The total ocean shoreline of Mexico is about 5,797 miles.
Of that total, about 4,560 miles border the Pacific and the Gulf of California, and about 1,743 miles face the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
At roughly 20 percent the size of the United States, Mexico’s ocean shoreline is roughly 46% the size of its neighbor to the north.
Table of Contents
- The United States of Mexico
- The Founders of Mexico City Came from the West Coast
- The National Flag of Mexico
- European Conquers Came from the East Coast
- The Mexican States with the Biggest Coastlines
- 10 Popular Beach Resorts in Mexico
Amaze your friends with your knowledge of geographical trivia about Mexico; most outsiders are not aware that the formal country title of Mexico is Estados Unidos Mexicanos – United Mexican States.
Our southern neighbor has 31 separate states and a Distrito Federal as its national capital in Mexico City (with a population of nearly 9 million).
Legend has it that the Aztecs (or Mexica) founded Mexico City after seeing an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a cactus.
They took it as a supernatural omen to establish their new civilization in central Mexico.
The Aztecs originally migrated from the western coast of Mexico and founded a civilization and city in central Mexico that rivaled every major medieval European capital.
Anthropologists believe that the indigenous people of the western coastal state of Nayarit are at least distantly related to the Aztecs, who may have arrived from the legendary city of Aztlan somewhat farther north.
The National Flag of Mexico
The eagle and snake are depicted as the center seal of the tri-colored green, white, and red Mexican flag, officially adopted on September 16, 1968.
Green is for the hope for independence, white for unity, and red the color of blood for those who have died fighting for Mexico’s independence.
When Hernán Cortés and his band of Spanish adventurers arrived by sea from Cuba on Mexico’s east coast, they traveled inland and found an advanced civilization dominated by the Aztecs in central Mexico.
The Spanish consolidated their rule of “New Spain.” The west coast port of Acapulco became the pivot point for the lucrative Spanish galleon trade routes that became the foundation of Spanish wealth and power from 1565 to 1815. (Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1820.)
Today’s modern beach resort of Acapulco in the western state of Guerrero relies on tourism.
Guerrero ranks number 8 in the top 10 largest coastal areas of Mexico. A popular tourist attraction is the Acapulco Historical Museum with artifacts and displays that look at the role of this west coast port in Spain’s trade in the Far East.
So, Mexico’s abundant coastline and turbulent history have played a key role in its struggle for independence and in its economic development.
Listed below from north to south are the west and east locations of Mexican states along both coasts:
#1 Baja California Sur – 1,324 miles
Capital: La Paz. This narrow peninsula forms the lower half of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. This is the least-populated state with less than about 800,000 people.
This is the home of the internationally famous resort of Cabo San Lucas.
#2 Baja California – 927 miles
Capital: Mexicali. This area lies just south of California, USA, with the famous resort city of Tijuana. Has several 4+ star beach resorts down its west coast.
#3 Sonora – 751 Miles
Capital: Hermosillo. This area also has a huge coastline touching the Gulf of California. It is home to eight indigenous tribes.
This area contributes to the Mexican economy through agriculture, cattle, and mining. The state’s entire coast is on the Gulf of California (a.k.a. Sea of Cortéz).
#6 Sinaloa – 366 Miles
Capital: Culiacán. This is a long Pacific-coast state with scenic coastal plains, rivers, and inland mountains.
This is the most prominent agricultural state in Mexico. It also has the second-largest fishing fleet in the country.
#7 Oaxaca – 352 Miles
Capital: Oaxaca. The historic home of the Zapotec and Mixtec people. This state is the home of Mexican Presidents Benito Juarez and Porfirio Diaz.
This area is known as a center for indigenous cultures and the pre-Columbian archaeological sites of Mitla, Yagul, and Monte Albán dating back to 500 BCE.
#8 Guerrero – 324 Miles
Capital: Chilpancingo. This state is home to the famous resort city of Acapulco. It is famous for beautiful beaches and pre-Columbian historical dig sites and Spanish colonial historical sites.
