Mexico is one of my favorite countries. The people are kind and the country has a wide range of places to explore from beautiful white sand beaches to Mayan ruins, the birthplace of Tequila and gorgeous colonial cities. There’s something for every type of traveler; whether you’re dreaming of soaking up the sun, snorkeling with tropical fish, immersing yourself in Mayan or Aztec history, or enjoying an adventure on the Tequila train.
Travel Tips for Mexico
Mexico is a big country and every destination offers a unique experience. Make sure you do your homework because a vacation in the Mexican Caribbean like Cancun or Cozumel is very different from a vacation in Puerto Vallarta and completely different than Rosartio Beach located on the West coast of Baja California.
If you live on the west coast of the United States a trip to Cabo or anywhere in Baja California or Baja California Sur is a quick trip. If you live in California, Arizona or Texas, you can also visit many great border towns that are an easy drive. From San Diego, California you can easily visit Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate and many other towns. You can even take a 24-hour drive all the way to Cabo San Lucas.
Of course, there is also the famous Valle de Guadalupe wine region which is less than two hours by car from San Diego and well worth a visit for any wine enthusiasts!
For those who live on the east coast of the United States, finding direct flights to Cancun should be a breeze. Cancun is filled with Mayan culture and is the gateway to many outstanding ruins and the entire Yucatan peninsula!
Don’t limit your Mexico vacation to only the beach cities. There are so many beautiful, historic and colonial towns worth a visit! Mexico City has an incredible restaurant and food scene, Guadalajara is a beautiful city with great museums and Tecate is one of the Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns) of Mexico.
As I mentioned, Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world, and I hope that my travels will inspire you to visit this beautiful country!
A Few Of My Favorite Places in Mexico
Loreto is located in the state of Baja California Sur. It is a resort town located on the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez). Loreto was the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California Peninsula. It served as the capital of Las Californias from 1697 to 1777. Today it’s known for its spectacular snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing.
Explorer Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium” for its abundance of marine life, including sea lions, sea turtles, dolphins, and a kaleidoscopic assortment of tropical fish. It’s the second largest National Marine Park in the world and portions of the Gulf of California have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The town is quaint and the colonial buildings include the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, a 17th-century church. If you happen to be gluten-free, you’ll absolutely love Villa Del Palmar. They have a dedicated chef and baker creating delicious treats such as gluten-free croissants, pizza and breads.
Puerto Penasco (known as Rocky Point to the locals) is located in the state Sonora of and just a few hours drive from Pheonix, Arizona. It is a resort town located on the northern shore of the Sea of Cortez.
With its captivating scenery and wide-range of activities, you won’t be lost for things to do in Puerto Peñasco. When visiting Puerto Peñasco you get to experience the best of both worlds, a small-town with traditional Mexico characteristics as well as great resorts offering modern luxury. You’ll find a fun boardwalk (Malecon) with lots of restaurants and shops, charter boats for fishing and sunset cruises and beautiful beaches.
Mexico ranks 7th in the world for the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one happens to be 40 minutes from the city of Puerto Peñasco and the Sea of Cortez. El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar) is a group of volcanic peaks and cinder cones. It is also where NASA sent astronauts from 1965 to 1970, to train for walking on the moon, due to the similarities of the terrain to the lunar surface.
Tijuana and Rosarito
Tijuana and Rosarito are both located in the Mexican state of Baja California. Tijuana is the border city to San Diego, California and this ‘most crossed border in the world. Tijuana is home to a myriad of museums, markets, local artisans, delicious food, a flourishing art scene and a vibrant cocktail of cultures. Its bustling main street, Avenida Revolución, is lined with souvenir shops and lively bars. If you are visiting San Diego, Tijuana a must-do day trip! Here are 13 of my favorite things to do in Tijuana.
