Baja California (peninsula)
Los Cabos – Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo
The best part of Cabo San Lucas is its small town feel, even if it has balooned in size in the last 25 years. The town is compact and easy to get around on foot – unlike Cancun where hopping buses is essential. Cabo San Lucas also manages to maintain a moderately Mexican atmosphere in spite of the American tourist dominance.
Escaping from the town is easy if you bring or rent a vehicle (ATVs are popular), enabling trips to isolated beaches, desert walks, rock climbs and mountain adventures.
Playa El Medano is the core of tourist activity in Cabo San Lucas. It stretches out for about 2 miles (3 kms) from the harbour/marina and is lined with high-rise resorts and restaurants/cantinas. Medano is coated with soft sand and washed by clear, calm seas but in season is crowded, hyperactive and packed with persistent vendors so if you’re looking for peace and quiet better head elsewhere by water or wheels. If you want action however, be it partying or marine activities, then Medano is the best place to start.
Note that Los Cabos are a popular ‘Spring Break’ location so muchos locos descend upon the area during March every year and tranquility may be hard to find. More Cabo San Lucas information and photos
Bahía Concepción, near La Paz
The shore of Bahia Concepcion (Conception Bay), just south of Mulegé (near La Paz), has several beaches that many consider are the best in the Baja, including Playa Requesón, Playa Buenaventura, and Playa Coyote. The bay is on the coast of Sea of Cortez, which is a protected marine sanctuary and offers quieter, warmer waters than the Pacific side.
The facilities are fairly basic (some places have no fresh water), but there is wildness, natural beauty and tranquility. Excellent for watersports and great for seafood, especially clams. Playa Santispac has the best campsite, with a fine restaurant. If you are up to kayaking, try Playa Buenaventura.
Playa Linda in Ixtapa. Photo by Luidger.
The Pacific mainland coast from north to south
A vibrant port town, both a transport hub with ferries to Baja California and a beach destination with huge stretches of sand and warm waters, Mazatlan is a popular budget Spring Break destination due to its variety of low-cost accommodation.
Bahia de Matanchen, San Blas
This small and very Mexican fishing village of San Blas (nearish to Tepic)has an excellent town beach, but the best in the area is just 4 km away – Bahia de Matanchen, a broad crescent bay with splendid beaches of prime soft sand and a relaxing atmosphere.
The main drawback is summertime mosquito and sand fly problems.
Puerto Vallarta. Photo by Khayman
Between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco
The central Pacific Coast has several hundred miles of coastline with fine sandy beaches and excellent facilities. The choices are enormous from international resorts like Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco for monster all-inclusive resorts packed densely, to smaller resorts with local colour such as: Chamela (the prettiest, 165 km south of Puerto Vallarta), Barra de Navidad and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. Great activities, fantastic seafood, and lively night life.
Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
Visitors to the Zihuatanejo region have a choice of more than 20 miles of beaches that are still reasonably uncrowded, laid back and clean, though high-rise resorts are inevitably popping up as the years advance, like concrete acne.
Bahia de Ixtapa, for example, encloses four wide, lengthy beaches with soft sand of a slightly muddy color, while outside the bay a more adventurous traveler can find El Palmar’s two miles of white sand along with Playa Linda’s unspoilt curve of tree-lined sand. More Ixtapa information and photos.
Oaxaca Riviera (far south Pacific Coast)
Puerto Escondido’s Playa Principal on a busy summer weekend – busy with budget travelers and Mexican families.