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Mexican Riviera


Is there really a Mexican Riviera? No, not officially. However, in cruise brochures promoting Mexico's ports of call, tour planners have used the phrase "Mexican Riviera" for several decades now. Notably, they are referring to the Pacific side of Mexico's coastline, particularly Acapulco. However, for our purposes here at Travel Tips 'n' Tales, our Mexican Riviera pages display news, events and special packages to destinations located on all sides of Mexico's coastline from Ensenada along the Pacific Ocean, to Guaymas on the Gulf of California, to Vera Cruz at the Gulf of Mexico, and to Cancun and the island of Cozumel in the Caribbean Sea.
(Note: Cruise packages that include both Cancun and Ensenada on their itinerary are those that are of the 10 to 14- days duration since to reach these two destinations, located on opposite sides of the country, the ship has to sail north to Central America and then cut through the Panama Canal between Costa Rica and Panama.)
The following is brief information on a few of Mexico's coastal cities.
Mexico is 1,964,382 sq km/ 758,452 sq miles in size; its coastline measures about 9,330 km/ 5,800 miles. The country is home to 95 million people scattered across 31 states. Nearly 20 million people live in and around Mexico City. Of the coastal cities, Acapulco has the highest number of residents over 720,000.
Acapulco may have lost some of its visitors to competing developing beach destinations, however, the regulars keep coming back to Acapulco, because nowhere else in Mexico are the people more sophisticated or more ready to party. The majority of visitors to Acapulco stay and play in one of the American-style resorts facing the beautiful and sandy Bay of Acapulco and rarely venture into the heart of the congested noisy city where bargains can be had at the markets and shops.
Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas, located on the tip of Baja California, has jumped from a few hundred residents in the 1930's to over 28,000 today why even in the early 80's only a few resorts glistened on the rocky hillside. Today's landscape is a conglomerate of hamburger joints, tee-shirt shops, a busy marina and swanky waterfront hotels. The town resembles an American beach side resort catering to wealthy boaters. US dollars are accepted everywhere (change given in American dollars, too) and most citizens speak English.
Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea, about 30 by 10 miles in size, with a population of about 65,000. Cozumel is considered the biggest and most populated island in the Mexican Caribbean, however, its growth is somewhat limited to its water supply, a common malady of islands worldwide. Nevertheless, the crystal-clear waters and the rainbow color tropical fish living there-in, draw snorkelers and divers like magnets. There are several resorts on the western side of the island and the mainland is only a short ferry ride away.
Ensenada is a bustling commercial port city that houses more or less 260,000 residents. Visitors to the city, located just 60 miles from the California US border, find adequate amenities including accommodations and restaurants in all price ranges and excellent fishing and shopping opportunities. Cruises ships make Ensenada's harbor, located in the Pacific Ocean, a twice-weekly port of call.
Guaymas, with about 130,000 people, prospers from the construction of townhouses, condominiums and commercial fishing. Located along the Sea of Cortez, we visited the local fishing harbor and bought bags of fresh shrimp directly from the fishermen. Traveling in our RV, fried garlic shrimp was on the menu for days!
Oysters are also harvested in Guaymas, while marlin, sailfish and sea bass attract deep-sea fishing afficionados.
La Paz
La Paz is home to around 150,000 people. It is the capital and largest city in Baja California, Mexico, located on the east side of the peninsula along the Gulf of California opposite Mazatlan on the mainland. La Paz has a permanent ambience about it, having been popular with tourists long before the Baja became an in place to go. Not quite as funky as its neighbor Cabo San Lucas, the port city, nevertheless, is a haven for Canadians and Americans who want a warm hideaway during the winter months but don't want to spend a fortune getting it.
Manzanillo, a historic seaport city, has a population of around 125,000. The area's beautiful beaches -- brought to the world's attention when the movie 10 came out -- are one of Manzanillo's biggest attractions. Other attractions include first-class golf resorts, marlin (best fished November through March) and other giant sea life. The town has developed to accommodate the discriminate tourist who wants less fast food and tee-shirts and more good golf, good fishing, and more peace and tranquility.
An international fishing tournament is held each November
Mazatlan's 324,000 locals have been welcoming snowbirds to their sunny shores every winter for many decades. Searching for warm and dry temperatures, the mostly retired seniors arrive by the thousands, happily filling time- share condos and RV parks some for entire winter seasons. However, retired seniors are not the only visitors to Mazatlan. Regular tourists fill the resorts that line the main thoroughfare along the waterfront year-round.
Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta, with a population of about 350,000, is a hilly and steamy village where torrential downpours can occur unexpectedly. Undoubtedly, these rainy outbursts are the cause of the surrounding lush, green and humid hills made famous by Liz and Dick when filming the "Night of the Iguana." Attractions in cobblestoned Puerto Vallarta include a large yachting marina, scrumptious seafood, multi-colored shopping bazaars and lots of sightseeing.
San Blas

San Blas is an unpretentious fishing village with few tourist amenities and under 10,000 residents. Located between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast, visitors fall in love with San Blas, despite the lack of glitzy shops and fancy resorts. In fact, they fall in love with San Blas for those very reasons. They like being in a Mexico where most of the people they meet are locals and that most of the stores open to the public cater to the people who live there and not the people who come for a week or two. Furthermore, the white sand beaches are nearly bare and the water is as blue as you'd expect. Rich in a history of missions, Spanish galleons and ship-building, today's San Blas offers deep-sea fishing, surfing, the whitest bare-of-bodies beaches and a clear blue sea.
Tampico is an important seaport in Mexico, its region rich in oil. With access to the railroad, airline service and oil tankers, the city's export business flourishes. Basically, Tampico is an industrial city and not on the list of tourist destinations. Nevertheless, Tampico has a few lovely beaches bordering resorts, several historical landmarks and best of all, mostly all the approximately 275,000 inhabitants are friendly.
Veracruz is one Mexico's major commercial ports with trade from across the globe. The harbor employs more than 7000 people. The rest of the more than 425,000 inhabitants, make Veracruz the largest in population on the Caribbean side. Foreign visitors to Mexico often neglect to consider Veracruz as a destination, and sadly so, because the city has grace and charm in spite of its need for maintenance. In addition, prices are very reasonable, which lures the nearby Mexico City's locals. Special attractions include the Veracruz Aquarium, a very old Cathedral and the annual carnival. Artisan shops line the bustling Malecon where shoppers barter for food, pots, shawls and blankets and listen to street musicians.
Obviously, each city along the Mexican Riviera has its own uniqueness. In fact, the only thing the towns have in common is their watery location.

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