Undiscovered Coastal Villages in Mexico that Feel Like Paradise

Introduction

Mexico has over 7,000 miles of beautiful coastline dotted with pristine beaches and charming coastal towns. While many seek out the bigger beach destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, there are still undiscovered coastal villages in Mexico waiting to be explored. These low-key beach towns offer a more authentic Mexican experience without the crowds.

Sayulita, Nayarit

Overview

Sayulita is a picturesque fishing village located on the northern coast of the state of Nayarit, about an hour south of Puerto Vallarta. Despite its close proximity to popular tourist destinations, Sayulita has managed to retain its laidback village charm.

Landscape and Beaches

The landscape is characterized by beaches of fine golden sand bordered by tropical vegetation and green rolling hills that meet the sea. Palm trees and bougainvillea provide vibrant splashes of color. Some of the most scenic and secluded beaches include Playa Las Piedrotas, Playa La Banqueta, and Playa La Coronita. The calm waters and decent surf breaks also make Sayulita ideal for water activities.

Activities

In addition to relaxing on the beautiful beaches, popular activities include surfing at nearby breaks like Los Coyotes, mangrove kayaking through the estuary, hiking in the hills, zip lining through jungle canopies, and visiting the central plazita forlive music, art, and local handicrafts. Yoga, spiritual workshops, and wellness retreats are also abundant given Sayulita’s chill vibes.

Food

Seafood is a specialty in Sayulita, from ceviche and fish tacos to whole grilled fish. Local restaurants also serve up classic Mexican dishes like guacamole, salsa, enchiladas, and homemade tortillas alongside global influences like Italian, Thai, and Indian fare. Fresh coconuts, mangoes, papayas, and other tropical fruits abound.

Accommodation and Transportation

Accommodation options range from beachfront bungalows and surf camps to charming bed and breakfasts and small boutique hotels. Sayulita village is walkable, or rent a bike, scooter or car to explore further afield. Buses and collectivos connect Sayulita to nearby towns and Puerto Vallarta’s international airport.

Punta Mita, Nayarit

Overview

North of Sayulita lies the exclusive enclave of Punta Mita, a protected natural reserve home to only a handful of high-end resorts. With its secluded beaches, cliffside scenery, and eco-conscious development, Punta Mita exemplifies eco-tourism.

Landscape and Beaches

Dramatic coastal cliffs, dense palm groves, and jungle-lined coves characterize the landscape. Four pristine white sand beaches stretch along the coast – Playa Malibu, Playa Dzadzaleten, Playa LA Barquito, and Playa Las Animas. Crystal-clear waters lap against the shore while birds soar above lush mangroves.

Activities

On-site activities vary by resort but commonly include hiking trails, kayaking in the mangroves, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling with sea turtles and whale shark spotting excursions between December and March. The Jack Nicklaus signature golf course is also a draw. Spas offer rejuvenating treatments with local natural ingredients.

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Food

Gourmet dining comes courtesy of renowned chefs at the luxury resorts. Fresh seafood and organic, locally sourced ingredients dominate the menus. Ceviche, fish tacos, and wood-fired pizzas complement fine dining tastes. Craft cocktails incorporate native herbs and flowers.

Accommodation

World-class all-inclusive Four Seasons, St. Regis, and Intercontinental resorts provide ultimate pampering amid jungle settings. Luxurious villas and suites boast private plunge pools, butler service, and breathtaking ocean views. Transportation is via private boat shuttle or resort vehicles.

Sustainability

Punta Mita prioritizes conservation and sustainable development. The Nature Conservancy manages surrounding lands to protect native species. Solar panels, wastewater treatment, and organic waste composting minimize environmental impact. Educational programs foster community stewardship of the local ecology.

San Pancho, Nayarit

Overview

A short drive south of Punta Mita is the village of San Pancho, perched high on bluffs overlooking two magnificent sandy bays. Maintaining its slow-paced local flavor, San Pancho attracts an artsy international crowd yet remains relatively undiscovered.

Landscape and Beaches

Turquoise waters lap against wide stretches of golden sand at Playa La Lancha and Playa Los Arcos below. Palms fringe the shoreline, while dramatic cliffs and lush vegetation delineate the twin bays. Crystalline waters offer superb visibility for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking right from shore.

