Best Places for Scuba Diving in Mexico

Young Woman Scuba Dives on a Coral ReefPlanning a scuba diving vacation to Mexico? This diverse country is literally brimming with exciting dive sites, from thrilling Cenotes (massive sinkholes) and living reefs to shipwrecks and manta ray cleaning stations. Whether you’re exploring the magical seascapes around the Riviera Maya or the caverns and tunnels of Cozumel, there are diving opportunities for all skill levels and interests.

Best dive sites in Mexico: Pacific Coast

If your heart is set on an open ocean dive with whale shark and great white encounters, then head to Mexico’s Pacific coast, where live-aboard cruises feature visits to some of the world’s finest scuba locations. Some of the most popular dive sites on the Pacific coast include: 

  • Guadalupe Island – Situated some 380 miles west of Baja California, this volcanic island is renowned for cage diving with nature’s most fearsome apex predator – the great white shark. Liveaboard scuba trips to Guadalupe are offered from August-October, when shark populations are at their peak.
  • Socorro Islands(the Revillagigedos) –This archipelago of spectacular islands is located roughly 240 miles from Cabo San Lucas, off the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. Socorro promises awe-inspiring encounters with hundreds of sharks, graceful manta rays as well as humpback whales. Dubbed the “Galapagos of Mexico” thanks to its impressive numbers of large animal encounters, Socorro is recommended for experienced divers only.
  • Sea of Cortez – Less experienced divers who aren’t quite prepared to brave strong ocean currents are encouraged to book a scuba diving cruise (or day trip) to these biodiverse waters off the Gulf of California. This sheltered swath of water offers unforgettable encounters with sea lions, tropical reef fish, schooling jacks, hammerhead sharks in addition to killer whales, pilot whales and dolphin. Popular dive sites include Las Animas, Angel Island and El Arroyo, Punta Martir. 

Caribbean Sea dive sites 

  • Cenote Dos Ojos, Yucatan – Mexico is a terrific introduction to cave diving, and there’s no better place to enjoy this experience than in Cenote Dos Ojos, a network of ancient fresh water caverns that span some 50 miles. Visibility is best between May and September, and tour operators offer this underwater adventure to intermediate and advanced divers.
  • Pared Verde – Translated as the “Green Wall,” Pared Verde is an easy 25-minute jaunt from the docks of Playa del Carmen. Considered a drift dive, this massive 90-foot deep wall is surrounded by colorful sponges, sea fans, invertebrates as well as sea turtles, sting rays and moray eels.
  • Manchones Reef – If you’re a beginner diver who loves underwater photography, Manchones Reef (also called MUSA) is an easy day trip from Cancun. What sets this site apart from the pack are its beautiful man-made installations, created by a local sculptor. The underwater statues have stimulated new coral growth, while relieving pressures on this delicate ecosystem. 
  • Palancar Reef –Cozumel is a world-class diving mecca, but of all the island’s dive sites, Palancar Reef is one of the best. Great for novice and intermediate divers, this stunning reef has gentle currents, enormous coral pinnacles and is thriving with tropical marine life. 
  • Puerto Morelos –Puerto Morelos is a famed tourist port town on the Riviera Maya that offers great shipwreck diving. The shipwreck – an old navy boat deliberately sunk – is one of several artificial reefs, created to expand marine habitats. The barnacle-laden ship now hosts a cornucopia of sea life and provides the perfect backdrop for a thrill-seeking adventure.

Additional Mexico Scuba Diving Resources:

  1. AquaWorld, SCUBA DIVING IN THE BEST LOCATIONS OF MEXICO https://aquaworld.com.mx/en/scuba-diving-in-the-best-locations-of-mexico/
  2. Deep Blue, Top 10 Dive Sites in Mexico https://www.deeperblue.com/top-dive-sites-mexico/
  3. The Diving Blog,  Top 10 Best Dive Sites in Mexico http://thedivingblog.com/top-10-best-dive-sites-mexico/
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Top Places for Singles to Vacation in Mexico

Mexico is a top destination for singles looking to get away for a week or two. When you book your trip with Sea Side Reservations, you’ll have access to incredible vacation rentals for singles—from the luxurious to the rustic. Plan a solo trip for some much-needed “me time” or plan a getaway with your friends. From nightlife to outdoors recreation, Mexico has it all.

