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Archive for the ‘Mexico’ Category

Jul
25

5 Things to Do in Cancun This Summer

Cancun isn’t just for Spring Breakers hoping to escape Mom’s and Dad’s watchful eyes. Though high schoolers and college students descend upon Cancun for one party-hardy week each spring, the rest of the year tends to be much more mellow. But maybe you don’t know what Cancun has to offer beyond the ubiquitous souvenir t-shirt from Senor Frogs. If that’s the case, here are six things to do in Cancun this summer.

1. Swim With Whale Sharks

Whale sharks, the largest animal in the seas, spend four months of the year (May-September) off the coast of Cancun, and visitors can see them—and even swim with them—by taking an excursion with a licensed tour operator. The whale sharks are gentle giants, gliding slowly through the water as they feed. You can watch them from your tour boat or swim alongside them with a guide; this activity is recommended for travelers ages 10 and up.

Swimming with whale sharks in Cancun. Photo: CollazoProjects.com.

Swimming with whale sharks in Cancun. Photo: CollazoProjects.com.

2. Swim With Dolphins

If whale sharks seem too overwhelming or if you’re prone to seasickness, you can stay on land and swim with dolphins in the Cancun Interactive Aquarium’s pool. You’ll be introduced to the animals by a professional trainer, who will stay with you in the pool throughout your session. During your time with the dolphins, you’ll see how they’re trained and watch the commands they can fulfill. This option is also better for younger children, as there is no minimum age limit to participate. Before or after your swim, you can also visit the aquarium’s museum, which features touch tanks and other displays.

Swimming with dolphins at the Interactive Aquarium. Photo: CollazoProjects.com

Swimming with dolphins at the Interactive Aquarium. Photo: CollazoProjects.com

3. Go to the Zoo

Cancun isn’t just about marine animals; at CrocoCun Zoo, you can also have one-on-one encounters with land mammals and reptiles, including parrots, crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, and more. A professional guide leads you on an hour-long tour through the well-kept, humane zoo; during the tour, you are invited to touch, hold, or feed most of the animals.

Kids touch a crocodile at CrocoCun Zoo. Photo: CollazoProjects.com

Kids touch a crocodile at CrocoCun Zoo. Photo: CollazoProjects.com

4. Explore Mayan History

2012 is a particularly important year in Mayan history, as the Mayans’ long-calendar reaches its end. Travelers with a particular interest in archaeology and indigenous history have been visiting Cancun’s and the Riviera Maya’s Mayan sites in large numbers this year; why not join them? You can take a day trip drive to the most-renowned site, Chichen Itza, which is 60 miles from Cancun proper, or you can stay closer to the city and visit El Rey, a 47-structure site in Cancun. Other sites within 60-80 miles’ driving distance include Tulum, Xcaret, Xel-Ha, and Ek-Balam.

The main temple at Ek-Balam, a Mayan site. Photo: Donna Arioldi.

The main temple at Ek-Balam, a Mayan site an hour outside of Cancun. Photo: Donna M. Airoldi

5. Take a Day Trip to an Isla

Cancun has several islands—Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, and Isla Contoy—off its coast that are increasingly gaining the attention of visitors. Mujeres and Holbox are known for their laid-back, takin’-it-easy pace, while Contoy is a national park that invites supervised eco-tourism visits limited to 200 people per day. Ferries run from Cancun’s Puerto Morelos to the islands; though you could easily do a day trip to Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, it’s recommended that you stay at least overnight to have time to enjoy Isla Holbox, which requires a longer trip from Cancun. Once there, you can relax on the beach, snorkel, fish, or kiteboard.

Limiting visitors to Isla Contoy means you're likely to find a stretch of beach to yourself. Photo: Alaskan Dude.

Limiting visitors to Isla Contoy means you're likely to find a stretch of beach to yourself. Photo: Alaskan Dude

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Jul
02

Trip Photos: Temple of Kukulcan

The Temple of Kukulcan, also known as El Castillo, is a Meso-American step pyramid located at the Chichen Itza archeological site in Yucatán, Mexico. Thanks to ewen and donabel for posting incredible photo.

Photo: ewenanddonabel

Photo: ewenanddonabel

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May
05

Cinco de Mayo is a good reason to enjoy some top-shelf tequila and delicious Mexican beer, however the holiday commemorates much more than the spirits from across the border. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. Rather, on May 5, 1862, the Mexican militia claimed a dubious victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is not as widely celebrated throughout Mexico as one might think—the holiday is observed mainly in the state of Puebla and in the United States. Want to experience more Mexican culture? Extend your Cinco de Mayo celebration into a vacation in Mexico.

Cabo. Photo: migpascual

Cabo. Photo: migpascual

From lush jungles of Puerto Vallarta to the ruins of Tulum to the cultural hub of Mexico City, there is somewhere for everyone in Mexico. Cabo is one town in particular that always seems to peak travelers’ interests.

