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Mexico is known for its rich culture, ancient ruins, dazzling beaches, and incredible cuisine. Tour Mayan temple ruins by day and indulge in fantastic food while listening to the rhythms of live music by night. Lounge on tropical beaches and explore the vibrant corals and marine life of the underwater world.

From culinary experiences to outdoor exploits, there’s no shortage of thrilling things to do, whether you venture to the west or east coast. Discover what Mexico is famous for as you uncover all of the amazing things this exciting country has to offer.

Beaches

Calm waters of Playa Palancar, Cozumel

Palancar Beach, Cozumel

With Mexico’s diverse beaches and endless coastline, there’s a stretch of sand for everyone. Enjoy the wild scenery of the Pacific coast near destinations like Cabo San Lucas, or the pristine waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea on the east coast when visiting Cancun and the surrounding area.

Dip your toes in the calm, turquoise waters of Cozumel’s best beaches, like Palancar Beach on the southwestern edge of the island. Relax on the soft white sands and cool off in the water, where there’s superb snorkeling over the coral gardens of the offshore reef, teeming with shoals of fish.

Pristine beach of Playa del Amor

Playa del Amor, Cabo San Lucas

Discover one of Cabo San Lucas’ iconic beaches with a visit to Playa del Amor (Lovers’ Beach), perched between two soaring rock formations. Accessed by water taxi, kayak, or paddleboard, this Mexican treasure is one of the best things to do while visiting the country’s Pacific coast.

Relish in the idyllic landscape, cool off with a swim, and photograph El Arco, Cabo’s dramatic rock arch, one of the top natural wonders that Mexico is known for.

Tequila

Colorful bottles of tequila on a table

Tequila

What is Mexico known for? If anything, tequila, one of the country’s most famous exports. First made in the 16th century, tequila is created from the blue agave plant and can actually only be considered authentic if it’s made in Mexico. Whether you prefer to sip it neat, or enjoy it in a delicious margarita, tequila is something you’ll come across on every cocktail menu in Mexico.

Dive into the educational side of tequila in Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s west coast. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the process of making tequila with a visit to Hacienda Dona Engracia. Afterward, you’ll have the chance to taste a variety of six different tequila grades, including flavors like peach, and chocolate.

On the east coast, Cozumel offers a similar learning and tasting combination experience, where you can enjoy a private tasting of “silver,” fruit, and aged tequilas.

Whale Watching

Whale spotted in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas

Mexico is famed for its marine life, with whales being one of the star attractions on the Pacific Coast. Humpback, blue, and gray whales can be spotted from various destinations along this western shoreline as they make their annual migrations.

Whether you choose to go whale watching in Mexico from land or venture out on a wildlife-spotting cruise, witnessing these majestic mammals is one of the things that Mexico is most known for.

Hop aboard a sailboat in Puerto Vallarta as you glide through the waters to Banderas Bay, where you’ll have the chance to look for humpback whales in their winter habitat. The months from December to March are the optimal whale-watching season. Get your camera ready to capture these graceful creatures and even some playful dolphins on your thrilling journey.

Cabo San Lucas is another fantastic destination on the Pacific coast for whale watching, specifically between the months of January and April. Gray whales come here to give birth, while seabirds and sea lions complete the cast of wild characters.

Read: Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta 

Mayan Ruins

What is Mexico known for - Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Learn about the rich history of the Maya people, a classical Mesoamerican civilization dating back to 2600 BC. Mexico is famed for the atmospheric archaeological sites that are the legacy of the ancient Maya.

Chichen Itza, possibly the most iconic site, is located in the Yucatan state a few hours from Cozumel, Cancun, and Tulum. Featuring a total of 26 separate ruins, the ancient city is a marvel to behold.

It’s easy to see why the site was deemed one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Filled with intriguing structures, cenotes, and caves, the four-square-mile grounds are a treat to explore. You’ll recognize El Castillo, the famous pyramid-shaped structure with 91 steps on each of its four sides.

If you’re lucky enough to view El Castillo during either the spring or autumn equinoxes, you’ll have the opportunity to see the appearance of a mysterious snake-like shape, created by shadows from the sun.

Massive pyramid of Ixmoja in Coba

Coba Mayan Ruins, Yucatan

Another incredible set of Mayan antiquities to explore during your time in Mexico is Coba, near Tulum. Wander the stone roads here in the midst of the lush jungle for an otherworldly experience.

A guided tour will teach you about the history of the Maya, their way of life, and the purpose of each structure. Admire the Mayan hieroglyphic inscriptions, and the view from the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid, the tallest on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Historic Mayan ruins in San Gervasio, Cozumel

San Gervasio, Cozumel

On Cozumel, visit the impressive archeological site of San Gervasio, a sacred place for ancient Mayan pilgrimages where it’s believed that Ixchel, the goddess of fertility, was worshipped. San Gervasio was also an administrative center for the Maya, the various temples linked by white stone roads called sacbés. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Read: Best Mayan Ruins Near Cozumel 

Chocolate

What is Mexico known for - Chocolate

Mayan Cacao Company

Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate, one of the finest gourmet foods that the country is known for. Ancient Mesoamerica was where the first cacao plants were discovered by the Olmec and Mayan civilizations.

