Please note that some links on our site are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. By using these you are directly supporting The Vanabond Tales to remain an independent travel blog.
Some of the world’s best beaches are in Mexico, and many of them can be found along the Pacific Coast. With golden sands, swaying palms, and picturesque headlands thick with green jungle, Mexico beaches on the west coast are, in a word, stunning.
The towns, cities, and communities that dot this special coastline all offer something different. Whether you are looking to relax on the beach with a book and a margarita, surf some of Mexico’s best waves, party all night long, or even escape somewhere you can have all to yourself, there is a beach on Mexico’s Pacific Coast for you.
*This article excludes Baja California on Mexico’s west coast and focuses on the best mainland Mexico west coast beaches south of the Gulf of California
Which Side of Mexico Has Better Beaches?
We think the beaches on Mexico’s west coast have the most to offer.
But that’s a purely personal choice, and the answer to that question will differ significantly depending on who you ask.
Each coastline has its pros and cons and deciding which side of Mexico has better beaches will largely depend on what you look for in a beach destination.
If you are looking to catch a wave, then the best beaches in Mexico are on the west coast. If it’s snorkeling in calm aqua blue waters that floats your boat, then your best bet is on Mexico’s eastern seaboard.
Perhaps you want the best beach in Mexico for kite surfing? If so, then the windy beaches of El Cuyo on the east coast of Mexico win again.
If smaller towns and fishing villages are preferred head west, but for larger cities and sprawling all-inclusive resorts, the east is where you need to be.
The traditional food of the Yucatan on the east coast is a highlight but the sargassum seaweed that has overrun many beaches there can be off-putting.
So, to discover which of Mexico’s coastlines is for you, first, decide what you want out of a beach and go from there.
For us, the remote towns and villages, beautiful surf beaches, and the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountain range come together to create Mexico’s best beaches.
Is the Pacific Coast of Mexico Safe?
Planning a trip to Mexico often raises the question, “is Mexico safe to travel?“.
Safety in Mexico, just like many other large countries, varies significantly from state to state, city to city, and neighborhood to neighborhood.
Like the rest of Mexico, there are certain places along the Pacific Coast that you should not travel to.
The situation in Mexico can change frequently and rapidly, so it is best to stay up to date on the current climate by visiting your local country’s travel advisory website (for example the US Department of State Travel Advisory).
Once you are aware of the travel warnings, remain alert during your travels, and follow a few key yet simple guidelines to ensure you are traveling in the safest way possible.
In this way, traveling to the Pacific Coast of Mexico can and should be safe!
The Best Mexico Beaches on the West Coast
The best Mexico beaches on the West coast stretch from the top in Nayarit to the very bottom of Mexico in Chiapas. Some of the beaches on our list of the best beaches on the Pacific Coast at times are considered dangerous to travel to based on travel advisory warnings. We do not recommend going to any of these beaches without first checking with your local government travel advisory warning as well as checking the most recent COVID travel advice.
The Best Beaches in Nayarit
The Riviera Nayarit is home to beautiful beaches, fantastic accommodation, exciting dining, nightlife, and consistent waves. This stretch of coastline really does have it all.
You can find beaches packed with people, restaurants, beachfront bars, or desolate beaches hidden in the jungle. Worldclass waves for advanced surfers or gentle rolling swells, perfect for beginners. Hostels filled with barefooted backpackers or luxury resorts with ocean-front golf courses, private beaches, and exclusive restaurants.
The beaches in Nayarit are some of the best and most diverse beaches on Mexico’s west coast and these are our favorite.
1. Sayulita: The Busiest Beach in Nayarit
Sayulita is perhaps the most popular and well-known of all the Riviera Nayarit beaches. A haven for snowbirds, retirees, backpackers, and holidaymakers from Mexico and around the world. A beautiful beach, gorgeous weather, and a bustling tourist town make this a favorite destination for national and international visitors alike. Sayulita has everything you could ever want out of a beach destination.