Cancun

beach party sunsetCancun is often the first destination that comes to mind when planning a solo getaway to America’s southern neighbor. This dynamic city is located on the Yucatan Peninsula and, as you might expect, it’s famous for its beaches and nightclubs. Cancun receives a few million visitors each year. In fact, the city’s hotel occupancy rate was 82 percent during 2015, which beat other top resort towns like Acapulco and Los Cabos. Working with a vacation rental company can give you access to top accommodations around the city, despite this competition. Scheduling your vacation is an important factor to consider, since Cancun is the destination of choice for college students on spring break.

When you arrive in Cancun, you’ll have your pick of activities. Lounge on the picture perfect beaches, float to your heart’s content on the crystal-clear water, or put on some snorkels and make friends with the turtles. You can even swim with the dolphins in Xcaret Park and Isla Mujeres! Fishing, jet skiing, and kayaking are all popular activities. If you have an adventurous spirit, take a side trip to Chichen Itza—a famed Mayan site that includes the Kukulkan Pyramid. Tulum is even closer to Cancun. This walled city was one of the last inhabited Mayan sites.

When the sun goes down, Cancun truly comes to life. Choose from a virtually limitless selection of dance clubs, live shows, bars, and cigar lounges. If you crave excitement, be sure to check out Coco Bongo—a must-see for dance club enthusiasts.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful, sun-drenched city on the Pacific Coast in the Mexican state of Jalisco. This vibrant city was once a sleepy village known for its fishing, but that all changed when The Night of the Iguana was filmed here in 1964. Now, Puerto Vallarta is like Cancun’s little sister. It gets a couple million visitors each year, who flock to this top destination for its gorgeous beaches, exciting nightlife, and incredible cuisine. Puerto Vallarta is also known for being the destination of choice for LGBT folks, given its warm, friendly ambience.

In Puerto Vallarta, there’s always plenty to do when you’ve had your fill of sunbathing on the beach. Take a stroll along the oceanfront walkway, go parasailing, or sign up for a bird’s eye view of the jungle canopy via zip-line tours. Puerto Vallarta is also known for its golfing, eclectic art scene, horseback riding, and shopping.

Playa del Carmen

Singles who prefer a quieter atmosphere might head over to Playa del Carmen. This city, located south of Cancun, is a veritable sanctuary. Relax in your luxurious villa rental or stay at a resort for all the modern amenities you could want. Like all great destinations in Mexico, single visitors enjoy easy access to fabulous beaches, casual and fine dining, and recreational activities galore. Pamper yourself at the spas, swim with the dolphins, or explore the Yucatan jungle.

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Top 5 Cancun Attractions

Aerial view of Isla Mujeres and island very close to Cancun. Caribbean waters.Whether you’re a sun worshipper, thrill-seeker or an outdoor enthusiast, Cancun promises a little slice of tropical paradise off Mexico’s sultry Yucatan Peninsula. Notorious for its rocking nightlife and impossibly beautiful white-sand beaches, Cancun offers amazing diversions and attractions for travelers of all interests. Cancun promises much more than luxury resorts and Spring Break parties, this popular beach destination is full of adventure, culture and history.

If you’re planning a Cancun vacation this year, these 5 attractions are well worth a visit!

Isla Mujeres

Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Cancun with a relaxing day trip to Isla Mujeres (Island of Women, pictured), which is a breezy 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun’s nearest ports: Gran Puerto, Punta Sam and Puerto Juarez. Framed by swaying coconut palms, this idyllic spot is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, most notably Playa Norte. If you’re not into swimming and snorkeling or just relaxing in a hammock, the island also has an interesting turtle farm and eco-attraction, the Garrafon Natural Reef Park, where you can do zip-line tours, go sea kayaking and swim with playful dolphins.

