Mexico is a country that never ceases to seduce visitors with its spectacular natural splendor and vibrant cultural heritage. If you’re looking to explore the country’s coastal regions, you’ll find some of the most beautiful places in Mexico.
From El Salto Canyon, with its arresting rock formations and tumbling waterfalls, to Land’s End, with soaring beachside cliffs and sparkling blue water, and the Mayan ruins of Tulum, here are 12 of the most beautiful places in Mexico to explore.
El Salto Canyon & Waterfall, near Ensenada
El Salto Canyon, in the northern reaches of Baja California, is marked by towering cliffs, which reach upward of 2,000 feet above the canyon floor. This region makes for a primeval locale for hiking, rock climbing, and even zip-lining, all with tremendous views.
While in the gorge, take a guided tour of the canyon to learn more about the unique flora and fauna here. In addition to the biological splendor on display, another big draw of El Salto Canyon is the cascading waterfall plummeting over the rocks, although this is seasonal.
Cozumel National Marine Park, Cozumel
While searching for the most beautiful places in Mexico, don’t forget the exquisite beauty that lies beneath the ocean waves either.
Established in 1996, Cozumel National Marine Park was created to protect the region’s aquatic resources and promote sustainable tourism. The park, south of Cancún, on Cozumel island (a renowned diver’s paradise), serves up roughly 12,000 hectares of marine life and spectacular underwater landscapes.
If you decide to stop by these Caribbean shores, you can investigate coral reefs, swim among dolphins and turtles, or even head out for a deep-sea fishing excursion.
As one of the best places to snorkel in Cozumel, the park also boasts an underwater museum of sorts, with 500 submerged sculptures, which also serve as an artificial reef, providing a ghostly snorkeling and diving experience.
Land’s End, Cabo San Lucas
Just south of Cabo San Lucas, Land’s End is a gorgeous little peninsula that you should visit if you are spending time near the southern tip of Baja California.
This small peninsula boasts some of the most picturesque beaches and rock formations in all of Mexico. One of the best beaches in Cabo is the inspiring, postcard-perfect Lover’s Beach, situated along the Sea of Cortez.
In addition to enjoying sandy strolls, ocean dips, and snorkeling, Land’s End boasts astonishing topography. The iconic “El Arco” rock arch is a popular spot for Instagram photos and holiday snapshots, and you can book a boat tour to get up close to this dramatic natural wonder jutting out into the blue water.
Land’s End is also a fabulous destination for whale watching in Mexico when humpback and gray whales make their way through these warm coastal seas during their annual migration.
Los Arcos National Marine Park, Puerto Vallarta
Located near Puerto Vallarta, Los Arcos National Marine Park is one of the most beautiful places in Mexico that should be on your list of places to visit. Don’t miss the chance to experience the incredible scenery here.
Los Arcos National Marine Park gets its name due to its distinctive, curving, cave-laden rock formations, which curve through the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean like breaching stone whales.
Taking a boat out to these granite islets is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, where you can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving in the reserve’s crystal blue waters. The ocean here is home to a wide diversity of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and rays.
Aside from its close proximity to some of Puerto Vallarta’s best beaches, Los Arcos is also a prime habitat for different bird populations, including pelicans and frigate birds.
The unspoiled ecosystem surrounding the park is perfect for snorkelers, divers, birdwatchers, or anyone who appreciates the splendor of a fauna-rich aquatic environment.
Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Costa Maya
One of the most beautiful places in Mexico is the remarkable Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, also known as the Great Mayan Reef.
More than 700 miles in length, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. The reef stretches along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
This amazing coral system is home to hundreds of species of fish and more than 60 species of coral, making it one of the best spots for snorkeling in Mexico. You might encounter sea turtles, dolphins, rays, and sharks here.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is ecologically and geographically unique due to its location along the border of the Caribbean Sea, where the warmer Caribbean waters push up against the cooler Atlantic currents.
Tulum Ruins, Near Cozumel
The Mayan pyramid known as “El Castillo,” or “the castle”, is probably the most iconic and recognizable structure at the Tulum Ruins, an incredibly fascinating archaeological site.
These impressive ruins near Cozumel feature remarkably well-preserved Mayan structures that date back to at least the 13th century, and possibly earlier.
From the temple and “castle” pyramid to various ceremonial edifices dedicated to Mayan deities, Tulum will provide you with a captivating glimpse into the daily and ceremonial lives of the ancient Mayans.
Also, take a moment to appreciate the epic scenery surrounding the Tulum ruins. As you wander among the intricate carvings and designs left behind by one of the world’s great civilizations, you’ll be treated to a stunning backdrop of greenish-blue waters and the sandy shores of the Caribbean Sea.
The awe-inspiring oceanic setting truly makes this archaeological site an extraordinary destination.
Guadalupe Valley, Ensenada
If you’re looking for a delightful combination of viticulture and dramatic landscapes, look no further than the Guadalupe Valley region in Baja California. Taking a tour here is one of the best things to do near Ensenada, as this picturesque area exudes bucolic charm.
The green rolling hills, vineyards, and hundreds of wineries of the Guadalupe Valley make for an excellent side trip into Mexico’s wine-growing region.
