7 Reasons to Visit Mexico in the Fall

Sunrise in Tangolunda Bay in Huatulco, Mexico.When you think “Mexico” and “vacation,” you may also think “winter” or even “Spring break.” After all, the last two are the most popular times to enjoy the sun and fun south of the border.

But Fall is a fantastic time to enjoy Mexico, for a number of reasons.

1. No crowds

If you’ve visited Mexico only at the popular times, you’ve seen crowds, especially in the beach resorts. Well, welcome to the Fall. Crowds have disappeared, leaving beautiful beaches, honey-colored sand, and warm, warm sun. It can be an idyllic vacation for you and your family.

2. Plenty of opportunities to use beach and ocean equipment

If you like to use the resort equipment, such as kayaks or paragliders, there’s often a waiting list for them in the high season. In the Fall? They’re yours for the asking.

3. Deals, deals, deals on vacation costs

If you’re on a budget or just like a deal, autumn is a great time to travel to Mexico. Prices for hotels and airfare can be steeply discounted. You can get a vacation to remember for an unbeatable price.

4. Deals, deals, deals on shopping

For many people, shopping is a vacation activity ranking up there with lazing on the beach. Jewelry, clothing, and decorative textiles are coveted shopping items in Mexico. In the Fall, their prices are likely to be lower than at peak vacation times. Plus, shop owners are very willing to negotiate. The lower number of tourists in the Fall translate to the lower number of sales for them, so they are quite willing to prompt a sale by giving a lower price.

5. Attentive service

You won’t have to compete with tons of other vacationers for the attention of your server, hotel staff, vacation area staff, or shop owners.

6. Good weather

Fall is in the end of the rainy season, so you won’t be dealing with tons of rain. It is hot in Mexico during the autumn, but can grow cool in higher elevations. There is a risk of hurricanes toward eastern Mexico, as the hurricane season ends in November. Be sure to check weather averages for your area and pack accordingly.

7. Festivals

Many Mexican festivals take place in the Fall, so if you’re looking for cultural riches in addition to warm and scenic beaches, it’s one of the best times to go. One of the most famous Mexican holidays, Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos), happens over several days in late October to early November. On Dia de Muertos, Mexicans celebrate loved ones who have died with processionals, celebration, and decoration.

Another popular seasonal holiday is Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16. Independence is celebrated with parades, festivals, and food.

These seven reasons add up to plenty of great excuses to visit Mexico now before winter comes and the crowds become huge again.

More info on vacationing in Mexico in the Fall:

  1. Trip Savvy, Fall Travel in Mexico, https://www.tripsavvy.com/fall-travel-in-mexico-1589152
  2. Traveling Mom, Mexico in the Fall: Pros and Cons, https://www.travelingmom.com/destinations-international/mexico-in-the-fall-pros-a-cons/
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3 Best Cycling Routes in Mexico

Mountain biking rider with bike looking at inspiring sea and mountains landscape. Man cycling MTB on enduro rocky trail path at sea side. Summer sport, training fitness motivation and inspiration.At some point, most serious cyclists start dreaming of hitting the trails in Mexico. Much of the highways in Mexico aren’t necessarily ideal for cycling—very narrow shoulders—but most cyclists flock to Mexico for the backcountry views anyway. If you plan to hit the trails with a mountain bike, be sure to bring extra tubes and a well-stocked repair kit.

Punta Venado Mountain Bike Park

Mountain bike enthusiasts can’t leave Mexico without a visit to the Punta Venado Mountain Bike Park, which is located in Riviera Maya. It’s a relatively recent recreational endeavor, with miles of well-maintained trails for novice, intermediate, and advanced cyclists. At the end of 2014, the bike park reported having 16 miles of trails through jungle, and along mangroves, cenotes, and of course, the beach. Try not to bike too fast, as you might miss the wildlife. Bring a durable camera and get some shots of the spider monkeys.

The bike park is just a quick drive away from Cancun. If you’re coming from Cozumel, take the ferry. In addition to riding the well-groomed trails, this eco-adventure destination features plenty to do for those who love snorkeling, horseback riding, kite-surfing, and more.

