Mexico. A country with a vibrant soul and colourful contrasts; Mexico has much to offer – whichever coast you choose. Whether it is the sun-soaked eastern coastline dripping with Mayan history or the laid-back-luxe vibe of the Baja California facing the Pacific Ocean; choosing between the two could be one of life’s sweetest travel dilemmas. The beaches of Mexico are plentiful – some dazzle with porcelain white sands lapped by cerulean seas, others enthral with the promise of dolphin-spotting, whale watching and other marine adventures.
The lure of the Riviera Maya
On the Yucatan Peninsula, the sun-bleached shores of the Riviera Maya, often best enjoyed from October to May, lure the work-weary traveller in search of a beach-based break mixed with the opportunity to explore ancient Mexican culture. The magnificent Mayan ruins at sites such as Chichen Itza and Tulum evoke a legendary past, and have helped the region to become known as ‘the Egypt of the Americas’; and whilst Chichen Itza is without doubt the best known, there are many more must-visits such as Coba, Uxmal, Palenque and Mayapan.
A fusion of beach and culture
Amongst the hotels that are ideally placed to make the most of this meld of beach life and cultural exploration are the Viceroy Riviera Maya and Grand Velas. The Viceroy Riviera Maya nestles in tropical rainforest fringed by soft white sand and is a quintessential eco-conscious hideaway where unpretentious barefoot luxury prevails. Secluded palapa-roofed villas, each with a private heated plunge pool, boast beguiling ocean views and a winding path leading to the reception area, restaurant and spa. There are endless activities to enjoy, from sailing and swimming with dolphins to jungle tours, horseback riding and bird watching, and it is well worth joining some of the excursions to landmarks and attractions such as Xcaret, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres.
Grand Velas also offers the lure of a prime position on a pristine white beach, welcoming families and couples alike to its impressive suites which include the adult-only Grand Class accommodations; Ambassador Suites with breathtaking ocean views and Zen Grand Suites – spacious hideaways in a lush jungle setting. The exquisite spa, which is also hidden deep within the exotic foliage, offers rejuvenating hydrotherapy rituals and reviving massages after a day spent kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, playing golf or delving into Mayan history. Do not miss Xel-Ha park, nicknamed the world’s largest aquarium, with its myriad lagoons, cenotes, rope swings, mangroves and cycle paths.
Laid-back chic, California style
To the far west of Mexico, at the very tip of the beautiful Baja California peninsula, lies Cabo San Lucas, epitome of unhurried chic. With the Sea of Cortez to one side and the Pacific to the other, this remote destination entices those in search of aquatic adventure and secluded relaxation.
Hollywood greats such as Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz and George Clooney are regulars in this sun-blessed part of the world, where understated opulence is the order of the day. Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort, blends the best of the Mediterranean and Mexico with architecture that captures the ambience of the surrounding desert. Expansive suites come complete with a private telescope for star gazing and whale watching. It is the ideal starting point for a whole spectrum of exciting activities encompassing yachting, sport fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking and surfing. When the sound of the conch shell breaks the quietude at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, guests are alerted that one of nature’s wonders – the annual migration of whales – is passing right by the resort.
Welcomed with the hand-on-heart gesture of the local Jalisco Otomi Indians, you are made to feel instantly at home at One&Only Palmilla. Rich Mexican accents in architecture and décor add to the ambience, whilst in the luxuriant gardens, palm trees and tropical blooms vie for attention with fountains and water features. If you can bear to tear yourself away from the two infinity-edge swimming pools and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, there is much to be discovered. Coral reefs galore teem with dazzling fish, hammerhead sharks, moray eels and turtles, whilst sea kayakers will find an abundance of coves, inlets and water caves. The resort is set alongside one of the few swimmable beaches in the region. This is also one of the great sea fishing destinations, aptly known as ‘the marlin capital of the world’.
The seafaring theme continues at Capella Pedregal, a sensuous escape that lies just a short stroll from the buzzing marina of Cabo San Lucas, with exultant views over the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. Those who want to experience sailing off the Baja California coast can board the Capella Yacht Club’s 58 foot Viking cruising yacht, impeccably maintained and manned by an experienced crew.
Mexico… jet-set playground with a colourful history, wonderful beaches, fiery food and the ever-present sound of marching mariachi bands providing a soundtrack to the whole sensual feast.
Maxine Roberts is Head of Marketing at Carrier.