Magical Mexico

Head south of the border for a sensational vacation at the best resorts in Mexico, where you can do anything under the sun.

The Arch and sea stacks at Land’s End, Cabo San Lucas

Photo: eStock

Vibrant, tropical and close to home, Mexico’s coasts, home to some of the best resorts in Mexico, make for a tempting escape year-round. Airlines offer frequent and convenient flights, and the country’s location between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west makes for miles of coastline to explore. White sand beaches curve along the eastern side, while golden strands and views of the rainforest-flecked Sierra Madre Occidental mountains edge the west. Ancient Mesoamerican sites and rich Spanish heritage pair with contemporary cities and resort communities—such as Cancún, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos—to create a bewitching blend of tradition and modernism that families, couples and solo travelers can’t wait to discover.

From Cancún, nestled on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, you are ideally situated to access amazing archaeological wonders and beautiful aquatic playgrounds. The translucent blue waters, rimmed with fine white sands and teeming with colorful marine life, are best explored with fins and a mask. Dive into protected underwater reserves or visit local aquariums to witness the incredible variety. A dolphin encounter excursion puts you—or maybe your kids—nose to beak with these social sea creatures in their natural habitat. These outings also are great for learning about ocean conservation. On land, unique adventures shine light on some of Mexico’s earliest inhabitants—the Mayans. Although several sites—including Tulum, Ek’ Balam and the UNESCO World Heritage site Chichén Itzá—lie within about a two-hour drive of one of the best resorts in Mexico, the Hyatt Ziva Cancún, the El Rey site is found within Cancún’s hotel zone. The conveniently accessible ruins date to between 1250 and 1630 A.D. (Don’t mind the iguanas; they’re just looking for a handout.)

Sip a margarita on a quiet bar patio

Photo: iStock

Almost due west from Cancún across Mexico, Puerto Vallarta frolics on the Pacific Ocean. What this picturesque port lacks in Mayan ruins, it makes up for in dining, culture and nightlife. Wander cobblestone streets flanked by whitewashed colonial buildings that dot the lush hillsides like an art deco waterfall. Step into boutiques and galleries to admire traditional handicrafts made by local and regional artisans, and dine at authentic taquerias. All around you, locals eager to offer a warm welcome smile from doorways and cantinas. And the city is as abuzz at night as it is during the day. Enjoy the positive energy as you boogie the night away in an upscale disco, sip a margarita on a quiet bar patio or take in a mariachi band performance. Meanwhile on Puerto Vallarta’s sun-drenched shores, some of the best resorts in Mexico—such as Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta—serve as private havens for relaxation or whatever activity you choose. Wade into the waves, dip into lagoon-like pools, kayak, or launch side trips to Riviera Nayarit, known for its seclusion and scenery.

Kayaking at Cabo San Lucas

Photo: eStock

Los Cabos offers families plenty of room to spread out. Upscale Mexican resorts, such as Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, line its beaches, offering ample privacy for a soothing oceanfront massage, a session of morning yoga on the beach, or space at the pool for your entire brood. Thanks to the area’s position on Baja California Sur, you can soak in endless views of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean from nearly every angle, and the gorgeous sunsets are mesmerizing. Too, Los Cabos is a prime spot for deep-sea fishing, playing golf, surfing or enjoying dozens of other outdoor experiences. It’s a great destination for indulging in a favorite pastime or picking up a new one. Interested in birding? Spend a morning at the nearby estuary and bird sanctuary. Shoppers find their treasures, meanwhile, in colonial-era San Jose del Cabo; people-watching or browsing at an arts festival in the village’s central plaza is also fun. Or just relax—sink into a chaise beneath the warm Mexican sun and listen to the gently lapping waves. Sometimes the best adventure is the simplest one.

AAA Members receive a $50 activity credit per booking at the Mexican resorts Hyatt Ziva Cancún, Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta and Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos.

Originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of AAA Traveler.

The expert Travel Counselors at AAA can help you plan a perfect vacation to Mexico. Call 877-396-7159 or visit your local branch to learn more.

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David Kallas, AAA Travel Counselor, Murray, Utah

I'm all about once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations such as the Cook Islands, Australia or an African safari. I love to plan trips that my clients return from not regretting anything.

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