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Mexico Travel

May 22, 2012

Don't Believe the Hype: Mexico Is Safe

A deserted beach on Isla Espiritu Santo (Nathan Borchelt)

The grisly discovery of 49 decapitated bodies in northern Mexico understandably populated national headlines last week. But one very important fact gets lost amid the gore and violence: Parts of Mexico are still perfectly safe.

Two weeks ago—the same time that the gruesome discovery was made just outside of San Pedro—I was in La Paz, Mexico. This gem of a city sits on the southern Baja peninsula, a world away from the drug wars unfolding across Mexico’s northern mainland. In La Paz, as well as throughout Baja Sur, crime is exceptionally low; the murder rate for South Baja is 2.58 per 100,000 people, which is lower than Los Angeles (9.6), Detroit (18.1), and Washington D.C. (24), according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

La Paz also defies another common perception of Mexico. Though it’s only two hours from Cabo San Lucas—a realm of time-shares, congested traffic, and towering, all-inclusive resorts—La Paz embraces an island mentality more akin to the Caribbean than Mexico. Clear coastline rims the city of 200,000, with a long boardwalk—or Malacón—that attracts local families who wander up and down the walkway, playing soccer in the sand, watching the setting sun, and embracing the cool breeze that rolls off the Gulf of California. Kayakers and stand-up paddlers ply the mellow waters, while locals and tourists at the waterfront Bismarkcito restaurant dine on fresh ceviche, fish tacos, and the famed chocolate clams, best eaten from the shell with a spray of fresh lime and a dollop of soy and habañero hot sauce.

Continue reading "Don't Believe the Hype: Mexico Is Safe" »

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Related Topics: Mexico Travel · Outdoor Adventures · Scuba & Snorkeling · Travel Raves

January 16, 2012

The Freshly Minted Feel of Paradisus in Playa del Carmen

La Esmerelda, Paradisus, in Playa Del Carmen

New resorts, somewhat like new cars, have a different feel than those that have a few tourist seasons under their belts. Everything is neat, clean, and pristine, yet lacking that certain lived-in feeling. The staff is on their toes and fresh out of training but miss the little things, like pointing a sleepy-eyed wanderer in the direction of the nearest coffee bar at 7 a.m. For the past three days, I was at a conference in the freshly minted Paradisus Resort in the Grand Coral resort enclave just north of Playa Del Carmen. It had a soft opening November 15, and the road into the lush, humongous compound is still under construction, passing through a neighborhood of concrete block housing before arriving at the marble gates of the resort. Paradisus is split into two sides: kid-friendly La Esmerelda and adults-only La Perla. No small amount of confusion comes from the fact that the layout, even some of the restaurant names, are nearly identical on both sides. Thankfully, La Esmerelda and La Perla’s 906 suites, 16 restaurants, 12 bars, and numerous wrap-around pools and cabanas come with plenty of "You Are Here" maps. You can hardly walk through this all-inclusive resort without tripping over a swanky padded lounge chair. If you do, chances are you’ll have a waiter standing over you offering margaritas or cervezas before you can get up. At times during my stay, it seemed like the hotel had more staff than guests. When not stuck in conference rooms, my days at Paradisus consisted of reading by the pool in one of the palapa-style cabanas or walking along the turquoise-blue oceanfront just steps from the Gabi nightclub. For all the Mexican hospitality (and it comes in thick here), the place was still too new to really have a soul, and the food left this chili aficionado wanting—with hot dogs, burgers, and other gringo food more common than traditional Mexican fare. Still, though, I couldn’t help applauding the architects and interior decorators for creating such a nouveau riche feel, and luxury travelers looking for a spot to relax for a few days in Caribbean Mexico will be well-served by Paradisus long after that new resort feel melts away.'s Playa del Carmen Travel Guide

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Related Topics: Mexico Travel · Travel Raves · Travel Tips · Trip Ideas

December 20, 2011

Fun Festival: Night of the Radishes

By Lacy Morris

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Radish Carvings at Noche de Rábanos, Radish Night (Stephanie Schneiderman, Tia Stephanie Tours)

In Oaxaca, Mexico, a mass harvest of radishes is underway in preparation for Noche de Rábanos, Radish Night, one of Mexico's many unique and colorful festivals. And like most other festivals of its kind, Radish Night is full of entertaining history and odd appeal.'s Oaxaca Travel Guide

Legend has it that two Spanish monks assisted the local people to grow produce in the land that was naturally irrigated by the Atoyac River. Once cultivated, the monks encouraged the farmers to carve intricate figures into the radishes as a way to allure people to purchase the produce at the market. The odd entrepreneurship stuck and became a staple of the area's culture, over the years developing into the festival it is today.

