5 Fascinating Weeks In Mexico
I have always wondered about Mexico; the stories told of the fascinating culture, beautiful beaches, remarkable scenery and incredible food were somewhat dampened by the subsequent warnings of the dangers that travelling there can bring. However, this year my curiosity got the better of me. In September, 6 of my friends and I embarked on a 5-week adventure across the Mexican landscape.
We started in Cancun, as it is by far the cheapest place to fly into, but we only spent one night in the city before beginning our travels down the East coast. Our first stop was the idyllic island of Holbox, home to beautiful white-sand beaches and clear blue water. The centre of Holbox is very simple; a few small bars, restaurants and shops line the unpaved streets. The highlight of our time here was simply spending every day exploring the plethora of beaches the island has to offer and swimming in the crystal waters. I would recommend packing a bag for the day and walking along the coastline to see what you find! We spent 2-3 days in Holbox, which was ample time to explore the island before heading to our next stop, Isla Mujeres.
Isla is renowned for being an island paradise, just 25-30 minutes across the water from Cancun, it’s a hot spot for tourists and locals alike. Compared with the serenity of Holbox, I found Isla slightly too busy. However, the island is home to a myriad of fun activities – one of our favourite days here was spent swimming with 40 ft whale sharks and exploring the underwater museum, Museo Subacuatico de Arte. You can find these tours by walking along the central beaches; tour guides tend to approach you if you are roaming the densely populated touristy areas.
Next up was Tulum, famous for its abundance of cenotes which are literally sinkholes in the ground. You can take a day tour and visit 2-3 of them in one day, with these tour deals you have a tour guide and are allowed to snorkel through the caves. If you’re on a budget, hire a bike, take a packed lunch and spend the entire day swimming and lounging in the gardens surrounding the cenotes. As touristy as it has become, Tulum was probably one of my favourite places on the whole trip.
I’d recommend staying in Mama’s Home. This place has really great, relaxed vibes, delicious free breakfast and the rooms are HUGE – what’s not to like?
Bacalar & Puerto Escondido
We then moved down the coast to Bacalar which is a small and simple town on the border of Belize. In the centre of the town sits a beautiful lake known as the Lagoon of 7 colours due to it’s ever-changing blue hues. You can swim in the natural rapids, or kayak across to the Cenote Negro, which is truly unmissable. We only spent 1 full day in Bacalar, but if you can, spend longer, it is a really magical place.
I’d also recommend Bacalar for nightlife, despite being a small town there are loads of classic Mexican bars which serve a variety of tequilas and mezcal, we danced to traditional Mexican tunes all night and learnt to salsa! The restaurants here are pretty incredible too. We often found it hard to find different vegetarian meals other than beans and vegetables, but a small restaurant in the square of Bacalar called Mr Taco served a variety of veggie dishes. it was so good we went back the next night!
Following our brief stay in Bacalar, we headed to Puerto Escondido, which is home to the world’s best surfing beach, supposedly. We didn’t manage to do any actual surfing here because the waves were way too big for amateur surfers. However, the town itself is beautiful, and the beaches are perfect places to spend an afternoon lounging and paddling in the waters.
San Jose Del Pacifico
We then went West towards San Jose del Pacifico, which was probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in my life. It’s quite out of the way from the usual ‘travel route’ but it is worth taking the extra time to go here. Tucked away high up in the beautiful hillsides of Oaxaca, you will find San Jose – a quiet, colourful village, home to some of the best sunrises in the world. San Jose is also known for its wide availability of wild magic mushrooms. Most hostels will pick the mushrooms for you and provide them for an extremely low price. You can wander up into the hillside forests or sit outside in your hostel, look over the incredible view and have a pretty funky time…
San Cristobal De La Casas
We then travelled to the San Cristobal de la Casas. A beautiful, historical town, San Cristobal by far had some of the best sights to see and bars to visit. We spent our days here traipsing through the vibrant market stalls, eating authentic Mexican food and drinking red wine! After a few short days in San Cristobal, we headed into Oaxaca City. Another historical city, Oaxaca was a mile away from the quaint stillness we found in San Jose. However, it was the much-needed injection of life we were after at this stage of the trip! Packed with lively market stools, bars, restaurants, museums and churches, Oaxaca is the perfect place to learn about and experience true Mexican culture.
I’d say stay at Puerta Vieja Hostel. Probably my favourite hostel of the trip where everything is wooden and cosy, kind of like a French ski chalet. There’s even a bonfire in the garden, and the vibe here is just great.
Mexico is great for nightlife, in general there seemed to be less of a clubbing culture and more of a drinking and dancing in bars culture, which was perfect for us. By far the best nightlife we experienced on our trip was in Oaxaca, the bars were super lively and the locals were so friendly.
The last stop on our trip was Mexico City, one of the most populated cities in the world. I feel like everyone knows Mexico City is a cool place, so I don’t need to sell it to you but you have to ensure that you have time to spend a few days exploring here, there is so much to see.
I’d recommend staying in Casa Pepe, right in the centre. This hostel was fun, lively and had amazing free breakfast and drinks deals each night. The rooms were clean, modern and well furnished. Literally no complaints.