Where We Go
Our journeys have taken us to Cancun, Rivera Mayan, Puerto Escondido, and Tulum.
What We Return For, Again and Again
An art lover's dream: World-class museums and famous murals in a country that has been home to some of the most famous artists in modern history.
Ancient civilizations: Southern Mexico was the cultural epicenter of the classic Maya period, and the temples and cities left behind are awe-inspiring.
Artisan crafts and folk art: From delicate silver jewelry to colorful alebrijes (sculpted fantasy creatures) to puffy-cheeked angel masks, it’s all wonderful.
Colonial architecture: Mexico is home to no fewer than 10 UNESCO World Heritage cities—Campeche, Guanajuato, Mexico City, Morelia, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, Tlacotalpan, and Zacatecas. And there are even more UNESCO-designated Pueblos Mágicos, towns with cobblestone streets, charming architecture, and peaceful plazas that will charm and delight you.
Film: Mexico has a vibrant cinema dating from the Golden Age in the '50s to today’s edgy directors, an extensive literary tradition, and a musical scene that’s both the birthplace of mariachi and the most important hub in Latin America for rock en español.
Beaches: Turquoise water, tall palms, and white sand, and a hammock swaying softly in the tropical breeze. Mexico has some of the finest beaches in the world, and you could spend a lifetime exploring the hidden coves and wild resorts of the country’s thousands of miles of coastline. But this country is so much more: ancient Maya ruins and cool, clear cenotes; snowcapped volcanoes and misty mountain pueblos; desert canyon railroads and people watching in colorful colonial plazas. You can enjoy all these adventures and more with relatively little planning—and still have time to lounge on the beach.
Safety concerns: Despite media hype, the vast majority of Mexico is safe for travelers. The drug violence generally occurs in isolated pockets of the country, and tourists are not a target. Use the same common-sense precautions you’d use traveling anywhere to avoid theft and robbery.
Tipping: Loosely follows U.S. conventions. Refer to our Global Tipping Guide.
Money: Most every transaction outside of the major resorts will be in pesos. You can withdraw pesos from any ATM using your major-brand credit or debit card. (For safety, take out money only during the day, and preferably at ATMs inside hotels or banks.) Credit cards are accepted at higher-end hotels and restaurants. Currency exchange is available at most banks and casas de cambio (currency exchange centers).
Mobile phones: If you plan to use your phone at all during your trip, arrange ahead of time with your cell provider for Mexico roaming packages. Otherwise, you’ll be hit with an astronomical bill. Language: Outside of the major resort areas, it's convenient to know at least a little Spanish. Don't be shy; Mexicans are kind and appreciative when you attempt to speak to them in their native tongue.
Where to Shop in Cancun
Multiple malls provide hours of shopping pleasure but offer very little difference in price or selection of product other than in your local malls. The Shopping Village in the Hotel Zone is a short walk for most travelers. Curios and t-shirts are the standard offerings and a few fashion labels have stand-alone boutiques.
Where to Stay in Cancun
The hotel zone of Cancun has a very well developed board walk covering several miles of coastline. Multiple malls provide hours of shopping pleasure but offer very little difference in price or selection of product other than in your local malls. The Shopping Village in the Hotel Zone is a short walk for most travelers. Curios and T-shirts are the standard offerings with a few fashion labels having “stand alone” boutiques.
The Westin remains one of our favorites. The location allows for an easy walk to the majority of tourist attractions, restaurants, and malls. The rooms are equipped with full kitchens. Our favorite evening is barbecuing on the property in our swimsuits, watching the sun set.
NIZUC Resort and Spa is one of the top hotels in Cancun with a 5-star rating. Beachfront, free WIFI. Trip Advisor ratings are as follows for this special resort: #1 Romantic Hotel in Cancun; #2 Spa Hotel in Cancun; #2 Luxury Hotel in Cancun; #2 Top resorts Hotel in Cancun. Book early, grab discounts when offered.
Hyatt Zilara Cancun: Prominently located on the widest stretch of beach in the heart of Cancun's Hotel Zone, Hyatt Zilara Cancun is an adults-only, all-suite, all inclusive resort where guests experience traditional Mexican warmth in an intimate yet casual setting. Hyatt Zilara Cancun offers a myriad of activities and conveniences including, sophisticated culinary options at six gourmet restaurants, rejuvenating treatments and services at The Spa -- Cancun's only ocean view spa -- wine and spirits tastings, enhanced pool and beach butler service and more.