Enjoy wine tastings and vineyard tours, and indulge in farm-to-table culinary experiences featuring some of the most outstanding wines in Mexico.
Beyond wine tours, the area boasts hot springs like the Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs, as well as hiking trails from which you can take in the local scenery.
Delve deeper into Mexican culture and indulge in home-grown (and harvested) cuisine, including sea urchin, fresh lobster, grilled quail, and more at both upscale restaurants and trendy roadside food trucks scattered around the valley.
The Guadalupe Valley will offer you a feast for both your eyes and your taste buds.
Golden Zone, Mazatlán
If you’re searching for a stunning place to visit in Mexico that offers all the amenities and comforts of modern civilization, the Golden Zone in Mazatlán is a great choice.
This iconic area features several lovely Mazatlán beaches, including Playa Camarón, Playa Cerritos, Playa Gaviotas, and Playa Sabalos, where you can indulge in swimming, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, and even sport fishing.
The Golden Zone is the main tourist hub of Mazatlán, with a multitude of beachfront hotels, bars, bistros, boutiques, and shops, as well as five miles of sandy shore to explore.
With the relaxing sounds of the crystalline waves lapping up against the shore and a leisurely stroll along the charming Malecón boardwalk, featuring magnificent views of the city and sea, you’ll easily fall in love with the Golden Zone’s seductive charm.
While in the Golden Zone, take a quick detour to explore the colorful buildings and narrow lanes of Old Mazatlán. Visiting here is one of the best things to do in Mazatlán, as the historic quarter is celebrated for its exquisitely well-preserved colonial architecture, delightful cobblestone streets, and sun-drenched, festive atmosphere.
If you’re interested in learning more about the pre-Hispanic society in the region, stop by the small Mazatlán Archaeological Museum.
Chichen Itza, Near Cozumel
Exploring Mayan ruins is one of the best things to do in Mexico, and the Pyramid of Kukulcán, part of the Chichen Itza archaeological site on the Yucatan Peninsula, stands out as a mesmerizing example of the architectural expertise of the Mayan civilization.
This awe-inspiring structure, known as “El Castillo” in Spanish, is a tribute to the ingenuity of the ancient Mayan engineers, whose legacy and know-how continue to perplex modern architects.
Chichen Itza, including the Temple of Kukulcan, soaring almost 80 feet tall, is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and comes with an astonishing array of elaborate ancient carvings and sculptures.
Apart from the Pyramid of Kukulcán, Chichen Itza features other remarkable structures, including the Temple of Warriors. Adorned with bas-reliefs of eagles, jaguars, and warriors, this site represents the military might of the Mayan civilization.
The Mayan ball court is another notable attraction here, with incredible acoustics. However, the ball court’s past is not without its dark side, as it is believed that the captains of losing teams were often sacrificed to the ancient gods.
Despite this unsettling history, the Mayan ruins are an intriguing destination, steeped in beauty, and historical significance.
Laguna Bacalar, Near Costa Maya
Located in southern Quintana Roo, Mexico, Lake Bacalar, also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors, is a gorgeous body of water that serves up a cornucopia of blue.
The name “Laguna Bacalar” comes from the diverse colors that reflect off its clear blue-green waters, kept alive by underground limestone cenotes chambers.
Not only is it one of the best places to swim in the world, it’s also the perfect spot for kayaking and paddleboarding across the glassy water with its sunlit turquoise and other shades of blue.
Lake Bacalar was a significant trade route for the ancient Mayans, and remnants of their settlements can still be found in the surrounding jungle.
The freshwater lagoon is adjacent to the smaller Laguna Mariscal, and the area offers other intriguing limestone cenotes, like Cenote Azul and Cenote Esmeralda, making it a fascinating region to explore.
Chacchoben Ruins, Near Costa Maya
Mexico is known for being home to some of the most impressive antiquities in the New World, including the Chacchoben Ruins, located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Built between 200-700 AD by the Mayan civilization, these structures feature different temples and pyramids, including the Temple of the Masks, the largest Mesoamerican pyramid on site, which is adorned with carvings of animal and human faces.
The surrounding jungle is home to exotic wildlife as well, like jaguars, monkeys, and toucans. Nearby Lake Bacalar also adds to the splendor of the area.
If you enjoy nature and awe-inspiring archaeology, the Chacchoben Ruins are a must for your Mexican sightseeing bucket list.
Todos Santos Island, Cabo San Lucas
Todos Santos Island, located off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, is a scenic, unspoiled destination famous for its rugged Pacific beauty, stony cliffs, clear blue water, and wonderful snorkeling and diving.
The island, which is made up of two smaller islands, is perfect for travelers looking to carve out a slice of Mexican beauty. That also makes it one of the best places in Mexico for couples who want to venture off the beaten path.
Historical sites, like the old lighthouse at Punta Norte, are available for you to explore. But the real draw here is the island’s unspoiled nature and incredible surfing.
“Killers” is a giant wave, the largest surfable wave of its kind in Mexico, and a feature of the coastline here, as the sea rolls in over an underwater canyon.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll quickly discover that Todos Santos Island is a place worth visiting; where raw nature and the immense power of the ocean merge into one.
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