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Related Topics: Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Mexico Travel

March 08, 2011

Moons Over Mexico: Five Reasons the Yucatan Breaks Stereotypes

Mayan Ruins,Yucatan(Shannon Donnelly)-can use as much as we like
The remnants of one of the greatest indigenous cultures of the ancient Americas, Mayan ruins are scattered throughout Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula (Shannon Donnelly)

It's a common (and unfortunate) misconception among many wary travelers that all of Mexico is either violently unsafe or unauthentically commercialized. And while this may be true of many areas, we determined discoverers don't give up so easily at the mention of such mass generalizations. And that's how we've come to love the Yucatan. Here are five reasons to look past the beachfront mega-resorts and racks of sombreros of Quintanna Roo hot spots like Cancun and the Riviera Maya and travel deeper into the Mexican countryside.

The cosmopolitan and culturally vibrant city of Mérida is located about four hours west of Cancun on the Yucatan's lesser-trammeled Gulf Coast. A home to many expats, the city is not without its modern-day deprivations (there's a Wal-Mart and Home Depot lurking on the outskirts of town), but it's in the heart of the city where you'll find architecture, culture, and history beyond compare. Be sure to visit the breathtaking campus of the Yucatan University, check out the 100-year-old churches hidden in every square, and visit the Anthropology Museum. Perhaps most importantly, however, be downtown on a Friday or Saturday night when the streets are closed down and Mariachi bands, food and handmade souvenir stalls, as well as hundreds of festival-goers speckle the streets.

Merida Travel Guide

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Related Topics: Central America Travel · Mexico Travel

December 13, 2010

How to Score Drugs in Mexico

The beach in Lo De Marcos, Mexico (Nathan Borchelt)

1.    Go somewhere somewhat off the Gringo Trail.  An hour south of Puerto Vallarta, like the Snowbird-centric town of Lo De Marcos should do.

2.    Meet up with 21 relatives, including six people in their late 50s and early 60s, two teens, six kids in ages ranging from 18 months to ten, and a bunch of middle-age family members.

3.    Go swimming with said kids to protect them from the imaginary tidal waves and not-as-imaginary undertows.

4.    Step on a stingray…on the stinger.

Continue reading "How to Score Drugs in Mexico" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Mexico Travel · Outdoor Adventures

December 09, 2010

Spring Break already? Yes, please!

By Kate Chandler

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Basse Terre, Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe Islands Tourism Board)

We at hope you have something fabulous planned for the upcoming holidays, even if it means a staycation with delicious food and (non-stressful) family. It's a fun, if not busy, time of year.

But it's not too early to start planning an awesome spring break vacation. For some, that's only three months away...surely you will have recovered from the holidays by then. The first choice you need to make is beach or ski. Those of you who think it's ridiculous to waste away on the beach while there's still snow on the slopes should check out our Top Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing.

For the rest of you who are ready to get somewhere warm pronto, start with our guides to Mexico and the Caribbean. You can also look at Florida, but it isn't unheard of to hit a cold-snap in the panhandle area in March (for those of you with an early spring break). We have the beta on all the top beaches in these spots, but we also have ideas for the whole family and for the active crowd.

If you need a bit more direction, our top ten lists are your go-to. Top Ten Alternative Spring Break Vacations offers ideas beyond the typical Cancun and Panama City-type choices. If you have the kiddos in tow, pick from our Top Ten Spring Break Destinations for Families. And if you need more than warm beaches and cool cocktails (really, you need more than that?), our Top Ten Active Spring Break Vacations should do the trick.

So instead of biding you happy holidays, I'll wish you happy spring break planning!

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Caribbean Travel · Florida Vacation · Mexico Travel · Skiing & Snowboarding

April 21, 2010

In the Saddle: Biking the Americas Q&A


Working in the travel industry, I have the privilege to visit, explore, and read about some of the world's great destinations. I also have the good fortune to meet the people out there experiencing the trips and places we love. Witness 25-year-old Chip Albright, a Van Wert, Ohio, native who has been traveling the world for over four years and is currently over halfway through his quest to bike the Americas from north to south. We caught up with Chip via email in Baja, Mexico, on his way north toward the U.S. border after over a year in the saddle. You can follow Chip's progress toward his final destination, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, at

Away: Where are you now?
Chip Albright: I am currently on the east coast of Baja, Mexico, in the small little village of Santa Rosalía, heading north on Highway 1. I'm about 600 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana.

