The Magic Of Mexico
By Natasha Hegarty
Think of Mexico and dreamy, pale, sandy shores and crystal-clear waters will spring to mind. But think again… There is so much more to this fascinating country if you want to take in the culture, as well as the cooling cocktails.
Before we start exploring some of the fascinating things about holidaying in Mexico, there is something really important you should know…
Take a look, now, at the fabulous accommodation in Mexico which is available to you, as a DAE member. Currently there is availability in Cancún, Acapulco and Playa del Carmen, among other exotic locations. And, at just £99 for your DAE exchange, using your membership is a great-value way to widen your holiday horizons and travel to this wonderful part of the world.
For those who want their beach holiday to come with historical landmarks and intriguing exploration opportunities, Mexico is the place for you. Here are some of the best places to get your culture fix while on holiday in Mexico.
An ancient world
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichén Itzá, is the largest Mayan city on the Yucatán Peninsula and has a great cultural significance. The El Castillo pyramid is the main attraction and has been given the coveted title of one of the New Wonders of the World. If your budget stretches to a guided tour, you will discover how the Mayans built the structure, as well as learning about the history of this ancient place.
El Castillo was built by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries, and served as a temple to the god, Kukulkan. It is the world’s largest manmade calendar, being constructed to mark and measure out the year for the Mayans. On the spring and autumn equinoxes the sunlight casts shadows which resemble a snake slithering along the structure! The serpent was regarded as a deity in Mayan culture, the shedding of the skin representing rebirth and renewal. There is a light show re-enactment of this event most evenings, which is much less populated and very pretty.
Follow the art
Frida Kahlo is one of Mexico’s most famous artists and her influence is seen everywhere, from the street art in the coastal towns and villages, to the painted souvenirs on the local market stalls.
If you’re here for the art, you should head to Mexico City and visit some of the galleries filled with her work, including her former home, Casa Azul – or the Blue House – where she grew up and later lived after she married fellow artist, Diego Rivera. Now a museum, the Blue House is filled with some of her most beautiful works, including Viva la Vida and Frida and her Cesarean, as well as works by Diego and others in the Mexican folk art movement.
Under the waves
One of the most beautiful views of Mexico is to be found under the waves. Scuba diving is a popular activity in the coastal areas, thanks to the blossoming coral reefs and thriving marine life. So if you’re a confident swimmer, swap your flip-flops for a pair of flippers and dive in!
The Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park is a must for divers looking to come face-to-face with lots of different species. As the second largest barrier reef in the world, it is home to around 26 different types of coral, as well as over 500 different species of fish.
Beneath the waters of the Cancún National Marine Park, is the Cancún Underwater Museum (MUSA), where more than 500 sculptures sit on the ocean floor. If you want to see these incredible structures but don’t fancy getting wet, you can book a glass-bottom boat tour to see them in comfort.
For those who love nothing more than soaking up the sun and the feel of sand beneath their toes, there’s no better place than Mexico.
For beaches with charisma and character, Cancún Beach is where the party is at. The 14-mile stunning sandy stretch embraces a fabulous coral reef for those who want to get close to the local marine life, as well as paddle boarding and kayaking for the more active in your holiday party. As night falls, Cancún comes alive with bars, clubs and plenty of entertainment for those who want to party hard.
The bohemian beach town of Tulum, just a couple of hours’ drive from Cancún, is the place to be for peace and tranquility. The sands are white, the waters beyond the beach are the bluest of blues, and the only sound you’re likely to hear is the whispering of the sea breeze in the swaying palm trees. Akiin Beach in Tulum has a rustic charm so, with a cool drink in hand, choose a delicious dish from the many local eateries to enjoy over a romantic dinner as the sun sets over paradise.
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