Think of Mexico and visions of dreamy, pale, sandy shores and crystal clear waters will spring to mind. It is certainly a beach-lover's dream. However, there is much more to this fascinating country than spending days soaking up the sun, if you are looking to take in the culture, as well as the cooling cocktails…
For those who want their beach holiday to come with pretty towns and villages, historical landmarks and interesting places to explore, Mexico has much to offer. Here are just some of the best places to get your culture fix while on holiday in Mexico.
An ancient world
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichén Itzá, is the largest Mayan city on the Yucatán Peninsula and has a great cultural significance.
The El Castillo pyramid is the main attraction for many and has been given the coveted title of one of the New Wonders Of The World, so it really is worth a visit. If your budget stretches to a guided tour, you will discover how the Mayans built the structure, as well as learning about the history of this ancient place. If you decide not to take a tour, it’s still an enthralling landmark to explore at your own pace.
El Castillo was built by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries and served as a temple to the god, Kukulkan. It is also the world’s largest manmade calendar, being constructed to mark and measure out the year for the Mayans. On the spring and autumn equinoxes the sunlight casts shadows which resemble a large feathered snake slithering along the structure - which is quite a sight! The serpent was regarded as a deity in Mayan culture, the shedding of the skin representing rebirth and renewal. Remember, if you want to avoid the crowds, there is a light show reenactment of this event most evenings that is much less populated and very pretty.
Follow the art
Frida Kahlo is arguably one of Mexico’s most famous artists and her influence is seen everywhere, from the street art in the coastal towns and villages, to the painted souvenirs on the local market stalls.
If you’re here for the art, you should head to Mexico City and visit some of the incredible galleries filled with her work, including her former home, Casa Azul - or the Blue House - where she grew up and later lived after she married fellow artist, Diego Rivera.
Now a dedicated museum, the Blue House is filled with some of her most beautiful works of art, including Viva la Vida and Frida and her Cesarean, as well as works by Diego and others in the Mexican folk art movement.
Head to Museo de Arte Moderno in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City, to see The Two Fridas - one of her most famous works - as well as collections by artists painting mainly in the post-1930 era. There is also a fantastic photography collection of the work of Mexican photographer, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, which is also well worth a look.
Under the waves
One of the most beautiful views of Mexico is actually under the waves. Scuba diving is one of the most popular activities in the coastal areas, thanks to the blossoming coral reefs and thriving marine life. So if you’re a confident swimmer, swap your flip-flops for a pair of flippers and dive in!
Cozumel is a fantastic place to start. The Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park is a must-visit for divers looking to come face to face with lots of different species. As the second largest barrier reef in the world, it is home to some incredible marine life. There are around 26 different types of coral, as well as over 500 different species of fish. You can’t consider scuba diving in Mexico and not give this park a visit.
Beneath the waters of the Cancún National Marine Park, is the Cancún Underwater Museum (MUSA), which is home to over 500 sculptures, all sitting on the ocean floor, so it’s certainly an interesting view. If you want to see these incredible structures but don’t fancy getting wet, you can book a glass-bottomed boat tour to see them from the comfort of the boat instead.
For those who love nothing more than soaking up the warm Caribbean sun with the sand beneath their toes, there’s no better place than Mexico.
For beaches with a lot of charisma and character, Cancún Beach is where the party is at. The 14-mile stunning sandy stretch embraces a fabulous coral reef for those who want to get close to the local marine life. For those who prefer to stay above the waves, there is the opportunity for paddle boarding, fishing, and kayaking too. As night falls, Cancún comes alive with bars, clubs and plenty of entertainment for those who want to party hard.
A slower pace
The bohemian beach town of Tulum, just a couple of hours’ drive from Cancún is the place to be if it is peace, quiet and tranquility you seek on holiday. The sands on the beach here are white, the Caribbean waters that stretch out beyond the beach are the bluest of blues, and the only sound you are likely to hear is the whispering of the sea breeze in the swaying palm trees. Akiin Beach in Tulum has a rustic charm and after that drive from Cancún, you can simply laze on a lounger all day, cool drinks in hand and ponder which delicious dish from the many local eateries you might enjoy over a very slow and romantic dinner as the sun sets over paradise.
If you would like to experience all that Mexico has to offer, from beautiful beaches to cultural delights, click on the RCI Resort Directory button below and select your home-from-home accommodation.
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Should you need further inspiration for your Mexican adventure, click on the Holiday Ideas button below.
If lounging on a beach and getting lost in the pages of a good book sounds like paradise to you, then head over to the RCI Resort Directory and book your next getaway. Click the button below to search for your home-from-home accommodation.
If you already own timeshare but are not a member of RCI, you could become a part of our holiday exchange community today. If you would like to have access to over 4,300 resorts in more than 110 countries, click on the Join RCI button below and sign up in just a few simple steps.
If you can't make your mind up as to what kind of holiday you want, or where to take it, then you should click on the Holiday Ideas button below to read about some of our favourite destinations and great things to experience around the world.