Mexico has some of the best vacation destinations in the world. From its famous Gulf and Pacific beaches, to its Caribbean islands, to its vibrant cities and rich historical sites, Mexico has something to offer every vacationer. Here are the 6 best Mexican resort cities to visit on your next trip to Mexico.
6. Los Cabos
Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos is famous among Mexican resort cities for its nightlife, stunning beaches, and excellent deep sea fishing. Los Cabos is the premier destination for marlin fishing, which is one of the major attractions, and features prominently in the local diet, along with tuna, shellfish, and shark.
The history of Los Cabos dates back thousands of years, as evidenced by cave paintings in the region, but recorded history of Los Cabos does not start until much later, with large-scale colonization of the region by the Spanish in the 1730s. Because of the area’s remoteness, it was a popular hideout for pirates for hundreds of years, and there are rumors of buried treasure and lost shipwrecks of Spanish gold in the area to this day.
It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that Los Cabos became a major tourist destination, and since then, it has attracted 3 million visitors per year, stopping by the city via cruise ship and plane. Today, most of the economic activity in the area revolves around tourism, and Los Cabos features some of the best resorts and most developed tourism infrastructure in the country.Popular tourist activities in Los Cabos include snorkeling, scuba diving, water jet-pack rides, jet-skiing, kayaking, sailing, horseback riding, hiking, cycling, camping, and tennis. The area also attracts golfers from around the world, with its four main golf courses, which were designed by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye.
The climate and environment of Los Cabos is unique among Mexican resort cities. Located where the desert meets the sea, on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos features stunning geological formations, like the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, and breathtaking scenery, with cactus, scrubland, and palm trees located just meters off the beach. The desert environment also contributes to Los Cabos’s status as one of the premier Mexican resort cities, with over 330 sunny days per year, and mostly dry weather year-round, with the exception of the month of September.
An island in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel is a premier Caribbean vacation destination and one of the best Mexican resort cities to visit. Cozumel’s major attractions include its white sand beaches, coral reefs, ancient Mayan ruins, and frequent festivals. The island has some of the best developed tourism infrastructure in the Caribbean, and attracts vacationers from all over the world, who flock to the island to snorkel, scuba dive, swim, explore the historical sites, and relax at the spas.
The island’s history begins with its settlement by the Maya, sometime in the 1st millennium AD. The first Europeans to set foot on the island were Spanish explorers, who arrived in the early 16th century. By the 17th century, the island was a frequent target of pirate raids. Cozumel’s modern history as a major tourist destination began in the 1970s, when Cozumel International Airport was built. Today the airport receives frequent flights from major US and Canadian cities, and is one of the busiest airports in Mexico.
30 miles long and 10 miles wide, Cozumel is a relatively small island, but with over 300 restaurants, dozens of luxury hotels, dozens of boating and dive operations, two dolphinariums, one tourist submarine, one pearl farm, dozens of square blocks of stores and spa, and miles of beautiful beaches, Cozumel has a lot to offer.
Cozumel is known worldwide for its coral reefs, which are part of the 620 mile long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Tourists can take a submarine ride, or snorkeling or scuba diving trip to the reefs, and see the tropical fish, sea turtles, manatees that make the reefs their home.
5. Puerto Vallarta
One of the best Mexican resort cities for tourists, Puerto Vallarta is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico along the Bahía de Banderas in the state of Jalisco. Known for its beaches, shopping boulevards, restaurants, and tequila, Puerto Vallarta has been a premier tourist destination for decades.
The Puerto Vallarta area has been heavily populated since ancient times. In 1524 it was the site of a large battle between a Spanish and indigenous army, after which the area became a Spanish colony. Unlike many other modern-day Mexican resort cities, Puerto Vallarta has had a long history of thriving industries before its modern transformation into a tourism hub. From the 18th century, the city saw large growth due to its mining operations, and by the 19th century it had become a hub for fishing, fruit farming, and pearl diving.
Puerto Vallarta started to transform into one of the premier Mexican resort cities in the 1960s, and by the 1970s, had established itself as a major resort destination. This transformation was mainly thanks to significant infrastructure investments by the Mexican government, including the construction of the city’s airport, which today receives flights from most major US and Canadian cities, and the development of highways.
