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Eight of the best small beach towns in Mexico

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: February 21, 2023

Mexico is a country of diverse beach destinations, each offering its own unique charm and beauty. While popular tourist spots like Cancun and Cabo San Lucas have their appeal, there is something special about the small beach towns that dot the coast. These towns offer a more authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience and showcase the warmth and hospitality of Mexican culture. Here are seven of the best small beach towns in Mexico to add to your travel itinerary.

Sayulita

Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Sayulita is a small town with a bohemian vibe and colourful streets. Known for its popular surf spots, Sayulita has become a popular destination for travellers seeking adventure and relaxation. The town’s laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals make it a welcoming place for tourists. In addition to surfing, visitors can explore local markets and galleries, take yoga classes, and enjoy traditional Mexican cuisine.

Mazunte

Mazunte is a small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico, known for its secluded beaches and eco-tourism efforts. The town has made a commitment to conservation and is home to the National Mexican Turtle Center, which is dedicated to protecting endangered sea turtles. Mazunte offers a more secluded and relaxed atmosphere than some of the other small beach towns on this list, making it a great place to unplug and enjoy the natural beauty of Mexico. Visitors can explore the local markets, try fresh seafood, and take a tour of the turtle centre.

Puerto Escondido

Another Pacific coast gem, Puerto Escondido is a fishing town turned surf destination. The town boasts stunning beaches and a lively nightlife scene, with many bars and restaurants serving up fresh seafood dishes. While the town is a popular spot for surfing, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy, such as snorkelling, fishing, and hiking. The town’s relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals make it a great place to unwind and soak up the sun.

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo is a quaint fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific coast, known for its beautiful beaches and tranquil bays. The town has managed to preserve its authentic Mexican culture, with many locals still earning a living from fishing. Zihuatanejo offers a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere than nearby tourist hotspots, making it a great place to unwind and escape the crowds. Visitors can explore the local markets, try traditional seafood dishes, and soak up the sun on the town’s gorgeous beaches.

A Zihuatanejo beach landscape in Guerrero

Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox is a small island off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, known for its white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. The island is a peaceful and eco-friendly destination, with many hotels and restaurants focused on sustainability. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming with whale sharks. Isla Holbox is a great place to relax and unwind, with its laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural beauty.

Mahahual

Mahahual is a small town on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, known for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs. The town has a laid-back atmosphere, with many restaurants and bars serving up fresh seafood dishes. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, and swimming with dolphins. The town is also home to the ancient Mayan ruins of Chacchoben, making it a great destination for history buffs.

San Pancho

San Pancho, also known as San Francisco, is a charming and vibrant coastal town on Mexico’s Pacific coast. The town has a strong artsy community and a number of cultural events throughout the year, such as the San Pancho Music Festival and the San Pancho Cultural Festival. The town’s main beach, Playa San Francisco, is a beautiful stretch of sand lined with palm trees and offering excellent surf conditions. Visitors can also explore the local markets, galleries, and restaurants, which serve up delicious Mexican cuisine. With its laid-back atmosphere, welcoming locals, and vibrant cultural scene, San Pancho is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic Mexican beach town experience.

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a small town on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, situated between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The town is known for its laid-back atmosphere, gorgeous beaches, and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. Visitors can explore the town’s main square and local markets, which offer a variety of traditional handicrafts and delicious Mexican cuisine. Puerto Morelos is also home to the Puerto Morelos Reef National Park, which is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and boasts a diverse array of marine life. The park offers excellent opportunities for snorkelling and diving, with various operators offering guided tours. With its tranquil atmosphere, natural beauty, and excellent outdoor activities, Puerto Morelos is a great destination for anyone seeking an off-the-beaten-path beach town experience.

These towns offer a more authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience, showcasing the warmth and hospitality of Mexican culture. From the bohemian vibes of Sayulita and the tranquil beauty of Zihuatanejo, to the eco-tourism efforts of Mazunte and the vibrant cultural scene of San Pancho, there is no shortage of incredible small beach towns to discover in Mexico. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to explore the magic of Mexico’s coastline.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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