Two Cabos
Actually, Cabo is not one town, but two, linked by 20 miles of four-lane highway called the Tourist Corridor that skirts the Sea of Cortez. To the south, flamboyant Cabo San Lucas teems with bikini-filled beaches and raucous nightlife. To the north, the more dignified San José del Cabo entices with quieter pleasures. More tranquil still are the jutting cliffs of the Corridor and the surf-beaten enclaves along the Pacific Coast. Most visitors refer to the whole area as “Cabo,” but to locals, Cabo means only San Lucas.

When to Go
Get to Los Cabos any season you can. Pressed to choose the best vacation windows, I opt for mid-October through November, or April through mid-May. With 360 days of sunshine per year, Los Cabos is a sun-lover’s dream.  But the rays here are intense, so never forego sunscreen.

Arriving in Cabo
At the airport, brace for long lines at the Immigration counters, where you’ll get a card that must be turned in at the end of your stay. Head straight for Los Cabos Express, which has a monopoly on airport transportation. Depending on where you’re headed, the bus ride can take upwards of an hour, so sit back and enjoy the scenery.

All-Inclusive Resorts

  • The Meliá Cabo Real boasts a safe swimming beach and a world-class golf course along with club activities for toddlers through 12-year-olds.

A La Carte Hotels and Resorts

  • The stunning Westin Resort and Spa, located on the San José end of the Corridor, is perched on cliffs overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
An oceanview room at the Pueblo Bonito Oceanfront Resort. Photo: Courtesy of Pueblo Bonita Oceanfront Resorts & Spas.

An oceanview room at the Pueblo Bonito Oceanfront Resort. Photo: Courtesy of Pueblo Bonita Oceanfront Resorts & Spas.

Los Cabos Restaurants

  • On a budget, you can’t go wrong at Rosy’s Tacos or Hangman in San José. Rosy’s is open only for lunch, but I’m always happy to take time off from the beach to gobble down fish tacos with all the fixings for about a dollar each. Hangman is fun and affordable for casual dinners. It doesn’t serve alcohol, but you can bring your own.

Plan your trip to Cabo San Lucas on TravelMuse.

Plan your trip to San José del Cabo on TravelMuse.

Adapted from “Tale of Two Cabos” by Deb Vanasse.

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Feb
02

Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow this Groundhog Day, but six more weeks of winter will give you more time to plan your (hopefully warm) spring break getaway. Here are TravelMuse’s top five picks for families:

1. Los Angeles
The City of Angels has something for everyone. Beaches? You bet, from Santa Monica State Beach to Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Amusement parks? From Disneyland to Universal Studios to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Shopping? Try the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica for a collection of boutiques in an open air mall or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Eating? For the best burger known to man, visit The Apple Pan in West Los Angeles. Sports? Depending on the timing of your spring break, the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Clippers, Kings or Galaxy could have a game. And yes, you might see a movie star.

Check out our L.A. articles, or visit discoverlosangeles.com for deals and discounts.

Plan a trip to Los Angeles on TravelMus and find places to stay in Los Angeles.

Visit Hollywood Boulevard to look for your favorite celebrities' stars on the Walk of Fame.

Visit Hollywood Boulevard to look for your favorite celebrities' stars on the Walk of Fame. Photo: Average Jane.

2. New York City
Though there are beaches in Brooklyn and Queens, the weather is a tad cool in spring to be on the sand, and the city offers much more to keep all ages happy. Iconic landmarks abound, like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. Check out museums from the American Museum of Natural History to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Central Park alone offers 843 acres of possibility, from an afternoon picnic to a visit to the zoo.

Before you go, check out our numerous NYC articles, or Web sites like nycgo.com for special offers and discounts for museums, tours, shows and shops.

Plan a trip to New York City on TravelMuse and find places to stay in New York City.

3. San Diego
If the kids love animals, San Diego has plenty for them. SeaWorld San Diego features Shamu in the “Believe” killer whale show. The San Diego Zoo has five endangered giant pandas who call the zoo’s Giant Panda Research Station home. In the zoo’s 1,800-acre Wild Animal Park, you can see more than 3,500 animals.

Find many other attractions and activities, even non-animal related, recommended by in our San Diego overview and at www.sandiego.org.

Plan a trip to San Diego on TravelMuse and find places to stay in San Diego.

4. Washington, D.C.
With a new president who has inspired millions of kids and teenagers to get involved in service and the political process, now’s the time to visit our nation’s capital. Wander the National Mall from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial and go up the Washington Monument. Get lost among the treasures of the world’s largest museum complex at the Smithsonian museums, from the National Portrait Gallery to the National Air and Space Museum.

Get more capital ideas with our D.C. coverage and by visiting www.washington.org.

Plan a trip to Washington, D.C., on TravelMuse and find places to stay in Washington D.C.

