Things to do in Baja California
Head out into the sun-drenched Pacific on a whale watching jaunt. Cruising the serene blue, scan for humpback whales leaping out of the water and inquisitive grey whales often seen during their annual migration (mid-December to mid-March). If you're lucky, you may also spot blue and sperm whales feeding in the coves as well as resident sea turtles and even the odd dolphin.
Sea Turtle Hatchlings
Around the sleepy towns of Todos Santos and El Pescadero you'll find a number of turtle sanctuaries right on the beach. While the coast is one of the largest breeding sites for olive ridley turtles, only half of their eggs survive; help relocate their nests nearer the ocean and gather at sunset at the water's edge to release tiny turtle hatchlings and watch them steal away into the sea.
An Off-Beat Underwater World
60 miles north of Los Cabos lies the Cabo Pulmo marine reserve. The journey is worth it alone through the remote desert and arid mountains of the Eastern Cape. Pad down to solitary beaches that give way to shallow warm waters and turquoise swimming spots. Here you can snorkel around the oldest and arguably most stunning coral reefs on the entire continent.
Visit Ensenada Grande Beach
Visit Ensenada Grande Beach on Isla Partida for a beautifully remote stretch of coastline away from the crowds of the mainland. The island, off the east coast of the peninsula, is connected to Isla Espiritu Santo and its remoteness only adds to the appeal. The beach, with its pristine white sands, benefits from wonderfully calm waters because of its location in a protected inlet, making it ideal for swimming.
Things to do in Copper Canyon
The Most Scenic Train Ride
Take a ride on one of the world's most mesmerising train journeys stretching from Los Mochis on the Pacific Coast all the way to the highlands of Chihuahua. Sit back, relax and take in 387 miles of epic scenery. That's 39 bridges, 86 tunnels and panoramas of Mexico's wild west; vertical pine forest, giant cacti, dizzying ledges and towering mountain peaks.
Hot Springs & Water-falls
Take a trip to Recohuata Hot Springs for a rejuvenating scenic soak in the wilderness; dip into crystal clear pools of varying temperatures and enjoy remote canyon vistas. Continue on to the picturesque Cusarere Falls where you can get up close to the billowing spray. To round off the experience, climb through the forest to investigate ancient cave dwellings and enjoy staggering mesa views.
Adventure in the Canyon
Get your kicks with an adrenaline-pumping adventure: the world's longest zipline. Glide over the canyon and its vast abyss, taking in its awesome size from hair-raising heights. Alternatively, the views of Copper Canyon are equally magnificent from a scenic aerial car ride or along the many cycle trails scattered throughout.
Things to do in Los Cabos
Take a sailing trip around the wild beauty of Baja California and its perpetually sunny southern tip. You'll soak up impressive views of the cliffs of Land's End with plenty of photo opps around El Arco, a jagged rock formation jutting towards the sky. Then watch the sun set from the picturesque Lover's Beach, famed for its gorgeous stretch of sand and only accessible by boat.
Fish Taco Tasting
If you didn't already know this, the delicious fish taco originated in Baja California. Once a staple for Pre-Columbian societies, this superlative snack is now a staple on Cali's list of trendy comfort foods. In Los Cabos, taste the real deal in one of its many taquerias; chow down 'baja style,' a local speciality mixing spiced white fish, shredded cabbage, citrusy cream and salsa. Delicioso.
Head off-road through the outback of Los Cabos in a four-wheel-drive ATV. Career across dusty roads and canyon trails carving up the wild terrain. As well as high-speed adrenaline rushes, you'll experience serener moments, inspecting flora and fauna and lapping up the landscapes with plenty of photo stops. Or you could travel to a remote beachside bar for a cocktail, toes dug in the sand.
Discover the Quieter Beaches
Cabo San Lucas and neighbouring San Jose Del Cabo are the most visited areas at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, but for the best waters and snorkelling, head up the eastern coastline to Cabo Pulmo. In the opposite direction up the western coastline, a visit to Todos Santos will offer a quieter and quainter contrast to the hustle and bustle of Los Cabos.
Things to do in Mexico City
Take a day trip to the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan, meaning 'birthplace of the gods'. Once the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas with around 125,000 residents, today you can roam the UNESCO World Heritage Site; sprawling pyramids, ceremonial temples and the expansive Avenue of the Dead. Feeling energetic? Try scaling the colossal Pyramid of the Sun, the third largest pyramid in the world.
Explore Zocalo, the beating heart of Mexico City built on the remains of the old Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. Take a stroll along this enormous main square, flanked by compelling architecture including the colonial Cathedral and old-world Federal District buildings. You'll also get to visit the Templo Mayor, a museum showcasing the archaeological remains of the once glorious Aztec civilisation.
Street Food Tasting
Spend the day exploring the city's vibrant street food scene while devouring local delicacies from the signature taco to quesadillas oozing with cheese. Tuck into tamales, a tasty staple of corn masa steamed in its husk with fillings of pork or chicken. Or try tortas, the city's lunchtime special - a monster sandwich stuffed with endless renditions from breaded meat to spiced eggs and avocado.
