Colourful in every sense of the word. From the vivid emerald green jungle, multi-hued parrots and macaws fluttering above Mayan ruins and deeply turquoise lapping waters to the deliciously fragrant cuisine which has gladly infiltrated most countries in the northern hemisphere (fajitas anyone?), Mexico is a maelstrom of color, texture, smells, sights and sounds that needs to be experienced from the inside. If you’re used to various hues of grey back at home (skyscrapers, pavements, the sky…), prepare for a most colorful wake-me-up in Me-hi-co.
AT A GLANCE
Bordered to the north by America’s wilder states – California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – and to the south by Guatemala and Belize, Mexico is steeped in history that dates from the time of the Mayan civilization, to Spain’s colonial rule. There are countless beaches along the coastline for you to explore – whether you want to surf, flop or watch wildlife – and the interior is dotted with ancient ruins, jungle, volcanoes, ceremonial sites and ageing haciendas.
WHAT TO SEE
A visit to the thrillingly chaotic subwaypolis of Mexico City is a given when visiting this beautiful country. Where glassy sky scrapers exist next to centuries-old cobblestones, you can explore Aztec ruins by day and party with locals by night. But don’t stay too long as the rest of the country awaits.
Head to Oaxaca and make your base a colonial hacienda. Oaxaca is an epically historic state where you can explore mammoth ceremonial sites and sample the famous local food at traditional markets. Toasted grasstoreper anyone? Be here on November 1st for the ghoulish Day of the Dead festival and, in July, for the traditional harvest dances.
There are pre-colonial silver mines and age-old Aztec pyramids that will make for lasting memories (and incredible photographs, get the tripod at the ready) in the Central Highlands, which is where you will also discover the remote lakeside town of Patzcuaro and the untouched island village of Janitzio – which has been described as ‘the door to heaven’.
World-famous oceanographer Jacques Coutseau described the Sea of Cortez as ‘the world’s biggest aquarium’, and you’ll see why when you meet all the seals, whale sharks, turtles, whales and manta rays in this watery wilderness.
On the Yucatan Peninsula, far from Cancun’s choked beaches (no thanks), you’ll find a place that’s teeming with tropical wildlife beyond the picture-perfect beaches. Don a snorkel and explore one of the world’s largest coral reefs, and enormous underwater cave systems found below the surface of the unique cenotes (rocky sinkholes filled with rain). Watch out for pink flamingos in bustling nature reserves and swim with whale sharks in Isla Holbox. Paradise.
And if what you really want is a coastal paradise to relax in, then let us spirit you away to the talcum powder sands and gin-clear waters of the tiny Isla Mujeres – one of our best-kept secrets. You can spend your days snorkelling or diving to discover underwater edens, kayaking to secret beaches, or just lounging in your hammock.
WHY WE LOVE IT
Ancient civilisation meets colonial grandeur meets tropical paradise meets cultural injection… With fish tacos and tequila. Sign us up.