If you want your beach with a slice of Mexican heritage, head for spectacular Riviera Maya. This stunning strip of coastline offers some of Mexico’s best tropical beaches and ancient Mayan ruins. Gawk at the ruins of Chichen Itza, enjoy flirty fun in Playa Del Carmen, and feel the quiet charm of Punta Allen. Then retreat to the silky sand beach for a frosty margarita; an exotic end to your perfect Mexican day.
Holidays to the Mayan Riviera offer unique coral reefs and cenotes (sinkholes) that are splendid for snorkelers to explore. Strap on your own snorkelling gear and swim out from the shore or take an organised trip to deeper waters. Puerto Morelos offers a large coral reef chain where the coral is often just six feet below the surface or head to the caves at Tak Be Ha and Hilario’s Well. Numerous scuba diving centres offer dive courses, cenote diving, and ocean diving through the area. Some of the best diving is located around the island of Cozumel or Pared Verde, Playa Del Carmen’s signature reef dive.
The Mexican Riviera’s spectacular coastline offers strips of powdery white sands fringed with jade-green waters. From Cancun toTulum and every single site in between there are stretches of beautiful beaches. The warm, turquoise waters of Akumal are protected by a natural bay and hugged by silky white sand and an offshore reef, or head to Tulum, where jewel-toned water laps just below the spectacular ruins perched on the bluffs above the beach. For a get-away-from-it-all vibe head to Isla Holbox or hide away in Punta Bete.
Rio Secreto is an underground system of rivers, pools, and semi-sunken caves in Riviera Maya’s Yucatan Peninsula. This staggeringly beautiful natural marvel offers an underground labyrinth of passageways through formed geological processes and dramatic mineral formations. Guided tours allow you to hike and swim through a maze of chambers encrusted with elaborate stalactites and stalagmites.
The Mayan Riviera has numerous archaeological ruins stretching along the pure shores. The Tulum ruins form a spectacular backdrop against jade waters and powdery white sand beaches. The ruins of the castillo (castle) stand on a bluff facing the sparkling Caribbean. Look inside the Temple of the Frescoes to see a beautifully preserved mural then wind down the pathway just north of the castillo to the secluded stretch of sandy beach. The Mayan ruins of Cobá are the remains of one of the largest Mayan cities.
Literally meaning ‘place where water is born’, Xel-Ha is the magical location where the ocean meets the freshwater currents of underground rivers and springs. Together this forms a complex ecosystem, with stunning surroundings set beneath a thick jungle, caves, archaeological sites, and beautiful snorkelling. The natural aquarium park offers snorkelling, swimming with the dolphins, and stingray encounters.
There are two main carriers offering flights to Cancun with two more going via the States, and one main carrier to Mexico City with another going via the States.
Direct Carriers: Direct carriers from the UK are British Airways and Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick to Cancun and British Airways from London Heathrow to Mexico City. Thomson also offer a direct charter service to Cancun from most regional airports from May to December.
Indirect Carriers: British Airways offer flights from most other regional airports such as Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh with a connection via London Gatwick or London Heathrow. Continental offer an indirect service to both Cancun and Mexico City via the states from most regional airports, and American Airlines offer an indirect service to Cancun via the States, making flying out on your Mexico holidays flexible and convenient.
Please note: Exit Tax approx 42 pounds per person (720 pesos) payable locally on departure.
None for British citizens
The official Mexican currency is the Peso. You can buy Mexican Pesos before you leave the UK. If you need cash when you're there, go to a currency exchange (known as a Casas de Cambio), bank, or large hotel.
UK debit and credit cards are widely accepted and can be used at most cash machines. When paying smaller businesses, though, you may need to pay in cash. Travellers' cheques can be converted at currency exchanges throughout Mexico. Although the Peso is Mexico's national currency, many tourist establishments quote prices in US Dollars. You'll see the abbreviation DLLS used for Dollars and MN or MXP for Mexican Pesos.
In Mexico, a tip is always appreciated as a reward for good service. Many workers rely on your tips to supplement their basic pay, so it’s a good idea to keep some loose change in your pockets. In restaurants, 10 to 15 percent is normal. In taxis, it is customary to round up to the nearest five to 10 Mexican Pesos. In your hotel, it is nice to tip the bellboys around five to 15 Mexican Pesos per bag.
May, June, September, October and November
Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid immunisation and malaria tablets are recommended.
