With even Texas firmly entrenched in winter, my thoughts have been straying south quite a bit lately. I’ve been craving an ice-cold margarita, sipped while lounging on a beach-side hammock, a schooner ride between islands, or a muggy hike through Maya ruins.
Unfortunately, Houston has better ideas, and instead we have freezing rain.
Nostalgia to the rescue! I’ve compiled a list of Mexico travel tips in the form of the top five things you should do if you get the chance to visit the country, based on my experiences there. I want to preface this list with the caveat that Mexico is a huge country, and has a ton to offer. I’ve been lucky enough to see a small snippet of it, and these are my favorite takeaways.
Great. Next stop, Cozumel!
1. Go snorkeling or scuba diving
This may seem like the most obvious suggestion, as many people travel to Mexico specifically to take advantage of their stunning white sand beaches, but it’s worth mentioning. The coral reefs that dot the Mexican coastline are full of life, from fish to sea turtles, to dolphins. It’s a colorful, undersea wonderland that shouldn’t be missed.
2. Swim with the stingrays (or the dolphins)
While there’s a good chance you’ll happen upon stingrays and dolphins during your own snorkeling adventures, you can also book a tour that will allow you to get up close and personal with these creatures. They can be a bit pricey, but if you’re willing to pay up it’s an astoundingly cool experience. There’s nothing like being surrounded by literally dozens of stingrays in waist deep water!
3. Indulge in some vino
Mexico is about more than just beaches. One of my most memorable experiences took place on the Western coast, in Ensenada, where my husband and I traveled to a series of stunningly beautiful wineries. This part of the country looks very different from the sandy seaside, but is no less gorgeous.
4. Visit ruins
Mexico has a rich, diverse history, and it is easy to step into the country’s past. Ruins such as Tulum (pictured above) dot the country, and many of them are open to tours. Knowledgeable guides will take you through the crumbling monuments and tell you about the people that once inhabited them, many of whom have ancestors still living in the region today.
5. Go off the beaten path
As always, safety is the most important factor. Keeping that in mind, though, stepping away from the tourist traps can be hugely rewarding. I’ve been to Cozumel a half dozen times or so, and eventually I got sick of the kitschy tourist shops that overwhelm the ship docks. So, one trip, we decided to rent a jeep and drive. This simple decision led to the discovery of the beautiful rocky shore that is pictured above, an almost completely isolated beach, and the sorts of restaurants and bars that are frequented by the locals. There’s nothing wrong with being touristy — but sometimes it’s definitely nice to delve deeper!
Remember, this list is by no means comprehensive! Mexico is a huge country, with enough culture and adventure activities to last a visitor a good long time.
Have you been to Mexico? What would you recommend to a first time visitor?