MEXICO CITY, January 6, 2006. Need a break from the daily grind? Seeking a sunny place to unwind close to home? Look no farther than Mexico’s coastal paradises this winter. With thousands of miles of coastline there are hundreds of unexplored areas just waiting for sun-seekers to hang up their hammock and enjoy a scrumptious seafood taco.
PACIFIC COAST Nayarit and Jalisco
Sun-seekers are bound to find a place to rest their towel and forget their worries on the beaches of Nayarit. The small yet colorful state located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is not only a major agricultural center but also one of Mexico’s most beautiful beach destinations. Among the must-sees is the coastal city of San Blas, founded in the mid XVII century and the main tourist center in Nayarit because of the beauty of its beaches and countryside. Water sports abound and there are many seaside restaurants which specialize in serving up the local seafood delicacies.
Another Nayarit secret enclave is the tiny low-key fishing village of Sayulita. The beautiful sandy beaches are popular among surfers who come from nearby Puerto Vallarta only an hour away. You can rent surfboards on the beach and rent bicycles, join boat trips, go horseback riding, and/or enjoy some trekking and kayaking.
The neighboring southern state of Jalisco also has its share of intimate getaways. Among the most popular is Playa Careyes, eight miles of beautiful coastline spanning secluded beaches, palm-strewn foothills and lagoons surrounded by tropical vegetation. Here, a car-accessible track continues along the dune, where you could enjoy a day or week of beach camping. Fishing is good either from the beach, by boat or the rocks on either side. Water is generally clear for snorkeling and, beyond the waves, good for either kayaking or sail boarding. For more information, visit www.visita.jalisco.gob.mx.
SOUTHERN COAST Oaxaca and Chiapas
Rich in tradition, cuisine, culture and natural beauty, Oaxaca also has amazing beaches. Tucked sleepily in southern Mexico’s Pacific coast is the Oaxacan beach village of Zipolite extending for a little over a mile. Zipolite is a great place to take it easy, with a magical combination of pounding sea and sun, open-air sleeping, eating, drinking and unique scenery. Most Zipolite accommodations are on the beach, where you can rent rooms, cabanas or even hammocks. Seaside eateries abound and are highly recommended. Nearby Mazunte is a quiet little place that attracts nature-loving beach-goers. Although there are few amenities, this is a great place to get away from it all and is home to an impressive turtle museum, the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga (Mexican Turtle Center). There are also boat excursions to see turtles and dolphins in the area for a small fee.
Only two miles west of Mazunte is Playa Ventanilla, a small quiet untouched village. For those seeking a tranquil interlude, this peaceful village is as close to paradise as one can get. Playa Ventanilla is a great spot for an adventure or just a day at the beach. There are tours of the local lagoon 7 days a week for about US$3 per person. The tour lasts approximately an hour and a half and takes you to an island in the lagoon where cold drinks and food are served. You may see crocodiles, birds and other wildlife. Further down the beach is a much bigger lagoon. Locals are willing to guide you there for a small fee. There is also a horseback riding tour of the lagoons. For more information on the Oaxacan coast visit www.aoaxaca.com.
Heading eastwardly is the state of Chiapas, home to renowned archaeological sites, folkloric Indian communities and secluded pristine beaches. While Chiapas shares its borders with the famed Pacific coast, its beaches are still quite virgin and little known to international travelers. Among these is the area Boca del Cielo in Puerto Arista, a lagoonside village, where you can take a lancha across to a sandbar, with a few seafood eateries, between the lagoon and ocean. Local specialties include fresh lobster and fresh coconut water. For more information, visit www.turismochiapas.gob.mx.
YUCATAN PENINSULA COAST Yucatan and Campeche
Characterized by world-famous archaeological sites, enchanting colonial cities, romantic haciendas and resorts, beautiful beaches and distinct cuisine, the western coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is the ideal tranquil setting, making it one of Mexicoâ€™s premier travel destinations.
Just far enough away from the denser population areas so that it maintains a special, slow, laid-back feeling is the beach town of Puerto Telchac, only 35 miles northeast of Merida. The area offers visitors breathtaking white sand beaches and gentle surf, safe for swimming and an excellent spot for snorkeling. Other recreational activities in Puerto Telchac include hiking, sailing, boating, fishing and snorkeling. During July and August, the main plaza is especially folkloric as the fair is in town with booths offering foods, regional handicrafts and mechanical rides.
Only an hour away from Merida is Sisal, a legendary port during colonial times. Today its warm white beaches and exotic natural scenery make it the perfect place for rest and relaxation. Beautiful migratory birds like the Canadian duck arrive punctually every year in search of the peaceful waters of Sisal. Also worth a visit are the fortifications built by the port guardians to protect against raiding pirates. Local cuisine is offered by a few good seafood restaurants serving up cold beers and fresh ceviche daily. For more information, visit www.mayayucatan.com.mx.
With more than 300 miles of coastline, neighboring state Campeche has its own hidden treasures. There are beautiful beaches in Campeche and most of them have little or no development on them. Many beach areas are protected for the preservation of carey turtles. A little less than five miles away from the city of Campeche is Playa Bonita, easily accessible by bus or taxi. There are palapas where you can hang a hammock sold in town and enjoy a relaxing beach outing among the locals that typically go on the weekends in the spring and summer.
For the more adventurous Campeche is also home to Playa de Sabancuy on the banks of the river Sabancuy. This is an enchanting place almost untouched by humans. The waters are very calm and sand is powder like. There are shrimp, oysters and a wide variety of fish in the river. The town of Sabancuy is an old fishing village with a lot of potential for tourism. There are plans to develop an eco-resort in Sabancuy in the next few years. For more information, visit www.campechetravel.com.
About the Mexico Tourism Board
The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico’s tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico’s tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Japan and Latin America.