It might be a land loved by backpackers and spring breaker crowds, but Mexico’s sultry shores, turquoise seas, and exclusive beach clubs have always been synonymous with luxury. This isn’t just for its visitors though. Mexico boasts the 15th-largest economy in the world with its fine exports and thriving tourism. If you’re wondering where the best luxury destinations in Mexico are, you’re in the right place.
Between the Pacific waves that crash in the wild west and the Caribbean Sea that laps at Yucatán’s white sands, there are plenty of elegant cities, sleepy resort towns, and upscale mountain communities to satisfy finer tastes.
From A-lister hotspots to isolated retreats and the best party resorts in the country, our guide runs through all the lavish places in Mexico if it’s a star-studded getaway you’re after. Sun, sea, and sizzling cuisine, with a large dose of refinement, it’s all here. Let’s get started.
Located on the Pacific coast, set in a large bay to the backdrop of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range, Acapulco has been a destination for jet-setters since the 1950s. Its high-energy nightlife, bustling beaches, and lavish golf courses attract all sorts of crowds, but the panoramic cliff-top mansions cater to the elite.
The skyscraper-lined beaches might not scream luxury, but the outskirts and hillsides are peppered with upscale resorts, where you can still find great deals on five-star accommodation. Better yet, you’ll be in a prime viewing spot for the famed La Quebrada cliff divers who plunge into the ocean from the 40-meter high cliff point all day and night.
Acapulco is known today as the “Riviera of Mexico” with a lusted climate and spectacular beaches. It might have been pushed out of the way by some newer, hotter resorts, but it’s still worth a visit for its star-studded history.
Best places to stay in Acapulco:
Princess Mundo Imperial Riviera Diamante Acapulco ($$) – Located on Revolcadero Beach, just outside bustling Acapulco, this five-star resort boasts an on-site golf course with five tennis courts, four pools, and a spa.
Banyan Tree Cabo Marques ($$$) – Nestled on a cliff, overlooking the Pacific, each villa at Banyan Tree boats floor-to-ceiling windows, private sundecks, plunge pools, and panoramic views. With its own restaurant and an extensive spa, this is true hillside luxury, removed from the crowds.
Encanto Acapulco ($$$) Clean and modern beach club elegance with its own gym, business center, spa, and golf course, Encanto Acapulco offers world-class service without the faf. This five-star resort overlooks Acapulco Bay from the highest point in Brisa Marqués.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas, or simply Cabo, surely needs little introduction. This resort city at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula has been frequented by US tourists for decades, who’ve made the convenient hop across the border for sun, nightlife, and relaxation. The spot has earned somewhat of a reputation as a party haven, especially with spring breakers, but it retains its luxurious charm with hundreds of exclusive beachfront resorts.
Water sports are big in Cabo and the main beach, Playa El Médano, is teaming with jet skiers, snorkelers, and parasailers. Head past the marina and you’ll find Land’s End promontory, where Playa del Amor, or Lover’s Beach, is located with the well-recognized El Arco, a natural archway formed from seacliffs that paint the perfect romantic setting.
In fact, the rocky scenery in Cabo San Lucas is reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast and tourists flock to its shores all year round to soak up the tropical weather where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Cabo also offers great surf.
Best places to stay in Cabo San Lucas:
The Waldorf Astoria Resort at Pedregal ($$$) – Providing boutique elegance, by Cabo’s mega-resort standards, The Resort at Pedregal presents over 100 plush suites with bohemian decor and private plunge pools, set within a dramatic oceanfront location.
Zoetry Casa del Mar Los Cabos ($$$) – With traditional Mexican mansion-house decor, four pools, an on-site spa, gym, and beach club, Zoetry Casa offers everything you could want from a Cabo getaway.
Hacienda del Mar Los Cabos Resort ($$$) – Sprawling onto bright white sands, this beachfront resort has five swimming pools, an exceptional restaurant, a private golf course, and charming garden view rooms.
Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo
New contenders to the luxury market, these twin towns on the Central Pacific couldn’t be more different, yet both offer something for the lovers of finer things.
Ixtapa was planned from the start as a roaring tourist hotspot. The curving El Palmar Beach is crowded with high-rise hotels, but take a step back from the center and you’ll find exclusive country clubs, great shopping, and private cliffside accommodation. Zihuatanejo, on the other hand, is much more laid-back. With its origins rooted in a fishing community, it retains its original village charm and complements Ixtapa with just as much glitz as the atmosphere behind closed doors.
The sweeping Playa La Ropa is the center of the action in Zihuatenejo, shrouded with swaying palms and teeming with marine life. Dolphins and sea turtles can be spotted from boats, and you can enjoy a delightful seafood lunch or peruse a gallery in the narrow city streets.
Ixtapa is a popular port, but offshore, the granite rocks of Los Morros de Potosí make the perfect dive site. Here you can swim with dolphins in their natural habit. Ixtapa has more to offer in the way of restaurants and bars, but both towns have no shortage of luxury dwellings.
Best places to stay in Ixtapa and Zihuatenejo:
Cala de Mar Resort & Spa, Ixtapa ($$$) – Located just five minutes from the beach, this secluded resort is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific with three on-site restaurants, a full-service spa, and cavernous cliff suites with private pools.
La Casa Que Canta, Zihuatanejo ($$$) – One minute from a private beach, this five-star oceanfront hotel offers sweeping views of Zihuatanejo Bay with a mesmerizing saltwater infinity pool and spacious terraces.
