Top 5 Non-Touristy Beach Towns In Mexico

Mexico is the 8th most visited country in the world. More than 35 million tourists from all over the world come to the country every year to enjoy its food, culture, low prices, and beautiful landmarks.

That is great news for the economy of a country that is still in development. But it also has its downsides.

If you have ever visited the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico like Cancun or Cabo, you know that they can get crowded. VERY crowded. Especially during spring and summer breaks.

Another problem is that these towns have turned 100% into tourist traps. Things are starting to become almost as expensive as in the US or Europe. That culture of friendliness, community, and even the color that characterizes Mexican towns is a little bit lost and has been replaced by very generic all-inclusive resorts. I mean, what’s the point of even coming to Mexico if you are just going to stay inside the gates of a hotel, right? you might as well go to Florida in that case.

This is why many people are starting to look for alternative destinations. Thankfully, Mexico has more than enough beautiful beach towns and there are still lots of them that have kept their essence. Some of these are well-kept secrets by Mexican locals that prefer to vacation in these spots instead of having to spend 3 or 4 times as much in Tulum.

In this article, I’ll reveal the best non-touristy beach town in Mexico. These are all safe places that you should definitely consider for your next vacation, or why not, if you are thinking about moving to the country.

Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

The estate of Oaxaca is probably the country’s most underrated, but one of the most beautiful destinations. It is located in the southwestern part of Mexico. Here you will find the town of Puerto Escondido which literally means hidden port. And this town is definitely one hidden jewel.

Puerto Escondido is well known to Mexicans, but it is not as famous worldwide. As a result, you will find a more quiet, relaxed, and colorful environment. It is a great place for surfing, snorkeling, ecotourism, and wildlife sighting. The main attraction in that regard are the boat tours to see the whales that arrive between December and March to give birth in warmer waters.

The town has a very colonial feeling to it. Many of the hotels, even the most luxurious ones, were built by renovating buildings from that time period. This gives them a very homely, friendly feeling.

There are 7 different beaches around Puerto Escondido to enjoy, and a lot more if you don’t mind traveling a bit. The main one is simply called playa principal (main beach). It is nice but it is a bit crowded and all the fishing boats on the coast don’t allow you to fully appreciate it. If you want something quieter, try Bacocho which is popular for surfing. There’s also Playa Coral which is almost exclusively visited by locals and Zicatela where you’ll find the nightlife.

The easiest way to get to Puerto Escondido is by plane. The town has a small, but functional airport. You can get a direct flight from Mexico City or connect via Oaxaca’s airport. If you look at a map, you might be tempted to go to Oaxaca City and take a bus from there. My recommendation is don’t. Even though the distance seems short, the ride from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido is over 10 hours long as you have to go through the mountains.

Sayulita, Nayarit

Sayulita, Nayarit
Sayulita, Nayarit

I have written many times about Sayulita before. I even ranked it as one of the best beach towns to visit in Mexico on a budget. And there are good reasons for it.

This tiny 2,300 people town deserves more attention than it gets. The reason why it is a bit underappreciated is that it is less than an hour away from the more popular city of Puerto Vallarta. However, that is good news for someone looking for non-touristy towns as it has helped Sayulita keep its charm.

One of the most peculiar things about Sayulita that you will notice on arrival is that everyone is riding golf carts. This is because cobblestone streets were very popular in the region and they have never really replaced them. Golf carts are much better at navigating them and because the town is so small, they are good enough for the short travel distances.

Sayulita is one of the most colorful towns I’ve visited in Mexico, and that is to say a lot. The whole town is constantly being adorned for various celebrations.

Just like most of the other beaches on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Sayulita is great for surfing and snorkeling.

Even though the town is small, it can get a bit crowded in the Summer. Especially the main beach. Thankfully, Sayulita has more than 9 different beaches nearby and if you don’t mind walking and hiking a bit, you can find secluded beaches like La Lancha or Patzuarito.

Sayulita is perfect for people who want to relax quietly in front of a beautiful beach. It is also one of the most affordable beach towns in Mexico so you won’t even need to break the bank to stay while.

The easiest way to get to Sayulita is to get to Puerto Vallarta’s airport and take a taxi or bus from there. The ride is between 30-60 minutes.

Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo

Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo

Out of all the Mexican beach towns on this list, this could be considered the most touristy. I still think it is important talking about it because if you want to visit or live in the Mayan Riviera, it is the most non-touristy, but still gorgeous option in the area.

Puerto Morelos is barely 30 minutes away from Cancun and an hour from Tulum. Because it is still a fishing town, it has managed to keep most of its identity, charm, and character. The town is still growing like most of the region, but instead of huge resorts and casinos, Puerto Morelos is turning more into a residential area with gated communities, condos, etc.

Another advantage of Puerto Morelos is that there is a higher percentage of English-speaking people. Communication is less of a problem than in places like Oaxaca where English is only spoken in hotels and by other foreigners.

Like the rest of the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Morelos is very attractive to people who are into wildlife and ecotourism. You can visit the cenotes (natural underground pools), take boat tours into the ocean, or visit one of the many wildlife reserves in the area.

Puerto Morelos is a small town. But being so close to Cancun means that if you ever want to go out and look for nightlife or go shopping, it is nice knowing you are just a short ride away.

It is hard to know for how long Puerto Morelos will remain a non-touristy town. Its growth has accelerated over the past 10 years. But for the time being, it is still very much worth a visit.

Manzanillo, Colima

Manzanillo, Colima
Manzanillo, Colima

Colima is the smallest estate in Mexico. It is located in the western part of the country by the Pacific Ocean. Despite its size, it has dozens of gorgeous beaches to visit.

Manzanillo is by far the most popular one. It is a resort town with lots of activity during the holidays and Summer vacations. But wait, wasn’t this article about the exact opposite? Yes, let me explain.

Colima is so small that many of its beaches don’t really have developed towns around them. The reason I’m listing Manzanillo is because you can set your base here, but instead of going to Manzanillo’s beach, you can escape to one of the other nearby beaches that are much nicer and quieter and you will have them pretty much all for yourself.

On top of that, if you are going during the off-season, even Manzanillo becomes a pretty quiet and chill town.

Beaches like Bahia de Santiago, Barra de Navidad, La Boquita, and Olas Altas (high waves) are only a short drive away and most of the time they don’t have large crowds.

Another advantage of Manzanillo is that it is still relatively inexpensive compared to other beach towns in Mexico.

San Jose del Cabo, BCS

San Jose del Cabo, BCS
San Jose del Cabo, BCS

Did you know there are like 5 different towns called “something Cabo” in the Cabo region? I don’t know who decided to name them but they made things very confusing.

The city that most people refer to when they talk about “Cabo” is Cabo San Lucas. It is located off the coast of Baja California Sur, a few hours away from the border with the United States. This is not the city I want to talk to you about here. What I want to talk about is San Jose del Cabo, its much smaller sister town.

Located about 30 minutes away from Cabo, San Jose del Cabo is a better option for those looking for the non-touristy experience.

San Jose del Cabo still maintains a very colonial look and a colorful, charming exterior. Even the small town square still has a traditional gazebo at the center.

Pretty much all the outdoors activities that Cabo advertises are close to San Jose del Cabo too. And it is even closer to the airport.