Metropolises and the Mayans
Stretching all the way from the USA in the north to Guatemala and Belize in the south, Mexico is the glue that links the North and South American continents together. The country’s two million square kilometres pack in everything from mega cities and tiny pueblos to ancient jungle and Mayan relics. But, for holidaymakers at least, the coastal areas hold the main appeal.
Mexico’s eastern edge sidles up to the Caribbean Sea. Cancun is the big gun out here. It’s home to upmarket hotels, a 22-kilometre belt of white sand, shopping malls, and an after-dark scene to rival Rio. As you head down the coast, Mexico begins to shed its tourist skin. Playa del Carmen offers everything Cancun does, but in smaller portions, but by Playacar, the bars and shops disappear in favour of secluded beaches and seaside villas. In Riviera Maya, meanwhile, tropical jungle and Mayan ruins begin to appear in the picture.
Mexico’s west coast is lapped by the Pacific Ocean. The beaches around Puerto Vallarta mirror the quality of those on the opposite side of the country. And away from the sand, abseiling and zip-lining circuits are strung through the Sierra Madre Mountains.
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Mexico - Pacific Coast
Hollywood’s original screen sirens were among the first to get a soft spot for Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Ava Gardner and Richard Burton fell for the place in the early Sixties, when they came here to film The Night of the Iguana. The Pacific Coast’s chemistry begins with its beaches. Almost 800 kilometres of white sand fringes Mexico’s west side, and sitting pretty in the centre of it all is Banderas Bay. Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta are the big resorts in these parts.