This vibrant Mexican beach town of Sayulita has vacation down to an art form and you’ll find everything you need here and more. Upscale international restaurants and local taco stands. Burger bars and beachfront seafood restaurants. An enticing cafe scene. The best nightlife on the Riviera Nayarit is here with cocktail bars, beach bars, sports pubs, and clubs that party until daybreak. Sayulita has more activities than you can poke a piñata stick at with tours, beachfront massages, yoga classes and so much more.
Sayulita is also widely known for its consistent and reliable wave. Surf shops line the busy beach with boards and instructors keen to get you in the water. From Sayulita, hikes through the coastal jungle offer a chance to visit neighboring beaches and the mountains of the Sierra Madre and discover the wildlife that abounds here.
Sayulita is easily a place where you could spend a week or two enjoying all of the amenities and activities available here. You may even decide to move here like the many expats, retirees, and digital nomads that now call this paradise home.
2. Punta Raza: The Beach Where the Jungle Meets the Sea
If you’re looking for a much more low-key destination, Punt Raza, where the jungle meets the sea, is one of the Nayarit beaches that remains undiscovered and undisturbed by over-tourism.
Punta Raza won’t remain unspoiled forever as a major American hotel brand, Hyatt, is slated to build a luxury resort on this small stretch of beach but for now, Punta Raza is a heavenly beach unspoiled by overdevelopment.
Access to Punta Raza is down a dirt track, so having your own vehicle to reach this beautiful destination is a must. The closest (and best) accommodation to visit Punta Raza is nearby San Pancho (San Francisco).
3. San Pancho: The Best Beach for Balance
Eight kilometers north of Sayulita lies San Pancho (officially San Francisco Nayarit). Once a sleepy fishing village, San Pancho has become a popular destination for people seeking something different from neighboring Sayulita.
Although less developed than its neighbor Sayulita, you will still find plenty of comfortable hotels, great quality restaurants, cafes, and a handful of bars in San Pancho, but the town mostly shuts down by 10 pm. San Pancho is a more relaxed option for people looking to catch up on sleep and rest rather than avoid it.
A heavy beach break offers a challenging wave for advanced surfers. The west-facing aspect means beautiful sunsets every night.
4. Chacala: The Hidden Cove on the Riviera Nayarit
The small beach town of Chacala is the perfect Mexico beach destination. Nestled and protected in a small cove, Chacala beach is relatively unknown on the tourist circuit. Another beach in Mexico where the jungle meets the sea, Chacala Mexico is best enjoyed by those looking for an authentic and low-key beach holiday.
You won’t find any luxury resorts here, no high-rise hotels, and no fancy bars or restaurants. What you will find is a laid-back Mexican getaway, a place that is frequented by locals more than international tourists. The beach is perfect for those who don’t like rough waves or for families with young children.
Known originally for its excellent fishing, the name Chacala means “where there are shrimp”. Outside of fishing, there is not much to do in Chacala but relax. Enjoy fresh seafood under palapas at the restaurants lining the beach, sip a cerveza as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, rent a boat, and head to Playa de Cuevas for some snorkeling, or stroll along the mile-long white sandy beach. Surfers will find one of Mexico’s longest waves at La Caleta, a short boat ride, (or long jungle trek) to the north.
5. Lo de Marcos: Where the Locals Go
A pretty Mexican beach town on the Riviera Nayarit, Lo de Marcos is still largely an undiscovered secret outside of the loyal collection of ex-pats and returning visitors who have kept this paradise a closely guarded secret. It has everything you would expect from one of Nayarit’s best beaches. A long beautiful beach, a jungle-clad headland, and an authentic village. As its star begins to rise, great restaurants, cafes, and bars are beginning to appear to support the growing tourism scene. Nevertheless, it remains quiet, low-key, and relaxed in the atmosphere, and we hope it stays that way.
Best Beaches in Jalisco
The state of Jalisco maybe home to Mexico’s most famous export, tequila, but it is also home to some incredibly beautiful beaches. Expect to find beautiful coves, white sand beaches, and relaxation on the beaches of Jalisco.