Peto to Piste in the Yucatan

The Yucatan is a much-beloved destination of serious cyclists. The route from Peto to Piste is 96 kilometers. It’s a fairly easy route with predominantly flat terrain that passes through sleepy towns, some of which operate on the Mayan language, not Spanish. The route from Peto to Piste is a great choice for beginner to intermediate cyclists who are interested in experiencing Mayan culture first-hand.

Merida to Chichen Itza in the Yucatan

The colonial capital of Merida is about a four hour drive from Cancun. Arrange transportation for you and your bike to this drop-off point, but don’t get started cycling right away. Take some time to tour the market—a must-see for every new visitor. Then, head out on paved roads and enjoy views of the jungle as you head toward Izamal. It’s known as the Yellow City. As you might expect, the buildings are all painted a cheerful shade of yellow. Take a rest here and check out the Mayan pyramid of Kinich Kak Moo.

Continue on through the jungle and small villages until you reach Chichen Itza. This revered pyramid is far more heavily visited than Kinich Kak Moo. You could end your trek here, or, if you’re interested in extending your stay, continue on to the Mayan village of Uayma. It’s not far from the Cenote Samula, a sinkhole with a natural underground pool. Celebrate your journey with a swim to cool off.

Whether you’re interested in a cycling day trip or you plan a long-haul trek across Mexico’s beautiful countryside, you can find the accommodations you need with Sea Side Reservations. We are an industry leader in arranging safe, fully vetted accommodations for visitors throughout Mexico. Just let us know your check in and check out dates, and your destination(s), and let our travel experts handle the rest.

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Is Mexico’s Iconic Cactus the Secret to Combating Climate Change?

Close-up of Opuntia ficus-indica is a species of cactus. Tenerife, Canary Islands. SpainFew plants are as versatile as the prickly pear cactus, known as nopal in Spanish. Its delicious fruits are roasted, grilled, broiled, eaten raw, pureed, and juiced, and it’s the starring ingredient in a range of consumer products—from shampoo to medications. The humble cactus was revered by the ancient Aztecs—there’s even a cacti legend associated with the ruins of Tenochtitlan (a must-see sight for any visitor to Mexico City). But recently, it was discovered that the prickly pear cactus might have yet another use—a renewable energy source of the future.

Turning green cacti into green energy

On the south side of Mexico City, a neighborhood called Milpa Alta features an impressive expanse of 7,000 acres of prickly pear cactus, not far from a dormant volcano called Teuhtli. The land has been farmed for more than 20 years. Each year, it produces about 200,000 tons of cacti, and about 10 tons of that is waste. Every morning, workers who arrive at the busy cactus market spend some time cleaning up the waste left there the previous day.

Energy and Environmental Sustainability, known locally as Suema, is a green energy startup that got the bright idea to invent a biogas generator capable of turning cactus waste into renewable energy. The generator processes the waste with the addition of a bacterial blend. The mix is heated to 131 degrees Fahrenheit, and biogas is the result.

Cactus farmers and vendors have eagerly embraced the concept. The generator will soon be capable of producing 45,000 gallons of biogas each day. The Mexico City government hopes to expand the project to house a generator at each of the area’s 300-plus cactus markets.

Legends of Tenochtitlan

The prickly pear cactus has been vital to the way of life for Mexico’s communities, from the ancient Aztecs to today. Legend has it that the first prickly pear cactus sprang from the heart of Copil, who was the son of the moon, Malinalxochitl. Copil attempted to kill his uncle, the sun, called Huitzilopochtli. The sun triumphed over Copil, and took out his nephew’s heart and buried it. The next day, the heart grew the first cactus. The thorns are symbolic of Copil’s warrior spirit, and the beautiful red flowers are reflective of Copil’s love for his mother, whom he had been defending when he attacked his uncle.

Today, visitors to Mexico flock to the ancient ruins at Tenochtitlan. Archaeologists have dated this thriving Aztec city to between 1325 and 1521 A.D. Hundreds of thousands of people lived there, surviving thanks to the advanced system of canals and causeways. The city was destroyed by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in 1521, and it now rests beneath modern-day Mexico City.