What's next on your adventure?
Next on the list is the United States, starting with southern California. Once I cross the border, I will head up through Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve before traversing Arizona from the west and entering southwestern Colorado through the Four Corners region. Colorado is going to be a treat, with six mountain ascents ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 feet. I will also be biking through Rocky National Park and making my way up into Wyoming, where I'll stop in Yellowstone National Park before hitting Glacier National Park in Montana.

Tell us a bit more about your journey.
The idea to bike from South America's southernmost point (in Argentina) to North America northernmost point (in Alaska) started over a handful of beers with my roommate, Chris Foster, while we were enjoying ski season in Wanaka, New Zealand. Before we knew it, it was Christmas Day 2008 and we were starting this journey up the Americas from Patagonia in southern Argentina. The idea started with two guys shooting the breeze, which then turned from a "what if?" to a "why not?" Fourteen months later, I'm still trucking along toward Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Continue reading "In the Saddle: Biking the Americas Q&A" »

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Related Topics: Central America Travel · Dispatches from the Road · Mexico Travel · Outdoor Adventures · South America Travel

April 14, 2010

Off the Beach in Mexico's Riviera Maya


Sparkling blue seas, white beaches soft as talc, a Caribbean breeze in your face. When people think of vacations in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, these are the things that come to mind. But on the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun, visitors are more and more venturing to parks inland to get a break from the (albeit blissful) monotony of lounging poolside at an all-inclusive resort.

But all jungle adventures are not made equal. Here, nature and adventure tours spring up where once un viejo sat at the gate of an underground pool, asking a few pesos to enter. Now, you’ll visit those same pools (called cenotes [sen-oh-tays]) but you’ll get there through the entrance of a full-blown theme park or via a “Mayan taxi,” a local joke for a glorified tractor and trailer pulling you through the jungle.

Here are three of the Riviera Maya’s best activities for when (or if) you get tired of jade oceans and soft sand:

Continue reading "Off the Beach in Mexico's Riviera Maya " »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Family Vacation · Mexico Travel

March 26, 2010

Hotel Spotlight: Hacienda Tres Rios, Playa del Carmen


Open since early 2009, Playa del Carmen's all-inclusive Hacienda Tres Ríos is charting a new course in sustainable resort development in an area that's heretofore been synonymous with quite the opposite. Located 35 miles south of Cancun's concrete-clad "Hotel Zone," the 273-room Hacienda is the first of five planned hotels in the ambitious Tres Ríos development. Given its prime location in 326-acre Tres Ríos Nature Park, the property adheres to strict eco-friendly practices, from landscape design to recycling to on-site water desalination, all of which is overseen by the hotel's "Green Team." Beside its green-building efforts, the Tres Ríos project seeks to foster sustainable tourism through interactions with local artisans, cuisine, and the area's rich culture and history. The all-inclusive offering doesn't scrimp on luxury, either, with multiple restaurants, freeform swimming pools every which way you turn, full-service spa, endless cocktails available at the wave of your hand, and enough activities and amenities to keep an ADD family busy for a week. Pick of the activities include self-guided kayak tours through the nature preserve's knotty mangrove forests, snorkeling and swimming excursions through freshwater cenotes, and guided nature hikes and bike rides. Among its recent accolades, Hacienda Tres Ríos was voted a "Top 10 Relaxation/Spa Hotel in the Caribbean & Mexico" in's 2010 Travelers' Choice awards.

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Mexico Travel · Places to Stay

October 13, 2009

Hotel Spotlight: La Casa Que Canta, Mexico

La Casa Que Canta and Zihuatenejo Bay, Mexico (courtesy, La Casa Que Canta)

Perched on the rocks overlooking Zihuatanejo Bay along Mexico's southwestern Pacific coastline, La Casa Que Canta—literally, the House That Sings—is one of the region's most intimate luxury resorts. Here, a small community of guests is sequestered away in 25 earth-toned, rustic suites that celebrate Mexican folk art through décor distinctive to each. Eleven of the rooms also feature private pools. Pamper yourself in the full-service Clarins spa before a spectacular sunset dinner on the terrace restaurant overlooking the Bay. Need more action with your vacation? Zihuatenejo is one of the country's top sportfishing destinations and is particularly prized for its sailfishing. Twenty minutes away, Ixtapa offers two world-class golf courses: the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed Campo de Golf Ixtapa and the Robert von Hagge-designed Marina Ixtapa Golf Club. The hotel staff also happily recommends snorkeling and scuba tours.

Browse more of the world's top places to stay in's new Best Resorts & Lodges Guide!

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Mexico Travel · Places to Stay

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