First used in beverage form, a fermented drink was created using cacao, corn, honey, and chili. During Aztec times, chocolate was so popular that it was even used as currency, as well as for health benefits. Today, it’s used in cooking, both sweet and savory dishes, and is still a hot beverage staple in the classic cinnamon hot chocolate found throughout Mexico.

One of the most irresistible ways to learn about the country’s history and use of chocolate throughout the years is with a chocolate tour. Cozumel is a place where you’ll find exciting, hands-on chocolate tours; you’ll even get the chance to make your own chocolate bar and leave with a taste of Mexican culinary history

Natural Wonders

Rock formations of El Arco de Cabo San Lucas

El Arco, Cabo San Lucas

Mexico is packed with natural wonders. From cenotes, which are natural limestone sinkholes, to massive rock formations in the sea, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring scenes.

Discover one of Cabo San Lucas’ most iconic natural attractions, the dramatic rock arch, El Arco, otherwise referred to as “Land’s End”. Accessible by boat only, the rock formations are located between the entertainingly named Lovers’ Beach and Divorce Beach.

Bring your camera to capture the wild beauty of the Baja Peninsula; you’ll most likely be greeted by sea lions here, too.

The landscape of Quintana Roo is in places riddled with cenotes, which form natural swimming holes, surrounded by limestone rock in a rainforest setting. Take a dip in these cave-like pools in impossibly clear water, where you’ll feel like a true underground explorer.

Some of the best cenotes to explore in eastern Mexico are Gran Cenote, near Tulum; Ik Kil, near Chichen Itza; and Sac Actun, in the Riviera Maya.

Amazing blue hues inside the El Salto Canyon

El Salto Canyon, near Ensenada

Put on your hiking boots for an exhilarating trek to the El Salto Canyon and Waterfall, near Ensenada. Enjoy a two-mile round trip hike through the carved canyon, complete with beautiful viewpoints, where you’ll be rewarded with a tumbling waterfall at the end.

Or lose yourself in the bliss of Bacalar Lagoon, a little over an hour from Costa Maya, on the Yucatan Peninsula. The lake is famous for its seven vibrant shades of blues and greens, and clear, shallow waters, and is a true oasis in the tropical heat.

Dramatic marine geyser of La Bufadora

La Bufadora, near Ensenada

From Ensanada, pay a visit to La Bufadora, a dramatic marine geyser that blasts ocean water high into the sky, the result of seawater being forced into a submerged rock cavern and pushed upwards under enormous pressure. A paved pathway leads to the viewpoint, where you should expect to be sprayed as the water shoots 100 ft into the air, to the cheers of onlookers.

Read: Top 10 Things to Do in Costa Maya, Mexico 

Mariachi

Mariachi band in Mexico

Mariachi

One cultural aspect Mexico is most known for is mariachi. This traditional music genre is synonymous with Mexican culture. Mariachi bands typically have four players in charro suit costumes, with violin, guitar, guitarron, and a vihuela creating the iconic tunes.

These folk storytelling songs are a fixture at big events such as weddings and birthday celebrations. But you’ll also see bands playing in the streets and near open-air restaurants, which just adds to the happy vibe of your Mexican feast.

Cuisine

Man making guacamole in Mexico

Cooking class in Mexico

Mexico is a destination for gourmands. From tacos to enchiladas and everything in between, one thing is for sure, you won’t go hungry here. Be sure to try the popular breakfast or brunch fare of chilaquiles, a melt-in-the-mouth combination of fried corn tortilla chips with chicken, red or green salsa, cotija cheese, and a fried egg.

Or choose tacos al pastor, a combination of pork, pineapple, and onions in a fresh corn tortilla.  Flautas are rolled up, fried tortillas with chicken, beef or cheese, topped with sour cream and guacamole. Popular street food options include gorditas, a type of sandwich; tacos of all kinds; elote (Mexican street corn); and churros, the delectable dessert we all know and love.

Dive into the culinary culture of Mexico with a cooking class in Cabo San Lucas. You’ll learn how to make authentically spicy red and green salsas, as well as traditional guacamole to accompany tacos or cheese quesadillas.

Historic Colonial Cities

Streets of Old Mazatlan

Old Mazatlan

Spanish Colonial Cities in Mexico date back to the 16th century, with attractive architecture, impressive cathedrals, intricate fountains, and historical monuments. You’ll find more than 120 of these enchanting “pueblos magicos”, or  “magic towns”.

Visit Old Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast, stroll the cobblestone streets and discover the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Teatro Angela Peralta, and the Plazuela Machado. Marvel at the Belle Epoque designs, enjoy restaurants and bars, and stretch your legs on a walk along the Malecon, a 13-mile seaside promenade.

People climbing the Coba Mayan Ruins, Yucatan

Coba Mayan Ruins, Yucatan

From pristine beaches to rich cuisine, arts, and culture, Mexico is a destination with much to experience. A luxury cruise to Mexico is a fantastic way to uncover all of the amazing things that Mexico is known for. Browse itineraries on our website and book your Mexican getaway today.

Free Vacation Planning Services

Free Vacation Planning Services