When many travellers think about visiting North America, they picture the United States and Canada. Unbeknownst to many, North America consists of twenty-three countries, and Mexico is one of them. Mexico, the fourteenth largest country in the world, is known for spicy food, dancing, and lightweight champion boxers. This country is also a beautiful destination spot for sun and adventure seekers. The tropical weather and welcoming populace have made it one of the hottest destinations in the western hemisphere for years.
Getting to Mexico is not challenging. There are flights from all major American airports daily, if not multiple times a day, and many major European airports also offer flights. Once there, travellers will enjoy the exchange rate of USD 1 to19.58 Peso. While most Mexicans speak Spanish, those working in tourist areas all have varying degrees of knowledge in English. This makes it easy for most tourists to communicate and move around without any degree of difficulty. The best time to visit the eastern coastline is from March to early August. Temperatures rise as the months progress, and there is a chance of more storms occurring in August.
For travellers who want a taste of what Mexico has to offer and only have a few days, I recommend visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya.
Cozumel, an island off the east coast of Mexico, was once considered a spiritual sanctuary for the Mayans. The island was settled by the Mayans some 2,000 years ago. The predominant settlements were located around religious centres El Cedral and San Gervasio. The island became popular with the Spanish because it was a good location to stop when visiting other territories such as Honduras and Guatemala. Today, the island serves as a vacation spot for many reasons; the sun, shopping, snorkelling, swimming, fishing, and diving. It is an archaeologist and inquisitive layman’s playground full of Mayan ruins.
The beaches, which are probably the main reason why travellers visit the island, have white sand that meets the clear warm and beautiful blue and green Gulf of Mexico.
One of the benefits of visiting the park is its proximity to everything and the quality of the facilities. Snorkelling is located right off the beach! There is no need to take a boat ride twenty minutes from shore to see Nemo. You can simply walk down the steps on the far end of the beach, float a half meter and you will be swimming among numerous species of saltwater fish and plant life. Upon choosing one, our snorkelling guide served us with the only request of blessing him with a generous gratuity. The guide will suit with the appropriate gear and swim with you around the reef, take pictures of you in action, and show you the remnants of the ancient Mayan statues deep in the water. There are numerous restaurants and bars at the facility, which is great for those who want to connect with nature. For travellers who want to be pampered, there are numerous high-end beach resorts and private beaches that have all the amenities needed.
The Chankanaab National Park, located about ten minutes from the cruise ship arrival docks, is a great spot to start exploring the island’s natural beauty, relax, and eat. For USD 2.00 per person, a taxi will take you there from the cruise port. Once there, you will be met by the helpful staff who will collect the park entry fee and provide information on all the activities you can partake in while in the park. Swimming is free. However, snorkelling, scuba diving, zip-lining, playing laser tag, and swimming with the dolphins: all major tourists’ attractions will come with, and they offer food ranging from traditional Mexican to American cuisine. Be careful not to request spicy salsa unless your pallet is accustomed to hot food.
Closer to the cruise port, there are numerous bars and restaurants, such as Bubble Gump and Senor Frogs. Adult beverage prices at the bars will be lower than those found in American and European bars; however, food prices are higher than I expected. There are also private beaches where you can relax and take a swim for a small fee. If you only want to swim for a few hours, there is no need to spend a lot of money on a package. However, if you plan on eating and drinking until it is time to return to your ship or the airport, I suggest prepaying for a beach package that will grant you access to the facilities, food and drinks.
Costa Maya, the second city I recommend that you visit, is primarily a tourist hub and has, for the most part, been manufactured by cruise lines. There are isolated Mayan ruins in the area and small fishing villages surrounding the port. Costa Maya is a popular destination for cruise ships and people who want to visit a port on the east coast of Mexico. The port is home to a bevvy of restaurants, shops, beaches, and restaurants. Near the cruise port, there are many activities for adults and teens.
However, if you are willing to take a 5 to 10-minute taxi ride from the docks, you will find a better selection of shops and private beaches to visit. The Krazy Lobster is one of those locations. The Mexican-themed one-stop restaurant, beach and relaxation place is a good spot to spend 3 to 4 hours or all day if you just want to get away from the larger crowded beaches. The restaurant serves tasty Mexican food that will satisfy most foodies. It will also educate some on the fact that Mexican food is more than tacos and refried beans; but instead a mixture of Mayan and Aztec dishes that have been influenced by the Spanish. While you are dining, you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the beach.
Taking a short swim after you dine is another option, or try out one of the kayaks for free. One of the highlights of my visit was taking the 1-hour snorkelling excursion for USD 20.
After a quick ten-minute boat ride, the attendant escorted us for a one-kilometre life-jacketed swim around the beautiful reef (one hour). He pointed out the fish, urchins, lobster, stingrays, and different types of coral. The highlight of the swim was when we came across a large sea turtle and had an opportunity to see it feed on the bottom of the gulf and resurface for air. The water surrounding Costa Maya is clear, providing you with an opportunity to see the bottom of the ocean. The weak current makes it possible for swimmers to relax as they are guided along an extraordinary natural adventure.
Along the coastline on the left and right side of the Krazy Lobster, there are beaches, shops, and eateries. The strip is well-visited, and tourists should feel very safe. If you have some extra time after snorkelling, visit some of the shops and look for souvenirs or unique finds for yourself. Be ready to walk away or negotiate for a better price. The posted prices are high, and the shop owners are willing to adjust them if they know you are ready to walk away, empty-handed. The country with vivid cultural experiences and countless sights to see is a must-visit destination. Spending five to seven days in Mexico will not provide you with an opportunity to visit all it has to offer. But it will give you a list of reasons why you should come back to visit again.