6. Puerto Vallarta: The Best Jalisco Beach for Fiesta!
The resort town of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s west coast has long been renowned for its festive atmosphere and is one of the best beaches on the Pacific for a good night out. If you came to the beach to party, then start your night off at The Gin Joint at the Grand Miramar Hotel. With sweeping views over Puerto Vallarta, this is the place to be for the sunset. Prices are a bit steep but head over during happy hour (6:30 – 8:30 pm) for a two-for-one deal.
Next head down to the Malecon lined with bars suited for all types of people. Looking for an intimate tequila and mezcal bar? Head over to Bar Morelos Mezcaleria. Searching for the LGBTQAI community? Head over to Mr. Flamingo or La Noche. If it’s nightclubs you after, PV has plenty to offer, be sure to check out Zoo Bar or follow the thumping base to find your own favorite.
They are plenty of options when it comes to dining in PV. Our top tip? No visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without a trip to Pancho’s Takos. The best tacos al pastor in the city, go before a night out or after but don’t miss this tiny hole-in-the-wall treat.
If you are in Puerto Vallarta for the beach, then you will be pleased to know that some of the best beaches in Jalisco are just a stone’s throw away. Los Muertos Beach is a popular beach in the heart of Puerto Vallarta and is close to many of the bars in Puerto Vallarta. Conchas Chinas Beach, just a little further south, is the most picturesque beach in Puerto Vallarta and the home to many of the best resorts and hotels in the city.
READ MORE: Where to Eat in Puerto Vallarta
7. Playa Caballo (Caballo Beach) and Playa Colomitos (Colomitos Beach): Beaches in Jalisco Worth the Trek
Two Mexico beaches on the west coast that could be considered off the beaten path are Playa Caballo and Playa Colomitos. Located about an hour south of Puerto Vallarta, these beaches are accessible only by boat from Boca de Tomatlán or by embarking on a hike through the Mexican jungle. The inaccessibility of these two small, hidden beaches in Jalisco is the real charm here.
You won’t find restaurants or other facilities at either of the beaches, so make sure you come fully prepared and self-reliant. What you will find are some of the most stunning beaches in Mexico, ones not to be missed when visiting Jalisco.
8. Arroyo Seco: The Best Jalisco Beach for Travelers Seeking Serenity
For those of you looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life, look no further than Arroyo Seco. Arroyo Seco is, in our opinion, one of the best beaches in Jalisco. With only one restaurant which is only occasionally open and a handful of tiendas selling basic groceries, ice, and beer, you won’t find many distractions here. Not even from your cell phone as there is limited cell service here. Take all your supplies for the weekend and head off to this secluded bit of paradise.
Best Beaches in Colima
One of the smaller states in Mexico and one of the prettiest, Colima has an unfortunate history of criminal activity. While the beaches are undeniably beautiful, we recommend visiting the Department of State website before traveling to Colima to ensure it is safe for travel. Additionally, exercise caution here, especially when traveling the roads to get to these beaches.
9. Pascuales: Best Colima Beach for Surf
Another surf destination on the list of the best Mexico beaches on the west coast, Pascuales is one of the best surf beaches in Mexico. A massive beach break, expert surfers come year-round to surf this incredibly massive barrel right off the beach.
Outside of surfing, there is little else to do in Pascuales except enjoy the white-silica sand beach, sip cervezas, and dine on delicious seafood. Colima is particularly known for its fresh ceviche which rivals that of Peru.
All in all, Pascuales is the place to relax, unwind, and get away from it all.
Best Beaches in Michoacan
TRAVEL WARNING!! Michoacan is consistently listed by the Department of State in the United States as a do not travel state. Please make sure to check your government’s travel advisory before booking any travel to the best beaches in Michoacan. As with Colima, if you do go be careful. Don’t drive at night. Don’t flash around wads of cash. No fancy jewelry. Try to blend in as much as possible and avoid bringing too much attention to yourself.
