A destination known for its beautiful beaches, land and sea adventures, rich culture, ancient ruins, and delicious cuisine, Mexico seems to have it all. Whether your vacation goals include snorkeling with tropical fish, viewing whales in their natural habitat, wandering Mayan ruins, or sampling authentic fare at all the local restaurants, there’s something to appeal to every interest.
Spend your vacation days tasting tequila, lounging on picturesque beaches, or shop for locally crafted artisan pieces. Mexico is a choose-your-own-adventure with a rich culture and a vast array of experiences to enjoy.
These are the 11 best things to do in Mexico.
Lounge on the Beach
Mexico is known for its beautiful beaches. Whether you travel to the west coast or east coast, there’s a gorgeous stretch of sand to suit your needs.
Easy wading, soft white sand, and clear turquoise water will greet visitors on the eastern shore in places like Cozumel and Costa Maya.
The rugged Pacific coastline is ideal for surfers, whale watchers, and those looking for a hidden cove between natural rock formations.
Relax on the sands of Punta Sur, one of Cozumel’s best beaches, situated within an ecological park. A lighthouse, walking paths, and seaside sculptures are highlights of this park, in addition to the beaches.
On the opposite coast, the famed Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) lures beach-goers with a remote spit of sand surrounded by giant rock formations. The aptly named beach is one of the best beaches in Cabo San Lucas and is accessed by boat tour, kayak, glass-bottom boat, or stand-up paddleboard.
Go Whale Watching
Every year from November to April, gray and blue whales migrate to the west coast waters of La Paz on the Baja Peninsula to give birth.
Travelers have the opportunity to get up close to these magnificent creatures, whether on a whale watching adventure or even from shore. On a tour, listen to the knowledgeable marine biologist share facts about the sea giants for an exciting educational experience.
One of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to cruise Banderas Bay on the lookout for humpback whales. You may even spot bottle-nosed dolphins; no matter what, the joy of seeing these marine creatures first-hand is a memory of a lifetime.
Explore Mayan Ruins
One of the most thrilling cultural highlights of any visit to Mexico are the ancient Mayan ruins along the Caribbean coast and inland. Discover historically significant archeological sites such as Chichen Itza, or the Tulum ruins, where you’ll find impressive structures and a long and complex history.
Tour the 26 ruins of Chichen Itza, including the famous pyramid, El Castillo and the Temple of The Warriors, which date back to the 5th century AD.
Venture to Chacchoben, “Land of the Red Corn,” a Mayan site set in the jungle with over 3,000 years of history, located in Costa Maya. Explore this open-air museum, where the highlights include the temples and the Great Pyramid, as well as the lush nature. View mahogany and zapote trees, keeping an eye out for toucans and songbirds as well.
One of the best Mayan ruins near Cozumel is Tulum, with well-preserved temples and the main city wall dating back to the 13th century. Enjoy the views here and dive into a wealth of information about its operations as a major trading port for turquoise and jade.
Take a Cooking Class
Get to know Mexican culture through its vibrant food scene. Taking a hands-on cooking class isn’t just a fun way to learn about the country through its culinary side; it’s also an opportunity to taste the traditional flavors of the country through some of the traditional Mayan dishes.
A cooking class in the Yucatan Peninsula might focus on local favorites such as tamales, or the popular “tamal toreado de pollo”, a chicken dish with a delicious red sauce.
Gastronomy on the west coast in destinations such as Cabo San Lucas or Ensenada highlights fresh seafood such as shrimp tacos, oysters, and smoked marlin.
In Puerto Vallarta, a cooking class might include a shopping trip for ingredients at the local market before venturing to a small restaurant in the Sierra Madre mountains. Here, you’ll craft a delicious meal with the help of a professional chef.
Snorkel Amid Marine Life
With so many species of incredible marine life, it’s no surprise that snorkeling is a top activity while exploring Mexico. From giant, gentle whale sharks to graceful sea turtles and tropical fish, the waters surrounding Mexico are teeming with interesting sea creatures.
Plunge into the calm, warm waters of the Caribbean when visiting destinations on the east coast like Cozumel and Costa Maya.
Venture out with your snorkel gear to explore the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest reef system in the world that stretches from the Yucatan Peninsula, south to Honduras.
One of the best things to do in Cozumel is to swim over more than 100 types of coral in Cozumel National Marine Park, spotting tropical fish like parrot fish, snapper, angelfish, and butterfly fish. You may even see moray eels, if you’re lucky.
On the Pacific coast, snorkeling at Pelican Rock near the famous El Arco rock formation off the shore of the Baja peninsula is a bucket-list activity. You’ll have the opportunity to peer at starfish, urchins, and even sea lions through your snorkel mask.
In Ensenada, bring your fins to Arbolitos Cove, a favorite snorkeling spot at Playa Arbolitos. Swim through underwater kelp forests, spotting fish species like Garibaldi, rockfish, sea bass, or starfish.
