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Discover Paradise: 5 Towns in Mexico for a Blissful Beach Escape

When you think of beaches in Mexico, what comes to mind?

A strip of high-rise hotels populated by rowdy Spring Breakers who dominate the coast with their partying?

Turquoise waters and acres of white sand that you can barely see because the beach is so packed?

Cancun and Tulum, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, are famed for their popularity with American tourists and party college students. But the country has so much more to offer than one strip of coastline. If you want to incorporate a beach getaway into your Mexico trip, there are plenty of other idyllic spots to choose from. Favoured by the backpacking crowd, these beach towns have everything solo travellers could want: beaches to laze the day away on, food that won’t break the bank and a bar or two besides.

5 Best Beach Locations in Mexico for Backpackers

1. Puerto Escondido

You may well have heard of Puerto Escondido - it seems everyone is recommending the chilled-out surf town as a must-visit place in Mexico. With countless beaches and a large town, Puerto Escondido is big enough that you can explore for days or weeks on end, especially if surfing the day away is your kind of heaven.

How expensive is Puerto Escondido?

Puerto Escondido is fairly affordable - if you stay in Centro. That’s the main town where locals live, as opposed to the tourist hubs Zicatela and La Punta, where food and hostel prices are inflated. Staying in Centro means you can shop in larger supermarkets, eat in local taco joints and pay less for a hostel. You’ll be able to walk to many of the beaches in this guide and simply take a colectivo if you want to go further afield. If you’re going on a night out, a taxi home will eat into your budget - but split between a few friends, it’s not a big expense.

Where can you party?

If you like a party, you’ll find somewhere to dance the night away in Puerto Escondido. From party hostels in La Punta to reggaeton, house and techno parties at Zicatela, the town has something for everyone on pretty much every night of the week. If you want to dance salsa, try Play Pong on a Wednesday. And check out Punta Vida on a Sunday for a beach party to remember.

What’s the best beach?

Puerto is a surfing hotspot so if catching waves is your dream vacation activity - or if you’ve always wanted to try - you’ll find plenty to entertain you at La Punta. If you just want to tan on the beach and go for a casual swim, try the coves Carrizalillo or Manzanillo so you don’t get swept away by giant waves.

2. Mazunte

Just along the coast from Puerto Escondido, you’ll find Mazunte: a chilled-out town with a hippy vibe. But there’s more to Mazunte than yoga classes and breath workshops - backpackers can also enjoy a great food scene and beautiful beach where you can see whales and watch a breathtaking sunset.

How expensive is Mazunte?

Mazunte doesn’t boast crazy prices but the fact that it’s a small town means there is limited hostel availability - book yours early to avoid being stuck in a pricey hotel. Take plenty of cash as the few ATMs in town are temperamental and many places will charge you for paying on card, if they accept it at all.

Where can you party?

Mazunte is hardly a city that never sleeps - the hippies who fill the town are more focused on waking up early for their sun salutations than partying the night away. Enjoy a drink in Mazunte and head to nearby Zipolite if you’re determined to stay out all night.

What’s the best beach?

The main beach in Mazunte does get packed but it does the job if you want a quick swim without leaving the town. Otherwise walk 20 minutes to San Agustinillo for much more space to lay your towel on the sand. In the evening, join countless others in watching the sunset at Punta Cometa - or try going at sunrise for a much more private affair.

3. Puerto Angel

Continue down the coast from Mazunte and you’ll reach Puerto Angel. This town isn’t overrun with tourists and while it lacks a large restaurant scene or bar culture, you’ll still find delicious food and beaches to die for.

How expensive is Puerto Angel?

Puerto Angel won’t break your budget by any means - the town is set up for locals rather than tourists so you’ll spend way less eating out than you would in Mazunte, albeit at more rustic locations. Bear in mind, you won’t find hostels in Puerto Angel, so opt for a cheap hotel or AirBnB, which split between two will be the same cost as an average hostel room.

Where can you party?

Let me stop you there: don’t come to Puerto Angel if a party’s what you’re after. The most you’ll find is a quiet beer which may leave you disappointed if you planned on staying awake till dawn! Either make Puerto Angel a mid-week visit or come to recover if you’ve already been partying your way through Mexico for weeks on end.

What’s the best beach?

Beaches are the reason Puerto Angel must be on your travel route. The coves that surround this town are idyllic and way less populated than neighbouring Mazunte or Zipolite. Try Playa Principal or Playa Estacahuite for calm, crystal clear waters and restaurants serving fish fresh from the sea.

4. Bacalar

While Bacalar isn’t technically a beach, the aquamarine water of this lagoon is just as stunning. It’s almost worth adding Bacalar to your travel route just for the sight of the turquoise water alone - but the town has lots to offer besides!

How expensive is Bacalar?

Here’s a head’s up: as you reach anywhere in the vicinity of Tulum or Cancun, prices will go up. Hostels in Bacalar charge up to £30 a night so if you’re travelling in a pair, you may be better off getting an AirBnB or hotel room for the same price. You’ll also have to pay to enter the lagoon each day but make sure to scope out the cheapest entrance point (opposite the Galeón Pirata Centro) instead of going to a more expensive restaurant that may charge you a premium.

Where can you party?

While there are plenty of backpackers in Bacalar, the town isn’t a non-stop party. Head for a party hostel if you want to socialise every night of the week. Otherwise wait for the weekend to enjoy a night out at salsa bar La Catrina, backpacker hub I Scream or techno party Fruta.

What’s the best beach?

As Bacalar is a lagoon, you won’t find a sandy beach here but lay your towel on the grass and the effect is the same. If you’ve come from surf towns on the Pacific coast, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how calm Bacalar’s water is. In case you’re still keen to give water sports a go, try stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking as a way to explore the lagoon.

5. Isla Holbox

If you want a slice of the Caribbean on your Mexican travels - without the craziness of Cancun or Tulum - Isla Holbox may be the answer. The island is a paradise of coast and wildlife with a sleepy, laidback town to chill out in once you’re done enjoying everything the beaches have to offer.

How expensive is Isla Holbox?

While Holbox isn’t as cheap as other destinations on this list, you don’t need to break the bank if you add it to your backpacking route. Opt for a cheaper hostel - or campsite! - and head for the few budget restaurants on the island if you want to save money. You won’t find any supermarkets on Holbox, so prepare to spend a little more on groceries in small stores, or try the market for cheap fruit and vegetables.

Where can you party?

There are many beach bars on Holbox but you’ll find more laidback live music than an all night rave. Lean into the relaxed lifestyle and save your partying for another stop on your trip. Instead, once night falls, go and see the bioluminescence, an incredible natural phenomenon which results in water lighting up when you move your body through it. You’ll pay to do a bioluminescence tour in other parts of Mexico but in Holbox - for now - it’s free, so don’t miss out!

What’s the best beach?

The beaches on Holbox boast white sand and beautiful wildlife: try Punta Cocos, Yum Balar or Punta Mosquita for a relaxed paradise to laze the day away in. You’ll have to head out of town to reach these spots, so consider renting a bike or prepare for a long walk in the heat with a cooling swim to reward you once you reach your destination.

Time to Book

While Mexico may be known for its party-cum-beach scene packed full of Spring Breakers, backpackers have plenty of options to choose from while avoiding the expensive tourist hotspots. Add a beach town to your Mexico backpacking route for a few days of surfing your heart out, lazing in the sun and relaxing in front of stunning blue waters. Which beach paradise do you most want to visit?


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