The waters around Puerto Vallarta are remarkably calm and tranquil, owing to the fact that the city is situated on a bay, rather than directly on the Pacific Ocean. This makes Puerto Vallarta an excellent destination for scuba diving and snorkeling, swimming, boating, kayaking, and fishing. Off the beach, popular activities include walking tours, or self-guided tours along the boardwalk, the historical district, and the open air markets and shopping centers.
Perhaps the most famous of all Mexican resort cities, Cancun is a city on the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, facing the Caribbean Sea. Served by direct flight from most major cities in the U.S., Cancun is a popular destination for everyone from spring breakers to retirees. As one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, Cancun is filled with luxury mega-resorts, activities, amenities, and more. The beaches are gorgeous and the clubs, bars, and restaurants are renowned throughout the world.
As recently as 1970, Cancun was nearly empty, with under 200 residents living in the area. The Mexican government invested heavily in developing Cancun through the 1970s, building nine hotels and tourism infrastructure, to transform the area from a sleepy fishing village to one of the world’s premier vacation spots. Today, this city is home to almost 900,000 residents, and sees over 6 million tourists per year.
The most popular attraction in Cancun is, of course, the beach, which is world famous for its hot white sands and cool, blue Caribbean waters. Aside from relaxing, the beaches in Cancun offer a number of recreation activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, boating, kayaking, surfing, and going on animal adventures, like swimming with the dolphins at the Interactive Aquarium.
. Off the beaches, popular activities include exploring the local historical sites, including the famous Mayan Ruins of Chichén Itzá and El Rey, which are some of the best preserved Mesoamerican ruins in existence; visiting the Maya Museum; and exploring Urbano Kabah Park, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including iguanas, coatis, deer, and spider monkeys.
The other contender for the most famous of all Mexican resort cities, Acapulco is a city on Mexico’s Pacific coast, located about 250 miles south of Mexico City. Unlike most of the other Mexican resort cities on this list, Acapulco has a long history of tourism, dating back to the 1940s and 1950s, when the first hotels were built in the area, and the city became a major vacation destination for Hollywood stars.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, however, when new resorts were built and transportation and accommodations became cheaper, that Acapulco became a major tourist destination for average Americans. Since then Acapulco’s reputation as a premier tourist destination has grown, and today the city has some of the best developed tourist infrastructure in the world, offering a wide range of unique experiences, including cliff-diving shows, exploring ancient ruins, water skiing, parasailing, and motor boating.
Acapulco has a tropical wet and dry climate, with year-round average temperatures in the low 80s, making it a great vacation destination in any season. The area also has diverse terrain, consisting of mountains, flatlands, and forest, with one major river running through the area, a number of smaller streams, and two lagoons and quite a few thermal hot springs.
Other than the beach, however, Acapulco’s main attraction is the nightlife, with hundreds of nightclubs, beach bars, cocktail bars, and restaurants in the area. During the day, the shops and markets in the city are well worth a visit. Other popular activities off the beach include horseback riding, hiking, cycling, and relaxing at the spas and salons in the city.
For the more adventurous vacationer, Acapulco has popular excursions, including deep sea fishing and snorkeling and scuba diving.
Located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula in close proximity to Cozumel and Cancun, Tulum is a municipality that may be lesser-known than its more famous neighbors, but is a hidden gem among Mexican resort cities. White white sand beaches, archaeological sites, watersports, cycling, and hiking are among the main attractions in Tulum.
Unlike Cancun, the hotels in Tulum are smaller and there are no mega-resorts, although the accommodations in Tulum are still luxurious. Tulum is nestled away from the crowds, and provides a more peaceful, serene atmosphere for vacationers, but still has plenty of bars for those interested in experiencing the nightlife.
The area around Tulum is famous for its cenotes, or underwater caves and sinkholes, which are extremely popular destinations for swimming and snorkeling, and offer a unique experience unlike anything else in the world. Tulum is also famous for its natural beauty, surrounded by lush jungle, with gorgeous lagoons, stunning cliffs and rocky outcrops, and other natural geological formations.
Perhaps the most popular attraction, however, are the Tulum ruins, one of the last cities built by the Maya, the ruins are extensive, and some of the best preserved in the world, featuring the famous Pyramid El Castillo, the Temple of the Descending God, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the God of Wind.
The weather in Tulum is warm and sunny year-round, making it an ideal destination for vacationers looking to relax, cool off, or go on adventures through the jungles and to the historical sites. Tulum offers the best of all worlds, and for that reason, is ranked first among the best Mexican resort cities to vacation at.