Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea and more than 7,000 tropical islands, in a region that leads your senses on an unforgettable journey. Coral reefs, perfect waves, palm-lined beaches, rich culture, history and, of course, tequila, are just some of the tantalising adventures in store. Here’s a snapshot Mexico and Caribbean guide, to get you in the mood for a holiday fiesta – like no other.
Mexico and Caribbean Guide: Handy Tips
Travel throughout Mexico and the Caribbean is generally easy for tourists, with good infrastructure in place, especially on the most popular Caribbean islands and Mexican beaches. With some research and an open-mind towards differences in culture, you can look forward to an experience of a lifetime, without any travel trauma.
Things to know, before you go:
- Check with your doctor with regard to any medical precautions you need to take before entering the region. Consult travel and government forums with regard to safety threats in certain districts, before you choose a destination.
- Tipping is a customary practice in Mexico, even in grocery stores, as wages can be very low.
- With so many wonderful faces and places to capture, your camera will be attached to your hand, but make sure you ask permission to take photos of people, especially in small or rural communities.
- Public restrooms can be a rarity, so use the facilities when you’re in bars, restaurants and hotels.
- Bartering is common and expected in markets, as long as you don’t go too much lower than what items are worth.
- Speaking a little bit of Spanish will go a long way in helping your travels.
- Make sure you don’t drink the tap water, have ice, or eat foods rinsed in tap water, if you’re worried about getting sick.
- Be aware of scams. Always check with your hotel or a guide about the validity of offers.
- When you’re snorkelling or swimming near reefs, be careful not to touch or handle coral or sea creatures and wear dive shoes to avoid injury.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Mexico and Caribbean Guide: Where to?
It makes perfect sense to tour Mexico for a week or two, before hitting the beach on a tropical island for rest and relaxation. If you don’t have that much time, great package deals are always available to the most popular Caribbean islands, so it’s also possible to take shorter, week-long breaks. This way, you’ll discover an entirely new culture with the bonus of sun, sea and sand.
In choosing the best locations for you, it helps to consider your interests, the activities you love and whether you want relaxation, adventure or both! Here’s a list of the most popular destinations, to help you decide.
History and Architecture
Travel in Mexico means encountering incredible history, beginning with ancient civilisations, no matter where you go. Mexico City boasts museums, colonial neighbourhoods and the nearby archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site, Teotihuacan.
The state of Yucatan is the home of mesmerising Mayan culture, with the historical sites of Chichen Itza and the Kukulkan Mayan Pyramid. Explore Tulum for spectacular historical ruins along a pristine coast. On the islands, visit Barbados for the historic Bridgetown, Havana (Cuba) for Spanish colonial architecture or Kingston (Jamaica) to discover history from pre-historic to modern times and reggae legend, Bob Marley.
Adventure and Scenery
Sayulita, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is the place for keen surfers, with tours to secluded spots only accessible by boat, or head to Barbados for huge surf breaks. Travel to Isla Holbox, not far from Cancun, to go on a tour and snorkel with whale sharks.
Base yourself in historical Oaxaca for mind-blowing landscapes and explorations of The Sierra Norte, via hiking trips through mountainous forests alive with unique flora and fauna. Enjoy the rugged beauty of Mexico’s Copper Canyon by railway or a mountain bike ride and delight in thousands of butterflies at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Angangueo. If you can’t wait to catch your own dinner, try deep-sea fishing in Cabo San Lucas.
Beaches, Relaxation and Parties
Take your pick from an incredible list of spectacular beaches in Mexico, including Playa Del Carmen with hippie appeal and stretches of perfect white sand, Puerto Vallarta with secluded beaches and a beautiful boardwalk, Cozumel for diving in warm, turquoise waters and Huatulco, with 9 different bays for every type of sun, sand and sea experience.
On the islands, you simply can’t go wrong. Some of the most beautiful beaches include Shoal Bay in Anguilla, Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, Baby Beach in Aruba, Mullins Beach in Barbados and Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica.
Food and Nightlife
Foodies rejoice in Mexico; whether you eat at a sophisticated restaurant or a street stall, you’ll be in a Tostada, Quesadilla and Guacamole trance. As for the islands, if seafood is your thing, welcome to nirvana. To top it off, each region has its own special flavour, so be sure to try the succulent, local dishes.
For all-round nightlife, Cancun tops the list for options ranging from piano bars, to all-night clubs and live entertainment. Mexico City boasts a world-class night scene, with music ranging from salsa to techno, hundreds of venues to sample tequila and a comprehensive performing arts culture.
Of the islands, Aruba’s resort bars burst into action on sunset. Montego Bay’s ‘Hip Strip’, (Jamaica) boasts non-stop partying, Caribbean style. San Juan, in Puerto Rico, is the place to go for casinos, shows, dancing and clubs and Curacao comes alive with happy hours, bars and live music.
Ready to pack your bags? Don’t forget your dancing shoes…and a good fiesta hangover cure.
If you can’t get enough of cities combining the beach, history and a bloody good party, check out the 10 best things to do in Sydney.