The Mexican Riviera refers to the coastal region along Mexico’s Pacific coastline. It stretches approximately 950 miles from the U.S. border in the north all the way south to Huatulco in the state of Oaxaca. Some of the most famous resort destinations in Mexico are found along the Riviera, including Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Ixtapa, and Acapulco.
The Mexican Riviera is located along the Pacific coast of Mexico, extending approximately 950 miles from the U.S. border south to Huatulco, Oaxaca.
Where Does the Mexican Riviera Start and End?
The Mexican Riviera starts just south of the U.S.-Mexico border at Playas de Rosarito in the state of Baja California. It stretches south through the popular resort towns of Ensenada, Puerto Nuevo, and Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.
From there, the Riviera continues along Mexico’s mainland Pacific coastline, snaking down through the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, and finally Oaxaca. Some of the major destinations along this stretch include:
- Puerto Vallarta
- Riviera Nayarit
The Mexican Riviera officially ends in the town of Huatulco, Oaxaca, located approximately 950 miles south of the U.S. border. With its beautiful bays and beaches, Huatulco serves as the southern bookend to this iconic Mexican coastal region.
Major Destinations Along the Riviera
Some of the major tourist destinations along the Mexican Riviera include:
Los Cabos refers to the cities of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo located at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Famous for its dramatic desert landscapes, luxury resorts, and world-class golf courses, Los Cabos is one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations.
Puerto Vallarta is situated along Banderas Bay in the state of Jalisco. Its beautiful beaches, cobblestone streets, and lively nightlife make it a popular getaway. Puerto Vallarta is also a common cruise port.
Just north of Puerto Vallarta lies the Riviera Nayarit region with resort towns like Nuevo Vallarta and Punta Mita. It’s known for its luxury all-inclusive resorts and is popular with families.
Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo
Ixtapa is a modern, planned resort city that contrasts with neighboring Zihuatanejo’s historic downtown and fishing village charm. Together they offer a mix of beachfront luxury and small town authenticity.
Acapulco was Mexico’s original resort town starting in the 1950s. Though no longer in its heyday, it still offers stunning cliffside views and legendary nightlife along with old world glamour.
Map of the Mexican Riviera
Here is a map showing the extent of Mexico’s Pacific coastline considered part of the Mexican Riviera, from Playas de Rosarito in the north to Huatulco in the south:
Mexican States Along the Riviera
The Mexican Riviera passes through seven different Mexican states from north to south. Here is an overview:
The northernmost part of the Riviera runs down the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, including destinations like Rosarito, Ensenada, and Cabo San Lucas.
On mainland Mexico, the first state the Riviera passes through is Sinaloa including resorts like Mazatlán known for its beaches and colonial historic center.
South of Sinaloa, the Riviera enters the state of Nayarit and its popular resort area Riviera Nayarit with hotels and vacation homes in towns like Nuevo Vallarta.
The next state down is Jalisco, home to Puerto Vallarta, one of the most famous towns of the Mexican Riviera. Jalisco has over 100 miles of pristine coastline.
South of Puerto Vallarta is the small state of Colima, including the up-and-coming resort destination of Manzanillo with its golden sand beaches.
The beaches continue down the coast in the state of Michoacán, though this stretch of the Riviera is less developed than other areas.
The state of Guerrero is where you’ll find the well-known resort towns of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo as well as the once glamorous destination of Acapulco.
At the southern end, the Riviera finishes in Huatulco, Oaxaca, known for its beautiful bays and eco-friendly resorts that attract those looking for a more laid-back vacation vibe.
Getting to the Mexican Riviera
There are several options for getting to destinations along Mexico’s Riviera coast:
Many major airports in the U.S. and Canada offer direct flights to cities along the Riviera like Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, and Acapulco. Flying is the fastest way to get there.
Popular cruise ports include Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, and Huatulco. Cruises offer the chance to experience multiple destinations.
Driving to the Mexican Riviera from the U.S. is possible as well. The drive from San Diego, CA to Cabo San Lucas, for example, is around 1,000 miles and takes about 16 hours.
Bus service connects many of the resort towns along the Riviera and can be an affordable ground transportation option within Mexico once you arrive.
Best Times to Visit the Mexican Riviera
The high season on the Mexican Riviera runs from mid-December through April, when the weather is ideal and temperatures are warm. Prices are highest during these peak winter months.