Visit Local Markets & Southern Neighbourhoods
Food plays a huge part in Mexico's culture so as part of a walking tour of the capital, visit a couple of local markets to meet vendors and learn about the history of Mexican flavours and ingredients. Then head to the southern neighbourhoods of Coyoacán, San Angel and Xochimilco, which have a more 'real' feel than some of the more upscale neighbourhoods like Polanco.
Things to do in Oaxaca & Chiapas
Palenque maybe smaller than the likes of Tikal or Chichen Itza, but this jungle-clad complex contains some of the finest sculptures, bas reliefs and stonework that the Mayans ever produced. Explore exquisite limestone pyramids that peek through the emerald canopy, intricate inscriptions carved into temples, and tombs that housed royal sarcophagi. Visit in the romantic morning light when you can hear the sounds of toucans chattering in the trees.
Take a trip to San Cristobal de las Casas nestled at 7,200ft in the Chiapas highlands. Stroll around its low-slung colourful houses, colonial cobbled streets and centuries-old churches. Then hop over to the neighbouring San Juan Chamula, home to the indigenous Tzotzil people, and enter its mesmerising church illuminated by candles. Chamula families will pray on a pew-less floor with offerings of flower petals, feathers and the odd live chicken.
Markets & Cooking Class
In a town where its cuisine is as colourful as its culture, there's no better way to experience Oaxaca than to dive into its gastronomy. Tour a local market offering slow-cooked barbecue treats, fried plantain snacks and crispy grasshoppers. Accompanied by a local chef, pick your ingredients for the feast to come and then enjoy a fun-filled cooking class learning to make signature Oaxacan dishes.
The Day of the Dead
Visiting Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead celebrations is a wonderful way to experience Mexican culture. This national holiday is not for mourning but for celebration, to remember and honour loved ones that have passed. While this is often a private family affair, visitors can experience the festivities by visiting local village markets, witnessing vigils in cemeteries and taking part in carnival-like processions at night.
Things to do in Pacific Coast
Visit Punta de Mita
Take a trip to Punta de Mita, Puerto Vallarta's more polished ocean-front neighbour. Its quieter waters reveal secluded snorkelling spots around its offshore islands. Dip into the turquoise waters of the Marietas Islands where the coral underworld offers exquisite sightings of sea turtles, stingrays and puffer fish. You can also explore unique underwater topography like caves, rock arches and a stunning hidden beach, only accessible through a tunnel.
Swim With Dolphins
Venture out into the Pacific Ocean to go swimming with wild dolphins; you can often spot pods playing not too far off shore. Head out in a rib with a marine expert who'll offer insight on these resident bottlenose and spotted dolphins. Don't worry, we follow the best practices to ensure these creatures are not disturbed by your presence.
Go Spear Fishing
If spear fishing is on your bucket list, now is your chance to carry out your dreams in one of the most idyllic settings. Accompanied by a local fisherman, take a boat out into the sparkling Pacific where you'll scour the jade green waters for shoals of fish. Don a mask and dive for your prize; tuna, marlin and trigger fish - delicious in ceviche and exceptional in fish tacos.
Things to do in Yucatan Peninsula
Mexico's Maya Ruins
Visit Mexico's ancient Mayan ruins starting at Chichen Itza, the most famous of them all. Take in its sheer size and engineering feats, wandering around gargantuan pyramids and great courts. Continue to the picture-perfect Tulum ruins, set on the rocky coastline, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Stroll around its stone structures before descending the steps to the idyllic beach.
The Caribbean Coast
Unwind on the Yucatan's Caribbean coast; lap up pure white sand fringed by jungle and warm turquoise waters. You could even beach hop from Cancun all the way to the Belize border. There are also some fabulous eateries along the east coast, from chic ocean-facing restaurants to rustic seafood shacks.
Explore the UNESCO-listed town of Campeche, strolling around its cobbled streets and colourful colonial mansions. Nearby, you can see the lesser-visited Mayan sites of Edzna and Calakmul, inspecting their stone pyramids in rare peace. Then bunk down in a stylish hacienda immersed in tropical jungle with the sounds of howler monkeys to lull you to sleep.
Escape the Crowds
For a quieter beach experience away from the crowds of Cancun and Tulum, head to Isla Holbox off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, or for a different body of water altogether, visit the beautiful Lake Bacalar on the southern border with Belize. For wildlife fanatics, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve just south of Tulum is well worth a visit, home to manatees, turtles, jaguar and plenty of birdlife.
The Best of Mexico
It's hard to believe quite how different each trip to Mexico can be, the astounding diversity makes Mexico the ultimate holiday destination to suit almost any criteria. Among the many perks of visiting Mexico is the extensive array of local cuisine – be sure to visit Oaxaca and Mexico City to sample the very best. Read on to discover our other recommendations of what to do in Mexico.