Where to Eat in Cancun
Lorenzillo’s is a popular steak house. Price tag is high but the quality meets the price. Located in the hotel zone, Kukulan Km 14.5
The Club Grill is located on the grounds of the Ritz Carlton. Nice ambiance, good menu, and moderate to upper prices offers you many options.
Flamingo's Seafood Kitchen is located on the beach and has a scenic view and outdoor seating. Comfortable ambiance, reasonable prices. It's open for lunch and dinner and has an active bar scene. It offers Mexican, Caribbean, Latin, Seafood, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Kids welcome.
There is one recurring note to Mexican cuisine: it’s absolutely delicious, whether you’re noshing on tacos de carnitas from a street vendor or enjoying alta comida mexicana in a posh Mexico City restaurant. Don’t take our word for it; the national cuisine has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Typical dishes vary widely from region to region, and midsize towns and big cities always have plenty of options for vegetarian and “international food."
Tequila, mezcal, and pulque may be the country’s famous agave-based drinks, but for a nonalcoholic treat, try a fresh juice, a licuado (a type of smoothie), or an agua fresca (a cold drink made from fruit and water). One fun twist on a cerveza is the refreshing michelada: a frozen-cold mug filled with beer, ice, and lime juice, then rimmed with salt and chili powder. Essential culinary experiences include tacos al pastor, huitlacoche, ceviche, local markets, and mole.
Visiting Rivera Mayan
Close to the Cancun airport. Nice beaches, resorts are all-inclusive. Like Cancun, it's a developed are with English spoken throughout.
What to Do When Visiting River Mayan
Nearby activities include snorkeling, Excarat (nature/adventure park), swimming with dolphins, kayaking, windsurfing.
Where to Stay in Rivera Mayan
We recommend the family-friendly Azul Beach Resort. It's fully equipped with children’s needs at no charge. Numerous children activities occur daily. Also, Vidanta offers affordable luxury plus golf, spa, gym, tennis. The staff is knowledgeable and accommodating. This property is located about 20 minutes from Cancun Airport. Please be aware that the majority of resorts are all inclusive outside the hotel center.
Visiting Oaxaca's Handicraft Villages
Oaxaca is a 1 hour 40 min flight from Cancun or 1 hour 43 min from Puerto Vallarta. If you are a serious shopper in search of one of kind items, it is worth the flight. We do not recommend driving from either city. The journey is tedious and long.
Visiting Puerto Escondido
Mexican surf town on Oaxaca's Pacific Coast.
Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido
Hotel Escondido is a stylish hideaway on a stretch of pristine beach. An open-air dining palapa is set between an infinity and the ocean. Their thatched roof palapa suites are low-profile and unobtrusive. Each villa has its own plunge pool with sandy trails leading to the beach.
Casa Sol Zipolite Beachside guesthouses. Owned by Mexico City’s cult B&B, The Red Tree House. Reasonable rates.
Where to Eat in Puerto Escondido
Espadin is Puerto Escondido’s best dining experience.
La Empanada is in Mazunte. A casual cafe serving thin crust pizzas, enchiladas, and light bites.
Chacahua Lagoon area has the restaurant Flor de Dalia. Another palapa-style dining experience serving home style cooking. It is located on the main highway through the town of Zapotalito.
Where to Shop in Puerto Escondido: Zapotec Weaving Village
Teotitlan del Valle is world-renowned for its production of high quality woven goods. The weaving tradition in this village dates back to ancient times, when they paid tribute to the Aztecs in weavings, although at that time they wove mostly cotton and used the backstrap loom. On a visit to Teotitlan you can visit a family of weavers and they will show you the whole process of how the rugs are made from spinning the wool to dyeing it (using natural colors such as the cochineal and indigo) and weaving the rugs. Designs range from traditional geometric patterns to more modern designs such as reproductions of the work of contemporary artists.