November and May offer excellent shoulder season options with fewer crowds and lower rates. June-August is very hot and humid with rain.
September-October is rainy season but can also provide cheaper prices. The weather starts improving in October into high season.
Some of the most popular things to do along the Mexican Riviera include:
- Relaxing on beautiful beaches
- Snorkeling and scuba diving
- Visiting historic towns and architecture
- Playing golf at resort courses
- Going whale watching and sport fishing
- Hiking and eco-tourism
- Experiencing Mexican culture, cuisine, and nightlife
All-Inclusive vs. Non All-Inclusive Accommodations
The Mexican Riviera offers a range of lodging options to fit different preferences and budgets:
- Offer comprehensive packages with food, drinks, activities
- Great for hassle-free vacations, honeymoons, families
- Often have kids clubs and multiple dining options
- Most affordable way to stay at deluxe properties
- Popular choices include Barceló, RIU Hotels, AMResorts, and Palace Resorts
Non All-Inclusive Hotels and Rentals
- More flexibility to control budget and make own plans
- Often located in cities and historic areas rather than isolated complexes
- Give a more local, authentic experience
- Self-catering rentals like condos, villas, apartments
- Boutique hotels for personalized service
Family-Friendly vs. Adults-Only Options
The Mexican Riviera offers both family-oriented and adult-only resorts catering to different visitors:
- Kid-friendly pools, waterslides, activities
- Kids/teens clubs with organized programs
- Family rooms, suites, interconnecting rooms
- Children’s menus, baby amenities available
- Resorts like Dreams, Paradisus, Grand Fiesta Americana
- Provide a child-free, romantic atmosphere
- Have amenities like spas, golf, fine dining, bars
- Offer relaxation areas without noise
- Popular options: Secrets, Excellence, UNICO 20 ̊87 ̊
Safety Tips for Travelers
Here are some top safety tips for traveling along the Mexican Riviera:
- Purchase travel insurance in case of cancellations or medical issues
- Avoid traveling at night or wandering off resort properties alone
- Research safe transportation; arrange airport transfers in advance
- Only drink alcohol from sealed containers; avoid overindulging
- Stay hydrated, use sun protection, know your limits to avoid health issues
- Notify hotel staff or relatives if you go out on organized excursions
- Obtain cell service in Mexico or use apps like WhatsApp to communicate
- Store valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes
Overall the popular tourist zones along the Riviera are quite safe, but it’s always wise to exercise caution when traveling in a foreign country.
What to Pack
Recommended items to pack for a trip to the Mexican Riviera include:
- Light, breathable clothing – short sleeve shirts, dresses, shorts, swimwear
- Beach necessities – hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, sandals, swimsuit cover-up
- Light sweater or jacket for evenings or air-conditioned interiors
- Reusable water bottle to stay hydrated
- Travel documents – passport, travel insurance, cash, credit/debit cards
- Medications, prescriptions, first aid kit
- Electronics – phone, camera, chargers
- Resort casual evening wear
- Basic toiletries – soap, shampoo, toothbrush
Packing light is recommended. Many hotels offer laundry service.
Language and Currency
The main language spoken along the Mexican Riviera is Spanish. Learning a few key phrases can be very helpful but many locals in tourism areas also speak English.
The currency used is the Mexican Peso. U.S. dollars are accepted some places but generally receive a poor exchange rate. It’s recommended to get Pesos from an ATM once in Mexico for the best value.
Flight and Hotel Deals
Some ways to find the best flight and hotel deals for the Mexican Riviera include:
- Book early – aim for at least 2-3 months in advance for peak seasons
- Consider flying midweek instead of weekends
- Look at shoulder season months like May or September for savings
- Compare rates across multiple sites – Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, etc.
- Leverage site features like Hotels.com Rewards program for free nights
- Watch for sales, limited time offers, flash deals
- Book packages to bundle flight, hotel, and sometimes transfers
- Join hotel loyalty programs and subscribe for sale alerts
Also look at all-inclusive package options, which can provide great overall value.
With its stretch of spectacular coastline featuring top beach destinations, stunning scenery, luxury resorts, and Mexican cultural charm, the Mexican Riviera provides the ideal sunny escape. Located along Mexico’s Pacific coastline, this iconic region offers plenty of options whether you’re looking for nightlife, romance, seclusion, family fun, or an authentic local vibe. The affordability and diversity of the Riviera make it an appealing choice for travelers seeking that perfect tropical vacation.