Being near ocean water can offer myriad mind-body perks—like lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. It might also increase the feeling of relaxation. “[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
Jessica Seba, director of marketing at Journey Mexico—a travel company that specializes in luxurious, custom-made 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.
2. Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit
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 there’s also a lot to do outside of that.
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
Colloquially known “Los Cabos,” this Mexican destination inclusive of twin cities, San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, says Sebas. Despite its reputation for being spring break party central, 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
“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 is 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
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,” adds Alton. 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
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
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, 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
In Punta de Mita, you can count on a dreamy tropical vacation. There are palm trees, white sand, and turquoise-blue ocean water. As a tourist town, there’s tons of activities available to travelers. Seba recommends doing some fishing, taking a tour of the Marietas Islands, and surfing while you’re there.
10. Manzanillo, Colima
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 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; 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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