The Mexican Riviera is slowly joining the top cruise destinations in the world, building a huge reputation as an alternative against the Caribbean. With thousands of miles of Pacific coast to enjoy, from the northern border with California to its southern border with Guatemala, the Mexican Riviera has progressed from a number of small fishing villages to a location of pure luxury, offering the true beauty of the Mexican west coast.
The Riviera has become renowned for its pristine sandy beaches, stunning views and its many exotic ports. Sail all the way down the west coast from Ensenada to Acapulco and back up to stop at Cabo San Lucas, to really soak up the best of Mexico’s “Gold Coast” and hit the epitome of luxury at the end of your trip in your very own private villa. Sounds rather perfect, doesn’t it?
The town of Ensenada really is the ideal starting point to your Mexican Riviera cruise, and is the first port of call for most cruise lines. What used to be a sleepy resort town is now referred to as Baja’s “Love Boat” port, and has transformed into Mexico’s second busiest port for fishing and shipping. The town holds an eclectic mix of the old and the new, from Mexico’s oldest winery and Baja’s first cantina to popular fish markets and tourist shopping. The main highlights of Ensenada include its gorgeous fresh seafood and Mexican wine. The town is so close to Mexico’s wine country, which is home to the country’s largest vineyard where you can explore Mexico’s wine revolution. The top highlight of the wine country near Ensenada is Guadalupe Valley Winery, as it is described by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as the “Jewel of Baja wine country” and is one of Mexico’s oldest and award winning wine estates.
The port of Mazatlan is often a favorite choice of the Mexican Rivera, providing an insight into “Real Mexico”. Due to its amazing deep-sea fishing opportunities, it has become one of Mexico’s first attractions to international visitors. Not only is it popular with guests, but it is also one of the country’s busiest ports for Mexico’s largest shrimp fleet, which is what you will find on most Mazatlan menus. The city is less centered on tourists and instead provides an authentic beach getaway, ideal for honeymoons and romantic breaks, perfect for relaxing spa retreats, beach activities and historical walks.
Away from city hustle and bustle, lies the quaint fishing town of Puerto Vallarta, complete with cobble stone streets that climb to the jungle scenery behind it. The town is located on the Bay of Banderas, one of the largest natural bays in the world with 25 miles of beaches with the Sierra Madre Mountains as its backdrop. The town has gone from being largely unknown, to the second most visited resort in Mexico, attracting millions of visitors every year and making it a lively city by day and by night. This colonial “old town” is a favorite with lovers of history and photography, while Marina Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta attract beach-goers and boaters. These northern areas offer spectacular opportunities to visit lagoons where you can swim with dolphins, while the southern coastal areas offer scenic wonders of coves that are ideal for snorkeling.
These two ports on the Mexican Riviera will offer two truly different Mexican experiences, and are also known as “two holidays in one”. Ixtapa, that was once a coconut plantation, has now transformed into a high rise urban jungle, filled with plenty of all-inclusive resorts, fine cuisine and high end shopping; it offers everything you would associate with Mexican luxury travel. Zihuatanejo on the other hand has evolved as a quaint fishing town to a major hotspot for backpackers, filled with winding streets, art galleries, fish taco joints and plenty of palm trees. It reflects true laid back Mexican culture with beautiful quiet beaches and waters where you can spot sea turtles and rare species of fish.
Previously, a Hollywood hangout, today the city of Acapulco is considered one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. The Mexican city is now viewed as a glamorous and lively place, with a large array of attractions and activities providing plenty to see and do. The region is known as the Queen of Mexican beach resorts, and the bay of Acapulco is popular throughout the year, with an urban feel and Mexican carnival atmosphere. It is best known for its two stunning bays: Santa Lucia and Puerto Marques, both providing breathtaking scenery across the cliffs and surrounded by beautiful beaches and exotic landscapes against the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountain Range. It is a top choice for both partygoers and those looking to simply relax against true Mexican tropical beauty.
Cabo San Lucas
Located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is an anchor port for all cruises along the Mexican Riviera and Sea of Cortez cruises, and because of this, it is experiencing a real tourist boom. It has become a top vacation destination and is a town of true style and luxury. This town is scattered with opulent restaurants and bars that offer the height of romance and the most stunning of views. It is the perfect place to finish your cruise with a luxury villa stay. Cabo San Lucas is home to hundreds of beautiful condos and villas, with balcony’s overlooking the Sea of Cortez, stunning swimming pools, bars and sundecks to ensure you are getting the very best of this beautiful town. Completing your Mexican journey in this town will ensure you get the very best experience of Mexico’s Riviera. The town ranges from true elegance to top adventure spots, with bright white beaches and clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
This guest post is written by Julie Bradbury.