Chichen Itza

You can’t vacation in Cancun without taking a sightseeing tour to the magnificent Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza – the largest, most impressive and most visited archeological site in all of Mexico. Local tour operators offer day trips to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, where knowledgeable certified guides lead you through this sprawling ceremonial center that boasts massive temples, pyramids and architectural feats.

Dolphinaris Cancun

Billed as the “world’s best dolphinarium,” Dolphinaris Cancun promises a once-in-a-lifetime swimming experience with these highly intelligent marine mammals. This kid-friendly attraction is situated at the southern end of the hotel zone, and features three salt water lagoons surrounded by palm trees and thatched-roof palapas. Choose from a variety of interactive dolphin tours that let you swim, kiss, hug and play with dolphins in naturalistic habitats.

Xoximilco Cancun

If you love Mariachi bands, delicious Mexican cuisine and singing aloud with strangers, you can’t miss an evening at Xoximilco Cancun!  Xoximilco recreates some of the oldest and most celebrated traditions in Mexico, and gives you a chance to tour water canals on a beautifully decorated “trajinera boat” as you listen to lively folk music, sip on tequilas and national beer, and experience the joys of a real Mexican fiesta.

Interactive Aquarium

If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity in Cancun, head to the Interactive Aquarium for some hands-on encounters with colorful marine creatures and a spectacular dolphin show. An enclosed tank has touchable animals including sting rays, conches, starfish, urchins and sea turtles. You can even arrange to swim with the dolphins and safely feed sharks with the guidance of a diving trainer. The aquarium is located in La Isla Shopping Plaza and is recommended for kids, tweens and teens!

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Mexico’s Top 5 Best Kept Secrets

Wide angle shot of Homeland Monument, Paseo Montejo, Merida YucatanInternational tourists arriving in Mexico hit a record high in 2016 with 35 million visitors, a nine percent increase from 2015. The beaches of Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and San Jose del Cabo continue to be some of the most popular destinations for visitors from the United States and Europe. But what if you’re traveling for your honeymoon or to partake in the local culture? What if you want a unique family-friendly vacation or a truly “away from it all” experience? Sea Side Reservations can link you up with the perfect accommodations in five hidden places most tourists know nothing about.

The Artist Colony of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Looking for relaxation, luxury, surf, and art? Todos Santos is just an hour to the south of Cabo San Lucas, but it’s got a much more laid-back, free-spirited, “hippie” vibe that visitors dig. In addition to the swimmable, surf-friendly beaches, you’ll find independently-run shops, lively cafes, and art galleries. The Todos Santos Music Festival in January is a good time to head down if you enjoy checking out unique cultural events. Los Cerritos is the beach of choice, ideal for long, romantic walks while looking out over the ocean and Sierra Laguna Mountains. If there’s one thing you “must do” while you’re in town, it’s to learn to surf wit the Mario Surf School at Los Cerritos beach. Rancho Pescadero is a haven for celebrities who want to “get away from it all,” located 10 miles outside of town, but we have a number of options for nearby accommodations, depending on your preferences.

Ancient World Culture in Merida

The charming colonial town of Merida is starting to land on the radar, ranked the fourth “Best City For Travel in 2017” by Lonely Planet. Despite being the capital of Yucatán state and having a number of museums, Merida is still largely undiscovered by tourists. This historic center is where you go to enjoy Mayan culture, archaeology, buildings dating back to the 16th Century, and home-cooked food, rather than mega-resorts, hipster cocktails, and overcrowded beaches. Luxury hotels and spas are starting to pop up, but The Huffington Post still recommends taking your family to Merida to experience Mexico’s colonial past at places like The Anthropology Museum downtown, the Museum of the City, and the Parque Centenario. There are free events nearly every night of the week at The Plaza de la Independencia, including an exciting recreation of Mayan soccer on Friday nights. Tuesday walking tours from the Merida English Library are a great way to learn more about the architecture and history of Merida. The oldest cathedral in the Americas is located here – The Cathedral of San Ildefonso, built in 1561 from dismantled pyramids. While you’re in the Yucatan Peninsula, be sure to take a dip in a cenote – a sparkling clean swimming hole connected to others through an underground river system, a unique attraction to the region. Sisal Beach is a low-key fishing beach popular with locals, but not tourists.

