You probably aren’t heading to the Land of Enchantment expecting to find beautiful, naturally occurring bodies of water, but guess again! It’s a little-known fact that New Mexico has water, let alone beaches. It actually might be the state’s best-kept secret. Don’t be fooled because New Mexico vacation rentals offer up some amazing opportunities for some fun in the sun and water! And, since people aren’t flocking to New Mexico’s beaches for their vacation, that means you’ll get prime pick of waterfront vacation rentals and a great deal. Pack your bag, because it’s time to head to one of these top 10 beaches in New Mexico!

1. Elephant Butte Reservoir

Source: Flickr / J. N. Stuart

Elephant Butte Lake, located in southern New Mexico, isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s by far the best in New Mexico. It’s the state’s largest lake and state park and the most popular spot for enjoying the water. There’s great swimming, waterskiing, boating, and plenty of soft sand to stretch out on. If you really want to get a true New Mexico experience, try striper fishing. If you’re not an experienced angler, you can also find one of the many professional fishing guides in the area.

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2. Lea Lake

Source: Flickr / Joel Deluxe

Lea Lake is one of the most beautiful underappreciated lakes in New Mexico. It’s the only lake in the Bottomless Lakes State Park where swimming is allowed, and it has a swath of sandy beach making it a great spot for working on your tan or having a picnic. The turquoise water and beautiful quartz crystals, known as Pecos Diamonds, make this park one of a kind. Keep in mind that the water can be chilly, so definitely save it for the hottest of summer days.

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3. Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area

Source: Flickr / Chad McDonald

The Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area is 125.6 acres located along the Pecos River from the railroad bridge south to the upper Tansil Dam. There is a swim area along the Pecos River that’s open to the public from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. It’s the perfect spot to spend a hot summer day in the middle of Carlsbad. The area is also great for picnics, water sports, playgrounds and fishing and boating.

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4. Cochiti Lake

Source: Flickr / Enrique A Sanabria

This family-friendly recreation area in Sandoval County offers two public recreation areas with picnic tables and spectacular views of the water and surrounding mountains. There are also great opportunities for wildlife viewing thanks to four osprey nesting platforms around the lake. On the east side of the lake, you’ll often spot deer, coyote, and rabbits.

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5. Tingley Beach

Source: Flickr / Enrique A Sanabria

At Tingly Beach, you can enjoy the best of the outdoors without leaving the big city conveniences of Albuquerque. Located just minutes from downtown, this waterfront park is great for picnicking, waterfowl watching, fishing, or renting a paddleboat. Admission to the pond is free, but anyone over the age of 12 will need a valid New Mexico fishing license. A couple of our favorite things about Tingly Beach is the clean restrooms and the dog-friendly trails.

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6. White Sands National Monument

Source: Pixabay / skeeze

This location isn’t technically a beach, but it’s got plenty of sand and is one of the world’s great natural wonders, so we had to include it on this list. Here, you can explore wave-like dunes of gypsum sand that stretch out for 275 square miles of desert. It’s the world’s largest gypsum dune field, and definitely a site to see. The entire family will love learning about the animals of White Sands National Monument with one of the adventure packs available from the visitor center. Go bicycling, hiking, or take the eight-mile scenic drive. For a little more fun in the sand, try sledding!

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7. Navajo Lake State Park

Source: Flickr / Tye Redhouse

Welcome to your new favorite outdoor playground. Navajo Lake is the second largest lake in the state, and is a haven for boaters ranging from motorboats, sailboat, canoes, kayaks, and everything in between. It also provides world-class fly fishing, serene hiking trails, and a campground. Not only that, but it’s become hugely popular for wakeboarding and windsurfing.

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8. Abiquiu Lake

Source: Flickr / IberianExplorer

Looking for even more adventure? Then, look no further than Abiquiu Lake! Just 61 miles north of Santa Fe, this lake sits at the base of Pedernal Peak. During the summer months, you’ll find many people perched on the 20-foot cliff that’s perfect for jumping. There are vacation rentals nearby, or you can stay at Riana Campground which is located on a 150-foot bluff overlooking the lake. You’ll also get a panoramic view of the narrow mesa, Cerro Pedernal, which has been immortalized in many of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings.

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9. Rio Grande

Source: Flickr / JessicaFender

The Rio Grande is big. Not big, it’s huge. It’s the fourth longest river system in the United States and has marked the boundary between Mexico and the United States since 1848. While not exactly a beach, the Rio Grande is perfect for watersports, whitewater rafting in particular. Families and beginners looking for an easy ride should try Racecourse, but if you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for a challenging thrill ride, you’ll love Taos Box. Either way, you can’t go wrong because you’ll be surrounded by New Mexico’s beautiful scenery and wildlife. Soak it in, and try not to get splashed!

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10. El Vado Lake State Park

Source: Flickr / Matt Baker

Located in New Mexico’s northern mountains, El Vado Lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating, tubing and skiing on the weekends. If you’re searching for a quiet getaway, there are many secluded coves around the lake perfect for swimming or catching trout and kokanee salmon. There’s also a 5.5-mile scenic trail along the Rio Chama.

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