Swim in a Cenote
The mystical and beautiful cenotes of Mexico are one of the country’s top natural wonders to explore. Cenotes are natural caves filled with water, where the cave ceiling has previously collapsed. Each one varies in appearance, making it a treat to explore more than one during your trip.
Situated near the Yucatan Peninsula’s Costa Maya region, the Bacalar Lagoon draws visitors with the opportunity to adventure in the “Lagoon of Seven Colors”, a stunning destination named after its wide array of blue hues.
With three of the largest cenotes located in the lagoon, it’s the perfect place to discover this amazing geographical wonder.
Snorkel or go stand-up paddle boarding in the Cenote Negro, which is known for the lush flora and fauna circling the water. Lounge on a hammock inside the Cenote Cocalitos or swim in the Cenote Esmeralda, with deep navy blue waters.
Another nearby cenote worth exploring is the Cenote Azul, situated just outside of the lagoon area and known to be almost 300 feet deep.
One of the best ways to explore any destination is on foot. Hiking in Mexico is no different, with a trifecta of desert, mountain, and coastal landscape to experience.
Hike through the Baja Peninsula’s El Salto Canyon to uncover a gorgeous waterfall, located near Ensenada. As one of the most beautiful places in Mexico, the half-mile trail through the canyon lined with steep cliffs and rock formations is a delight, with the rain-fed waterfall as the reward.
Take a dip in the refreshing water to cool off from your efforts as you take in your surroundings. This is also a great photography spot when the cascade is flowing.
Another gem of the Baja Peninsula is the short, one-and-a-quarter mile Cerro de la Z trail, where you can gain 360-degree panoramic views of Cabo and its rocky surroundings.
Hike to one of the highest lighthouses in the world, perched atop Cerro del Creston in the west coast destination of Mazatlán. The steep, 30-minute trek up to the historic 19th-century lighthouse delivers in a big way, with the sweeping vista of the city, sea, and coast.
Hikers can venture into the subtropical jungles of the Sierra Madre Mountains on the fringes of Puerto Vallarta, or embark on an urban hike to the Mirador la Cruz.
This lookout tower is easy to access via the trail and stairs directly from the Malecon located in Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica. From your perch, views of the city, Banderas Bay, and nearby mountain range will dazzle.
Drive an ATV
Those in search of a thrill will certainly find it in Mexico. Get your adrenaline pumping with an exciting ATV tour, bound to please outdoor and adventure enthusiasts.
Explore the desert terrain surrounding Cabo San Lucas on a rugged ATV tour through terrain dotted with cacti that conceal wildlife such as rabbits and foxes.
Or go off-roading in the tropical forest near Puerto Vallarta, making your way along dirt trails, stopping to absorb the scenery and spot brilliantly colored macaws.
On the Yucatan Peninsula, one of the best things to do in Costa Maya is to go on an ATV adventure and explore the coastal paths and unspoiled beaches where you can soak up the Caribbean sun, too.
Learning about and tasting Mexico’s most famous liquor is one of the most popular things to do while visiting the country.
Made from blue agave, tequila has been one of Mexico’s top exports since the 16th century. Sip authentic tequila in its birthplace country either on its own, neat, or in a cocktail such as a margarita.
Take the tequila experience a step further in Puerto Vallarta, where you can delve into the educational aspect of the liquor through a visit to Hacienda Dona Engracia.
Learn about production and the process behind making tequila before tasting myriad tequila grades such as fruit-flavored varieties and even a chocolate version.
Enjoy a Wine Tour
Mexico is full of surprises, and the wine country destination of the Guadalupe Valley is one of them.
Tucked in the Baja Peninsula approximately half an hour from Ensenada, this valley is responsible for producing 90 percent of Mexico’s wine. The combination of desert climate and proximity to the Pacific Ocean is ideal for grape growing.
With almost 200 wineries dotted in the desert landscape of this region, it’s one of the best things to do near Ensenada for wine and food enthusiasts. Tour vineyards, learning about the process and production of the valley’s best wines before tasting some yourself.
Sip Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc as well as reds like blends of Cabernet and Merlot.
Go on a Kayaking Adventure
Pick up a paddle and see Mexico on a sea kayaking adventure. Venture to Deer Island (Isla de Venados) from Mazatlán and discover flora and fauna typical to the region, such as cacti and orchids.
On a guided tour, make your way around the island while learning from a naturalist guide about the largest island in a chain of 900 islands in the beautiful Sea of Cortez. Take a break on the golden sands before making your way back to more of Mazatlán’s beaches for a fun day of sea and sun.
On the east coast, a plethora of kayaking adventures await, with one of the top destinations being the Bacalar Lagoon. Experience the seven shades of shimmering blue as you paddle through the Yucatan Peninsula’s spectacular scenery.
Read: Mexico Travel Tips
From outdoor adventures to food and wine experiences, there’s a wide array of amazing things to do in Mexico. Browse our luxury cruises to Mexico and explore the exciting adventures that await in this fascinating country.