For us northerners, the sun is crucial (hello summer terraces!). The annual winter pilgrimage of thousands of Canadians to Mexico is proof of that. Apart from Cancún and Playa del Carmen — located in the Quintana Roo State — Mexico has a lot to offer: with 31 States + the Ciudad de México, diversity is everywhere!
Starting from the assumption that four main reasons motivate people to travel (exercising/being active; relaxing; appreciating the beauty of nature; learning about the country) I prepared an awesome plan for your next vacation!
Editor’s note: Before you start planning your trip, I feel obligated to suggest that you go on the Canadian Government’s website. Some Mexican states are not recommended and I didn’t take this into account while writing this article. As a general advice, travel safely, thank you!
Mexico to exercise
“Querido, we’re on holiday, so today we climb a mountain, we cycle for 18km and finish with a kitesurf class!” Sounds familiar? And still, arriving to the all-inclusive hotel, most people end up laying down on a chair on the beach and… that’s all.
Ok ok, obviously, all-inclusive hotels are so successful because they’re located on beautiful beaches, I hear you say. Beaches ideal for various aquatic activities. For example, Cozumel, in Quintana Roo, is a diver’s paradise! Todos Santos, in Baja, is well renowned in the surfing community. That’s right, it is the sport of choice on the Pacific Coast! Either way, getting away from the rest world is essential to truly enjoying what the ocean has to offer.
You have strong legs? The highest mountain of the country is Pico de Orizaba, at 5356m. It is also a dormant volcano. Amongst other location greatly appreciated by hikers of all kinds, volcanoes Iztaccihualt and Popocatepetl in the state of Mexico (the second one cannot be climbed however, since it is active), and the Barranca del Cobre canyon in the state of Chihuahua.
A few accommodation ideal to stay active:
Mexico to relax
It’s very warm, you worked hard; you deserve your vacation, no doubt about that! On this aspect you’re in for a treat, Mexico really raises the standard for beaches perfect for relaxation! Stop on Holbox Island, in Quintana Roo; and enjoy your life! This paradise is located in the ecological reserve of Yum Balam, the biggest in the country! On the agenda: sunsets and turquoise waters…
While we’re on the subject of water, something really magical are the cenotes, sorts of caves where you can swim! The Yucatan state is known for these almost secret locations, where you can definitely enjoy a bit of privacy!
You want to relax in a different way? At Guadalupe Valley, in the Baja California state, you will discover vineyards that could stand up to the Napa Valley! A wine tasting in a lush valley: that’s not stressful at all! Travel there towards the end of the summer, in time for the harvest festivals (Fiestas de la Vendimia)!
A few accommodations ideal for relaxation:
Mexico to wonder
« Stuff your eyes with wonder» said Ray Bradbury. With 34 biosphere reserves, 64 national parks, 4 natural monuments, 26 protected areas for flora and fauna, and 17 sanctuaries, be prepared to fill your eyes with wonders.
After taking in all the wonders of nature, go visit a Pueblo Mágico. In 2001, The Ministry of Tourism set up the Pueblo Mágico program to emphasize the unique and magical experience that the country’s villages and towns can offer thanks to their beauty, cultural richness, traditions, etc. This program has put forward other attractions in the country, which was primarily known for its beaches. Also, the program has created employment opportunities in communities, and we can only applaud that. To this day, 121 Pueblos Mágicos exist all across Mexico. Click ici to see the complete list.
Finally, within the unclassifiable curiosities of Mexico you can find Las Pozas, in San Luis Potosi: it’s a true Garden of Eden, as imagined by the British artist Edward James. It consists of a park with waterfalls and ponds, sculptures and luxuriant vegetation. It is however 4 hours away from the capital San Luis Potosi…
Mexico to learn
A country is also a history and a crossroad of cultures! The ancient civilizations Mayas, Aztecs, Zapotecs, Toltecs, etc. have all left their trace in Mexico. The most obvious proof being pyramids scattered all across the territory. The most famous are probably the Teotihuacán pyramids, north of the Ciudad de México. It’s certainly very touristy, we can’t deny it. It can seem counter-intuitive when you try to avoid all-inclusive hotels, since they promote mass tourism; but still there is an undeniable mystical and magical atmosphere in this place.
There are also multiples sites placed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list, including the historical centres of Mexico, Puebla or Guanajuato. San Miguel de Allende in the state of México, with its cobbled streets and colourful houses; or Merida in Yucatan, a colonial town from the XVIe century, are both other interesting places to visit.
Learning about a country doesn’t only mean looking at old stones, don’t worry! Do you play the guitar? Visit Paracho in Michoacan, the city of the 2000 luthiers, where the most beautiful guitars are created. A good way of learning about the musical history of the country. Do you like sipping on a good liquor? Go to Tequila, in the state of Jalisco. Coincidentaly, Tequila is also a Pueblo Magico, so you are certain to live a memorable experience. The history of the blue agave must seem particularly interesting doesn’t it?
A few accommodations perfect to learn more about Mexico and its culture:
This allows me a wonderful transition, since whichever type of vacation you prefer, there is one thing you are sure to do: eat well! You decided to travel outside of the all-inclusive hotels so the delicious and nutritive street food is yours! Tacos, gorditas, tlacoyos, tamales, chalupas, quesadillas or tortas. Mexican cuisine is relatively spicy, be warned!
Finally, I would like to end on these few words. It is a quote from a communiqué published in nahuatl, Mexico’s most spoken native language, by Emiliano Zapata in 1918. Although the rest of the communiqué is a call for revolution, these three lines represent the Mexican hospitality:
ihuan ica nochi noyolo
Translation: And to you all I send
A joyful greeting
And with all my heart.
¡Have a nice trip!