The ruins at Riviera Maya. Photo: joiseyshowaa

The ruins near Riviera Maya. Photo: joiseyshowaa

5. Riviera Maya, Mexico
College Spring Breakers may enjoy going crazy in Mexico, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for families. To go with the spectacular beaches and clear waters, a trip to the Riviera Maya can include snorkeling amidst the jungle in the largest “natural aquarium” in the world, Xel-Ha; a visit to the picturesque Mayan ruins situated along the sea at Tulum; an excursion to La Quinta Avenida (Firth Avenue) in Playa del Carmen for shopping and dining. All-inclusive resorts line the shore, but for those seeking something different, beachfront boutique hotels and cabins on the jungle’s edge are also available.

Read our Riviera Maya articles, or visit www.rivieramaya.com for more information.

Plan a trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico on TravelMuse and find places to stay in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

* Post adapted from “10 Top Spring Break Spots” by Andrew Weiss.

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Apr
06

I’m sitting in the lobby of the Hacienda San Angel in Puerto Vallarta, and wishing I wasn’t leaving. After spending five days in this fantastic Mexican coastal town, my absolutely favorite thing has been this beautiful hacienda in the old part of the city, with 21 rooms spread throughout five different buildings.

Once you’re enclosed within the hacienda, you’ve got three swimming pools to choose from, a handful of common areas (with Wi-Fi and even a free telephone to call people within the United States and Canada), a friendly and attentive staff, and the feeling that you’ve been transported back in time when you have all day to relax and do absolutely nothing. If you want to explore, you’re within walking distance of the old town and the shopping district, as well as the malecón (the seaside walkway).

When I arrived here two days ago, I immediately felt that I wanted to call home and send for my things so I could move in. I’ll blog more about my trip this week, and will have some Puerto Vallarta articles on the site soon. In the meantime, check out www.haciendasanangel.com and see if you don’t want to move in too.Hacienda+San+Angel+small

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Nov
05

In October, I traveled to Bucerias (a 30-minute drive north of Puerto Vallarta), Mexico, with my husband, daughter and husband’s parents. I’m a big fan of multigenerational travel as our extended family lives in Scotland, so we only see them once or twice a year. When they do come to visit, we find ourselves trying to return home from work at a decent hour, planning what to cook for dinner and thinking about weekend activities. Taking a trip together allows us all to relax, spend time catching up and hanging out, and enjoying the benefits of built-in babysitting!

Bucerias is a charming, low-key fishing town set on eight miles of gorgeous sandy beaches, which are frequented by locals on the weekend. The charming town center provides a great flea market, local art galleries, great restaurants and friendly locals. Bucerias has seen a lot of property development, with resorts and vacation homes still under construction—go now while it still holds its charm!

Casa Bella Vista, the house we rented, was gorgeous—we really wanted to pick it up and take it home with us! It was an airy three-bedroom house with a swimming pool, offering great views over the town and out to the Bay of Banderas, and situated only two blocks from the beach. The maid came a couple of times while we were there, and although there was an option to hire a chef, we decided to stock up at the nearby Mega (supermarket) or local mini mart and also try the local restaurants.

Our 2-year-old loved the swimming pool, but we did manage to extract her and the rest of the family for a few day trips. Hopping on the local AMT bus, we ventured into Puerto Vallarta and explored the old town and the Malecón boardwalk, noted for its metal statues and sand sculptures.

We also organized a couple of day trips through Vallarta Adventures. We took a family trip to Yelapa, a little village of less than a thousand people, which can only be reached by boat. The trip included a hike to the Cola de Caballo waterfall, time to relax on the sandy beaches, then snorkeling at Majahuitas cove on the way home. The next day, my husband and I left our wee one with her grandparents and embarked on an outdoor adventure in the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountains—move over James Bond! This was a thrill ride from start to finish—a speedboat trip to a secluded beach, followed by an off-road truck expedition, then a mule ride, followed by a series of zip lines through the jungle canopy, rappelling down waterfalls and plunging into pools. It was so much fun and I was most impressed with the professionalism and safety protocol of the guides.

In the evenings, we explored the restaurants of Bucerias, which were excellent. Close to our house were several expat-run restaurants including Mark’s Bar and Grill (Asian/Mediterranean), Sandrinas (Greek/Mexican), Espressions (British!), and Rissos (Italian). We also enjoyed Famar (Mexican with fantastic margaritas) and authentic restaurants on the beach near the town square.

We would definitely return to Bucerias. In fact, on our last day I discovered an art gallery where you could sign up for a mosaic workshop and learn to break tile, which I’d love to do with my daughter.

If you consider a trip to Bucerias, here are some points worth noting:

1. October is the rainy season—it rained a few times in the evening, and it was quite humid.

2. People will try to sell you timeshares as soon as you get off the plane. Don’t be fooled by the promise of free trips.

3. Take bug spray—you’re next to the rainforest!

Bucerias_TravelMuse

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