Adventure-travel seekers know that Mexico has more than its fair share of seas, sands and blue skies. But scratch that beautiful surface, and you’ll find steamy, southern jungles; smoking, snowcapped volcanoes; wildlife-filled lagoons; cactus-dotted, northern deserts; and Maya memories and manifestations that stretch back through time.
On a private, custom tour in Mexico that we can help you plan, you could explore the Baja Peninsula, one of the longest in the world, stretching more than 750 miles south from the California border. Here, in the blindingly blue Sea of Cortez, at least nine species of whales regularly pass through. Go on a whale-watching expedition, and you’re likely to see some of the California gray whales that arrive to calve. This is the first place that the young whales—still larger than a small sailboat—swim beside their mothers and learn about their watery world.
If hiking is high on your list of activities during your Mexican adventure travels, consider the cloud forests of Oaxaca. Situated 5,000 feet above sea level, this colonial city is centered on a traditional town square and surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains. Oaxaca is the best place to soak in the thriving traditions of the nation’s indigenous cultures. Take part in one of the many folk celebrations or meander through the acclaimed artisan sector, learning about natural dye-making methods. In the morning, practice your Spanish with the vendors in one of Mexico’s oldest indigenous markets; and in the evening, return to your gracious and restored, historical hacienda, one of more than 170 built by the Spanish—each having a unique style and story behind its origin.
Include the Yucatan Peninsula in your private, custom tour in Mexico, and you’ll traverse one of the most ecologically rich and culturally diverse regions in the world. On the peninsula’s coastlines, you can swim with whale sharks, observe crocodiles and monkeys, help liberate newborn sea turtles, and spy hundreds of types of birds in mangroves and jungles. In the east, walk the coral-crushed, white-sand beaches and swim in the turquoise waters. In the north, stroll sleepy fishing villages and snorkel in sparkling shallows. When the urge to beachcomb strikes, hit one of several low-key islands off the Caribbean Coast, where life moves at a refreshingly slow pace.
The Yucatan contains many mind-blowing Maya archaeological sites, several of which were built on the coast. Feel awestruck as you stand before the pyramids, temples and ball courts of Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Be amazed by the architecture and the knowledge of astronomy, mathematics and science displayed. At Uxmal, see what an entire Maya ceremonial center originally looked like hundreds of years ago. And in the Maya village of Becal, watch as locals—working in humid caves to keep jipijapa palm reeds flexible—make Panama hats.
Or wander through the narrow streets of the city of Campeche, lined with restored, pastel-colored buildings. Campeche was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site as a typical example of a harbor town from the Spanish colonial period in the New World. Learn about the English and Dutch pirates whose constant attacks led to the city’s fortification in 1686, with a rampart that was 10 feet thick.
On any given day in the Yucatan, you may come across art exhibits, free concerts, dance performances in the streets and unusual museums. The peninsula holds a large number of parks that offer thrilling boat tours; and thousands of freshwater, subterranean rivers called “cenotes” that invite you to take a cool dip.
Mexico is seas, sands and blue skies, yes. But more than that, Mexico is a sojourn for the soul and senses.