The Hideaway Island of Holbox

The NY Times named the island of Holbox, a two-hour ferry ride from Cancun, as the 32nd best place to go in 2016. The Wall Street Journal called it “that rare find: an under-the-radar getaway with good food, good hotels, and – for now – no scene.” Imagine eating coconut shrimp, relaxing in hammocks, kayaking the Rio Kuka, walking down an empty dock at sunset. The island of Holbox is ideal for people who mourn the loss of former hidden gems like Tulum and Sayulita. You can find thatched roof beachfront bungalows in vibrant colors, yoga studios, mariachi players aboard water taxis, flocks of wild flamingoes, and mangrove kayaking with the crocodiles. Isla Holbox has a storied history as an 18th century stopover for Spanish and Italian pirates traveling from Veracruz and Campeche. June through September is a great time to travel to the region to see (and swim with) 40-foot whale sharks migrating offshore. The Bridal Guide recommends indulging in the sugary white sand of this “bohemian” island hideaway, or – if you’re feeling more adventurous, visiting a traditional Mayan village, birding, snorkeling, or cruising over to an even more remote spot called “Isla Pasion.” Thrillist adds that the “nakedness of the island” excites visitors, along with the pink dolphins and colorful coral reefs of ecological reserve Yum Balam.

Zihuatanejo

Skip Pacific Coast hangouts like Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco in favor of a tropical paradise with warm water, coconut groves, and sugary soft sand. It’s a place where characters in the movie Shawshank Redemption escaped to, a place where destination weddings are booked, and a quiet stopover that travelers discover by accident and decide to never leave. Paddle board yoga, deep sea fishing, jungle kayaking, horseback riding, and zip-lining are unique experiences for your vacation in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. In her book, “1,000 Places To See Before You Die”, Patricia Schultz praised the “calm, clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling” at Playa las Gatas; the chic and romantic Viceroy Zihuatanejo Resort on the nicest stretch of Playa la Ropa; and the fresh seafood on the sunset-facing terrace at Kau-Kan. Visit from November through April for the best weather, she advises.

The Wildlife of Espíritu Santo

Espiritu Santo (translated “Holy Spirit Island”) is a UNESCO World Heritage Bioreserve situated off the coast of Baja California in the Sea of Cortez. The unique, otherworldly landscape boasts miles of sand dunes touched only by wind, a 23,800-acre desert, flawless turquoise waters, and towering red cliffs. It’s a “must-see” for wildlife lovers, as a home to manta rays, sea lions, gray whales, dolphins, turtles, and sharks. The only lodging directly in the area is the Baja Camp, which is operational from May to October and features gourmet meals with wine. Other accommodations can be found in nearby La Paz. Hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving are the main attractions in this adventurer’s paradise. Sunset Magazine described arriving on Isla Espiritu Santo as “like sailing into a Maxfield Parrish painting,” and named it one of the top 32 “island escapes.”

Book your stay in Mexico

Though tourism is on the rise across Mexico, there is still much to discover and explore. Contact Sea Side Reservations for more information on booking unique accommodations for your trip.

Additional “Best Kept Secrets in Mexico” Resources: 

  1. Reuters – Foreign Tourism To Mexico Up 9 Percent, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-tourism-idUSKBN15S27L
  2. Travel and Leisure – Best Secret Beaches on Earth, http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/best-secret-beaches-on-earth#todos-santos-mexico
  3. Bridal Guide – Mexico’s Hidden Gems, http://bridalguide.com/honeymoons/browse-by-location/mexico/mexico-hidden-gems
  4. Thrillist – Mexico’s Best-Kept Vacation Secrets, https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/mexicos-best-kept-vacation-secrets
  5. Lonely Planet – Mexico Travel Tips, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/mexico/travel-tips-and-articles/76589
  6. The Huffington Post – Underrated Mexico Destinations For Families, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/minitime/underrated-mexico-destina_b_8270884.html
  7. Vogue – Yucatan Mexico Travel Guide, http://www.vogue.com/article/yucatan-mexico-travel-guide
  8. WSJ – Mexico’s Best Kept Secret, https://www.wsj.com/articles/escaping-to-mexicos-best-kept-secret-island-1458840830
  9. Trip Advisor – 10 Secret Mexican Islands You Can Have All To Yourself http://blog.tripadvisor.com/2016/02/05/10-secret-mexican-islands-you-can-have-all-to-yourself/
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5 Most Stunning Waterfalls in Mexico

