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
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.
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
Puerto Vallarta, with a population of about 350,000, is a hilly and steamy village where torrential
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
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
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.