The Best Vacation Destinations in Mexico
Picking and making a list of the best places to go on vacation in Mexico is not an easy task, as there are so many great and worthy places. So here are our picks for the Best Mexican Vacation Destinations – there’s a good reason why all of the destinations are so popular with tourists. Mexico has so much to offer when it comes to vacationing but the main draw for most visitors are the amazing beaches.
Read on and find out what makes these Mexican cities perfect for your next vacation. Remember to check out our guide to tipping in Mexico, for a detailed walkthrough of the different tipping situations, you will find yourself in.
Mazatlan – Pearl of the Pacific
Lovingly known as the Pearl of the Pacific, Mazatlan has been a favorite vacation destination in Mexico since the 1940s. Mazatlan is especially popular during the winter where Canadians and Americans settle upon the beautiful Mexican beach destination. Surrounding blue lagoons and watersports pull in visitors, but the real draw is the 11 miles (20km) of sandy beaches covering the Zona Dorada where all the biggest and best hotels are located. Along the many miles of soft golden sand is the longest boardwalk in Latina America.
Mazatlan is more than just sandy beaches and you will find both culture and rich history, just a few minutes away from the beach in the Old Mazatlan. The historic center of the town still goes about their business as it did before the tourists came.
Come to Mazatlan during February, and take part in the annual Carnival in Mazatlan that takes place during the five days prior to Ash Wednesday.
Acapulco – World Famous Vacation Destination
One of the more popular vacation destinations in Mexico is Acapulco, which is particularly popular among spring breakers. The city of Acapulco has it’s two main bays, Acapulco Bay (Bahia de Acapulco) and Puerto Marques, with their many beaches all around the bay of Acapulco. Acapulco is divided into the traditional area and the new Acapulco. The traditional part is within the two bays, and the new Acapulco is outside the bay area with open sea on one side, and a lagoon on the other. All the biggest and newest hotels and resorts are located in the new part (Playa Diamante) of Acapulco close to the airport and the shopping center La Isla.
Acapulco has been and will continue to be one of the favorite vacation destinations in Mexico. Read our views on the best local restaurants in Acapulco for a truly special and traditional cuisine experience.
Don’t miss out on the absolute must see things in Acapulco: Head to the famous La Quebrada, where skilled cliff divers plunge head first into shallow water from almost 150 feet.
Puerto Vallarta – Ambiance and Friendly Destination
The beautiful Puerto Vallarta is for more than 3 million visitors every year an amazing place to visit. The local people of Puerto Vallarta are very friendly and will help make your visit as pleasant as possible. Vallarta greats you with soft sandy beaches with sparkling blue water, lush mountains in the background and a picturesque city center filled with everything from small quaint boutiques, high-end designer stores to fabulous gourmet restaurants. At night the city is transformed, and the active nightlife gives a different life to it with the many nightclubs.
Puerto Vallarta is known to be one of the great diving destinations in Mexico, and as such you will see several diving shops and diving tours being offered.
Accommodation in Puerto Vallarta ranges from budget friendly hotels to 5-star luxury resorts with beach access. There’s a place for everyone and it’s no wonder why so many people visit Puerto Vallarta every year.
Ixtapa – Pacific Coast All Inclusive Beach Resorts
Ixtapa used to be nothing more than a coconut plantation until tourism development group in Mexico (Fonatur) started to develop the area in the late 1970s. They wanted the Pacific coast to have a resort area similar to Cancun, and up sprung the now wonderful vacation destination that is Ixtapa. Ixtapa is filled with hotels, all-inclusive resorts, trendy boutiques and various restaurants, making it a great Mexican vacation destination complete with all the luxuries you come to expect from a Mexican beach resort vacation. Ixtapa is great for a relaxing family vacation as most hotels and resorts are right on the beach. There are of course many activities to enjoy in Ixtapa; golf, tennis, swimming with dolphins, sports fishing, and diving to name a few.
Right next to Ixtapa is the more traditional Mexican town of Zihuatanejo, where you can enjoy a relaxed laid back vibe.
Playa del Carmen – Mayan Riviera Beach Resorts
Once a small fishing village, Playa del Carmen is now a thriving Mexican vacation destination with beach resorts, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant but still laid back atmosphere. Located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with the Great Mayan Reef just off the shore makes snorkeling and especially diving a popular activity for visitors. Manta rays, sea turtles and a variety of corals can be seen.
The town center is full of life with restaurants, cafés and excellent shopping opportunities where 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen is well known as a popular shopping street.