Misol Ha waterfall on Chiapas, MexicoThanks to its unique geographic location, Mexico is brimming with magnificent natural wonders, from forest-covered valleys to desert canyons and magical cenotes filled with turquoise, mineral-rich waters. This amazing diversity in landscapes includes dozens of breathtaking waterfalls, some of them plunging hundreds of feet over sheer rock faces.

If you are inspired by the power of rushing water, try and plan a visit to at least one of these stunning cascades during your next vacation to Mexico!

Basaseachic Falls

Basaseachi earns the distinction as one of the highest waterfall in all of Mexico, second only to the Piedra Volada waterfall. Located in the state of Chihuahua, this impressive cascade looms 807 feet in the air, and remains one of the most popular attractions in the Copper Canyon. Basaseachi is fed by two rivers that dwindle during the fall and spring “dry seasons,” so plan a visit during the rainier months for a spectacular natural diplay.

Tzararácua Falls

One of the most famous natural attractions in Michoacan, the Tzararacua waterfall is an impressive site at more than 180 feet tall.  Descend to the base of this gushing torrent of water on foot or by horseback, where you can camp out for the night. The area is perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and tour operators even offer waterfall rappelling and zip-line adventures.

Agua Azul Falls

A two-hour drive from Palenque, the Cascadas de Agua Azul (meaning Blue Water waterfalls), are nestled in the heart of verdant rainforest.  What sets these falls apart from the pack are their gorgeous cerulean blue color, derived from a high mineral content. Various swimming holes invite visitors in for a refreshing dip beneath the cascading waters. Insiders tip: heavy rains from July-September churn up the silt, turning the normally clear aquamarine waters a tad muddy.

Misol-Há Falls

Jutting more than 100 feet skyward, the Misol Ha waterfall will blow you away with its otherworldly beauty. When you’re not posing for pictures, you can swim in the invitingly deep pool or explore a 20-meter long cavern that is tucked behind the falls. Misol Ha (which is Mayan for “waterfalls”) is an easy pit stop between Palenque and Agua Azul.  Wear sturdy anti-slip shoes if you plan on exploring the waterfall cave or lush natural surroundings.

Cola de Caballo Falls

Cascada Cola de Caballo (meaning horse tail in Spanish) is situated in Villa de Santiago, roughly 30 miles from Monterrey. The aptly named 82-foot cascade fans out over jutting boulders before crashing into a deep pool beneath. A paved trail leads the way to the waterfall which is flanked by green forested cliffs and rugged rock formations. Enjoy a picnic lunch beneath the cooling spray of Cola de Caballo waterfall which has many viewing platforms for great photo opportunities.

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Mexico’s Most Famous Landmarks

Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre) Mexico.Mexico remains one of the most popular vacation destinations for families, friends and couples, attracting more than 20 million visitors each year. Boasting palm-fringed beaches, miles of turquoise waters, and adrenaline-pumping adventures at every turn, it’s no wonder so many Americans head south of the border for some much needed R&R.

Endless sunshine and beautiful coastal cities account for much of the country’s tourism appeal, but Mexico’s rich cultural heritage and colonial cities offer interesting landmarks and points of interest.  Did you know that Mexico has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in all of Latin America? From mighty geologic formations to ancient Mayan cities, here’s a roundup of famous landmarks and attractions that are definitely worth exploring. 

