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A Guide to Mexico Beaches and Resorts
With shores on two oceans, Mexico is a beach lover's paradise... Mexico beaches come in all shapes and sizes!

Cancun

Make no mistake, Cancun is a very tourist friendly destination. Located on the Yucatan peninsula, Cancun is populated with mega resorts and over 20,000 hotel rooms. The economy is based on tourism and the people go out of their way to show tourists a good time.

Cancun proper is actually two distinct areas. Cancun City is located on the mainland and Cancun Island is just off the coast. The island is the stuff of legend.

Cancun Island the classic example of Caribbean beach paradise. Incredibly blue water laps slowly onto insanely white beaches. Light breezes roll in off the water as you lounge on a beach chair and contemplate important things like what you will eat for lunch.

One of the slight downsides of Cancun involves beachfront hotels. They tend to be a bit possessive about the sand in front of them. Put another way, you better be staying at the hotel if you intend to plop down in front of it. Hey, it can't all be great!

Acapulco

You're probably already familiar with Acapulco if you ever watched the Wild World of Sports on ABC. Acapulco was exhibited frequently as the location of those sketchy cliff diving competitions. You know, the one where crazy men jumped a few hundred feet into a pool of water between rocks. Fortunately, you don't have to cliff dive to enjoy Acapulco.

Acapulco is located below and on mountains jutting on off of a beautiful bay. The place is visually impressive and the beaches are very nice. There is, however, one potential downside to Acapulco. The town is tailored to tourist in a big way. You aren't going to find any authentic Mexican culture unless you head into the hills. Instead, you are going to be bombarded by people selling things and generally catering to the all mighty tourist dollar. Some people love Acapulco, but there are better places in Mexico in my opinion.

Cabo San Lucas

How times change. Cabo San Lucas used to be a sleepy beach town on the tip of Baja California. The airport used to consists of a single, large cabana. For better or worse, those days are gone.

Cabo San Lucas is quickly becoming the place to be among Mexican beach resorts. Rock stars, Sammy Hagar, own bars and sing songs about the place. The marinas have some impressive and expensive boats. Previously bare mountains are now covered by large and impressive homes. Heck, there are even traffic jams!

Still, there is a reason all this is going on. Cabo San Lucas is simply a top notch place to go on a vacation. The sun beams all day and there are activities galore. You can go deep see fishing, kayaking, surfing or just loaf on the beach. Cafes and bars populate the beaches, but you don't get the hectic feeling found in Acapulco. For nightlife, Cabo San Lucas can't be beat with legendary bars and quality restaurants.

Playa del Carmen

With one of the prettiest beaches on the Caribbean coast, Playa del Carmen was the hidden gem of Mexico for years and years. About 10 years ago, the word got out and now Playa del Carmen is exploding. If you're looking for solitude, this isn't the place with cruise ships and so on packing the place during high season. On the other hand, this is definitely the place if you like a lot of "resort" in your beach vacation.

Playa del Carmen has a lot to offer to visitors. Of course, the beaches are beautiful and I highly recommend you catch the sunrise, which is some of Mother Nature's finest work. Staying up shouldn't be a problem since the nightlife in Playa del Carmen is plentiful.

During the day, you can loaf on the beach or head out for some diving in the clear waters of the Caribbean. Should you get tired of the beach, you can head inland for some surprisingly quality hiking.

Cozumel

An island off the Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel is a slice of Caribbean paradise. With smooth, crystal clear waters, Cozumel has the white beaches you see in the Corona beer commercials. On the island proper, one can loaf on the beach, pursue world class diving or just loaf on the beach. Dolphin petting and sitting in the hammocks of Xal-Hal are touristy, but fun things to do. Although Cozumel is on cruise ship circuit, it maintains the relaxed atmosphere found in smaller destinations in the Mexican Riviera.

Unfortunately, Cozumel was in the news through much of the last week of October 2005 because Hurricane Wilma pounded it. Given a few months, Cozumel will be on the mend and a great location since prices will undoubtedly be low to attract visitors.

Puerto Vallarta

Considered a poor man's Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta lies in the middle of the Bahia de Banderas, a huge bay. The beach is long and nice while the two lies at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The last ten years have seen a lot of development with condos, hotels and tourist support areas going up like mad. This isn't particularly surprising since tourism seems to be the hub of the entire economy in Puerto Vallarta.

For beaches, you really can't go wrong in Puerto Vallarta. The northern beaches tend to be the most popular, which also means more people. Personally, I've headed to the south to find a little more breathing room. For gay travelers, Puerto Vallarta is considered the most accommodating beach location in an otherwise conservative Mexico.

Ensenada

Located a few hours south of the border with San Diego, Ensenada is a popular weekend trip. Sitting on the bay of Todos Santos, Ensenada is famous for a vibrant nightlife, nice beaches and being the location where much of the movie "Titanic" was shot.

Historically, Ensenada used to be a secret location known to San Diegans. Then the Mexican government built a smooth highway from Tijuana through Ensenada. So much for the secret!

Today, Ensenada is a good place to go if you want to experience Mexico, but want to avoid the packed, edgy Tijuana scene. In Ensenada, you can ride horses on the beach, do some surfing and visit world famous bars. The most famous, of course, is Hussongs. Hussongs is the place where you can "sample" tequila and sing with Mariachi bands. The two have nothing to do with each other. Honest.
About the Author
Rick Chapo is with Nomad Journals - makers of travel journals to preserve your travel experiences.
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