Sometimes overlooked in favor of the more obvious and well-known delights of the Riviera Maya and the Caribbean, Mexico’s Pacific coast is an absolutely superb option for a family vacation. The Mexican Riviera, stretching from Ensenada in Baja California down to the Bahías de Huatulco in Oaxaca, is a wildly gorgeous stretch of coastline filled with dramatic rugged mountain landscapes and deep, verdant jungle spilling out onto stunning golden beaches.
It offers a completely different experience to the more manicured, luxury feel of the Mexican Caribbean, and cruising to the Mexican Riviera makes for a more exciting family adventure all round. It is also (Acapulco and Los Cabos aside) usually less touristy, with far more opportunity to uncover hidden gems and under-the-radar treasures.
So if you want to experience a different side to Mexico, and are looking for an exciting and adventurous family vacation this year, check out the best spots on the Mexican Riviera to visit with kids below.
The gorgeous hippy surf community of Mazunte, tucked away off the main highway between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco, is peace and tranquility personified, as well as being one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. Your kids will love the gentle but dramatic hike out to Punta Cometa to watch the sunset, discovering sea turtles in the National Mexican Turtle Center, and exploring the remarkable mangroves of La Ventanilla, full of monkeys, crocs, and birds, as well as a beach made entirely of magnetic sand! It’s a remarkable, surprising, exciting spot, and perfect for a family vacation.
If your family is the type who enjoys a bit of adrenaline and excitement in their vacation destination, then you should consider Ixtapa in the state of Guerrero. One of the best spots on the Mexican Riviera for watersports and exciting sport fishing, there are also some spectacular beaches with wonderful surfing waves, as well as plenty of surf schools for younger kids and beginners. Away from the beach, mysterious Mesoamerican ruins crumble majestically in the jungle, making for an exciting and atmospheric day out.
San Jose del Cabo is the quieter, calmer, and prettier sibling of Cabo San Lucas (the famous face of Los Cabos), and is the perfect family destination if you want to visit Baja California Sur but avoid crowds of spring breakers. The town is charming, full of cobbled streets and independent stores (as well as a thriving arts scene for parents and older kids), while the nearby beaches are stunning, all white sand and calm, azure water. The San Jose Estuary offers the opportunity to discover the unique wildlife of the Baja peninsula, while snorkeling off the beach in the magnificent Sea of Cortez will keep the entire family entertained as well!
San Francisco, Nayarit
Known locally as San Pancho, this sleepy little beachside town just down the road from the resorts of Puerto Vallarta is a dream. With a long, wide expanse of beach, lively but manageable waves, and a variety of fantastic food options, it offers a laid-back family vacation vibe, perfect for a few days of rest and relaxation. And with sea canoeing, sailing, and jungle trekking readily available, there’s plenty to do if the need for some action arises as well!
Colima is one of Mexico’s smallest states, and Manzanillo is its crown jewel. A gorgeous seaside resort clinging precariously to the side of a steep cliff, it has an almost Mediterranean feel to it, intensified by the ivory-white houses that make up most of the town. The beach is superb, and there are family-friendly activities galore, from the Jardin Alvaro Obregon to the Parque Aguazul water park.
Mazatlan in Sinaloa is often overlooked as a family destination, but it is one of the best on the Pacific coast! It is bursting with family-friendly all-inclusive resorts right on the beach, it boasts the best seafood in the whole of Mexico (try the shrimp!), and it is incredible value for money. As with the rest of the Riviera, the natural beauty of the area is breathtaking, and your kids will love the chance to hop on a boat through the Stone Island mangroves and get up close and personal with the remarkable wildlife that calls this part of the world home.