I’m a beach fanatic and have always enjoyed lying on the sand, soaking sun rays and swimming in the sea. For me, there’s nothing better. Beaches are one of the best places to have fun with family and friends, enjoy cold beers and see amazing sunsets. There’s something about the salty air, sand and sea that invigorates the soul.
Whether you’re looking for quiet sands for relaxing, or prefer action-packed beach-days, throughout Central America and Mexico you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for. On the East side of the region is the Caribbean sea and on the West side the great Pacific ocean.
Based on my own experiences and some travel recommendations I’ve put together a list of 10 Beautiful Beaches in Central America and Mexico for backpackers, travellers and families alike. For some travel inspiration, or anyone who just loves the beach-life, read on to discover some of the best-kept-secret and most popular beaches that this exciting region has to offer.
10. Playa Primera / Wizard beach – Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Playa Primera, also known as Wizard beach, is on the island of Bastimentos in the Bocas del Toro District of Panama. Bastimentos is one of the largest islands in Panama but is largely undeveloped. If you’re looking for a backpacker haven, and something off the beaten track, this could be the place to go. At Playa Primera / Wizard beach you’ll discover an unspoilt, secluded and pristine beach. If you love to surf you’ll like it because the waves are big and break all along the shore. Playa Primera is not crowded and you’ll secure the perfect place to relax on baking sands, surrounded by nature. You can access the beach easily by water taxi or as part of a boat tour. Or if you’re feeling adventurous you can walk there on foot, through the jungle in 30 minutes.
9. Akumal beach – Tulum, Mexico
Akumal beach is around 30 minutes drive north from central Tulum, Mexico. Akumal is a lively and commercialised beach, popular with families and travellers. The warm, Caribbean waters of Akumal are shimmering blue and perfect for snorkelling, with a huge variety of marine life including stingrays and turtles. You’ll find Palapa roofed bars and restaurants lining the beach with fantastic food, ice cold beers and refreshing cocktails. If you’re seeking a secure and clean beach you’ll like Akumal. The beach is well-maintained with regular removals of algae and sea weed. It’s a beautiful spot where you can float-on, forget your cares and rest under a palm tree.
8. Playa El Cuco – El Cuco, El Salvador
Playa El Cuco is in the eastern part of El Salvador on the Gulf of Fonseca. The beach has a long and smooth, dark shoreline with calm waves and a laid back atmosphere. If you’re looking for chilled, tropical vibes Playa El Cuco has what you need. The beach is semi-popular with tourists but is fairly remote and quiet. You can enjoy surfing here or simply arrive to enjoy the surrounding palm trees, vendor huts, beach bars and seafood restaurants. You can relax on the sands during the day, enjoy incredible, photogenic sunsets in the evening and at night you’ll find parties and lively spots to enjoy beers.
7. Playa Hotelera – Cabo San José, Mexico
Playa Hotelera is in Cabo San José near to Cabo San Lucas in Baja Calfornia, Mexico. The beach is a sprawling stretch of light sand situated in front of the luxury hotels of Cabo San José. Here you’ll find plenty of space and vast views of the Sea of Cortez. It’s not recommended that you swim out too far, due to strong under-tows and high waves, but it’s perfect for soaking the sun. From the beach you can access beach front bars, restaurants and shops as well as enjoy walks, volleyball, surf-fishing and horse riding. You can also join snorkelling trips here that take place in some of the calmer, nearby coves. If you’re lucky, whilst relaxing on the sands you might see breaching Humpback whales out at sea.
6. Pearl Cays – Nicaragua
The Pearl Cays is a group of 18 cays (tiny islands) located off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. The Cays can be accessed from the town of Pearl Lagoon, north of Bluefields, the capital of the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region in Nicaragua. The uninhabited islands are known for their thick green vegetation and numerous immaculate and untouched, white sandy beaches. Here you can enjoy crystal clear waters, go swimming or snorkelling, and see an array of marine life. You get to the Cays by boat, and trips can be arranged from Pearl Lagoon. There is no accommodation on the Cays as they are a designated wildlife reserve and important nesting site for endangered Hawksbill turtles. But if you’re looking for deserted islands and castaway feels the Cays are an idyllic place to visit.