Visitors to Mexico City should stop by the National Museum of Anthropology, which houses the famed Aztec sun stone, before heading over to the Templo Mayor, which is a massive Aztec site. Most recently, in the summer of 2017, archaeologists have discovered a major Aztec temple in downtown Mexico City. You can see the excavation project just behind the Roman Catholic cathedral.

Book your next trip to Mexico City with Sea Side Reservations. We connect travelers to reputable and luxurious accommodations throughout the country.

More info on the prickly pear cactus:

  1. Mexico’s prickly pear cactus: energy source of the future? https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/sci-tech/2017-08-17-mexicos-prickly-pear-cactus-energy-source-of-the-future/
  2. Prickly Pear Cactus, https://www.desertusa.com/cactus/prickly-pear-cactus.html
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Top 5 Things to Do in La Paz

Young Woman Scuba Dives on a Coral ReefThere are dozens of stunning beach destinations in Mexico, but few that promise the natural beauty and provincial charms of La Paz. Boasting a privileged location on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, this cosmopolitan city lures travelers with a perpetual Spring-like climate and an endless array of eco-tourism activities.

If you want to experience the best that Mexico has to offer, without the hustle and bustle of tourist crowds, La Paz offers the perfect backdrop for adventure, romance and cultural exploration. If La Paz is on your Bucket List, be sure to check out our top 5 things to do in this colorful city! 

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving at Espíritu Santo

La Paz sits between the Gulf of California and the Sea of Cortez, making it a word-class destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Explore surreal underwater seascapes at more than 25 diving spots flanking La Paz Bay, where you’ll have opportunities to swim alongside sea lions, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, endangered sea turtles and other marine life. Tour operators feature half and full-day snorkeling or diving excursions to Espíritu Santo and other islands that include a professional guide, boxed lunch, gear, beverages and a relaxing catamaran tour.

A stroll down El Malecon

El Malecon is one of the most popular attractions in La Paz for good reason. This lively oceanfront boardwalk, built in 2004, is a great place to grab a drink or a meal, pick up souvenirs, enjoy the sunset, or do some people watching. This breezy promenade stretches more than five kilometers along the beach and is brimming with bars, restaurants and shops.

Desert Horseback Ride

About 30 minutes north of La Paz, you’ll find an authentic ranch that offers horseback tours through the surrounding desert. These spirited excursions take guests through cacti-laden landscapes down to small fishing hamlets on the sea, where you’re free to let loose and gallop on the soft sands.

Angling for Big Game Fish

Are you ready for the fishing adventure of a lifetime? La Paz sportfishing is legendary, and the variety of big game fish is astounding. Whether you’re a beginner or veteran angler, local charters will hook you up with some hard-fighting fish. Most of the action happens close to shore in the Sea of Cortez, where the waters are so clear, you can actually see schools of tuna, dorado and sailfish. Local operators will tailor a fishing package that suits your timeline and interests, whether you want to try spear fishing, fly fishing or trolling the open waters.

Experience amazing cuisine

The cuisine in La Paz goes far beyond fresh seafood and chocolate clams. The restaurant scene is eclectic, thanks to a large international expat population. In La Paz, you can sample just about every style of fare imaginable, from Swiss, Italian and French to Japanese. Of course, there are plenty of trendy cafes and eateries that serve up traditional Mexican food, including octopus ceviche with cilantro and lime and grilled tampiquena arrechera (flank steak). 

More Resources for Things to Do in La Paz:

  1. CrazySexyFunTraveler, 6 Things to do in La Paz Baja California Sur https://www.crazysexyfuntraveler.com/things-to-do-in-la-paz-baja-california-sur/
  2. Panterra Expeditions, Espiritu Santo Island Tour http://panterra.com/espiritu-santo-island-tour/
  3. Ze Wandering Frogs, Top 10 Things to Do in La Paz Mexico http://www.zewanderingfrogs.com/top-10-things-to-do-in-la-paz-mexico/
Posted in Mexico Travel | 1 Comment »

Mexico Native Dolores del Rio Honored by Google

Durango city at night with Urkiola mountainsMexico is a top destination for people looking for world-class entertainment. The country has a long, rich history of producing notable stars in entertainment, including Ricardo Montalban, Carlos Santana, and Dolores del Rio. In fact, Dolores del Rio was widely regarded as being the first Latino woman to make it in Hollywood. Google Doodle honored her recently by showcasing an illustration of del Rio surrounded by flowers on Google’s homepage. If you’re a film buff, consider visiting del Rio’s birthplace during your visit to Mexico. Durango City is impressive any time of the year, but consider planning your trip during mid-to late-July to early August for the annual festival, and be sure to check out other exciting festivals happening around the country.

