Looking to satisfy your wanderlust in an exotic location (that’s still close to home)? Consider heading to Mexico. You and your crew will see awe-inspiring nature, experience lively cultural adventures on land (and under water) and enjoy the freshest Mexican cuisine. Best of all, the Western Caribbean cruises that can take you there range from four to seven nights, and since these ports aren’t too far from many ports in the southern United States, you’ll be able to start your Mexican adventure sooner.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities or laidback beach time, Mexico has something for everyone. You can visit one, two or all three of these locales that will get each of your five senses going.
Yucatan (aka Progreso)
Home to the famous Chichen Itza Mayan pyramid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Yucatan Peninsula also counts hidden swimming holes and historical towns among its many treasures. Explore the lesser-known “Little Chichen Itza,” or Mayapan, and take full advantage of the underground river caverns. Float in crystal-clear waters and immerse yourself among caverns’ formations created during the age of the dinosaurs, when Earth was struck by the devastating asteroid.
Journey back in time to the iconic Mexican haciendas, colonial-era estates, in Merida, the vibrant capital of the Yucatan state. The wealthy once resided in them thanks to henequen—an agave-like desert plant that became integral to the economy.
If (or really when) your appetite is awoken, you’ll want to take your pick from a variety of authentic local dishes, from lime soup to pollo pibil, a traditional slow-roasted chicken dish.
To explore Mayan culture, zero in on the Uxmal ruins, one of the civilization’s political hubs. You can explore the classic Mesoamerican ball courts, where ancient games were played, and the stone decorations of the aptly named House of the Turtles. The Dzibilchaltun ruins, an ancient trading center, and Temple of the Seven Dolls are worth a visit too since they reveal the Mayans’ long-held understanding of the solar system.
Beautiful and jam-packed with things to do, Costa Maya has plenty to offer, whether an all-inclusive beach break or something adrenaline-pumping like biking through the jungle. Picture yourself soaking up sun while lying on the white sand of one of many worthy beaches, with a drink or good book, along with a platter of fresh fish tacos.
Itching to get in the water? Try kayaking or scuba diving at the Mesoamerican Reef, an important marine region spanning nearly 600 miles. Anglers can catch bonefish or enormous tarpon (before releasing them) as a fishing master shows you the best local waters and fly fishing techniques.
Even though Costa Maya is well known for palm-lined shores, it also boasts remarkably preserved Mayan sites. You can even enjoy an immersive, multi day-tour to see three Mayan marvels, Chacchoben, Tulum and Chichen Itza. Or head to the fort of Bacalar, home to cannons of real-life pirates of the Caribbean. For something interactive, make your own guacamole and salsa—and then later learn to dance salsa with your friends and family.
Head over to Cozumel, where you’ll be surrounded by nature’s wonders everywhere—even when golfing! Snorkel in the Palancar Reef, named a top site by world-renowned divers (like Jacques Cousteau), and swim among starfish in a natural sanctuary. If you’re inspired by marine life, you can even give back by helping save sea turtle hatchlings.
Want to maximize every moment of experiencing Mexican culture? Try our Mexico in a Nutshell tour for a taste of Mayan traditions, illustrated through aerial acrobatics and Mexican architecture. Taste your way through history with tequila sampling or while exploring the island’s deep cultural roots with Mexico’s renowned chocolate melting on your tongue.
Ready to embark on your own adventure to Mexico? Start to dream up your next vacation and set sail to the Western Caribbean here.