Copper Canyon

Affectionately known as the Grand Canyon’s southern cousin, the Copper Canyon is one of Mexico’s most popular natural attractions and is in fact much larger and deeper than its northern counterpart. Located in Northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental, this stunning geological wonder is comprised of six separate canyons, which were carved out by converging rivers that empty in the Gulf of California. One of the best ways to discover the Copper Canyon is by hopping aboard the Chihuahua-Pacifico Railway, which climbs over 2,700 feet and passes through 86 tunnels. Adventurous spirits can explore the canyon floor by horseback or mountain bike, with plenty of chances to interact with indigenous Tarahumara communities.

El Arco

If your travel itinerary includes Cabo San Lucas, you can’t miss a boat ride to the area’s most iconic (and romantic) landmark — El Arco. Meaning “the arch” in Spanish, this beautiful rock formation juts from the sea, marking the union of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. The arch has become a famous attraction for several reasons. Besides its distinctive beauty and geological significance, El Arco also happens to lure large groups of playful sea lions and occasional migrating whales. A sunset cruise to El Arco promises incredible photo opportunities, and water taxis offer cheap roundtrip  transportation from the Cabo marina.

Isla Mujeres

Situated just eight miles from the booming beach town of Cancun, Isla Mujeres (Island of the Women) is the place to go for crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and incredible snorkeling and diving among colorful coral reefs. This island paradise is much more than a tourist hotspot and local landmark, however. Isla Mujeres is steeped in history. During Pre-Columbian times, the island was a sacred spot to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess childbirth. Ferries shuttle day trippers over from Cancun to enjoy the island’s postcard-perfect beaches and unparalleled underwater adventures. The island even has a cool turtle farm that is sure to entertain the kids.

Chichen Itza

The sprawling Mayan city of Chichen Itza is an easy day trip from Playa del Carmen or Cancun. Dating back more than 1,500 years, this Maya complex is one of Mexico’s most well-preserved and popular archaeological sites.  A visit to Chichen Itza promises many chances to marvel at the incredible achievements of this ancient civilization, which produced the hulking Pyramid of Kukulkan and the rounded observatory of El Caracol, which was meticulously aligned with the motions of Venus.

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3 Incredible Mayan Ruins You Must Visit

Ruins of Palenque, Maya city in Chiapas, MexicoMexico is nation renowned for its breathtaking beaches, vibrant traditions, world-class sportfishing and palate-pleasing cuisine. But few tourists know that Mexico is home to nearly 200 sites created and inhabited by Mesoamerica’s most advanced civilization – the Maya. Celebrated for their impressive developments in mathematics, hieroglyph writing, astrology and architecture, the Maya civilization dominated southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula as well as parts of Central America between 250 and 900 AD.

It goes without saying that no Mexico vacation is complete without visiting at least one Mayan ruin. For a chance to explore awesome pyramids, towering fortresses and ceremonial temples – surrounded by dramatic jungle and ocean vistas — add these three ancient Mayan sites to your bucket list!

Palenque – Chiapas, Mexico

The stunning archaeological site of Palenque is situated in Chiapas, Mexico, which was once part of the vast Mayan empire. Though diminutive in size compared to other touristed ruins, Palenque is noted for its exceptional sculptures, beautiful bas-relief carvings and awe-inspiring construction. Palenque overlooks the Usumacinta River flood plain, and is flanked by dense primordial forest. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, Palenque features the area’s largest Mesoamerican step pyramid, the 75-foot Temple of the Inscriptions, and is widely considered one of the Maya’s most significant artistic and architectural feats.

Chichen Itza – Yucatan Peninsula

The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza lure more than 1.5 million travelers every year for good reason. This sprawling complex was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, about two hours from Cancun.  Mexico’s best-preserved and most-visited Mayan site, Chichen Itza’s tremendous pyramids and temples are sure to impress. The ruins cover nearly two square miles and boast amazing examples of post-classic Mayan architecture, including El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan), which climbs 98-feet into the sky and features one step for each day of the calendar year. Other noteworthy sites include the Sacred Cenote, the Ball Court and the Temple of the Warriors.