Explore Dolores del Rio’s birthplace: Durango City

Durango City, also known as Victoria de Durango and Ciudad de Durango, is the capital of the Mexican state of Durango. This historic city of about half a million people was founded in 1563 by explorer Francisco de Ibarra. It’s a beautiful area to stroll through, with historic architecture that speaks to the city’s Barcelona, Florence, Madrid, and Paris influences. The richly styled Catedral Basilica de Durango (cathedral), which dates back to 1695, is widely considered to be among the most impressive architectural wonders in northern Mexico.

National Festival of Durango

Each summer, Durango City’s population swells to about 1.5 million, as visitors flock here for the renowned Feria Nacional de Durango (National Festival of Durango). This month-long event has been held here every year since 1929, which means it’s extremely likely that Dolores del Rio would have enjoyed the festivities. The schedule of events is subject to change each year, but generally includes music concerts, equestrian events, and other cultural attractions.

Mexican Film Festival

Earlier in the summer, from late June to the beginning of July, Durango City holds its annual Mexican Film Festival. Shorts, documentaries, and feature-length films compete for top honors. There’s also a category exclusively for short films produced within the state of Durango, called “Made in Durango.”

Popular events in the surrounding areas

Anxious for more exciting festival options? Take a short, three-hour trip from Durango and head south to Zacatecas in central Mexico. Zacatecas is an enchanting, historic town with roots as a 16th century silver mining town. It’s also famed for its lovely pink quarry stone, and it’s been designated as a World Heritage Site.

If you visit in April, check out the Festival Cultural de Zacatecas. It’s an exuberant celebration of Mexico’s cultural heritage, featuring music, dance, films, art exhibits, theatrical performances, and much more. If you visit in August, you can attend the international folklore festival—the Festival Zacatecas del Folclor Internacional, which features traditional dance, cuisine, and crafts from various states in Mexico and countries around the world.

Plan your trip with Sea Side Reservations

Sea Side Reservations invites Mexican culture aficionados, festival enthusiasts, and sun lovers alike to plan the trip of a lifetime with our luxury accommodation services. We connect vacationers to top resorts, hotels, and villa rentals around the country, and our onsite property managers are always available to support the comfort and safety of our guests.

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Archaeological Mysteries at the Ruins of Teotihuacan

Pyramids of the Sun and Moon on the Avenue of the Dead, Teotihuacan ancient historic cultural city, old ruins of Aztec civilization, Mexico, North America, world travelTorrential rains saturated the grounds at Teotihuacan (pronounce it tay-oh-tee-wah-KAHN) on an autumn day in 2003. The pre-Aztec ruins, located just 30 miles from Mexico City, became so waterlogged that a gapping sinkhole opened up at the dig site at the base of the Temple of the Plumed Serpent—a large pyramid at the southeast sector of Teotihuacan. Sergio Gomez, the archaeologist who discovered the mess, later recalled thinking, “How exactly are we going to fix this?” After lowering himself down into the hole via rope, Gomez realized that the “mess” he’d been fretting over was actually one of the most significant discoveries at Teotihuacan. The painstaking explorations that would follow yielded a few puzzles that have yet to be solved—namely, the existence of liquid mercury and the formation of hundreds of mysterious yellow orbs.

Why liquid mercury is significant

Gomez and his team of archaeologists found traces of liquid mercury in the main tunnel underneath the Temple of the Plumed Serpent. The odds are strongly against that being a natural phenomenon. In nature, mercury exists in cinnabar rock, aka mercury ore. The mercury has to be extracted from the rock and purified to eliminate the sulfur. The easiest way to accomplish this is to heat the cinnabar to 674 degrees Fahrenheit—the boiling point of mercury—and collect the mercury vapors. The vapors are then condensed and what’s left is liquid mercury.