#11 Nayarit – 200 Miles
Capital: Tepic. This area has hundreds of mountainous rainforests with wildlife that includes jaguars and mountain lions.
The state is famous for tobacco production, with two of the largest Mexican tobacco companies located there.
#13 Colima – 100 Miles.
Capital: Colima. One of the smallest states in Mexico, Colima has a good standard of living and low unemployment.
It has become a major tourist attraction due to low crime, clean beaches, and great fishing.
#4 Quintana Roo – 730 Miles
Capital: Chetumal. This is home to the famous resort city of Cancún and the 5 best beach resorts on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. (See below)
#5 Veracruz – 447 Miles
Capital: Xalapa. The official state name is Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave (True Cross of Ignacious of the Key).
Vera Cruz was the historical entry point for invaders of Mexico from Cortés to American Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American War of 1849.
#9 Tamaulipas – 269 Miles
Capital: Ciudad Victoria. The first Spanish settlement was Tampico in 1554. This area is famous for endless lagoons and saltwater shrimp harvesting.
#10 Campeche – 264 Miles
Capital: Campeche. One of the least populous states in Mexico. This area is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial baroque colonial buildings and the Fort de San Miguel Archaeological Museum and collection of Mayan artifacts.
#12 Yucatán – 150 Miles
Capital: Mérida. Known for its tropical rain forests, beautiful beaches, and Mayan ruins.
#13 Tabasco – 123 Miles
Capital: Villahermosa. This Mexican Gulf coast state was the first to be subjugated to Spanish rule, as Spanish conquistadors conquered local tribes and enlisted them as allies against the Aztecs.
1. State of Jalisco – Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta tops everyone’s list as the favorite Mexican beach destination.
This popular retreat is a tourist favorite with stunning beaches, Pacific Ocean views, and lots to do for family vacationers.
2. State of Nayarit – Nuevo Vallarta. Just a short drive up the coast from Puerto Vallarta, this town hosts the famous Nuevo Vallarta beach resort.
Tourists who are into whale watching or golf can take a break from the Pacific surf in this beach town that has more to offer than beach walking.
3. State of Guerrero – Ixtapa. This resort consistently earns high marks as a dominant draw to the Mexican Riviera.
The developers decided that Mexico needed a Pacific Coast draw as popular as Cancún. They succeeded.
Ixtapa provides an all-inclusive getaway destination for families and sun worshipers alike.
4. State of Oaxaca – Hualtuco: This seaside town on Mexico’s southwest coast has 35 beaches with diving reefs, sailing, and kayaking.
The town features fine museums as well as spectacular tropical inland scenery.
5. State of Baja California Sur – Cabo San Lucas: At the foot of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is probably the best-known Mexican resort.
Famous for outstanding beaches, water sports, and vibrant nightlife, this isolated resort features stunning coastal scenery unspoiled by civilization and city life.
Five of the most popular beach resorts on Mexico’s Caribbean coast are located in the State of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula:
1. Tulum: A 75-mile scenic drive from Cancún, Tulum is rated as one of the best beach towns in Mexico.
Playa Santa Fe is a popular free beach with plenty to do, excellent restaurants, and a breathtaking turquoise seascape.
2. Cancún: This beach resort remains a world-class destination with 14 miles of white sandy beaches and seascapes that appear to be painted.
Probably the most famous beach in Mexico for nightlife, even non-party goers will enjoy the family-friendly backpacking and a convenient base to explore the nearby Mayan ruins.
3. Playa del Carmen: Rivaling Tulum as one of the best beach cities in Mexico, Playa del Carmen is midway between Cancún and Tulum.
Playa del Carmen is near the amazing Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza, one of the wonders of the ancient world.
4. Isla Mujeres: Beautiful beaches line this resort island off the northeastern coast of Cancún. The island’s most popular beach is Playa Norte, featuring calm surf, umbrella rentals, and beach bars.
5. Holbox Island: Looking for solitude without the crowds? This island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is accessible by ferry.
Its best beach is Punta Cocos, where visitors can relax on hammocks in the water by day and explore the phenomenon of bioluminescence during the night.