Tulum – Riviera Maya

The Mayan city of Tulum was once a busy trading seaport, thanks to its strategic location next to the Caribbean Sea. With its gorgeous backdrop of jade-green waters, Tulum is undoubtedly one of Mexico’s most scenic ruins, roughly 45 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. The city’s principle structure, El Castillo, is perched on a towering cliff with 360-degree views of aquamarine waters and pristine beaches. Be sure to explore the Temple of the Frescoes – used by the Maya to observe the sun. The area also features numerous cenotes (natural swimming holes) as well as stellar cave diving.

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Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding in Mexico

Beach wedding arrangementDestination weddings are becoming increasingly popular, as more couples discover the intrinsic benefits of celebrating their big day in an exotic, warm-weather locale. According to bridal authority TheKnot, Mexico ranks among the world’s top places for a destination wedding. Given the country’s amazing array of natural attractions, archeological ruins and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder why Mexico is the perfect place for couples who want a beautiful—yet affordable—beach wedding in paradise.

The villas and resorts are world-class, the cuisine is fantastic, English is widely spoken, flights are inexpensive, and destinations like the Riviera Maya, Cancun, Acapulco and Los Cabos offer a gorgeous backdrop for one of the most memorable days of your life.

If you’re planning on tying the knot in Mexico, heed these practical tips for planning a destination wedding that is stress-free and fun for everyone!

Hire a wedding coordinator

Your week of wedded bliss begins with hiring an expert planner – someone who knows the best caterers, photographers, venues and florists in the area. Planning a wedding from abroad takes a lot of logistics, patience and time! By enlisting the services of an experienced coordinator, you’ll be saved the hassles and stresses that can turn a bride-to-be into a Bridezilla. Insider tip: look for a planner who has organized other weddings in the same destination or venue.

Plan a visit in advance of the wedding

If you have a date in mind, it’s best to visit your intended wedding destination in advance to familiarize yourself with the local ambience, available venues, accommodations and vendors. Think of this trip as a mini-romantic getaway that doubles as scouting session.

Time it right

While most of Mexico’s famous beach towns promise balmy, sunbathing weather year-round, rains can spoil an otherwise splendid sunset ceremony. Avoid weather-related fiascos by planning your wedding between November and April, which are traditionally considered the “dry season” months. Keep in mind that Christmas and Easter (known as Semana Santa) holidays are particularly crowded in tourist hotspots, making travel arrangements more challenging. In a perfect world, you will book your venue at least 10-12 months in advance.

Send wedding invites early

You’re ready to celebrate in style with your closest friends and family, which means you need to give them ample time to clear their calendars, arrange for childcare and book tickets. Standard etiquette dictates that you should send out Save the Dates a good 6-8 months in advance of the ceremony. A formal invite should be sent out at least 3 months before the wedding and include pertinent info on accommodations, reception, event plans, dress code, gift registries and local sightseeing and activities.

Know the legal requirements for paperwork

A local wedding coordinator can prove invaluable for helping couples obtain the necessary paperwork to be legally married in Mexico. Though requirements vary from state to state, most U.S. and Canadian citizens will need valid passports, their tourist permits, certified birth certificates and an affidavit of single status. Foreign documents must be translated, notarized and apostilled. Couples can also choose to have a symbolic ceremony in Mexico after being legally wed in their hometown.

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Cervezas Artesanales: Mexico’s Top Craft Beers

Preparation of Mexican beer drink MicheladaOver the past decade, the Mexican beer scene has exploded, churning out a surprising number of highly drinkable cervezas artesanales – hoppy, full-bodied craft beers that can truly hold their own. If you’re hankering for something headier than Dos Equis, Pacifico, or the ubiquitous Corona, there are some exciting new brews to check out during your next trip south of the border. Some say that the craft beer movement in Mexico is still under the radar, limited to major urban hubs like Mexico City or Guadalajara.

The good news is that brew pubs, bars and restaurants in tourist hotspots are beginning to stock up on some of the better stouts, Imperial Pale Ales (IPAs) and dark lagers that are a refreshing standout from traditional ales.  Here’s a roundup of Mexico’s five tastiest craft beers, as rated by BeerAdvocate.