Backstrap Loom Weavers: The weavers in Teotitlan del Valle may be more renowned, but the backstrap loom weavers of Santo Tomás Jalieza are practicing the art in a way that dates back to very ancient times. The local market is set up in the main square and every day you can see weavers at work and browse the products of their labor, but Fridays are particularly busy. They sell belts, handbags, change purses, table runners and place mats at reasonable prices. This small community is located 15 miles south of Oaxaca city and can easily be combined with a day trip to Ocotlan.
Whimsical Clay Figurines: The Aguilars are a family of folk artists who live in Ocotlan, a town about 20 miles south of Oaxaca city. There are four sisters; living in a row of houses at the entrance to the town. They all make similar pieces, though each brings her own particular style to her work. Their pieces reflect the colorful rural life in Oaxaca and depict market women, Frida Kahlo replicas, religious symbols and nativity scenes, as well as cantinas and "women of the night." Although their work can sometimes be purchased outside of Oaxaca,. Calle Hidalgo 2, Centro, 71510 Ocotlán de Morelos, Oax., Mexico
Leave your cocktail attire in your suitcase. A beach and yoga kit is all that is needed here. Artist, yoga retreat. Two hours from Cancun airport, easy access on interstate 307. Pristine beaches, boutique hotels, wellness retreats, vegan options, artisan vibe throughout. Discovered by all seasoned travelers, the options and prices reflect the demand. Bikes are the go to means of transportation and usually are included with your stay.
Where to Stay in Tulum
Mi Amor Colibri Boutique Hotel is located on the beach and is surrounded by pools of water. The rooms are spacious, clean and most offers beautiful views of garden, pool or beach. The hotel is set back from the beach but within easy walking distance. One of the best restaurants in Tulum is on premise. Spa, sundecks lounge areas are inviting.
Sanara is located on the beach. Buildings are two story, simple and with an uncluttered vibe, spaced between sand and mangrove trees. Upper units have ocean views. Villas, honeymoon packages are available. Guests have full use of beach beds, lunch and cocktail service. One of the best yoga studios is on the grounds, offering a variety of classes overlooking the ocean. Don’t miss the Mermaid Experience, which is a unique swimming experience conducted in the crystal clear water, connecting you with nature and the mystical Mexican cenotes. Traditional classes and workshops are available. Habitats Tulum is directly across from Playa Paradiso. Units are set within a garden environment and the pool offers an oasis for couples. Courtyard rooms are set back into the garden and provide an intimate environment. Balcony rooms are available. Restaurant is on premise.
La Valise Tulum is considered one of the top boutique hotels in the area. Service and accommodations are five star. View rooms of the beach and pool are available. Free bicycles are on premise for hotel guests. Thatched roofs, open air verandas, and spa are a few of the amenities. Hammocks are everywhere and the setting invites you to kick back and enjoy. Great location.
Where to Shop in Tulum
Boutique shopping with one-of-kind items from Central America and South America. Seasoned shoppers may find a bargain or two with effort.
MexicArte carries traditional gifts, curios, and local fashions. Prices are reasonable and many items are handmade. On our 2018 trip, we visited three shops; Tulum Beach across from La Zebra, Tulum Town across from HSBC, and Akumal Beach next to the arch. Mixing is a fun trinket shop that offers a variety of artisan trinkets. Original art work, Mexican figurines, jewelry, wreaths, mirrors and table linens are just a few of the items available. Prices are reasonable. Located on Avenida Tulum.
Where to Eat in Tulum
Dining options include casual open-air farm-to-table restaurants, gourmet tasting menus, casual beachfront dining in abundance.
Real Coconut Restaurant, located on the beach within the resort Sanara, is a great break from sun, surf and yoga. They use fresh locally grown ingredients. offering up unusual tastes that are healthy. Moderately priced. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Restaurant Mi Amor is adults-only offering Italian, French, Contemporary cuisine. Food is consistently good and the environment is perfect for an intimate dinner. Restaurant is located on the grounds of Mi Amor Colibri Boutique Hotel.
Oscar and Lalo is a staple in the Tulum area. It's known for their fresh seafood, and the seafood lobster plate is a must. The environment is open-air, laid-back and social. You will find some of the best fruit cocktails in the region. It's on the pricey side, but well worth it.
Ziggy’s is a must for a casual night of dining and drinking. It is the traditional watering hole for locals and tourists. Reasonably priced with an energetic clientele.
Ferries are available at the southern tip of Tulum running to Cozumel and Islamabad Muerjes.