With its rich history, distinctive culture, and stunning landscapes, Mexico is a country that offers a lot of diversity in terms of vacation options. Choosing the best place to stay in Mexico, then, can be a tough choice, since there are so many great options to choose from.
I’m here to help. Mexico is both a favorite destination of mine personally and of our guests. While at first glance the coastal destinations may seem like they’re similar, there are enough differences and nuances to make some better than others in certain respects. Choosing the best place to stay in Mexico, then, really depends on what kind of traveler you are.
Some questions that you may want to ask yourself when choosing where to stay in Mexico include: do you prefer the calm, clear water of the Caribbean, or the bluer, rougher water of the Pacific? White sand beaches or mountain backdrops? Surfing or snorkeling? Culture, nightlife, or beachy seclusion?
No matter your preferences, there’s somewhere in Mexico that’s right for you. Let’s go over some of the most popular choices for best places to stay in Mexico.
Staying in Playa del Carmen
Set on the Mayan Riviera, Playa del Carmen is like Cancun’s older sister – it’s a town that likes party, but also knows when to relax. Staying in Playa del Carmen itself is a great way to experience Mexican nightlife, while still being close to all the beauty of the Mayan Riviera. That said, there are also a ton of areas nearby where you can get some nice, calm seclusion and the chance to enjoy the soft sand and turquoise water that the Caribbean side of Mexico is known for – as well as explore nearby cenotes, Mayan ruins, and snorkeling spots.
Pros of Staying in Playa del Carmen
- A little something for everyone
- Close to great snorkeling, cenotes, and Mayan ruins
- Great restaurants and nightlife
Cons of Staying in Playa del Carmen
- Some parts can be quite touristy
- Large crowds in peak season
- Water can sometimes be murky
Best Place to Stay in Playa del Carmen: Playacar
If you want to experience the activities and convenience of Playa del Carmen while still enjoying some nice relaxation, then nearby Playacar is a great bet. Playacar’s a gated community that is home to some of Playa del Carmen’s best vacation rentals, hotels, and, of course, Playacar Beach – a wide strip of beautiful coastline that’s rarely overcrowded. Many of our Playa del Carmen villas, like Villa Kin Ich, are even located directly in front of it.
Staying in Tulum
Also on the Mayan Riviera and easily one of its most unique destinations, Tulum is a beautiful beach town set over the ruins of an ancient Mayan port city. Here you’ll find some of the best-preserved Mayan ruins anywhere, including Tulum’s famous wall and its Temple of the Frescoes, the El Castillo Pyramid, and the beachfront God of Winds Temple. The ruins are nice and compact, and partly thanks to their presence Tulum attracts eco-conscious and spiritually-minded travelers, as well as history lovers of all kinds.
Pros of Stayin in Tulum
- Unparalleled history
- Beautiful beaches
- An eco-conscious and spiritual vibe
Cons of Staying in Tulum
- Less nightlife
- Less restaurant selection
- Smaller villa selection than other areas
Best Place to Stay in Tulum: Sian Ka’an
Translating to “place where Heaven begins,” Sian Ka’an is a biosphere reserve and UNESCO world heritage site that lives up to its name. Over 200 conservation projects have been launched here, including ambitious projects to preserve and restore vast sections of coral reef. All this results in clean air, clear water, and beautiful landscapes. As a result, Sian Ka’an villas focus on delivering authentic, eco-friendly experiences, like at the incredible Hacienda Palancar.
Staying in Cabo San Lucas
With its desert-mountain landscapes and well-developed tourism industry, Cabo San Lucas is easily one of the most popular places to stay in Mexico in you’re coming from the west coast of the US or Canada. And while some may complain that it’s a little to Americanized, staying in Cabo San Lucas is a great choice for anyone who wants to marvel at beautiful natural formations and enjoy some great shopping, nightlife, and surfing.
Pros of Staying in Cabo San Lucas
- Great nightlife
- Amazing views
- Surfing on both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez
Cons of Staying in Cabo San Lucas
- It’s in the desert, so it can get hot and arid
- Strong currents may limit swimming on some beaches
- Culture may be a little too Americanized for some
Best Place to Stay in Cabo San Lucas: Pedregal
Home to some of Cabo’s best vacation rentals, Pedregal is a hillside resort town just by the Marina and El Archo with incredible rock formations and stunning Pacific views. Pedregal villas are almost carved into the hillside, often featuring ocean-facing infinity pools that let you spend your days gazing out to sea, like in the beautiful, beachfront Villa Bellissima.
Staying in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is another great option further south on the Mexican Riviera. Compared to Cabo, it’s quite a bit lusher, and features more authentic Mexican culture. The town itself is very charming, and walking along its mile-long, oceanside Malecón esplanade is always a favorite activity. Puerto Vallarta is also a very LGBT-friendly destination, especially in its Zona Romántica.
Pros of Staying in Puerto Vallarta
- Authentic Mexican culture
- Lush greenery
- Calm water on Banderas Bay
Cons of Staying in Puerto Vallarta
- Weather can be more unpredictable
- Town can be crowded with both tourists and locals
- A little more hustle and bustle than other vacation spots in Mexico
Best Place to Stay in Puerto Vallarta: Conchas Chinas
Though the name may translate to Chinese shells – referring to the seashells typically found on its beaches – Conchas Chinas is also known as the Hills, because it’s considered the Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta. Conchas Chinas villas are a big part of that – these are some seriously splendid vacation homes that – like the beautiful Villa Bahia– are usually ocean facing and feature life-affirming views.
Staying in Punta Mita
As one of Mexico’s most exclusive destinations, Punta Mita, on the Nayarit Riviera just north of Puerto Vallarta, is a private peninsula known for its exceptional weather, beautiful landscapes, and unmatched privacy. A vacation here is really all about relaxing and unwinding on the beach. This is also where you’ll find some of Mexico’s most luxurious villas.
Pros of Staying in Punta Mita
- Private and relaxing
- High-end luxury in terms of villas and service
- Beautiful beaches
Cons of Staying in Punta Mita
- Can be pricier than other destinations
- Recently developed, so less culture
- Not too many surrounding activities
Best Place to Stay in Punta Mita: La Punta Estates
On the tip of Punta Mita you’ll find La Punta Estates, home to some of the best villas in Punta Mita. Options here include the fabulous Casa Wirikuta, a stunning 7-bedroom hilltop villa with unparalleled views of Banderas Bay that’s uniquely constructed around a set of interconnecting palapas. This is villa living at its finest.
Which Place to Stay in Mexico is Right for you?
As you can see, every part of Mexico has something different to offer. Here’s a quick summary of my picks for some common vacation criteria:
- For Privacy: Punta Mita, Tulum
- For Culture: Tulum, Puerto Vallarta
- For Nightlife: Cabo, Playa del Carmen
- For Snorkeling: Tulum, Playa del Carmen
- For Surfing: Cabo, Puerto Vallarta
- For Relaxing: Punta Mita, Tulum
Discover the Best Places to Stay in Mexico with Rental Escapes
If you’re still not sure which place to stay in Mexico is best for you, our reservation agents will be happy to help. After booking, your concierge can also help you arrange any activities, excursions, or reservations you’d like, as well as help with extras like villa pre-stocking and private chef service. Contact us today to discover which part of Mexico and which villa rental will work best for you and your group!