From the cascading Sierra Madre Occidental and Oriental mountain ranges to the historic, bustling inland cities to the lush, gorgeous rainforests and beaches along the coastlines, Mexico is a must-see for any traveler craving a tropical adventure rich in both beauty and history! Dive into crystal clear waters, race ATV’s through muddy rainforest terrain, get authentic and try local street tacos, and then absorb it all while hanging beachside on a hammock, salty ocean breeze dancing over and around you. The fullest traveling experiences come from engaging with the scenery around you, and adventures in México can provide you with the eco-friendly trip of your dreams.
Since Mexico is vast and rich in diverse landscapes and cultural history, it is hard (but not impossible!) to narrow down a list of the perfect locations for adventure travel in Mexico. In fact, having so much to choose from makes the journey more enriching and satisfying. Here are some diverse, popular choices to aid you in your search for the right locations, activities, and ambiance for your adventure in Mexico:
Set those mental images of wild college spring breaks aside because Cancun has so much more to offer! A visually exquisite spot with beautiful beaches, Cancun is located in a prime spot at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and is a great central hub since it is nearby to many adventurous activities. Zoom down the coast and spend the day at Xel-Ha park, an eco-touristic natural aquatic park, or zip over to Isla Mujeres, a small island nearby, for 35 pesos a ride ($3).
Playa del Carmen, like other resort destinations, has soft sand beaches and is a short ride away from stunning ancient ruins like Tulum. Coastline towns are where travelers find most mainstream tourist excursions. Thrill seekers will find that parasailing hundreds of feet above the ocean or ATVing and zip lining through the rainforests are excellent options to fuel those adrenaline rushes. For a spontaneous getaway, ride a ferry to Isla Cozumel, an island with the Western Hemisphere’s largest reef system and famous for its incomparable scuba diving. If diving is not your thing, suit up with mask and snorkel, skim across the top of the ocean, and still witness some of the most exquisite ocean life from above.
Once the center of an Aztec empire, Mexico City is now one of the great cultural cities of the world. As the capital, it is the country’s destination for politics, museums, nightlife, shopping, and grand architecture. Enrich your adventure in México by setting foot in some adventurously educational sites too! A must-see is the National Museum of Anthropology, as it holds one of the world’s largest collections of ancient pre-Hispanic Mayan Civilization artifacts. Largely resembling Manhattan’s Central Park, Chapultepec Park contains winding sidewalks, wide-open spaces, and an array of daily events. While meandering about, keep your head up and take in all the colonial architecture the city skyscrapers have to offer.
Adventure Travel in Mexico
From inland to coastline, and from under the water to the sandy beaches above shore, Mexico has adventure activities to cater to any need and desire. So, whether you are seeking a real thrill or looking to share your experience with an excursion-bound group, you are sure to find what you love!
The most popular adventures in Mexico are ocean-bound, including scuba diving the coral reefs or parasailing on top of the water. Snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, and sailing are eco-friendly and sublime at almost any beach or cove, and the constantly sunny weather adds perfection to any beachside activity. Take a boat out to sea and check deep-sea fishing off that bucket list! Or, leave the beachside life behind for a weekend and make the trip up to El Potrero Chico to put your rock climbing skills to test! When the adrenaline junkie in you has been satisfied, adventure tours to the ruins are extraordinary to behold.
The best time to travel to México is between December and April, the non-rainy months. November usually sees the least number of tourists, so if you are looking to avoid a crowd this is a great time to schedule an adventure tour in Mexico!
Costs & Affordability
Mexican resorts can blow a full budget in no time, so to keep expenses low and still have money for excursions, look into hostels that cost only a few dollars per day. Save money on food by buying local fruit and vegetables off the street (make sure to wash!) as well as by purchasing groceries from mercados, or small markets. You can buy produce, such as an avocado, for about three cents. When moving around, use buses to keep local transportation costs under a dollar. You can also utilize cabs and negotiate prices beforehand; however, if able to walk around town, please do. Enjoy the newness, the people, the conversations, and the adventure of it all!
As with any budgeted trip, plan to save money ahead of time so you can freely enjoy your adventure in México. If you spend less on lodging, it will help cover guided excursions, as they tend to be more expensive and range between $70 and $100 per person. Depending on where you are and what excursions you choose, prices for adventure tours in Mexico will vary. Additionally, non-resort activities llike snorkeling, hiking,. sightseeing. and various cost free eco-tours are cheaper options for the traveler on a budget.
Accommodation & Visas
As an extraordinary international vacation spot, Mexico has a variety of living accommodations that can satisfy any traveler’s budget. Many adventure travel programs in Mexico provide reasonable housing for their participants, but other options are available for the lone adventurer. In cities, hostels cost around $10 a day and provide free Wi-Fi, laundry, and 24 hour front desk service. Closer to the coastline hostel prices rise to about $10 to $20 a day. These hostels tend to have a more local feel, give travelers that eco-adventure experience they seek, and also provide basic amenities, including a kitchen, hot water, and Wi-Fi.
If traveling from the U.S. or Canada, you are on Mexico’s “no visa required” list and therefore don’t need a visa before embarking on your journey. There are different requirements if you travel by land versus air (you will need to obtain an entry permit at an immigration checkpoint). If traveling from a different country, it is important to contact a Mexican Embassy in your home country to check visa requirements.
Benefits & Challenges
Coming from a rich cultural history that began with the Mayan civilizations, travel in Mexico offers a perfect view of the ancient past that is completely immersed in modern day Mexico. Amidst the countless tourist attractions, the ancient Mayan ruins date back to 250-950 CE. Many of these sites, including Tulum, Chichen Itza, and El Rey Ruins, are accessible to travelers. The ability to be in a diverse land rooted in such history is a treat for any traveler and cannot be found just anywhere.
Mexico is a currently developing country and holds its share of challenges for traveling guests. The water differs in bacteria and overall cleanliness and outside traveler’s bodies are not always accustomed to or able to handle it well; this results in stomach sickness, known in Mexico as “Montezuma’s Revenge,” but usually only lasts a few days. It is important to always drink “agua puro” (purified water), and to pay close attention to your use of tap water (i.e. showers, washing hands, food, and dishes).
In cities, keep personal items like money and passports close to your body at all times. Even though not all places require such careful attention to detail, this will reduce your risk of theft on an unlucky day.
With so many adventures in Mexico available, travelers will find no shortage of new experiences to add to their travel log. The combination of Mexico’s preserved ancient civilizations intertwined with the intoxicating beauty of both land and sea provides the perfect balance for an internationally educational and soulfully thrilling experience for a traveler’s next epic journey.