This is significant because in nature, mercury exists primarily in the cinnabar rock, and rarely as a native metal. This means the ancient civilization who built Teotihuacan had to have gone through the laborious process of creating liquid mercury. Archaeologists have theorized that the mercury served some symbolic or ritualistic purpose, but it’s likely that we’ll never know for sure exactly why the ancients made it and kept it under a temple.

What purpose could the orbs have had?

The hundreds of small, metallic orbs—which researchers have named “disco balls”—have been equally puzzling. In an unusual turn of events worthy of an Indiana Jones movie, the archaeologists working under the temple used two robotic probes to poke around some of the rooms. These probes found the orbs, which range from four to 12 centimeters in diameter. Researchers found the orbs were made from clay, and then were covered with pyrite, or fool’s gold. Over the millennia, the pyrite oxidized and became jarosite—a crusty amber mineral. It’s been suggested that the orbs served some sort of religious or ritualistic purpose, but this is only speculation.

Sheets of mica

Teotihuacan is puzzling for another reason. On top of the Pyramid of the Sun, researchers found a thick sheet of mica. Mica was also present on the floors of subterranean chambers at that pyramid. No other archaeological sites in the country or, for that matter, the continent, are known to have been built with mica. What makes this feature curious is that the mica appears to have originated in Brazil. How it found its way to present-day Mexico City and why it was used are questions that may never be answered.

Experience the mystery of the ancient past for yourself. Sea Side Reservations makes it easy to book comfortable, safe accommodations throughout Mexico. Since 2001, we’ve been rated #1 for owner and guest satisfaction. Our professional property managers validate all properties with our certified 5 star rating system. Get started planning your next adventure today!

More on the mysteries of Teotihuacan:

  1. Smithsonian, A Secret Tunnel Found in Mexico May Finally Solve the Mysteries of Teotihuacán, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/discovery-secret-tunnel-mexico-solve-mysteries-teotihuacan-180959070/
  2. Archaeology, Mythological Mercury Pool, http://www.archaeology.org/issues/200-1601/features/3958-mexico-teotihuacan-mercury
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Top 5 Things to Do in San Carlos, Mexico

LIZARD ROCK IN SAN CARLOSWith its stunning desert-meets-sea landscape, San Carlos is a haven for vacationers who want to immerse themselves in one of Mexico’s most beautiful resort towns. San Carlos is brimming with dozens of natural attractions, and is renowned for its magnificent snorkeling, diving and whale watching opportunities.

If you are planning a San Carlos vacation, be sure to add these excursions to your itinerary!

Spend a day at Playa Algodones

Famed for its soft, powdery white sands and rolling dunes that set the backdrop in the film Catch 22, Playa Algodones is aptly named (Algodon is Spanish for ‘cotton’). This quiet stretch of coastline is one of northern Mexico’s most striking beaches, and is the perfect place to enjoy a wide range of water sports. Windsurfing, snorkeling and fishing are popular activities along this pristine cove that boasts turquoise waters. Intrepid travelers can even camp along certain parts of the beach, but there are numerous resorts and hotels for those yearning for a bit more comfort and luxury.

Hike Cerro Tetawaki

Feeling up for some adventure? Grab your camera, your hiking boots and a full canteen of water for a strenuous yet rewarding hike up Mount Tetawaki. There are two well-manicured trails up each side of the peak, which offers a mirador with spectacular 360-degree views of the bay and surrounding countryside. The climb is quite steep in parts, so go prepared to sweat. Most visitors can summit Mt. Tetawaki in just over an hour and rave about the incredible vistas!

Zip-lining in Nacapule Canyon

Situated just outside of San Carlos, Nacapule Canyon is a great destination for families who want to hike, go rock climbing, or get a bird’s eye view of the tropical desert landscape. Experienced tour operators offer several different zip-line canopy tours (appropriate for all ages), as well as rappelling along the rugged rock formations. 

Fishing with the kids

Fishing is excellent year-round in San Carlos, where the waters are rife with marlin, sailfish, tuna and mahi mahi. If you’re itching to reel in the big one, book a sportfishing charter for the day.  If you have small children in tow and just want to have some fun, you can enjoy some bottom fishing off the marina docks or in front of Fiesta Hotel. Common catches include croaker, red snapper and bass.

