This Florida Beach Town Is Known for Its Rare 'Quartz Crystal' Sand — and It Was Just Named a Top Summer 2022 Destination

Mexico Beach, Florida
Courtesy of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council
For powder-white sandy beaches or exceptional diving, there's no need to hop south of the border. The city of Mexico Beach, Florida is a hidden gem on the Gulf of Mexico with small-town charm and pristine sandy beaches. But it probably won't stay hidden for much longer. According to Airbnb data collected in the first quarter of 2022, Mexico Beach has become one of the most searched domestic summer destinations among US travelers.
Mexico Beach will appeal to fans of sleepy small towns. The city is about a 45-minute drive east of Panama City and has a population of just about 1,060 as of the 2020 census. You'll find corner shops on the streets instead of the chain stores that line Florida's larger cities. And if you drive around, you'll find that there isn't a single set of traffic lights. So nothing keeps you from the beach.
And you probably want to get to the beach as soon as possible. The sand at Mexico Beach is a geological rarity as it is made up of only one type of quartz crystal. It's a point of local pride that the sand is powdery soft and stays cool even in the hottest summer months.
But if you overheat on the sand, be sure to hit the water to cool off. The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association has been building and maintaining artificial reef systems in the area since 1997. If you go diving or snorkeling on Mexico Beach's reefs, you're likely to see colorful fish like snapper and jacks, as well as turtles, jellyfish, and starfish.
Mexico Beach, Florida
Courtesy of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council
When you get hungry, be sure to treat yourself to the area's phenomenal seafood. (The city's culinary specialty, of course.) Two of the most popular local spots are Killer Seafood and Mango Marley's, where you should try the fish tacos.
Mexico Beach is a popular destination any time of the year, but one of the most popular nights is New Year's Eve. The city sits right on the border between the Eastern and Central time zones. As such, the city hosts a "New Year's Eve Twice" event each year in partnership with neighboring Port St. Joe. The celebrations begin in Port St. Joe, and after midnight, attendees board a complimentary shuttle back to Mexico Beach and ring in the New Year twice.
Cailey Rizzo is a writer for Travel + Leisure and is currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram or on

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