There are lots of places to see around Playa del Carmen, and taking a day trip is highly recommend if your willing to leave the sandy beach or your resort. Day trips to Cozumel, Chichen Itza, Xel-Ha, Xcaret, and Tulum are the most popular, and rightfully so. Browse through our list of excellent Riviera Maya excursions and day trips for the ultimate Mayan Riviera vacation.
One of the new additions to the lineup of luxury resorts in Playa del Carmen is Overwater Bungalows in Riviera Maya.
Puerto Escondido – Laid Back Family Vacation Spot
Puerto Escondido is a small town located by a picturesque bay where the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range meets the Pacific Ocean. Getting to Puerto Escondido is not as easy as most other vacation destinations in Mexico, and is as such not known as a typical all-inclusive vacation spot but rather a laid back Mexican family vacation spot. Puerto Escondido has several beaches where Zicatela is known around the world as a surfers paradise. It is no surprise that this former fishing village has a great focus on water activities. Try surfing, go snorkeling or charter a boat for some turtle, dolphin and whale watching. Puerto Escondido offers it all. Nightlife in Puerto Escondido is very vibrant with many cozy cafés, excellent restaurants, and trendy nightclubs.
If you are looking for a relaxed and laid back vacation, then Puerto Escondido is a perfect place that’s not overrun but tourists.
Cozumel – Small Island with Spectacular Waters
Cozumel is a small thirty by ten-mile island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula with the most spectacular clear water – perfect for both diving and snorkeling. No matter if you are a pro diver or snorkeling for the first time, the pristine waters of Cozumel is a great thing to experience. Cozumel is Mexico’s most popular port-of-call for cruise ships, and the docks are filled with local vendors selling a variety of souvenirs.
San Miguel, Cozumel’s only town, has a very laid back vibe even though it’s the only tourist destination in Cozumel. The boardwalk has various sculptures and pieces of art and the small town, of course, offers a selection of places to eat, designer boutiques and small shops selling traditional handmade Mayan souvenirs.
A fun way to get around and explore Cozumel is to rent a scooter or small car. Only a very small part of Cozumel is developed. Following the coastal road will send you past beautiful scenery and small less crowded beaches for the ultimate in relaxation.
Tulum – Gorgeous Caribbean beaches and Mayan ruins
Tulum is known for its gorgeous Caribbean beaches and incredible well-preserved Mayan ruins. The view of the Caribbean Sea from the top of the archaeology ruins is nothing but breathtaking and is what draws most of the visitors to this place. Experiencing Tulum is best done as a day trip from Cancun, but quaint beachside bungalows are available for those looking to experience the tranquility of Tulum when all the day trippers head home. The areas surrounding Tulum are great for exploring, where you will find the ruins of Coba and the massive Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an.
Los Cabos – Luxury & All Inclusive Beach Resorts
Los Cabos is highly regarded as one of the absolute top vacation destinations in Mexico. It is located in Baja California and consists of two towns, San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, divided by “the Corridor” which is a scenic 20 miles stretch of highway. San José del Cabo has all the high-end luxury shopping, exclusive art galleries, top restaurants and a nice established traditional ambiance. Cabo San Lucas, on the other hand, is vibrant beach life, big hotels, luxury all-inclusive resorts, fine dining at upscale restaurants, luxurious spas, championship golf courses and an incredible nightlife. These are all the things that have made Los Cabos incredibly famous as a Mexican vacation destination.
You can do just about everything in Los Cabos, but watching the humpback whales migrating in winter is a breathtaking vision. The best time of year to visit Los Cabos is December through April.
Cancun – Tropical Paradise and Caribbean Luxury
When it comes to the Best Mexican Vacation Destinations there can be only one at the top, and our top spot goes to Cancun. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, the world famous Caribbean vacation destination pulls in visitors all year round. Perfect weather, amazing crystal clear water, fabulous soft sandy beaches, first class all-inclusive resorts, luxurious boutique hotels, excellent attractions and amazing nightlife scene are just some of the many things that make Cancun and top choice when it comes to Mexican Vacation Destinations. There’s something to do for everyone. The balance between top class relaxation, the authentic Mayan world and the never ending list of activities draws in couples looking for a romantic setting and the families wanting to have all options available. We have listed our top choices of excellent activities and excursions to chose from in the Cancun and Riviera Maya area.
Treat yourself to a vacation in Mexico, and make from it whatever you want it to be. Simply start by defining what makes the perfect vacation destination for you and plan from there.
Are you looking for other destinations in Mexico? Check out our hotel search engine for the best rates on hotels and resorts in Mexico.
Leave us a comment and let us know what you think is the best vacation destination in Mexico. Which destination makes for the best MEXcation?