Mexico holidays are hot, hot, hot, with a tropical climate all year round. So pack to keep cool and protect yourself from the blazing sun. Despite the daytime heat, evenings can get a bit nippy in some parts of the country, like Mexico City. You're also more likely to get caught in a rain shower from May to October.
lightweight clothing in natural fabrics like cotton or linen;
A wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face;
High factor sunscreen;
An electrical adapter (the power supply in Mexico is 115 volts at 60 hertz);
Comfortable walking sandals for exploring;
An underwater camera for snorkelling;
PADI and medical certificates if required for scuba diving.
lightweight clothing in natural fabrics like cotton or linen;
Forget the heavy, overcooked dishes that sometimes pass for Mexican cuisine. The real thing is made with love, packed with flavour, and is a big part of the Mexican experience.Corn and beans are two of the main ingredients in Mexican cooking, with staples like tortillas and frijoles (refried beans) regulars at the kitchen table along with fresh tomatoes, chillies, and avocados.
Number one contender for Mexico’s national dish, this rich red sauce contains around 20 ingredients, including a mix of chilli peppers and a small amount of chocolate to counteract their heat. You will usually find it served over chicken or turkey.
Mexico just wouldn’t be Mexico without them. Traditional corn tortillas are made from corn cooked in water and lime, ground into dough, pressed into thin cakes, and cooked on a hot griddle. Tortillas are used to make main dishes like quesadillas, burritos and enchiladas.
Served with most meals, Mexican salsa comes in many forms, from the smoky salsa chipotle to the fresh green flavour of salsa verde. The most common, pico de gallo, is made with raw tomatoes, chilli peppers, onions, lime juice, and cilantro leaves.
Chillies cross the spectrum from fiery to mild and feature in most traditional dishes. If you find a chilli too hot to handle, put out the fire in your mouth with milk, yoghurt, banana, or cucumber.
Sometimes food just tastes better without a knife and fork. You’ll find plenty of food stalls and carts on your Mexican holiday, and they’re cheaper too. Hit the street for a taste of real Mexico, and take note of where the locals buy their lunch – they’re the experts after all. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean, fresh, and cooked right in front of you.
Dished up from huge steaming pots, tamales are cooked and served in a banana leaf or corn husk wrapper. Inside you’ll find spongy corn dough usually filled with pork or chicken in a spicy salsa or mole.
You’ll see taquerías everywhere you look in Mexico, selling these hot folded tortillas filled with endless combinations of meats, cheeses, fish, beans, and garnishes like guacamole and salsa.
Your spending money should stretch quite far on holiday in Mexico. You can buy a litre bottle of water for around 10 Mexican Pesos, a beer in a bar might set you back 25 Mexican Pesos, and you can expect to pay an average of 150 Mexican Pesos per person for a three course meal and a bottle of wine.
The average modern Mexican dresses much as we do -- shirts, trousers, skirts, suits for the office, jeans and T-shirts on days off. Traditional clothing is more distinctive though, especially in its vibrant colours and decorative embroidery. Women may choose garments like the quechquémitl, a colourful poncho worn on special occasions. Men may have a sarape, a large blanket cape, in their wardrobe. Mexican costume comes into its own during celebrations and festivities, when men dress up in iconic wide-brimmed sombrero hats or embroidered Mariachi suits.
As a close neighbour of the USA, it's hardly surprising that Mexico has been westernised in numerous ways. But many aspects of its culture remain traditional. At the heart of this are the country's strong family values. Families are generally large and very traditional, with the father as chief decision-maker. Throughout Mexican culture, people have a great respect for authority.
When it comes to etiquette, it’s worth keeping the following in mind:
• Acknowledge and greet people individually rather than as a group
• Use titles of respect - address people as señor, señora, and señorita
• Women pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder, rather than shake hands
• Men shake hands until they know someone well, when they’ll move onto the more customary hug and back slap
Holidays in Mexico give you the chance to explore one of the most ecologically diverse countries on Earth. Get back to nature in Mexico's 22 biosphere reserves, 47 national parks, and nine protected areas, all home to an abundance of flora and fauna. The exotic national wildlife includes monkeys, jaguars, pumas, iguanas, wolves, bears, lynx, tapirs, ocelots, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes. There are over 1,000 species of birds, including flamingoes, parrots, toucans, macaws, and humming birds. And the sea is home to dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and whales, not to mention the colourful fishes that make snorkelling one of Mexico's great pleasures.
Visit Mexico between November and April and you can take a boat out to see some of the thousands of grey whales (and their offspring) that migrate to the Mexican coast every year.
Watch dolphins swim together in the wild on a boat trip, or swim with these intelligent, playful creatures yourself at one of Mexico’s dolphin centres.
Sea Turtle Sanctuaries
Every year, endangered sea turtles come to Mexico’s shores to lay their eggs in the sand. Make a trip to one of the sanctuaries or protected areas to see how conservationists are working to prevent poaching and help the vulnerable hatched turtles into the sea.