I understand how tempting all-inclusive mega-resorts can be. Someone bringing you icy cocktails and booking your excursions with a simple text message holds a certain kind of appeal. However, Mexico offers so much more than rows of resorts along the coasts. With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, I wanted to share some suggestions for exploring the country that take you off the beaten path. My family had a second home there for over a decade, which allowed me to explore a little more like a local.
If you want to relax on the beach: Isla Mujeres
Located not far from Cancun, travelers reach Isla Mujeres by boat. Though only about eight miles away by distance, the island feels like a different world from the booming nightlife-enclave of Cancun. Relax on the beach, soak in the beauty, and take the time to explore the nearby coral reefs by snorkeling or scuba diving. If you decide to venture a little further from your lounge chair, you can find the remains of a Mayan temple and a lighthouse on the southern part of the the island. I had the fortunate experience to go whale shark diving not far from the island which was an unforgettable experience. Thank
If you're seeking enlightenment: San Pancho
If your soul needs a little soothing, look no further than San Pancho. A haven for yogis and artists, this small town offers a respite from stress and worry. Thankfully, you can fly into the international airport in Puerto Vallarta and travel only 45 minutes north to reach San Pancho. You won't find mega resorts here, but you will have your choice of accommodations, including tropical bungalows offering a backdrop of jungle sounds.
If you appreciate eco-conscious travel: Todas Santos
Go north from Cabo San Lucas and escape to a place making a conscious effort to keep the land, including the beautiful beaches, unspoiled. Surfers love the small town, and you will, too. The hotels there are beautifully appointed but purposefully keep their footprint small. Fresh seafood abounds, and the local stores welcome you with a smile. Ask about the safety of each beach before diving into the waves. The same current that makes for killer surfing conditions can be dangerous for swimmers.
If you've got an eye for architecture: San Luis Potosi
This one might be considered cheating, because it's not exactly off the beaten path! In Central Mexico, San Luis Potosi offers the perfect opportunity for architecture and history buffs to see some of the most beautiful colonial buildings in the country. At one time, the city was a major mining hub—mainly gold and silver, though now visitors will have more luck finding craft beer at La Oruga Y La Cebada than precious metals.
If you're looking for artisan goods: Morelia
I'm always interested in where locals go, from restaurants to shops I might not otherwise duck into. Since Morelia attracts a large number of visitors from inside of Mexico, I knew it must be a special place. The pink stone architecture stuns, but I have to admit I feel drawn to the city because of the large number of artisanal vendors scattered throughout the city. I'm always on the lookout for inspiration, and nothing impresses me more than seeing the passion poured into hand-crafted jewelry and textiles.
When you travel, do you stick to well-known locations or look for hidden gems?