La Lupulosa – American style IPA

Brewed by Cerveceria Insurgente, this delectable IPA scores well for its light toasty caramel malt and complex candied citrus, pine and earthy aromas. Praised for its deep amber body and “beautiful creamy head,” La Lupulosa (Alcohol 7.3%) has a pleasant hoppy bitterness, with notes of mango, pine and grapefruit.

Minerva – Irish Dry Stout

Minerva earns high scores as a stellar Mexican stout. Produced by Cerveceria Minerva, this medium-bodied brew has flavor notes of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, licorice, charred wood and herbal hops. Minerva has a fairly dry finish, with lingering hints of toasted cocoa and caramelized sugar.

Nocturna – Black American Ale

Some reviewers say that Nocturna drinks more like a hoppy porter than a black IPA, but the general consensus is still positive. With each sip, Nocturna delivers a hoppy flavor with notes of toasted grains.  Described as “crisp, malty, mildly bitter with a nice balance of sweet and pepper,” this hops-forward beer is easy to drink but not overly heavy.

Runaway – American style IPA

Flavors of citrus, pine, caramel, and grass dominate this American-style IPA, crafted by Cucapa Brewing Company. Runaway’s 7.5% alcohol content is hardly noticeable, and it finishes with a lingering malty sweetness reminiscent of honey. This Imperial Pale Ale will exceed your expectations, and is even flying off of U.S. shelves!

Cucapa Green Card Barley Wine

Contrary to its name, barley wine is a type of very strong beer known for its robust body and alcoholic strength (topping out at 12 percent). Cerveceria Cucupa scored another home-run with their Green Card Barleywine (alcohol 10%)– an astringent ale with notes of vanilla toffee, raisins, apple, molasses, figs and pine. Without a doubt, this is a smooth brew to be savored slowly.

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Top 5 Golf Courses in Mexico

Golf aficionados owe it themselves to head south of the border and experience the magic of premier golf in Mexico. A 2016 Golf Digest article waxes poetic on the “numerous” picturesque and highly playable courses, many positioned along gorgeous seaside cliffs. From the Baja Peninsula to Chileno Bay, the Mexican golf scene continues to garner international recognition for superb course designs by PGA champions like Nicklaus, Gary Player and Greg Norman.

Among Mexico’s most famed and luxurious fairways, here are 5 world-class courses that have ranked among the best.

Dunes Course at Diamante

For an all-around 5-star experience, take your clubs to this Davis Love III-designed course in Cabo San Lucas. This private links-style course and resort features stunning desert-meets-ocean views and is the #1 ranked course in Mexico by Golf Digest. Posh touches include Diamonte’s signature course side “comfort stations” that offer up libations and gourmet snacks to parched players.  

Cabo del Sol Ocean Course

The aptly named “Ocean Course” sidles up to the Sea of Cortez, giving the sensation as if you’re teeing-off in the water! Dreamed up by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, this dramatic seaside fairway is open to the public and is renowned for its free fish tacos just before the final trio of holes along the shore’s edge. The Ocean Course offers the best combination of value and picturesque views, according to Golf Digest.

Quivira Golf Club Cabo San Lucas

Higher handicappers will revel in the challenging Nicklaus course at Quivira, where a spectacular backdrop includes towering sand dunes framed by mountains and breathtaking ocean vistas. Opened in 2014, this private 18-hole course, situated at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, promises a variety of surprises for the avid golfer.

Querencia Golf Club

Billed as the first private championship course in Los Cabos, and designed by Tom Fazio, Querencia is carved out of a lush 800+ acre property between Costa Azul and Palmilla. Querencia has been named the number one golf course in Mexico by Golfweek and boasts wide fairways and stunning desert and ocean views from every hole.

El Camaleón Mayakoba 

Site of the PGA Tournament – OHL Classic, the Camaleon golf course at the Mayakoba Resort is widely regarded by professionals as one of the world’s finest courses, thanks in part to the expert design of Greg Norman. Exceptional views, challenging terrain and 5-star service are the hallmarks of this tournament-worthy course, conveniently located in Playa del Carmen — just 40 minutes from the Cancun international airport.

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