5. Playa de Monterrico – Monterrico, Guatemala
Monterrico beach is in the department of Santa Rosa on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast. The beach is characterised by a long stretch of black, volcanic sand and high waves that crash close to the shoreline. The beach is generally quiet during the week and more busy at the weekends. If you’re looking for a lively town and resort, Monterrico is the place to go with plenty of hostels, bars and hotels positioned along the coastline. Strong waves and rip currents mean that swimming in the sea is not always recommended but there are many other things you can do including; turtle releases, mangrove tours, horse riding and ATV hire. From the beach you’ll frequently see flocks of Pelicans flying over head.
4. Tabyana beach – Roatán, Honduras
Roatán is an island in the Caribbean sea, roughly 65 kilometres from the coast of Honduras. Roatán is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras and is home to several amazing beaches including Tabyana beach. The beach is only 70 feet away from a tropical reef. If you enjoy snorkelling, on the reef you can see unspoiled corals and sponges or marine residents like reef sharks and loggerhead turtles. At Tabyana you can savour the least developed stretch of beach on Roatán with spotless white sands and turquoise sea. You can safely swim, scuba dive, rent kayaks and take banana boat rides. You’ll see coconut, grape, and almond trees lining the beach and hear traditional live music. There’s plenty of spots to eat, drink and enjoy the Caribbean vibes.
3. Playa Chac Mool – Cancun, Mexico
Playa Chac Mool is one of the most popular beaches in Cancun, Quintanaroo, Mexico. Here the long stretch of soft, white sand meets the aqua blue waters of the Caribbean sea. If you’re staying in one of Cancun’s many large hotels and resorts then you’ll be able to access Chac Mool within minutes by foot. Playa Chac Mool is a popular beach and can get busy. But you’ll understand why because it really is a picturesque dream. The beach is regularly cleaned and patrolled. It’s a safe place where you can enjoy all the normal beach activities and bask in the Mexican sun. Cancun is famed for its flourishing party scene and at Chac Mool you’ll often find pockets of party spilling out on to the beach.
2. Balandra beach – La Paz, Mexico
Balandra beach is situated on the Baja California Peninsula in the north west of Mexico. The beach is easily accessed in a 25 minute car ride from the nearby city of La Paz. At Balandra beach you can paddle or swim in shallow, sparkling waters or lie on the natural white sand. The sea is calm and perfect for snorkelling and you might glimpse some of the 800 species of fish native to the area. Along the beach you’ll discover a number of coves and inlets where it is possible to soak up the Pacific sun in peace. Balandra beach is one of several beaches in the area and is surrounded by mountains with barely any commercial development in site. So if you’re looking for serenity and epic scenery Balandra could be your slice of heaven.
1. Uvita beach – Uvita, Costa Rica
Uvita beach is a 2 mile stretch of golden sand in the Marino Ballena National Park. It’s a short ride from the municipality of Uvita on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Here you’ll find a flawlessly clean beach backed by the dense jungle of the protected park. If you’re searching for a dreamy paradise, or swells and surf, Uvita beach will not let you down. The beach is one of the most beautiful in the world and is a popular stop for tourists. From here you can take a walk to the famous ‘Whales Tail’ – an outcrop of sand and rock mysteriously shaped like the tail of a whale. The unspoilt beach is quiet and you’re sure to unearth the ideal place to witness impressive sunsets whilst sitting on driftwood logs. If you’re fortunate, you’ll hear the local Howler monkeys in the trees near the beach or see brightly coloured Macaw’s soaring in the skies above.
And that concludes this round up of awesome beaches, but there are many others to discover throughout Central America and Mexico. Have you visited any of these 10 beautiful beaches? Tell us about your experiences in the comments