Horseback riding at El Rancho Del Desierto

Take in the Sonoran Desert beauty on a guided horseback ride geared to all ages and levels. There are several guided trail rides to choose from that meander along backcountry roads, by lapping waves or include both desert and beach. Horses are well-trained and riders are matched to steed according to skill level. Wear long pants and bring your sense of adventure!

Additional San Carlos Resources:

  1. Zona Turistica, Playa Los Algodones https://www.zonaturistica.com/atractivo-turistico/1758/playa-los-algodones-bahia-de-san-carlos.html
  2. What’s Up San Carlos, Tetawaki http://www.whatsupsancarlos.com/tetakawi/
  3. Trip Advisor, Nacapule Canyon https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g151933-d3358176-Reviews-Nacapule_Canyon-San_Carlos_Northern_Mexico.html
  4. San Carlos Mexico Guide, Fun for Kids http://www.sancarlosmexicoguide.com/funforkids.html
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Mexico’s Famous Soccer Stadiums

mexico soccer futbol fansFor most Mexicans, futbol (soccer in the U.S.) is a way of life. Indeed, soccer is the veritable king of sports south of the border, where passionate fans flock to support their favorite leagues, whether playing in a qualifying match or a friendly. Either way, expect lots of heated cheering, jeering and rapid-fire commentary if you’re lucky enough to be in the stands.

You don’t have to be a die-hard sports fan to appreciate the athletic prowess (and crazed fervor) on display during a soccer match, and there are plenty of impressive stadiums to catch the action. For the uninitiated, the Mexican football league system has four divisions and dozens of clubs, including the ever-popular Club America, Chivas, Cruz Azul and Pachuco.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the best (and biggest) places to see a soccer game in Mexico:

Estadio Azteca

Located in Mexico City. This legendary stadium is home to Club America and the Mexican national team is the first stadium in history to host two FIFA finals. With a seating capacity of more than 100,000, Estadio Azteca is one of the world’s 18 largest stadiums.

Estadio Olimpico Universitario

Famously hosted the 1968 Summer Olympics in addition to several FIFA World Cup games. Olimpico Universitario is the place to watch Pumas de la UNAM and is located about 8 miles from the historic center of Mexico City.

Estadio Jalisco

Seats 54,963 spectators making this the country’s third largest stadium. It is the home stadium for fan favorites Liga MX, Club Atlas, and Ascenso MX.  

Estadio Chivas

Seats nearly 50,000 and is Mexico’s fourth largest stadium. Located in Zapopan, Jalisco, this massive venue is mostly used for home matches for Club Chivas, which boasts dozens of top players and 12 championships.

If you are interested in taking in some local sporting culture during your holidays, here are some helpful tips to know:

  • Tickets sell out fast for big games, plan ahead!
  • Leave extra time to arrive to account for traffic delays
  • Belts, water bottles, lighters and aerosols are not permitted inside
  • Keep some pesos handy for purchasing snacks and beverages
  • Be prepared for some strong language
  • Even if you’re not a soccer fan, enjoy the atmosphere and people!

Additional Mexican Futbol Resources:

  1. TheTopTen, Top Ten Best Mexican Soccer Teams, https://www.thetoptens.com/best-mexican-soccer-teams/
  2. The Stadium Guide, Mexico City Football Guide http://www.stadiumguide.com/city-guides/mexico-city-football-guide/
  3. Northern Lauren, A NON-FOOTBALL FAN’S GUIDE TO WATCHING SOCCER IN MEXICO http://northernlauren.com/guide-to-watching-soccer-mexico/
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Explore Coral Reefs in Mexico

Sergeant Major fishes in caribbean reef Mexico Mayan RivieraCoral reefs are some of the most astounding natural features on Earth. Healthy reefs are teaming with activity, with all sorts of fish and marine life going about their business. But the coral itself is also alive. Corals look like pretty rocks and they act like plants, since they’re attached to the ocean floor, but they’re actually animals. Each coral branch contains thousands of small invertebrates called polyps, and these tiny creatures thrive in warm, tropical waters. Mexico is a favorite destination for snorkelers, divers, and coral reef enthusiasts because it offers the perfect environment for coral to flourish. When you book your next trip to Mexico, consider including some of these top diving spots in your itinerary.

