Photo: WaterFrame/Alamy

Hola, Mexico: A Focused Look the Diversity of Options

By Kellie Davenport

For many vacationers, Mexico is a repeat vacation destination. Whether snorkeling, surfing, cruising, hiking or just in it for the food—there’s an option for everyone.

Resorts for foodies

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal

The luxe resort showcases the best of authentic Mexican cuisine. Chef Manuel Huerta infuses dishes with his native Guanajuato flavours, perfectly presented in the nine-course taco tasting. Thirsty holidaymakers can visit the Agave Study. It’s an alfresco tasting room and bar dedicated to rare tequilas and mezcals.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

This family-friendly property proves all-inclusive can also be gourmet-inclusive. Internationally acclaimed chefs, including Maître Cuisinier de France Michel Mustière and Iron Chef Canada winner Xavi Pérez Stone, prepare Mexican, French, Italian and Asian-inspired cuisine. In addition, the resort’s signature restaurant, Cocina de Autor, earned the CAA/AAA Five Diamond Award, making it the first all-inclusive restaurant to receive the honour.

Photo: Nick Simonite/Hotel San Cristóbal

Hotel San Cristóbal

75 km north of Cabo San Lucas, this Todos Santos hotel offers all the Baja flavours without the Cabo crowds. Benno, the property’s onsite eatery, specializes in classic Mexican cuisine infused with authentic flavours. Head chef Alberto Collarte recently launched a new menu spotlighting local seafood. Standout dishes are plenty. They include whole shrimp served alongside chione clams, mussels and bombay rice, or catch of the day with lentil salad.

Go beyond the resort towns

San Miguel de Allende

If you prefer culture to coral, make tracks to this artsy enclave in the central highlands. With colonial architecture and a pink cathedral, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site rich in history and charm. Also, beyond the gallery scene, you can visit an olive oil farm or ride in a hot air balloon.


Located southwest of Mexico City, Zihua (as it’s known to locals) boasts the same white-sand beaches as neighbouring Ixtapa. That is, without the crowds. The narrow cobblestone streets of the former fishing village hide charming restaurants and artisan studios. Also, anglers still gather daily on the beach to sell their catch.

Isla Mujeres

Just across the bay from Cancún, this island (below) feels a world away from the notorious party town. Coral beaches lend a European vibe and the calm water welcomes divers and snorkellers. Head to one of many fish joints along the port for some of Mexico’s freshest seafood.

3 Must-See Art Walks

If you’re passionate about street art, Mexico City’s Street Art Chilango offers the top tour in town. Every Saturday, artists from this collective guide graffiti lovers through the narrow lanes of Roma and Condesa to reveal colourful, thought-provoking murals.

On the Pacific Coast, Mazatlán’s refurbished Old Town is best described as tropical neoclassic meets 1950s charm. Once a month, galleries and shops in el centro histórico host a self-guided art walk. The art walk showcases local painting, printmaking, sculpture, jewellery and photography.

Once a week, Playa del Carmen becomes an open-air art gallery on Thursday night. Art in 5th Avenue presents the work of both up-and-coming makers and internationally recognized artists. Genres range from traditional Mexican folk art to modern photography. This makes it the ideal place to purchase a meaningful, one-of-a-kind souvenir.

Snorkel in Cozumel

With brightly hued corals, sponges and sea life, Cozumel has been a mecca for divers and snorkellers since the 1960s when Jacques Cousteau first dipped a flipper in its crystal-clear water.

Situated near the Great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest, Cozumel was first settled by the Mayans, who used the island as a ceremonial centre and commercial port. With about 88,000 residents, the city welcomes millions of underwater visitors every year.

Though I’ve been enough times to be an honourary Cozumeleña, this visit is my first with my dad and newbie snorkeller, Alexander. To see the spectacular reef up close, we hop on a small charter boat, which delivers us a few kilometres offshore to the 5.6-km Palancar section of the reef.

Snorkeling some deep waters

On his debut open-water snorkel trip, my brave dad enthusiastically drops off the side of the boat and is first in the water. As we skim along the gently undulating surface following our guide, it’s easy to see why locals call Palancar the “underwater garden of Eden.” Through the shockingly clear water, we glimpse bright red, orange and fluttering fan-like coral, just some of the reef’s 60-plus coral species.

Colourful angelfish dart around the maze of coral as if playing an epic game of tag. A critically endangered hawksbill turtle glides peacefully through the water beneath us. I flinch a little when I spot the spiky fins of a venomous lionfish just a few feet away. Beautiful—from a distance!

Though we don’t see them on our trip, eagle rays, moray eels and nurse sharks often frequent Palancar.

After climbing back onto the boat, Dad and I giddily skim the sea-life chart to identify everything we did see. Like Cousteau, we are both hookedon this spectacular reef.