Activities

When not lounging on the beaches, visitors frequent the cafes, boutiques, and galleries lining the town’s central strip. Nearby Tepic Canyon provides cliff diving and hiking opportunities. Learn to surf, practice yoga, or partake in art workshops at numerous wellness studios. Weekly events like full moon parties and open mic nights add to the relaxed vibe.

Food

Roadside taquerias, taco trucks and beachside palapa bars serve up regional specialties with a creative twist. Wood-fired pizzas and international fare complement traditional Mexican dishes in the town’s open-air eateries. Fresh coconuts, seasonal mangoes and watermelon refresh visitors cooling off in the shade.

Accommodation and Transportation

Charming B&Bs, beach houses, and boutique hotels offer ocean views, hammocks, and infinity pools. Transportation is via rental car, taxi, or bicycle along the scenic coast road. Public buses also connect San Pancho with neighboring towns and Puerto Vallarta airport.

Bahías de Huatulco, Oaxaca

Overview

The Bahías de Huatulco region along Oaxaca’s southern coast consists of 9 stunning enclosed bays, each with its own unique character. Dominated by hillsides dotted with palm and coconut trees, Huatulco remains a largely undiscovered gem despite significant resort development.

Landscape and Beaches

Crystal clear waters gently lap against wide stretches of soft, white, powdery sand in sheltered bays such as Santa Cruz, Tangolunda, and Chahué. Steep cliffs delineate each cove, creating a striking natural amphitheater effect. Mangroves line channels between bays, home to birds, iguanas, and occasional crocodiles.

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Activities

With such captivating natural scenery and amenities, water sports dominate, including sailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. Hiking and biking trails wind between palm-fringed beaches and indigenous Zapotec towns. Nightlife, spas, and golf also attract visitors. Annual whale shark spotting trips between May and October allow intimate encounters.

Food

Famed for its diverse, inexpensive seafood, Huatulco boasts fresh ceviche, Camarones al mojo de ajo (shrimp in garlic sauce), and whole roasted fish. Tamales, mole, and mezcal complement authentic Oaxacan specialties. Local organic coffee and cocoa grow on surrounding hillsides. International fare and gourmet cuisine are available in upscale hotels and restaurants.

Accommodation and Transportation

Luxury all-inclusive resorts and villas dot the bays alongside budget beach hotels and B&Bs. Local buses connect the area or rent a car, bike or taxi to explore independently. Flights arrive at Huatulco International Airport, a 40 minute drive from bays. Charters available for multi-day boating trips between caletas.

Sustainability

Conservation groups work to protect fragile coastal mangroves, nesting sea turtle habitats, and coral reefs. Sustainable development and renewable energies minimize environmental impact. Community-based ecotourism empowers local indigenous culture and heritage through guided hikes and workshops on traditional crafts and cuisine.

Zipolite, Oaxaca

Overview

Situated on a gorgeous unspoiled coastline south of Huatulco, Zipolite exemplifies bohemian beachside living. Though development looms, the village maintains its laidback artistic vibe with a welcoming community.

Landscape and Beaches

Palm trees lean over a 1.5km long crescent moon beach of fine golden sand with consistently shallow turquoise waters. Steep basalt cliffs define either end of the bay. Further afield picturesque coves such as Playa La Infanta hide pocket beaches.

Activities

Zipolite centers around its beautiful beach where hippy travelers relax, swim and surf moderate year-round breaks. Explore tide pools or spot humpback whales from shore between January to March. Full moon parties and fire shows add to the alternative atmosphere. Yoga, massage and workshops aid relaxation.

Food

Buen provecho! Sample authentic Oaxacan specialties including homemade tortillas, moles, chapulines (grasshoppers) and mezcal in casual beachside palapas. Vegetarian and vegan Options also readily available. Fresh coconuts, mangoes, papayas and seasonal fruits nourish.

Accommodation and Transportation

Palapa huts, bungalows, and luxury tented camps nestle amid lush vegetation steps from the beach. Communally-minded eco-resorts attract conscious travelers. Buses connect Zipolite with surrounding towns, or you can walk/rent bikes along the scenic coast road. Affordable transportation makes incorporating day trips easy.

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