Tired of crowds of tourists and want to get back to Mexico as it was decades ago? Try Cabo Pulmo, Puerto Escondido or Isla Holbox off of Cancun..
By M. Drillinger / February 16, 2016
Finding a great Mexican beach escape is easy; finding one with few tourists is more of a challenge. But looking past the most popular beach destinations will yield a bevy of fantastic, beach getaways in Mexico that are still relatively undiscovered by tourists. These locations will give you a slice of laid-back, authentic Mexican lifestyle on white, sandy beaches with beautiful hotels, far from the bustling boardwalks and frenzied marinas of more popular playas.
While Oaxaca is well known for its gorgeous colonial capital city as well as its vibrant culinary scene, the state has some of Mexico’s best and most beautiful beaches, many of them still relatively undiscovered. Surfers have been chasing waves along this beach for years, especially on Playa Zicatela on the south end of the bay; the port town has been ranked among some of the best surf destinations in the world.
At night Puerto Escondido comes alive, especially along the pedestrian street, El Adoquin. Here the party will last as long as the tequila and music holds out, which often is past sunrise.
“Puerto Escondido, located in one of our favorite corners of Mexico, is the perfect hideaway for a bohemian beach break, with an added touch of authentic Mexican culture,” says the team at Black Tomato, a luxury travel company based in the U.K. “For guests looking for an authentically Mexican beach break, we suggest holing up at the gorgeous boutique property, Hotel Escondido, where you can literally step out from your room onto the beach for an early morning surf as the sun comes up.”
Coming soon: Karisma Hotels & Resorts will open an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Escondido in 2017.
But beyond partying, beach naps and surfing, Puerto Escondido boasts many wonderful spots for nature lovers. Just 20 minutes north of Puerto Escondido, birders can rent kayaks or motorbikes to spot pelicans, hawks, hummingbirds and spoonbills. Visit the nearby village of Mazunte, whose inhabitants have dedicated themselves to protecting the natural environment. From Mazunte travelers can take eco-tours on foot, on horseback or by rowboat. There is also a turtle sanctuary that provides shelter for all the marine and land turtle species found in Mexico.
If discovering a region’s food and drink is what inspires you to travel, Puerto Escondido has much to offer in that regard, as well. “Close to the beaches of Puerto Escondido guests can explore the rich coffee plantations of Oaxaca as well as follow the mescal trails visiting distilleries,” Black Tomato says.
Puerto Escondido has its own airport and can be reached via daily flights from Mexico City or Oaxaca.
A sometimes bumpy, 60-mile drive from Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Pulmo is not as easy to access as some other destinations in Los Cabos. But once there, visitors will find a paradise for divers and a contender for one of the next big bohemian beach escapes, according to Zachary Rabinor of Journey Mexico.
The small town is basic beach bum at best, with a population of 250, a smattering of small hotels, two cantinas and four restaurants, but divers will be rewarded with one of the largest living coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. The seclusion, privacy and absence of a frenetic tourist scene add to its charm.
The main draw to Cabo Pulmo is Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, just 60 miles north of Los Cabos. The five-mile stretch of beach runs from Pulmo Point to Los Frailes, surrounded by undeveloped desert and mountains. It’s a getaway designed for nature enthusiasts and back-to-basic fans, where a beautiful beach, a palapa and cerveza is all that is needed for a good time.
As for hotels, Baja Bungalows is just a three-minute walk to a rocky beach on the Sea of Cortes.
Another option is the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, a thatch-roofed property right in front of the Marine Park. The bungalows are basic in design with an open floor plan, kitchens and barbecues. There is an onsite restaurant, the Coral Reef, as well as a host of activities from diving and snorkeling to surfing and hiking.
Cabo Pulmo only has a handful of restaurants, which are more akin to cantinas. Most are cash only; the Coral Reef at the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort is an exception.
Off the coast of Cancun is the tiny island of Holbox, a glimpse into the past of what Tulum used to be, with pristine beaches peppered with idly swinging hammocks, bohemian hotels and a small but active art scene.
“Holbox is the epitome of barefoot luxury, as Tulum was when it was first discovered,” says the team at Black Tomato. “With only a few hotels to choose from, you really feel as if you stumbled across a hidden gem. Casa Sandra is our go-to property in Holbox, and the perfect place from which to explore the island and its miles of sandy beaches.”
There are no cars allowed on Holbox, so the best way to explore the nearby shops and bars is via golf cart or on foot. The island is secluded and untouched by mass tourism and offers visitors the chance to view some unusual wildlife, whether it be swimming with whale sharks or spotting rare birds.
“The island has beautiful beaches that are known for great surf … . If you’re not a surfing pro, there’s also a section of the beach that is perfect for amateur surfers and body borders,” adds Black Tomato’s team.
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