Many people are itching to finally break free of the COVID-19 funk that has held many of them in their hometowns for the past two years or more. What is a more welcoming destination there other than coastal Mexico? However, some may be dismayed to find out that after disembarking in places like the popular Puerto Vallarta airport, they find themselves in a sea of tourists, and this does not stop at the airport. Every bar, beach, and mariscos restaurant is absolutely packed. Suddenly, this escape does not feel like an escape at all. No need to worry. Luckily, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path beach destinations in Mexico where one can not only avoid the crowds but also be immersed in a more authentic experience of the local culture. Here are ten low-key locations worth a visit.

10 ​​​​​​San Francisco (San Pancho), Nayarit

San Francisco, or “San Pancho” as the locals call it, is less than an hour away by bus from Puerto Vallarta’s airport, yet it feels like it is a world away given its lack of party-seeking tourists and DJ sets. In this small town of only 3,000 residents, days can be spent relaxing oceanside, soaking in the sun, and enjoying the pride of Mexican seafood known as aguachile in one hand and a mojito in the other. Despite its size, San Pancho is full of quaint coffee shops, restaurants, and art galleries which all come at lower prices than in the big-name tourist havens.

Related: 10 Locations You Must Visit If You Love Seafood

9 Sayulita, Nayarit

Sayulita may be a small town, but it holds all the vibrancy and nightlife of Puerto Vallarta condensed into an easily walkable community. Groups of young adults who came for a Pacific coast fiesta will be seen (and certainly heard) in the streets, but family environments also thrive in Sayulita. The popular option for getting around town with children is through golf cart rentals as families zip back and forth between visiting the beach, attending whale watching tours, or looking for new restaurants to try.

8 Bucerías, Nayarit

Yet a third option in Nayarit and clocking in at under half an hour’s bus ride from Puerto Vallarta, Bucerías is a worthy candidate for alternative options. Although the town may seem underwhelming at a glance, Bucerías (which translates to “place of divers”) holds similar offerings to the big-name destinations without the crowds. It lives up to its namesake as it lies in the diver paradise of Banderas Bay while also being home to bike and ATV tours along with a crocodile sanctuary. While the center of Bucerías may not be the most vibrant in Mexico, to write off this option too quickly would be a mistake.

7 Arroyo Seco, Jalisco

Arroyo Seco is fit for the wayfarer who truly seeks solitude. There are no resorts, no tour groups, little cell phone service, very few restaurants, and independent transportation is needed to get there. However, the payoff of sharing the beach with next to no one is worth the hassle for those in need of some quiet time with nothing but the ocean and a few cervezas from the small stores scattered about the area, or perhaps some surfing. Accommodations are few, but the lack of commercialization makes room for small boutique hotels and lavish Airbnb options for those who are not into camping.

6 Todos Santos, Baja California Sur

Around an hour and a half drive from the wildly popular Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos serves as a worthwhile detour to dodge the crowds. The town has all the usual features of coastal Mexico, with tons of unique beachfront hotels. Before hitting the white sand beaches, you can spend your days walking through history amid colonial architecture while doing so in style, thanks to many boutique shops selling locally handcrafted jewelry. Those who enjoy hiking can take in a spectacular view of the beach from the top of Punta Lobos.

5 Loreto, Baja California Sur

Found within the Loreto National Marine Park, Loreto boasts gorgeous beaches with many islands to explore. Boat tours will lead visitors through a showcase of the myriad of marine life, and Loreto is particularly known for marvelous whale-watching experiences. As a rising tourist destination, accommodations are plentiful, and various nightlife scenes can be found, ranging from rambunctious nightclub vibes to relaxing with pizza and craft beer.

4 Mazunte, Oaxaca

When passing through the world-famous Mexican city of Oaxaca, Mazunte is an ideal alternative beach destination not far from the now overrun Puerto Escondido. This relaxing small town is yet another draw for nature lovers and offers a variety of ecotourism that carries travelers through lagoons full of lush vegetation, crocodiles, iguanas, and tropical birds. Mazunte is known for its picturesque sunsets at Punta Cometa or enjoyed with a drink at the locally famous restaurant El Copal Mazunte.

Related: 10 Ecotourism Destinations You Should Add To Your Bucket List

3 Akumal, Quintana Roo

Akumal, translated from Mayan as "place of the turtle," lies hidden in plain sight between the highly-sought destinations of Tulum and Playa del Carmen. When a break from beaches is needed, one can explore the underground cave Aktun Chen or visit the local monkey sanctuary. Of course, Akumal holds its name for a reason. The town is officially a turtle refuge, and a tourist favorite is to swim alongside them in the clear water full of coral and tropical fish.

2 San Crisanto, Yucatán

San Crisanto is another laid-back beach getaway with all the staples of coastal Mexico. Just over an hour's drive from the tourist hub of Mérida, the quiet town of San Crisanto provides a perfect place to slow down and watch the waves go by. For tourists suffering beach burnout or that simply need a time out of the sun, there are plenty of restaurants with some of the best-looking seafood in Mexico, or quick visits to places like the small marine life museum Museo del Mar give an escape. Also, culture and history enthusiasts can check out the Mayan Ruins of Xcambó.

1 Las Coloradas, Yucatán

Travelers in search of a unique Yucatán experience can make a trip to Instagram-worthy Las Coloradas, where much of life is experienced in pink. These pink lakes are actually a byproduct of the sea salt harvesting industry but have gained attention as another stop for visitors in the area enjoying safaris and bike tours on the flamingo-filled coast. The town itself was built around this industry more so than tourism, but there are some interesting restaurants. Overall, Las Coloradas is a decent place for those looking to shake up their tropical vacation with something different.