Sea Kayaking & Whale Watching at La Paz
Paddle your way around the vivid waters of the Baja Peninsula, camping on pristine beaches by night and spotting wildlife by day. Our wonderful kayaking and camping trips on the Baja Peninsula are the ideal way to get close to the region's plentiful nature, to enjoy a campfire and the stars at night, and to work off some of the delicious food by kayaking from bay to bay.
Our favourite spots are Magdelena Bay - superb wetland ecosystem and home to gray whales and rich bird life - and the island of Espiritu Santo. Paddle through mangroves, passing cacti strewn cliffs, stopping off in beautiful bays, and soaking up the sunshine. As well as whale watching, you are likely to see sea lion colonies, pelicans and plenty of birds and fish species.
Outside your kayak, enjoy some hiking, bird watching, swimming or snorkelling, not to mention endless photographic opportunities.
You will join a small group, led by an expert wildlife and kayaking guide and cooking crew and will have the back-up of a boat at all times. Camping is fully catered and comfortable, and the secluded beaches chosen for your overnight stops are very often inhabited only by you and the resident flora and fauna.
Day at a Cenote
Cenotes (natural limestone sinkholes) come in different forms from the ‘open’ cenotes that can be found at ground level to the ‘semi-abierto’ cenotes that are half open and half in caves, accessible through small openings leading to chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites.
These pools are filled with mineral rich, crystal clear water. On a hot day they are great places to relax, swim in the cool waters and enjoy a picnic in the jungle surrounded by birds and butterflies. While the cenotes now provide a great way of cooling off, they also have great historical significance as the Mayans relied on them as a source of water and to honour the rain god Chaac.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
The opportunity to swim with the largest fish in the world is not one that comes around very often. Every summer after the first sighting in May it is possible to swim amongst whale sharks that can reach up to 18 meters in length. It is believed that they are a migratory species, but little is known about where they come from and where they go, leading to there being very few places to swim with these fish.
Surfing Lessons at Los Cerritos Beach
Los Cerritos Beach is a great place for both surf aficionados and those who want to try their hand at it for the first time. Even the drive from Cabo San Lucas to this beach is amazing, with the desert on your right and the Pacific Ocean on the left. This popular surfing spot is great for both beginner and experienced surfers and is relatively safe for swimmers. The Cerritos Beach Club has something for everyone, from surfing lessons to horse riding and kayaking, and also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a great family environment.
Camping on Espiritu Santo Island
This is a great place for those looking for an outdoor adventure, as it is likely to remain undeveloped after being sold to the Mexican government in 2003.
The island has two distinctive sides, a rugged series of narrow bays on the southwest and a smoother north-eastern side. The unique camping experience features spacious tents, showers, beds and sheets. Dine on Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine before relaxing in the living room tent or having a drink at the bar. It is also a popular place for snorkelling and diving due to its many reefs and underwater rock formations. The ruins of a pearl-fishing operation at Bahia San Gabriel can be found at the southwest tip of the island.
Gastronomy in Mexico City & Oaxaca
Mexican cuisine was recently granted UNESCO World Heritage status, making this the first national cuisine to merit such exalted eminence. It seems only right to indulge in all manner of Mexican gastronomic delights while staying the capital city and in the famous city of Oaxaca.
Mexico is the number one exporter of avocado, tomato, mango and papaya, and mounds of this delicious produce can be found at the colourful Mercado de San Juan, which is one of the oldest and most unique markets in Mexico City. A tour of the market is also the perfect start to a cookery class or street food tour. One of our favourite food tours is an evening Taco and Mezcal tour, where you'll explore the evening dining scene in the city, visiting some of the leading taquerías in the city, gorging on all manner of cheese-slathered taco delights, and washing it down with some artisanal Mezcal or a Mexican microbrew.
If you’re exploring Oaxaca, then we can organise everything from cooking classes focusing on traditional techniques with Mexican masterchefs, and visits to local markets to shop for delicious fresh local produce - the raw material behind Oaxaca's outstanding cooking. Outside the city itself, we organise private visits to the Valley of Tehuacan, supposedly the first-place man ever cultivated maize, as well as tours to the towns of San Dionisio Ocotepec and Santiago Matatlan, famous for their distilleries making the finest mescal (tequila’s cleaner, classier cousin). Last but not least, we know the best restaurants to actually eat Oaxacan food, and can arrange lunch as special guest in a Zapotec family home to share with the locals some of the key flavours, from chillies to chocolate and seafood from the southern coast.
Mexico is also the very proud (but often forgotten) birthplace of chocolate, and tastings can be enjoyed at Que Bo, one of the most famous 'chocolaterias' in town. Indulge in chocolate bon-bons and truffles, infused with caramel, fruit and flowers, whilst learning about Mexico's cacao legacy between bites. There's something for the grape lovers too, with wine tastings available, and cookery classes which come complete with wine pairings. And then there's the Tequila, but we'll leave that one to you…
Relax on the Riviera Maya
Relax and unwind at one of the many beach-front resorts on the Riviera Maya on Mexico's east coast, along the shores of the Caribbean Sea and just south of the tourist hub of Cancun. It is lined with white sandy beaches, ideal for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing. This is relaxation paradise.