Rosarito is a beach resort town just 30 minutes from Tijuana. The town has long been known as a party place thanks to the infamous Papas and Beer nightclub. The heart of Las Playas de Rosarito is the Rosarito Beach Hotel. It was a hotspot for Hollywood stars such as Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, and Orson Welles in its heyday. Today it’s a landmark and a must for at least a margarita if not an overnight stay. Here are my favorite things to do in Rosarito Beach.
Ensenada and Valle De Guadalupe Wine Region
Ensenada is located in Baja California and about one-and-a-half hours from Tijuana. The port town is home to the famous Hussongs Cantina (which is one of several bars who claim to have invented the Margarita). Ensenada is home to the oldest French restaurant in Mexico as well as Sabina Bandera’s tostada food cart, La Guerrerense. Hussongs and a tostada at La Guerrerense are more than enough of a reason to visit Ensenada. But the town has numerous boutique hotels and is also the gateway to Valle de Guadalupe wine country.
Valle de Guadalupe is one of the most interesting places in the California’s to visit for wine tasting, boutique hotels, and farm-to-table Baja Med cuisine. Valle is a regular weekend trek for many in San Diego and Northern Baja, but if you are visiting from a bit farther, you’ll want to spend a night, a weekend or even a week. There is an abundance to explore in this wine region. Here is how to spend one perfect day in Valle de Guadalupe.
Nominated for Best City in 2018 by Condé Nast, with tropical year-round weather and packed with adventure and nightlife, Puerto Vallarta is a destination you must visit at least once in your life. The Sierra Madre Mountains cradle this gem that faces the expansive Banderas Bay on the Pacific coast of Mexico. If you’re searching for a resort city with jungle vibes and sun-kissed beach days, Puerto Vallarta is calling your name.
Mazatlán is the home of the Pacifico brewery and the first Señor Frog’s, but there is much more you should know about Mazatlán and especially it’s food scene if you are planning a visit.
As far, as where to stay in Mazatlan, located along the famous Golden Zone (Zona Dorada) is one of Mazatlán’s most beautiful resorts; Pueblo Bonito Mazatlán. The all-suite resort has been awarded the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Award and is rated one of the Top 50 Resorts in Mexico.
Cancun has so much to offer; beaches, snorkeling, famous nightlife, a wide variety of resorts and all-inclusive hotels, shopping as well as nearby islands, cenotes, Mayan ruins, and even theme parks. Cancun is a great launching point to explore the Yucatan Peninsula and many additional resort areas such as Playa Mujeres and Riviera Maya.
Cancun offers options for families as well as those looking for a romantic getaway. They have also become quite a popular destination for spring breakers!
Riviera Maya is where you’ll find the brilliant turquoise waters most of us are dreaming of when we head south of the border, and most of the hotels are either right on or very close to the beach.
You’ll also find an award-winning spa like no other. SE Spa is a huge, 42-room space and is one of Mexico’s largest spas. SE Spa is not only first class, but it offers a hydrothermal journey like no other. In fact, SE Spa by Grand Velas Riviera Maya won the “Best Spa in Mexico” for delivering the “best” experience for both body and soul.
Ciudad Juárez is located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. Juarez borders El Paso, Texas and the Rio Grande River separates Mexico and United States borders. During a trip to El Paso, I spent a day across the border. If you are wondering if is safe to visit, you can read about my day Exploring the Border Town of Juarez.
A Few of My Favorite Hotels in Mexico
Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta
Casa Velas is a spectacular adults-only all-inclusive boutique hotel. The property is set amidst lush tropical gardens, gorgeous bougainvillea plants, and towering palms trees. The hotel is situated along the fairways of the 18-hole Marina Vallarta Golf Club which is perfect for golfers. You will find peacocks wandering around the hotel grounds and koi ponds for the ultimate tropical vibe.
Grand Velas in Riviera Maya
You simply cannot do better than Grand Velas for five-star service, beautiful rooms, and excellent food. The hotel has elevated the all-inclusive experience into something worlds apart from what you’ll find elsewhere. This is one of my favorite hotels not only in Mexico but anywhere. I loved it so much I wrote an article about the 52 Reasons Everyone Should Visit Grand Velas Riviera Maya.
