If you’ve traveled to Mexico, chances are you probably visited Cancun. According to Today, this popular resort city, located on the Yucatan Peninsula, is the number one destination for U.S. travelers heading abroad.
But Cancun isn’t the only wonderful resort destination in Mexico. Lying along Mexico’s west coast are a string of lovely resort cities that would be perfect for your next all-inclusive, relaxing getaway.
If you’re planning a vacation to Mexico, you’re probably wondering is there any difference between the west and east coast? And the answer is, of course!
Is there really a difference between the two coasts? Absolutely!
The first thing to understand about the east coast and the west coast is the way in which the destinations developed. Cancun was created for tourism by the Mexican government. When development first began on Cancun back in 1970, the area only had three residents. But with its white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters, the Yucatan Peninsula seemed an ideal setting for attracting tourists to Mexico.
Today, this purpose-built Caribbean resort city boasts the infrastructure and modern amenities necessary to meet the needs of the more than 3.3 million people who visit it each year.
The nearby Rivera Maya, which historically begins in Playa del Carmen and ends in Tulum, has been following in Cancun’s footsteps. Where once there was nothing, you can now find many all-inclusives, shopping and excursion providers springing up along this important tourism corridor.
On the other hand, some of Mexico’s top west coast cities, such as Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Manzanillo and Acapulco were already established towns or villages before becoming major tourist destinations.
So they may feel a bit more authentic than the east coast resort towns. That being aid, there are also a few destinations on the west coast, including Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, that were developed as part of the Mexican government’s tourism expansion plans.
Here are a few of other ways that Mexico’s west coast differs from its east coast:
Beaches. Mexico’s east coast beaches boast the sugar-white sands and clear, azure seas that the Caribbean is known for. The beaches on the west coast are typically golden in color, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean tend to be a darker blue or bottle green hue.
Weather. Hurricanes tend to be more of an issue on the east coast, but they do occasionally occur on the west coast, as well.
Things to do. The area around Cancun is rich in Mayan ruins, making tours to important archeological sites such as Tulum or Chichen Itza easily accessible.
And because Cancun’s crystal clear waters are teeming with tropical fish, snorkeling and scuba diving trips are also popular. Another surprising place for a snorkeling trip? Yucatan’s many cenotes and underwater caves.
The west coast also has more than its fair share of activities. For example, this region is known for its great waves, making Mexico’s west coast a popular destination with surfers. The west coast is also an excellent place to try your hand at deep sea fishing for trophy-size marlin, tuna and Mahi Mahi.
Whale watching is another popular activity in this area. Each year, during the months between December and March, thousands of gray whales migrate from the waters near Alaska to Mexico’s Baja peninsula, which means that sightings are almost guaranteed during this period.
If you’re considering heading to Mexico’s west coast, one of its most famous and alluring destinations is Puerto Vallarta. Set on the beautiful Bahia de Banderas (Banderas Bay), Puerto Vallarta is a charming, picturesque town with cobblestone streets and a wide promenade that parallels the sea.
There are also many direct flights from major cities in the U.S. that are about three-hours or less, including from Los Angeles, Dallas and Phoenix. This makes Puerto Vallarta perfect for a quick escape from reality.
And the beauty of Puerto Vallarta can be truly intoxicating. Superstars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fell in love with Puerto Vallarta after filming the John Houston movie, “The Night of the Iguana” in this town. Burton even bought a house for Taylor in Puerto Vallarta and Houston also purchased a home for himself.
At the time that “The Night of the Iguana” was made in the 1960s, Puerto Vallarta was still a sleepy little town. But the movie and Taylor’s decision to live part-time in the sleepy hamlet placed a spotlight on the town. And, eventually, Puerto Vallarta grew into the popular resort destination that it is today. As for Burton and Taylor’s home, it is now a nine-suite boutique hotel.
Whether you choose the east or west coast, you’ll have no trouble finding a little patch of sand to sit, relax and soak up some Caribbean sun.