music playing in the background?

Playa del Amor

Playa del Amor, often referred to as the Hidden Beach can be found on one of the Marieta Islands, just west of Puerto Vallarta. This wide, sandy beach is surrounded by a wondrous cave, featuring a large hole in the top, said to have been created by the Mexican government (using the uninhabited Marieta Islands as a testing site for military bombings in the 1900s). Today, this beautifully unique, secluded beach – invisible from the outside has become a popular tourist spot only accessible via water taxi or boat.

Image source: Flickr. Copyright Christian Frausto Bernal

Still uninhabited, Playa del Amor appeals to visitors’ sense of the romantic, with its sheltered, tranquil atmosphere, pristine white sands and beautiful turquoise waters. Not forgetting the story behind its name – Lover’s Beach, which was given to this spot because, when the tide is really high, the Sea of Cortés and the Pacific Ocean meet, just as if they are kissing each other.

You will have to bring your own food and drinks to Playa del Amor, as there are no vendors here, but this just adds to its sense of serenity. This Mexican delight is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful stroll, take in the scenery and just appreciate the undisturbed calmness.

Playa el Cielo

El Cielo beach – which translates into “heaven” in English, is very aptly named; visitors feel as if they have landed on their own little piece of heaven at this small and secluded islet. Only accessible by boat, El Cielo is a less than a kilometre off the Cozumel coast. Strictly speaking, this is not actually a beach, but a large sandbank that has naturally formed around a beautifully clear and warm shallow pool.

A fantastic area for snorkelling, the waters of El Cielo are full of extremely large starfish and beautiful stingrays. After all that swimming and snorkelling, you will probably be ready for some refreshments. Not a problem; you can purchase a selection of snacks, fruit and freshly prepared meals (as well as ice-cold beers, spirits and soft drinks), from one of the nifty beach bars. So, enjoy a tasty meal while sitting back and relaxing under the sizzling Mexican sunshine.

Playa La Ropa

Playa La Ropa – also coined ‘Clothes Beach’, was apparently named after a Spanish galleon who once had its precious cargo washed up on the sand, carrying very expensive silks. This gorgeous, curved stretch of sand is just over 1.5 kilometres in length, being the longest beach in the Zihuatanejo Bay.

Edged by palm trees, La Ropa has fine, soft white sands and calm aquamarine waters, being perfect for families with small children, who can paddle or swim in the sea, build sandcastles or play ball on the sand. Older kids and adults can try their hand at parasailing, surfboarding and water skiing, or perhaps just watch others enjoying these sports from their sun lounger.

There are many vibrant bars and restaurants along this stretch of beach, as well as spa tents and local masseuses walking along the shore offering their skills and products. After all, what could possibly be better than lying in the gorgeous Mexican sun enjoying a soothing massage?

Playa las Gatas

Located just three miles south of Zihuatanejo, Playa Las Gatas (Cat Beach) is a white-sand beach that is said to be named after either the whiskered nurse sharks that once swam its waters, or the wildcats that prowled the jungles onshore – depending on which story you choose to believe.

Image source: Flickr. Copyright Russel Bowling

The beach can be accessed by catching one of the many skiffs which regularly depart from the pier at Zihuatanejo. When you arrive, you’ll find warm, shallow waters which are ideal for snorkelling in, as there are many rocky coves to explore. All along the bay, there are numerous sun loungers and parasols for hire where you can lie down and relax, as well as several restaurants and bars serving refreshing beverages and delicious seafood dishes like Coconut Shrimp.

There is also a lighthouse close to the beach, which can be reached by following a winding path up the cliffs. Once there, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the coastline, making it well worth the climb.

Playa Norte – Isla Mujeres

The Playa Norte (North Beach) is the main beach on Isla Mujeres, which is just off the coast of Cancun. This beautiful, white, sandy beach lined with palm trees and calm, azure blue waters is a very popular choice for families with small children.

You can reach this small tropical island via a short, 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, before making your way to Playa Norte to enjoy your day of sun, sea and sand. The shallow water is very safe for swimming in, and there are also plenty of deck chairs and sun loungers available to hire, allowing you to sit back and soak up the sun.

There are plenty of bars and beach clubs along Playa Norte serving local beers, cocktails and soft drinks, as well as snacks and meals such as the traditional ceviche seafood dish. If you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your sunbed, there are plenty of vendors walking up and down the beach selling a variety of drinks, snacks, fresh coconuts and even some local craftwork.

Zipolite Beach

Zipolite attracted many hippie visitors from all around the world during the 1960s to the early 1980s, and was actually one of the first beaches in Mexico to allow nude sunbathers. Today, it still retains some of its hippie culture and attracts many travellers and locals who still embrace this ethos, as well as those just wanting to avoid the larger, more commercialised resorts, or perhaps enjoy a yoga session on the beach.

This beautiful sandy beach is a great place to relax, where you can often see whales and dolphins out at sea. The water here is also ideal for surfing, and there are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas to hire from the array of bars lining the beachfront, which serve a variety of drinks and tasty yet affordable seafood dishes.

The rocky headlands at both ends of the beach are beautiful and the walk from one end to another is a great way to get a little exercise. There is a real sense of freedom and joy at Zipolite Beach, making it the perfect place to unwind and recharge your batteries during your Mexican getaway.