Adobe Guadalupe in Valle de Guadalupe
Adobe Guadalupe is a boutique hotel, winery, and riding stables. It is a hacienda-style B&B in the shape of a horseshoe that surrounds a beautiful courtyard with a fountain as the centerpiece. There are seven spacious rooms with high ceilings and wood slatted doors that open onto a shared garden patio. The B&B is opulent and homey at the same time; showcasing beautiful art that has been collected by the family. Read the TripAdvisor reviews here.
Taking a Cruise in Mexico
If you’re a trepidatious traveler, you may want to consider an all-inclusive resort or a cruise to Mexico.
There are a wide variety of cruises available throughout Mexico. Most cruises to Mexico depart from Long Beach, California or from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The cruises from California tend to go to a combination of Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Cruises from Florida tend to include the Cozumel and the Mexican Caribbean.
There are also cruises that explore the Sea of Cortez as well as mainland Mexico. One of my favorite places to find great cruise reviews, itineraries and the best prices is Cruise Direct.
I’ve written about what to expect on a 3 Day Cruise to Mexico before, and it’s definitely a great way to see the country if you’re traveling from the west coast.
What to Pack for Mexico
Ultimate Packing List for Cancun: There are so many options when traveling to Cancun, you’ll want to make sure you pack the essentials! Below you’ll find my travel packing list including clothes, medications you should always have when traveling to Mexico, as well as my favorite beach necessities. You’ll also find additional information about Cancun as well as ideas for day trips and excursions as well as Mexico travel tips.
Baja California Packing List: Here you’ll find a list of my absolute favorite items I pack when I head south of the border from my home in San Diego.
Where is Mexico?
There are 32 states in Mexico and it is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico.
Map of Mexico
Fast Facts About Mexico Travel
- Language: Spanish is the official language spoken in Mexico. Most of the Mexicans working in the tourism industry speak English. If you visit the Cancun area, many of the local indigenous people still speak Mayan as their first language and Spanish as their second.
- Local Currency: The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN) and is around 20 Pesos to $1 USD. Throughtout much of Mexico, you can also pay in U.S. dollars (and in many places they prefer this).
- Water: You should not drink tap water in Mexico. Most resorts and hotels have purified water throughout the hotel, but as a rule I still brush my teeth with bottled water to be safe. If you travel outside the tourist areas, stick to bottled beverages and avoid ordering any uncooked food items like salads. In smaller villages beware of ice cubes that may have been made with tap water.
- Power: Mexican power voltage is 127 V 60 Hz; Power sockets A & B
- Passport: To visit Mexico, you will need a U.S. passport valid for at least 6 months after your departure date.
- Getting Around: The best way to get around is by public transport or renting a car. If you take a taxi, be sure to negotiate the rate before you get in.
- Tipping in Mexico: is customary and expected at restaurants. It is also customary to tip tour guides.
- Money The best exchange rate is usually from a bank ATM, but you can also use an exchange bureau. It’s best practice to withdraw money inside a bank. If you use an outside ATM, it’s always safter to do this during daylight hours.
The Best Time to Travel To Mexico
The hottest months are April & May in the South, and July to September on Pacific Coast (Including Baja), and extremely hot in the Yucatan May to September.
My favorite time to travel to Mexico is from November through April. During this time, you are out of hurricane season and officially in Mexico’s dry season, which means great weather for outdoor activities. Going to Mexico during this time also means you avoid a lot of the humidity that can come in the summer months. If you are looking for some of the cheapest flights, October and May are great options.
Mexico’s Hurricane Season
Mexico’s hurricane season falls between June and November but is most active from August through October. Chances of a hurricane during your vacation are fairly slim, but there can still be days of overcast, rainy weather during these months.