10. Playa Maruata: Best Low Key Beach in Michocan
Michoacan may be most known for its avocados as the world’s largest avocado producer, but if you are looking to get off the beaten path in Mexico then head to Playa Maruata. This white sand Mexico beach on the Pacific Coast nestled in a protected cove is everything you could hope for and more. With consistent surf, no large hotel chains, and delicious Mexican food, Playa Maruata ticks all the boxes for a perfect low-key Mexico beach destination.
With an authentic vibe, this laid-back beach town is a great place to visit especially for those on a budget. Playa Maruata is best reached with your own set of wheels but is also accessible by a regular bus service between Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo.
11. Barra de Nexpa: Best Surf Beach in Michocan
Another lesser-known Mexico west coast beach is Barra de Nexpa. Like Playa Maruata, this beach is popular with the locals and relatively unknown on the tourism circuit.
The main reason to head to Barra de Nexpa is for the surf. This beach town in Mexico is popular year-round for its consistent surf at the exposed point featuring a long wave that peels off to the left or at the mouth of the river.
If you aren’t keen on surfing, the palapa-lined beach is more than enough to draw travelers here looking for a little bit of rest and relaxation. Barra de Nexpa isn’t the place for a wild party but rather long walks on the beach, epic sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, gnarly surf, and, of course, delicious Mexican food and cervezas.
Best Beaches in Guerrero
Guerrero is another state in Mexico regularly included on the do not travel listing. While the Mexico beaches on the Pacific Coast listed below are beautiful, make sure to check the guidance issued by your country’s department of state before making arrangements to visit.
12. Troncones: Best Surf Beach in Guerrero
More beach village than a town, Troncones is another destination on the list known for its incredible surf. A town of no more than 500 people, in Troncones you can experience what life is really like in Mexico. Here you won’t find any large supermarkets or large hotel chains. Only a small fruit and veg shop and a truck that delivers soft drinks and beers a few times a day.
Surfing, long walks on the beach, relaxing, and reading a book are the things to do here. You can also arrange a kayaking tour through the estuary of La Boca with Costa Nativa Ecotours and learn about the wildlife that flourishes in Troncones including, birds, crocodiles, iguanas, and more.
Troncones may be small now, but it is slowly developing a small following on the tourist circuit and reminds us a lot of the hippy, laid-back beach town of Ayampe in Ecuador. With a yoga studio in town, a spa, and a hip bar Amor Tropical Cocktail Bar & Kitchen, it won’t be long before Troncones becomes more like Sayulita in Nayarit or Mazunte in Oaxaca.
13. Zihuatanejo: Most Beautiful Beach in Guerrero
If the palm tree-lined beach doesn’t have you swooning over this Mexican beach on the Pacific Coast then nothing will. Playa la Ropa is one of the most picturesque beaches that you will find in Mexico, and it is a wonder why Zihuatanejo (or Zihua to the locals) is not more discovered on the tourist circuit.
The name Zihuatanejo may sound familiar as it is the peaceful paradise that Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption dreams about and promises to visit one day.
Outside of a stunning beach, the town of Zihuatanejo is a lively beach town with a wide array of cafes, bars, and restaurants to be enjoyed. Those with a keen interest in learning to dive will be blessed with warm waters, almost no current, and generally clear visibility. Advanced divers will also be entertained with a handful of great offshore dives. Surfers will enjoy one of the best left-hand breaks in Mexico. The beach town of Zihuatanejo is also known for its jungle walks and ancient ruins.
14. Barra de Potosí: Best Beach for Relaxing in Guerrero
Another sleepy Mexico west coast beach village, Barra de Potosi boasts an impressive nine-and-a-half-mile beach that is among the prettiest in Mexico.
Expect basic accommodation in family-run inns, hotels, and hostels. Eat delicious seafood from Enramadas, the open-air restaurants, that dot the palm-lined beach. Walk the long beach. Read books in the sand. And surf when the swell hits in the summer.
