White sand cove in a privileged natural setting
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Few holiday destinations in the world can match Mexico for its wealth of diversity. Mexico has two remarkable coastlines. Its Pacific coast is shaped with bays that shelter innumerable, sandy beaches. From Puerto Vallarta to Manzanillo, Ixtapa, and Huatulco, every Pacific resort is unique but they all have one thing in common: beautiful beaches. Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula curls into the Caribbean with Cancún at its tip and the Riviera Maya to the south. These Mexico hotel resorts are famous for their expansive beaches and as gateways to Mayan ruins. Just offshore, Cozumel is a world-renowned diving destination because it lies at the northern end of the sprawling Mesoamerican coral reef. Inland, the city of Cuernavaca exudes history and charm. Then there's Mexico's other peninsula, Baja California Sur. It points into the Pacific, bordering the Sea of Cortez and ending at Los Cabos, twin cities known for robust nightlife but harbouring a surprising secret.
A superb holiday spot, Puerto Vallarta sits on Banderas Bay, a sweeping body of water with almost 100 kilometres of beach surrounded by the Sierra Madre mountains. Just south of town is Mismaloya Beach, a palm-fringed cove that is the most charming beach on the bay. Nearby Las Caletas is accessible only by boat. It's the former home of film director John Huston, who considered it the most beautiful place in the world.
Manzanillo comprises two crescent-shaped bays. Some hotels have private beaches so guests can swim in Manzanillo Bay without the crowds. A day trip to the tiny village of Barra Navidad gives a taste of old Mexico; stops at a salt factory and a turtle sanctuary are especially delightful for children. Travellers seeking a hotel in Mexico with fabulous ocean views can’t go wrong in Ixtapa. Watching the sun set over Palmar Beach is a memorable moment. Almost 10 kilometres long, Palmar is a top spot for swimming, sunbathing and taking long walks. A 10-minute ferry ride brings visitors to Isla de Ixtapa, a gorgeous speck of land with easy diving on a coral reef.
For sheer natural beauty, Huatulco is hard to beat. Carved with nine bays and innumerable coves and inlets, this wandering coastline has a remote feel while also offering amenities such as golf and a water park on Playa de Tangolunda. A guided tour of Parque Nacional Huatulco is the experience of a lifetime. The 70-square-kilometre sanctuary is a world-class ecotourism site. Los Cabos is known for nightlife and thrilling water sports. That is true of Cabo San Lucas, but its sister city to the north is a more tranquil location. Cabo San Jose is set on a richly diverse estuary. Trails into a bird sanctuary start here. Surprisingly, visitors can book a camel ride on the beach.
In Mexico, hotels with fabulous beaches are the norm and nowhere is that more true than in Cancun. Two beaches along the narrow isthmus stand out: Playa Linda and Tucancun. Long reaches of white sand and crystal clear waters provide the iconic Mexico beach holiday. Close by are the famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itzá. Just to the south, the Riviera Maya has a collection of luxurious beachfront hotels. These hotels also provide access to cenotes, beautiful natural pools that spring up from the underground river unique to this region. Blue Cenote is one of the grandest. A few kilometres out to sea, Cozumel has 36 amazing dive sites ranging from expert to easy. The island is not just for divers. At Playa San Francisco, sunbathers can spot dolphins and turtles in the clear water.
The inland city of Cuernavaca is a tranquil haven in the centre of Mexico. It was home to Hernán Cortés in the 16th century, and its old palace, now converted into a museum, is a well-preserved example of Spanish colonial architecture. Cuernavaca is also home to outstanding parks and is a favourite for mountain-sport enthusiasts.