8 Reasons Why You Should Go To Mexico
Featured destinations: Mexico, Mexico City
Published 31 January 2017
Mexico has been top of my travel wish list for as long as I can remember. Those golden sandy beaches, sparkling cenotes and magnificent ruins have been calling me for years, but for one reason or another, I have never quite made it. So when I was asked where I wanted to travel to last year, I was determined not to put off a Mexican adventure any longer. I spent 10 days exploring and I loved it so much, I am already planning a return trip. Here are eight reasons why you simply have to include Mexico on your bucket list:
Nachos image: Tessa Watkins
The food is incredible
I am a huge fan of Mexican cuisine. Tacos and fajitas form a large part of my staple diet and I would happily eat nachos every day if I could; so it goes without saying that I was pretty excited at the prospect of enchiladas on tap. And I was not disappointed. In both Riviera Maya and Cancun, I was treated to plate after plate of sumptuous food. Crunchy nachos dripping in cheese, sizzling chicken and beef fajitas, crispy tacos oozing with sour cream and guacamole – I enjoyed all of this and more. The best thing I ate? A fish tostada served in a traditional family-run restaurant on Isla Mujeres. Sometimes the simplest of dishes are the tastiest.
Swim with whale sharks
Swimming alongside the largest fish in the sea is an experience I was desperate to tick off my bucket list. Unfortunately, our visit in November meant we were off-season and I’ll have to wait until next time, but friends have regaled me with tales of what a once-in-a-lifetime experience it is. The sharks arrive to feed and mate from July to September, and August is the peak month to see them. Growing to lengths of more than 12 metres, they are seriously impressive up close, and swimming with them in the crystal waters of Isla Holbox is something I am determined to achieve on my next trip.
Experience the monarch butterfly migration
One of nature’s great spectacles, every year between 60 million and one billion Monarch butterflies make their way from eastern Canada to the forests of western central Mexico – a journey spanning more than 2,500 miles. Arriving in Mexico in October, the colourful creatures set up home in the tops of the trees high in the mountains, before the mating season during February and March. This is the best time to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán. Wander through the sanctuaries and you will see trees and leaves completely blanketed in beautiful hues of orange and black.
Tess at Chichen Itza image: Tessa Watkins
Explore Ancient ruins
It goes without saying that a visit to Mexico would not be complete without exploring the many ancient ruins the country is famed for. As well as Chichen Itza – one of the seven new world wonders – you can also take in Teotihuacan, the UNESCO-world heritage site of Campeche and Tulum. It may not feel like it when you’re hauling yourself up at 4am, but it really is worth booking an early morning tour of Chichen Itza. We arrived at 8am, refreshed after a three-hour sleep on the coach journey from Cancun, and had the entire site to ourselves for half an hour. What’s more, we were able to explore before the searing midday heat became too much.
Swim in a cenote
One of the things I was most looking forward to about my Mexican adventure was diving into a cenote and enjoying a refreshing swim. After a morning spent exploring the Mayan ruins, there was nothing more appealing than a splash about in a groundwater pool. Formed as a result of limestone bedrock collapsing and exposing the groundwater underneath, you will find almost 7,000 cenotes across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. We spent a happy hour floating around our secret swimming hole and I would have stayed there all afternoon if I could.
Dive off Cozumel
A jewel in the Caribbean Sea, Cozumel was a sleepy fishing community until 1961, when explorer Jacques Cousteau declared it one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas he had ever seen. Today, it is one of the most popular diving destinations in the world, home to a year-round sunny climate, golden sandy beaches and spectacular coral reefs. I highly recommend spending a day here. Plus, if you prefer staying on dry land, there are plenty of boat tours to choose from. One of my favourite holiday memories is cruising over the glittering waters at sunset while feasting on fresh lobster and sipping my favourite cocktail. Decadent, but unforgettable.
Drive a golf buggy around Isla Mujeres
We’d spent a few days swimming and relaxing on the beaches of Cancun when we decided we were ready for a day trip. Isla Mujeres was perfect for us; what could be better than exploring an island on your own terms and at your own pace? Around 13 kilometres off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is best experienced by golf buggy. You can hire these all over the island, and drive yourself around the many sites the island has to offer. From a sea turtle sanctuary to the remains of a Mayan temple and a mesmerising beach, there is so much to see here. We parked up and wandered around the local shops and markets, before stopping at a tiny restaurant overlooking the ocean. It was here that I tasted some of the best tacos I have ever eaten (as mentioned earlier), washed down with a flavour-packed margarita. A mariachi band even serenaded us as we ate!
Watch sea turtles hatch
Thousands of sea turtles come ashore in Mexico every year to lay their eggs, and the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the best places to experience this. Head for Akumal Bay, X’Cacel Beach and Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve between July and October to witness the turtles hatch, and you can even help expert guides release them back into the ocean. Sadly, our visit fell out of turtle season – just another reason why I simply have to return.
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