Two hubs of Mexican culture loom large in the vacation-minded, and for good reason: the paradises of Cabo and Cancun are the sights of breezy-beach legends, known for being drenched in hues of bright neon and having margaritas flow endlessly like a fresh spring. Stated succinctly, these beach towns have been branded as the tried-and-true choice of Spring Break nirvana—the best places to stay in Mexico for revelry.
But, just because a location has developed the reputation as the perfect beach party, doesn’t mean that the spirit of the locale is centered solely on the fiesta. Be it witnessing the glow of a sunrise slowly blanket a fine-sand beach, the brilliance of creation housed on the walls of an art museum, the elegance on display in chic storefronts or the explosion of rich flavors on a plate paired with a libation of liquid gold, the luxurious side of Mexico’s party locales may well be one of the country’s best-kept secrets. If you want to be let in on that secret, simply read on.
Beauty seems to utterly encase you the second you arrive in Cancun. The endless stretch of sun-kissed beach, freckled with palms so soft-swaying you’re not sure they’re moving. The bustling street market downtown, buzzing with all walks of life amongst splashes of fresh produce and artisanal crafts. Elevate these rich experiences of life by pairing them with its sincerest imitation—art. As such, two venues stand out amongst the beauty, both natural and cultivated.
The first is the Mexican Folk Art Museum. Housing an impressive collection of local creation through the ages, witnessing the progression of Mexican culture over the sprawling landscape of time instills a greater appreciation for the current day. The second is the MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte). Composed of over 500 life-size sculptures on the ocean floor, this sculpture garden is the perfect marriage of manmade art and the authentic beauty of nature. Each sculpture serves to facilitate the growth of the Mesoamerican Coral Reef—creating a surreal dreamscape of everyday structures engulfed in alien-like florescent growth. Glass-bottom boat tours are available for the MUSA, but nothing compares to the thrill of snorkeling or diving the garden.
Also thrilling, but not as strenuous, is the food scene of Cancun. The city is full of established chefs flocking to paradise (and really, who can blame them?), serving the magnum opusesof their culinary careers. Local ingredients shine bright no matter the venue—so every meal is in contention for the best you’ve had, be it a street stall snack or white-tablecloth dinner. Lorenzillo’s holds the crown of can’t-miss dining experience: their offerings of the Riviera Maya’s lobster are unparalleled. Equally stunning is Du Mexique by Sonya Grimond. The marriage of Mexican ingredients with French cooking techniques, the intimate atmosphere cultivated with only seven tables and the daily-changing menu all combine for a meal demanding the distinction of “euphoric.”
Shopping the boutique markets in Cancun is a fine way to work up an appetite for these decadent meals. As with luxury dining, you’re awash with options. Two possibilities well worth your time are Luxury Avenue and Fashion Harbour. The former is located within Kukulcan Plaza and boasts 25 of the world’s premier brands—everything from Burberry to Ultrafemme. Add to the mix the exquisite modern architecture, and there isn’t a plusher venue for escaping the sun. Those looking to soak up good weather should seek out the latter of the possibilities: Fashion Harbour. Perusing the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Prada on the scenic shores of the adjacent Nichupte Lagoon gives new meaning to “shopper’s paradise.”
Comprising a haven of luxury on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, Cabo San Lucas feels like a world unto itself. Behind you: an endless stretch of desert and shrubland, with the odd forest atop the mountain ranges. Before you: a verifiable utopia of fine living, settled on some of the world’s most stunning coastline. There is no wrong approach for experiencing it, but there are some experiences that rise to the top of the to-do list.
Lounging idyllic on a blissful beach is all well and good, but the discoveries beyond sun-bathing make for experiences worth more than solid gold. Out at sea, underneath those picturesque swells, are sportfish of gargantuan proportions—marlins and tuna that might get mistaken for sea monsters. The opportunity to battle wits and brawn against them is an experience straight from the pages of a Hemingway book, the sort of adrenaline rush that provides a near-steady supply of ecstasy for multiple weeks that follow.
If your idea of “living in the moment” centers more-so on the meditation of the matter rather than the rush of experience, there are still plenty of options for priceless memory-making—especially along the fairways. The golf of Cabo is world-class and world-renowned, for good reason. Few other places in the world can boast the unique setting of desert-surrounded-by-ocean. Coupled with the fact that the plethora of courses all host a medley of views and hazards guarantees that any game of golf will be equal parts serene and exhilarating. Cabo del Sol and Quivira were both created by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, featuring holes stretching across jagged cliffs and using the sea as the water hazard.
However you spend your day, know that dinner is certain to be the garnish atop a day in paradise. The gastronomic scene of Cabo boasts much of the same variables as Cancun, with arguably even greater draws of celebrity chefs. With many venues making good use of the adjacent ocean, seafood-centric cuisine reigns supreme across most menus—but not without exceptions. The tacos of La Lupita Taco y Mezcal are divine, with short rib and suckling pig tacos that simply melt in your mouth. If you’re in search for atmosphere as stunning as the taste, Manta is at the top of the list. Lead by acclaimed chef Enrique Olvera, Manta’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer breathtaking views of the granite formations at Land’s End on the horizon—especially so at sunset.
Ready to dive into the luxe and lavish experiences found within two of the best places to stay in Mexico? Give one of our travel agents a call. Not only can they provide you with the suggestions of experiences you may not have thought to find yourself, but also their professional connections to the leading names in travel guarantee perks and amenities certain to provide an experience befitting a grand beach getaway.