It is recommended to bring along as much cash as you think you will need as there are no ATMs here. The closest ATM is in the Zihuatanejo airport.
Barra de Potosi is a sleepy village with not a whole lot going on but is simply beautiful and well worth the trek if you are on the hunt for the best beaches on Mexico’s west coast.
Best Beaches in Oaxaca
The beaches in Oaxaca are some of our absolute favorites of all of the Mexico beaches on the west coast which is why there are a fair few of them included on our list of the best Mexico beaches on the west coast.
15. Mazunte: The Best Mexico Beach for Free Spirits
The stunning beach of Mazunte is one of three beaches along a 20-kilometer road bustling with laid-back, hippy tourists. Second, to La Punta in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte is probably one of the most recognizable and visited beaches in Oaxaca. Despite this, it is still a beach worth visiting.
Its small protected cove is perfect for swimming but you won’t find much in the way here of surfing. The headland, Punta Cometa, is perfect for watching sunsets over the Pacific Coast which is one of the best ways to end your day in Mazunte.
The town of Mazunte caters to the laid-back tourist. You will find local hole-in-the-walls beside French bakeries. Trendy cafes alongside taco trucks. Vegan and vegetarian options. Mezcal bars and shack bars. Mazunte is perfect if you are looking for free and easy.
A few days in Mazunte and you will understand why it is one of the best Mexico beaches on the west coast and perhaps in all of Mexico.
16. Zipolite: The Best Oaxacan Beach for Donning Your Birthday Suit
If you are a bit of a free spirit and like to enjoy a less constrained lifestyle, then the Oaxacan beach of Zipolite might be for you. Holding the title of Mexico’s most famous nudist beach, you can let it all hang out while you are hanging out in this little slice of Mexican paradise.
Zipolite is one of three popular Mexican beaches (along with Mazunte and San Augustinillo) on this stretch of coastline that is recognizable by its luscious jungle-clad headlands, rocky coves, and epic sunsets. For those who are interested in surfing, a small break can be found towards the southern end of Zipolite Beach.
Outside of the stunning beaches, there are plenty of great restaurants to choose from offering a wide array of options. From trendy vegan-friendly restaurants to the local hole-in-the-wall joints and even some pretty good pizza options, beaches on Mexico’s western coast don’t get much better than this.
17. Playa Coral in Puerto Escondido: The Prettiest Beach in Mexico
Puerto Escondido is a popular town on the west coast and is known for some of the most famous beaches in Mexico. A destination not to be missed on any Oaxacan road trip, Puerto Escondido packs a lot of punch.
Playa Zicatela is the most widely known beach in Puerto Escondido due to its massive beach break which has been nicknamed the Mexican Pipeline. For people looking for a more picturesque and relaxing beach, don’t miss is Playa Coral.
Located in the Barrio (neighborhood) Carrizalillo, this beach is hands down one of the prettiest beaches in Mexico. The white sand contrasted against the aqua blue waters makes taking photos here easy.
The protected cove makes it a great beach in Mexico for families.
18. La Punta in Puerto Escondido: The Best Beach in Oaxaca for Beginner Surfing
Puerto Escondido is one of the most popular beach towns in Mexico, so it should come as no surprise that some of the best Mexico west coast beaches can be found here.
The best place to surf for beginners in Oaxaca is La Punta. The southern headland of Puerto Escondido’s main beach, Zicatela, has a gentle point break. Finding a spot on the wave, however, maybe the most challenging bit about surfing here. Popular among surf schools and visitors not ready for the heavy Zicatela beach break further north.
Outside of surfing, La Punta is a haven for backpackers and like-minded travelers. Trendy bars, cafes, and restaurants line the sandy street beaconing travelers.
19. Playa San Agustin and Huatulco National Park
A Mexico beach on the west coast that you may not have heard of is Playa San Augustin.
Bordering the Huatulco National Park, Playa San Agustin is the perfect base for exploring the biodiversity of this beautiful coastal wilderness.
