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.


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,
  2. Travel and Leisure – Best Secret Beaches on Earth,
  3. Bridal Guide – Mexico’s Hidden Gems,
  4. Thrillist – Mexico’s Best-Kept Vacation Secrets,
  5. Lonely Planet – Mexico Travel Tips,
  6. The Huffington Post – Underrated Mexico Destinations For Families,
  7. Vogue – Yucatan Mexico Travel Guide,
  8. WSJ – Mexico’s Best Kept Secret,
  9. Trip Advisor – 10 Secret Mexican Islands You Can Have All To Yourself
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