Mesoamerican Reef

Also called the Great Mayan Reef, this is the second largest reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The Great Mayan Reef extends for longer than 600 miles from Quintana Roo to Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize. Researchers have documented 65 types of coral, and five hundred species of fish and crustaceans. Some of the best areas to take in the beauty of the Great Mayan Reef are in Cancun, Xcalak, Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, Puerto Aventuras, and Punta Maroma.

Tormentos Reef

Also in Cozumel, the Tormentos Reef is an ideal destination for divers who have attained at least an intermediate level. This is because there are some strong currents in this area. The depths range from about 50 to 70 feet. The Tormentos Reef is known for its plethora of brain and whip corals, along with an incredible diversity of sea life, including seahorses, angelfish, groupers, eels, triggerfish, and grunts.

Chunzumbul Reef

Visit the Playa del Carmen dive site to take in the natural wonders of the Chunzumbul Reef. Playa del Carmen is located in the Riviera Maya area in the state of Quintana Roo. Thanks to the relatively shallow water, snorkelers can enjoy the beauty of the reef, and it’s an ideal spot for beginning divers. The reef features a stunning coral cavern and vibrant schools of fish. Look for sea turtles, lovely lavender sea fans, rays, moray eels, and barracuda.

Playa del Carmen is a great choice for other reasons. It’s conveniently close to the international airport in Cancun, and it’s now considered one of the trendiest cities in Mexico. Here, you’ll find high-quality accommodations, along with plenty of shopping, fine dining, and nightlife destinations for when you’re not in the water.

Cerebros Reef

If you do visit Playa del Carmen, check out Cerebros Reef in addition to Chunzumbul. Cerebros has depths ranging from 20 to 50 feet, making it perfect for beginning divers and snorkelers. This reef’s defining characteristic is its stunning array of brain coral. Shrimp, lobster, scorpion fish, and moray eels are some of the marine denizens that make Cerebros their home.

How to get there

For years, savvy nature lovers have been booking accommodations in Mexico through Sea Side Reservations. The safety and comfort of travelers are our highest priorities, which is why we scour the country to find the best accommodations available. Get in touch with us to discuss accommodations near your favorite diving spots in Mexico.

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5 Mexican Dishes You’ve Never Heard Of

Mexican Cochinita pibil with tortillaFine food is as good a reason to visit the Yucatan Peninsula as any! The culinary delights of this region borrow influence from Mayan, Caribbean, Spanish, African, Middle Eastern, and Mexican cuisines. The corn, chocolate, honey, venison, wild turkey, squash, cucumbers, chiles, and tomatoes you see in many Yucatan dishes are remnants of traditional Mayan cooking. Pork and Seville oranges worked their way into the cuisine much later, when Spanish settlers arrived in the 16th century. Edam and Gouda cheese can be owed to trade with the Dutch in the 19th century.

Some restaurant offerings — like ceviche – are common among other Mexican, Caribbean, and Latin American locales, but seasonings like achiote, a peppery red sauce derived from the tropical annatto plant, and Spanish sour orange are unique to the region, and offer a distinctive flavor profile to Yucatan dishes.

Other common seasonings in Yucatan cooking include: pumpkin seed, xcatic chile pepper, habaneros, sweet chili, red onion, tomato, and oregano. Like any coastal environment, seafood is a big part of the cuisine in Baja Mexico and the surrounding area, but turkey, chicken, and pork are prominent proteins.

While in Mexico, you’ll be treated to a multitude of fresh, locally grown spices, fruits, and vegetables that excite the senses. Maybe you’ll taste guacamole and flan like you’ve never tasted before while visiting the Yucatan Peninsula, but here are five local Mexican dishes you’ve never heard of that will be worth trying.

