Places to Visit Travel Ideas

10 Coastal Cities in Mexico Where You Can Soak Up the Well-Being Perks of the Beach Year-Round

Photo: Getty Images / M Swiet Productions
Being near water is connected to a host of well-being benefits, which is perhaps why the beach is such a sought-after vacation destination. Consider that on Instagram, there are nearly 13 million posts that use the hashtag #beachvibes, and McKinsey data about summer 2022 travel plans found 54 percent of folks planned to take a beach trip, making it the most popular type of vacation. The good news is that in plenty of locales, relaxing in the sand, under the sun, and next to the blue crashing waves is a possibility year-round. One such place is Mexico, which is home to a number of coastal cities boasting relaxing beaches.

In addition to offering you wellness wins like lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, being near water may increase the feeling of relaxation, which are also connected to lowering the sense of stress one may have. “[The ocean] helps you let go of things,” says psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD. “It gives you a pleasant sense of relaxation, because there's nothing to achieve, change, or be.”

Ready to escape to the Mexican coast to access the benefits of being near water? Below, get recommendations for 10 spots to add to your travel bucket list, plus ideas for what to do in each spot.

10 coastal Mexican cities where you can take a beach vacation year-round

1. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Puerto Vallarta
Photo: Getty Images / Westend61
Puerto Vallarta

Jessica Seba, director of marketing at Journey Mexico—a luxury travel company specializing in custom itineraries—lists Puerto Vallarta as one of her top recommendations for oceanfront travel in Mexico.

Seba suggests strolling the malecón (Spanish for “pier”), taking a guided tour of the city, whale-watching, and snorkeling while there.


2. Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit

Nuevo Vallarta
Photo: Getty Images / Frank Fell
Nuevo Vallarta

According to Rey Alton, a travel agent of more than 25 years, Nuevo Vallarta is known for its food scene and small-town vibes. The city’s malecón features tons of art, but that’s just a fraction of all the city can offer.

I visited Nuevo Vallarta for four days in June and paid less than $900 total, including airfare and lodging, as well as swimming with wild dolphins, seeing a butterfly sanctuary, and a snorkeling tour in two small beach villages on the coast of Nayarit.


3. Los Cabos, Baja California Sur

los cabos
Photo: Getty Images / raisbeckfoto
Los Cabos

Colloquially known “Los Cabos,” this Mexican destination includes the twin cities of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, says Sebas. Beyond its reputation for being a spring break party destination, Los Cabos offers a lot of opportunities to spend time in the water.

As far as Sebas’s outing recommendations? You definitely want to visit el Arco (the arc, which is a rock formation in the open ocean) and snorkel in either the Chileno Bay or Santa María Beach, she says.


4. Cancún, Quintana Roo

Cancun
Photo: Getty Images / Matteo Colombo
Cancún

“Cancún is really going to be the hub [of coastal Mexican travel],” says Alton, who compares the city to Mexico’s equivalent of Miami. He adds that since there’s a lot of development in the city, there may be more flights there from the U.S., making it an extra-accessible trip.

But, you’re not stuck in a tourism hot spot by any means if you fly into Cancún. For a break from the ubiquitous bustle, Alton suggests Isla Mujeres being worth the visit: “Isla Mujeres is a small paradise island a few miles from Cancún and is accessible by ferry.”


5. Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo

playa del carmen
Photo: Getty Images / Chloé Boulos / EyeEm
Playa Del Carmen

Alton thinks of Playa Del Carmen as “a low-key alternative to Cancún.” It’s only a 30-to-45-minute drive from the larger city, but it still offers a notably different vibe, he adds.

“A lot of the nightlife that they have in Cancún, Playa Del Carmen has on a smaller scale,” says Alton. Vacationing in Playa Del Carmen also places you in close proximity to Cozumel, which is a beach town “most popular with divers and just 12 miles away from Playa Del Carmen,” he adds. In short, there are a number of coastal Mexican cities to explore if you opt for a trip to Playa Del Carmen.


6. Todos Santos, Baja California Sur

todos santos
Photo: Getty Images / Marie Kazalia / EyeEm
Todos Santos

With beachside hotels, restaurants, and art galleries, there are a number of ways to exercise self care in this quaint village that reminds me of Malibu.

Seba says the destination offers a variety of farm-to-table, organic dining experiences on the food front, in addition to can’t-miss opportunities like surfing lessons and sunset views at Cerritos Beach or El Faro.


7. Tulum, Quintana Roo

tulum
Photo: Getty Images / Pola Damonte
Tulum

Located about 75 miles from the Cancún airport, Tulum offers a variety of bars and restaurants, a vibrant art scene, plenty of local shopping, and access to Mayan ruins, says Alton.

He also suggests taking a dive into the cenotes (natural pits also known as sinkholes) like the Gran Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos.


8. La Paz, Baja California Sur

la paz baja california
Photo: Getty Images / Design Pics / Stuart Westmorland
La Paz

La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, offers much to do near the beach. According to Seba, when you’re in La Paz, you want to make sure to visit Isla del Espiritu Santo. You can also swim with sea lions that live in the area, as well as whale sharks from November through March, she says.


9. Punta de Mita, Nayarit

punta de mita
Photo: Getty Images / Daniel Stoychev Photography
Punta de Mita

In Punta de Mita, you can count on a dreamy tropical vacation. There are palm trees, white sand beaches, and turquoise-blue ocean waters. Seba recommends doing some fishing, taking a tour of the Marietas Islands, and surfing while you’re there.


10. Manzanillo, Colima

manzanillo mexico
Photo: Getty Images / stockcam
Manzanillo

In Manzanillo, you’ll find lagoons, rivers, and beaches, so you can take your pick of how you’ll get the benefits of being near bodies of water. The city also offers low-key vibes with Mediterranean-style architecture, helping it offer a cozier feel than other cities on this list.

A trip to Manzanillo likely won’t come with a wild nightlife experience, though; you’re here for the relaxing ways to pass the daytime hours, including strolls along piers, like Bahía de Manzanillo, Bahía de Santiago, and Malecón del Espíritu Santo.

 

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