Mexico is home to a few of my favorite things: tacos, tequila, and more adventure than you can shake your maracas at. And while I love exploring the major hubs of the country, some of the best adventures in Mexico are found outside of the bigger cities. Take advantage of these outlying exploits by either renting a car for the day, trying your hand at local public transportation, or leaving it up to knowledgeable tour outfits. From Cabo to Cancun, you’re sure to find an activity to satiate every adventurer’s appetite.
Exploring Mexico’s cenotes
Cenotes, pronounced “say-NOH-tays”, are natural sinkholes that were formed with the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, thus exposing natural groundwater. Finely filtered by earth, the cenote water is so clear and pure that it is almost other worldly. In fact, the ancient Mayans believed that cenotes were a direct link to Xiabalba, the underworld, and were sometimes the site of sacrificial offerings.
Now days, the only sacrifice you might make is accepting a sunburn in exchange for a swim. Cenotes continue to be a place of discovery and relaxation. Grab your snorkel and take to the water in the search of small fish and hidden caverns. Be aware that there are different types of cenotes including ones that are completely enclosed, semi-open cenotes, and those that are underground. Some cenotes are only accessible with a certified guide and diver’s license. Whatever route you choose, your sure to enjoy a unique swimming experience in pristine waters.
One of the best parts about Mexico’s cenotes? The accessibility. The Yucatan Peninsula is home to thousands of cenotes. A mere ten minute drive is what separates the Chichén Itzá ruins from Cenote Ik Kil while it’ll take you only twenty minutes to drive from Tulum to Cenote Dos Ojos. If you don’t feel like the tackling these caverns alone, book a cenote day tour that will include your transportation and entrance fees. Seeing as cenotes are endemic to the country, they are surely one of the best adventures in Mexico one can experience.
Swimming with giants
If you want to take your snorkel game to the next level, consider a swim alongside the largest fish on the planet. From the months of June to September, whale sharks frequent the shores off of Cancun . While the name can be confusing, these mammoths of the sea are more shark than whale. Yet there’s not need to fear these gentle giants as they are filter-feeders and thus not looking to humans for the next meal.
Swimming at a relaxed three miles per hour, these guys are the perfect snorkel companions. Certain tour companies provide an intimate whale shark experience with transportation to the snorkel site, lunch, and private guide included. And while the whale sharks are the main event, be on the lookout for curious dolphins, turtles, and even manta rays that might accompany you for a swim.
Soaring in the sky
Adventure is in the air, literally. Thirty minutes outside of Mexico City, lies the once prosperous ancient ruins of Teotihuacan. The site is home to two towering pyramids of the sun and moon. While exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site on foot is an incredible experience, one can gain a unique birds-eye view by hopping in a hot air balloon and taking to the skies.
Viewfinder Tip: Your early morning soar can start a little chilly. Bring extra layers you can peel off as the sun begins to rise.
Get a lay of the land as you soar over the Temple of Quetzalpapalotl and the Avenue of the Dead. Book a Teotihuacan hot air balloon tour that will take care of your hotel pick up, a welcome coffee and cookies, and a detailed history lesson as you float over what remains of the city. Once on the ground, toast your sky high tour with a glass of bubbly.
Adventure is waiting for you. Keep in mind that some of the best adventures in Mexico lie just outside of the major hubs.
What are you favorite Mexico adventure activities?