Pibil (pronounced “PEE-beel)

The Yucatan’s most famous local dish translates to “cooked under ground.” In a land of dense jungle and high humidity, the Ancient Mayans had to figure out preservation methods to preserve the wild game they needed to transport home from the hunt. Their version of barbecue involves a spice rub and pit smoke. Modern cooks marinate chicken (Pollo), pork (Puerco), or a whole suckling pig (Cochinita) in achiote paste, onions, and sour orange juice overnight before wrapping the meat in banana leaves and slow-roasting over charcoal. This dish may be served on rolls or tortillas, accompanied by refried beans and pickled red onion relish.

Papadzules (pronounced papa-TSU-les)

Papadzules are simply described as “small egg tacos” smothered in tomato sauce. You can think of it as the Yucatan’s version of the central Mexican taquito, flauta, or enchilada. To make this dish, chefs concoct a sauce by toasting Mayan xt’op or Spanish pepita gruesa pumpkin seeds, grinding them, and extracting the paste. The paste is then blended with epazote, a sharp herb similar to oregano. A fresh corn tortilla is dipped in this sauce and stuffed with chopped hard-boiled egg. The tortilla is deep-fried and simmered in a tomato and habanero chile sauce.

Queso Relleno (pronounced CAY-so re-LAY-nyo)

Hollowed-out Edam cheese is at the heart of this Mexican dish. In the past, “the boss” was fed the soft part of the cheese and left the hard rinds to the servants. They stuffed these cheese rinds with a near-black mixture of caper olives, raisins, Bell peppers, almonds, hardboiled egg, spices, and ground beef or pork – fried until nearly carmelized. The stuffed rinds were then wrapped in cheesecloth and banana leaves, steamed to a molten consistency, and topped with a red tomato sauce and a white gravy called k’ool.

Sopa de Lima (pronounced SOAP-a day LEE-ma)

Lime soup is a broth-based hot soup made with chicken or turkey stock simmered for hours, and combined with shredded chicken, garlic, onion, tomatoes, dried oregano, and (of course) lots of lime juice. This tasty soup is served with fresh garnishes of scallions, cilantro, habanero chiles, and citrus juice – a side known as xnipek, which translates to “dog’s nose” because it’s so spicy, one’s nose starts to run after one taste! Strips of crunchy fried tortilla are often served on top.

Panuchos (pronounced pan-OO-choss)

In America, hotdogs are the traditional “street meat” food cart fare. In the Yucatan Peninsula, Panuchos are the snack of choice, found in food carts, fast food joints, cantinas, and restaurant appetizer menus alike. Handmade corn tortillas are stuffed with refried back beans and shredded chicken marinated in peppery achiote seed paste and dissolved juice of sour orange. Sometimes you’ll see turkey, fish, or pork in place of the chicken, making it a great way to re-use leftovers. Toppings of choice include: pickled red onions and jalapeno pepper, fresh avocados, chopped plum tomato, and chopped lettuce or cabbage. Salbutes are very similar, except that the tortillas are made of corn and flour, not just corn, and are fried until very crispy.

Want to learn more about visiting the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico? Contact Sea Side Reservations to book your local accommodations and gain insights from experienced travel coordinators who have the inside scoop on the region!

More on Yucatan cuisine:

  1. The Yucatan Times – Top 10 Authentic Regional Dishes of Yucatan, http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2016/07/top-10-authentic-regional-dishes-of-yucatan/
  2. Goats on the Road – Eating Our Way Through the Yucatan Peninsula, https://www.goatsontheroad.com/mexican-food-eating-our-way-through-the-yucatan-peninsula/
  3. Chowhound – How To Pronounce Pibil, https://www.chowhound.com/post/pronounce-pibil-cochinita-300052
  4. Bacon Is Magic – Must Try Street Food in the Yucatan Peninsula, http://www.baconismagic.ca/food/must-try-street-food-in-the-yucatan-peninsula/
  5. Food and Wine – A Yucatan Adventure, http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/a-yucatan-adventure
  6. Loco Gringo – 10 Iconic Yucatan Foods To Try, https://www.locogringo.com/10-iconic-yucatan-foods
  7. Backyard Nature – Yucatan, http://www.backyardnature.net/m/food/states/yucatan.htm
  8. Eat Your World – What To Eat: Queso Relleno, http://eatyourworld.com/destinations/mexico/general_mexico/coastal_yucatan/what_to_eat/queso_relleno
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