Hire a boat and a driver to navigate the coves, cliffs, and bays of this incredible park. Go snorkeling or get dropped off on a desolate beach. However, you choose to explore the beautiful Huatulco National Park, it is sure to leave an impression.
Just make sure to select one of the smaller bays to explore as tour boats come in the late morning from the nearby town of Huatulco for snorkeling expeditions.
Outside of Huatulco National Park, there is not much to do in Playa San Agustin. Like many of the Mexico west coast beaches, Playa San Agustin is a true Mexican beach village. No supermarkets, no large hotels, no fancy restaurants. Just locals, hanging out and making a living off the sea.
It is truly a great place to experience an authentic Mexican town in a beautiful part of Mexico.
20. Chacahua: The Best Beach in Oaxaca for Adventure
A must-see Mexico beach on the west coast, Chacahua is the best beach for those with a sense of adventure. To reach this isolated beach, you must take a boat through the mangrove forest that engulfs Laguna Chacahua. Make sure to keep all limbs on board as the skipper navigates his way to the coastline to avoid an unfortunate encounter with one of the many crocodiles in Chacahua!
The trip to Playa Chacahua, however, is only half the fun. The remote beach of Chacahua embraces that laid-back Mexican vibe that so many of us are after when looking for our next Mexico beach destination.
Chacahua is the place to come to unwind and relax. Take a few books, grab a surfboard and catch a wave, head out for a long walk along the sandy beach, and just relax. At night, hit the beach for a bonfire before falling asleep to the sound of the waves.
If you’re heading for Chacahua to get away from the crowds and get some serenity, then it is best to come outside the holiday season when Chacahua is popular with local holidaymakers.
Best Beaches in Chiapas
The beaches in Chiapas are often overlooked for the beautiful beaches in Oaxaca. Nevertheless, those who are looking to get off the beaten path in the jungle-clad Chiapas will be rewarded with stunning beaches that rival those from its neighboring state and offer a more natural experience. With a fraction of the tourists that you will find at many of the other best beaches in Mexico, the beaches in Chiapas are some of the most idyllic.
21. Puerto Arista: An Authentic Chiapas Beach
A small beach community in Chiapas that swells to life during weekends and holidays is Puerto Arista. A beach will little to no infrastructure for international tourism, visiting Puerto Arista will be a unique and truly local experience. You won’t find trendy vegan restaurants, cafes, or upscale mezcal bars here. Instead, expect palapas dotting the beach where locals sling fish tacos and cold cervezas.
In Puerto Arista, there isn’t much to do outside of enjoying the beautiful beach. A turtle sanctuary is run near the Villa Murano Hotel with an aim to protect the hatching grounds of Puerto Arista. Volunteers can participate in both the collection of eggs and the release of the turtles during the months of June to November.
A true local Mexican experience, Puerto Arista is great for those looking to get off the beaten path and explore some of Mexico’s lesser-known beaches.
22. Boca del Cielo: The Most Idyllic Beach in Chiapas
Boca del Cielo, or Heaven’s Mouth in Spanish, is one of the most idyllic places on our list of the best Mexico beaches on the west coast. Boca del Cielo is where to go to unwind, relax, and be one with nature.
Along this stretch of coast in Chiapas, it is back to the basics. You won’t find any fancy hotels or bars here, in fact, you won’t find streets or roads. Simple, small cabanas with a fan, mosquito nets and tranquility is what you can expect in Boca del Cielo.
You will also find some of the freshest and cheapest seafood in Mexico, fish tacos, whole grilled fish, and ceviche served right on the beach for a handful of pesos.
Grab a cerveza, a book, and plenty of sunscreens and enjoy the natural surroundings in this little slice of heaven.
So, what are you waiting for?
Have we helped you pick your next beach holiday on the Mexico west coast?
Book your next Mexico beach holiday on the Pacific Coast today!
Do you have a question or a comment about this list of Mexico beaches on the west coast? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to save our list of the best Mexico beaches on the west coast? Pin it for later!