A country rich in ancient history, mouthwatering cuisine and sprawling white-sanded beaches, Mexico should be on everyone’s must-travel list. Whether you want to lay on the beaches of Cancun and swim with turtles just offshore, dive into the azure waters of underground cenotes or roam the grounds of ancient ruins as the sunset illuminates their 1000-year-old stones, Mexico offers something for everyone.
With each region incredibly diverse from the next, choosing how to structure your trip in Mexico can be difficult. Do you dive into the cultural capitals like the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan or the vibrant Mexico City or do you explore the picture-perfect beaches of Quintana Roo in the south? Not to mention the vast coastal region of the Yucatan Peninsula which is brimming with spectacular wildlife, ancient Mayan ruins and exquisite beaches.
Designer Journeys’s Grace Homer has put together six unique cultural experiences you can only have in Mexico which are guaranteed to ignite your wanderlust. You never know, after reading this, Mexico may just be one adventure that you can absolutely not miss out on.
1. Swim with Whale Sharks, Turtles and Manta Rays in Cancun
Spanning May to September, the whale shark season in Cancun sees these giant majestic animals flocking to this area of Mexico to feed on the plankton which is abundant in the area. Known as the largest fish in the world, before swimming with these gentle giants, you’ll learn all about their behaviour and their environment from your expert guide.
The result? An incredible experience for both you and the whale sharks. As well as this bucket-list experience, you’ll also get the chance to snorkel amongst manta rays, sea turtles and dolphins who inhabit the same waters. At the end of each exciting trip out to these fantastic coral reefs, you’ll return to your beach paradise at Cancun’s heart.
2. Experience One of the Most Scenic Train Rides in the World
One of Mexico’s lesser-known destinations, the Copper Canyon sits in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. In some places, it is deeper than the Grand Canyon in the US. Up until the mid-1960s, the Copper Canyon was basically inaccessible. The completion of the 60-year-long railway project, namely the Chepe Express, opened up this canyon to visitors.
Now you can experience incredible railway which is one of the best ways to explore the stunning natural scenery of Copper Canyon, taking in one of the most stunning views in Mexico.
Chugging along 653 kilometres of track, the Chepe Railway can take from 9 to 16 hours to complete, crossing a massive 37 bridges and travelling through 86 tunnels, all whilst climbing an elevation of 2,400 metres. The scenery is wildly beautiful, taking you through five towns, down to sea level and through magnificent landscapes.
3. Spot the Pink Flamingos in Celestun
Mexico is a land of rich biodiversity. Maintaining and protecting this is extremely important. One of three spots to spot these beautiful cerise birds in their natural habitat, each year from November to February over 35,000 flamingos gather at the Celesten Biosphere Reserve to mate.
A spectacular sight, you’ll learn all about these unique animals, see them take flight and marvel at the pure masses of pink birds elegantly gathered in this environment.
This 15-Day Eco Trip in Yucatan is one of your best chances to see these beautiful birds. In addition, you’ll also have mystical experiences with a local shaman, discover the most beautiful sites in Mexico outside opening hours and observe dolphins in their natural environment in a trip entirely tailored to responsible travel.
4. Witness One of the World’s Greatest Archaeological Sites
Known as one of the greatest Mayan centres in Mexico, Chichén Itzá is a sacred site with a history dating back 1,000 years. Built by the Maya people, Chichén Itzá was once a large pre-Columbian city with significant influence on Mesoamerica at the time.
The site illustrates a multitude of architectural styles, including styles commonly seen in central Mexico. This is largely due to cultural diffusion and the many different people who left their mark on Chichén Itzá.
Several buildings have survived in the city including the Warriors’ Temple, El Castillo and the circular observatory known as El Caracol, all of which you can see on this 15-Day Off-the-Beaten-Track Mexico trip. On this trip, you’ll explore southern Mexico in depth by discovering its wilderness, local populations and iconic sights.
5. Marvel at Scenery Like no Other at Hierve el Agua
Translating from Spanish to mean “the water boils”, Hierve el Agua is a rock formation that looks like a waterfall that is frozen in time. The rock face has formed like this because of the water that is coming from a spring that has a high concentration calcium-carbonate, which, when it trickles down the rock, leaves fragments of white behind, similar to the way that stalactites form.
This imposing waterfall is located in the middle of a mountain range. Above it, there are several mineral ponds where you can swim and take in the amazing scenery of the surrounding mountain ranges.
You can experience the incredible landscapes, local communities and vibrant city life that Oaxaca has to offer on a Mexico tour.
6. Dive into Crystal Clear Underground Pools Sacred to Ancient Civilisations
Created from the collapse of a limestone bedrock which exposes ground or water beneath it, a cenote can be likened to a natural pit or sinkhole. The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is scattered with cenotes; it is estimated that there are over 6,000 cenotes in this region alone.
Yucatan is a region largely defined by its distinct geological features. Cenotes were once secret to ancient Mayan civilisations and have now become of one Mexico’s key features. Always characterised by azure blue or emerald green water, high cliffs that form cool shade and dangling plants and trees which create an atmospheric setting as the sun beams down on the water.