About 3km north of the port or Veracruz, Villa Rica is still an untouched gem. Said to be the beach where the famous Hernán Cortés landed his fleet and began his inward journey which would be the downfall of the Aztecs.
From the black sand of this beach you can see the surrounding green hills of Veracruz, something I love about this place as it reminds me of New Zealand, where you can also often see hills beside the beach. It is popular with Mexicans but not overrun. On warm weekends you can buy fresh coconuts from a small store or have a meal at the restaurants of the small town nestled on its shores.
Across the highway you have the option of climbing the small mountain (not real mountain climbing – more like going up the track) to get to the Totonac site of Quiahuixtlán, an almost unvisited archeological site which looks over the coast from the hilltop occupied in the 16th century. It is also said to have been visited by Hernán Cortés himself.
If you are spending some time in Veracruz, Villa Rica is a serene place where you can explore the real Mexico. It is also very safe – I camped on the beach here once – and in my opinion a great place to relax and explore.