Hotel Amuleto, Zihuatanejo ($$$) – This bohemian, bamboo and thatch hotel is an outpost for upscale travelers, nestled on a peaceful, sun-drenched hillside between the two towns. The intimate property boasts just five suites and unobstructed Pacific views, perfect for couples who prefer wildlife and tranquility.
Cancún and the Mayan Riviera
Located on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico’s bustling holiday resort of Cancún has been one of the most popular destinations in the country for decades. Known for its nightlife, beaches, and high-rise hotels, Cancún has something for everyone and no shortage of restaurants and bars.
The city is divided into two distinct areas, the more traditional, downtown El Centro neighborhood and the beachfront strip of Zona Hotelera where most of the resorts are concentrated. It’s risen to fame as a spring break destination, but families can also enjoy the all-inclusive offers and the warm Caribbean Sea. Still, if you’re after luxury, you won’t have to look far.
The area was chosen in the 1970s as a site with massive developmental potential and it has this to thank for its flawless design. Perfect white sands with mesmerizing offshore islands, private boat charters, and exclusive resorts can be found throughout the Mayan Riviera and they’re unparalleled in Latin America.
Further down the coast, you’ll find Tulum, which has crept up behind Cancún to replace the former champion of Mexican getaways. Tulum is more bohemian, peppered with Mayan ruins which make for a great day of exploring. Still, the day clubs and luxury beachfront villas are even more exclusive than those in Cancún. Better yet, you can bag cheap return flights from the States to this region throughout the year.
Best places to stay in the Mayan Riviera:
The Ritz-Carlton, Cancún ($$$) – This mega-resort is a cut above the rest, retaining its classic beauty with refined rooms, private beach access, a luxury spa, and five-star service.
Hotel Bardo, Tulum ($$$) Exclusive, adults-only luxury, Hotel Bardo is an exotic and eclectic boutique hotel, with large suites, private pools, an intimate vibe, and an in-house spa.
Secrets Aura, Cozumel ($$$) – Located on the dreamy and undeveloped island of Cozumel with its great diving spots and underwater sculptures, this adults-only resort boasts a beachfront location, on the aptly named Paradise Beach, with swaying palms, bamboo umbrellas, and five-star service.
Luxury isn’t all about beach relaxation and ocean views, sometimes refinement comes from culture and experiences, and that’s exactly what Oaxaca is all about. Located in southwest Mexico, a few hours from the Pacific Coast, the city is the capital of Oaxaca state and is a treasure trove for its vibrant spirit and incredible architecture.
Oaxaca is a city carved into Cantera stone and Spanish colonial architecture in the shape of intricate churches, museums, and ruins that can be enjoyed all around. The city is great for shopping with quintessentially colorful handicrafts available at all the markets and boutique stores. However, most notably, Oaxaca stands out for its culinary traditions and it’s actually considered the foodie capital of Mexico with a renowned restaurant scene.
Enjoy Michelin-star Mexican food and a variety of global and fusion restaurants, many of which you’ll find in the city’s best hotels. There are also food festivals, among other cultural events, and plenty of peaceful nature spots if you want to be situated outside of the action.
Casa Oaxaca ($$$) – With its grand, white facade, Casa Oaxaca is a traditional gem with a boutique vibe. Hosting just seven rooms, the hotel retains an intimate feel, surrounding a sunny central courtyard, and is even home to one of the city’s best restaurants where guests can dine, partake in cooking lessons and go on market tours.
Suites de La Parra ($$$) – With spectacular city views from the rooftop terrace, Suites de La Parra is located in the heart of Oaxaca with its own swimming pool and stylish rooms, offering unpretentious five-star accommodation.
Quinta Real Oaxaca ($$$) – Located just 150 yards from Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church, you can truly experience a slice of Oaxacan history in this 17th-century convent with gardens, courtyards, and grand colonial rooms.
Where do celebrities vacation in Mexico?
Mexico is dotted with star-studded destinations. Acapulco and Cancún used to be the most popular resorts with a perfect balance between energetic nightlife and upscale accommodation. However, towns like Tulúm and Punta Mita have taken over in recent years, with their more authentic, bohemian vibes. Some of the most exclusive resorts are located away from the touristy beaches providing tranquility, nature, and most importantly, privacy.
Is Cabo safe?
Los Cabos, and Baja California as a whole, still suffer from cartel violence and drug-related crime. The state is actually considered to be the least peaceful in the whole country with a homicide rate of 73 per 100,000. Located just across the Gulf of California from Sinaloa, where the Sinaloa Cartel dominates, and strategically close to the US border, Baja California is a hotbed for drug smuggling. Still, the tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas is somewhat sheltered from these problems, as long as visitors stay away from narcotics while on vacation.
When is the best time to visit Cancún?
The best time to visit Cancún is between December and April when the weather is warm and mostly dry, with plenty of blue skies. Cold fronts can bring cooler weather during this period, but it comes as a welcome relief from the humid atmosphere characteristic of the rest of the year. Although it experiences some of the best weather, mid-March is when spring breakers descend onto Cancún’s shores, bringing with them rowdiness, crowds, and high season prices. Still, summer can be unbearably hot and autumn brings tropical storms which makes travel risky.
How many days do you need in Oaxaca?
Oaxaca is a sprawling and historic city. You could spend months wandering its colonial streets and still not uncover all of their mysteries. Still, we recommend you allow at least three days for exploring if you’re in Oaxaca on vacation, in order to fit in the best cultural spots, arts scene, bustling markets, and nearby ruins.