Cruising the Mexican Riviera
Mexico's Pacific coastline, known as the Riviera for its stylish ports and luxurious coastal towns, is a sumptuous feast of sun, colors and warmth. Each port of call is a dream to explore and an ease to enjoy, making you wonder, as you slowly wind down cobblestone streets past bustling open-air markets, if it's the gentle sun above or the kind locals that bestow such a feeling of ease and tranquility.
You'll carry these feelings throughout your trip and long afterwards. For cruising the Mexican Riviera will make you rich with memories of cliff divers in Acapulco gracefully slicing through the air, of the powdery beaches of Puerto Vallarta that you'll swear are the softest ever, of the marlin you hooked in the waters off Cabo San Lucas that was at least "this big" and then some, and of the endless maze of shops in Zihuatanejo and Mazatlan.
Binding these ports together is a ribbon of white sand that some mistake for silk and other mistake for Heaven. They settle on just calling it paradise, for the beaches are pristine and pure gold, a valuable treasure protected by stunning cliffs and thick jungles that pop out of the background as if from a movie set and into your vacation reality.
When planning a visit to the Mexican Riviera, astute travel agents like the lucky number seven — as in seven-day cruise itineraries. Seven days provides an ideal relaxing pace to soak in the sights and the sun of the best five ports, the first of which, after a refreshing and rejuvenating sprint across the ocean waters, will be Cabo San Lucas.
Perched on the tip of the Baja Peninsula where the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean meet the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, Cabo provides a stunning union of sea, desert and mountains, creating a picture perfect resort paradise. Photo hounds will naturally flock to El Arco—The Arch—a rock formation guarded by two seas and 200 sea lions. Ask the sea lions to smile for the picture and they just might.
Your first stop on the Mexican mainland will be Mazatlan, a place where boredom is simply not an option. Excursions to surf, sail and scuba dive should be taken, or you can stroll along the town's 10-mile seaside promenade, dine on shrimp tacos and shop for Mexican and Indian handicrafts. Afterward, take one of the open air taxis, called pulmonias, up the steep hillsides for a breathtaking view of Mazatlan's bays and surrounding islands.
Further south Puerto Vallarta, or PV as it's known today, was once a beautiful secret, a glorious hideaway for those in the know and a brilliant surprise for a lucky few. But the secret escaped, and now thousands flock here to do one thing and do it well: relax. Red-tile roofs and rows of balconies, spilling over with blooming bougainvillea, line the cobblestone streets, making PV one of the most picturesque port towns in the world.
While PV's prominence expanded relatively recently, the seaside port of Zihuatanejo was established centuries ago. Today this quaint fishing village has absorbed modernization without losing its rustic charm and easy-going ambiance. Alluring and unspoiled, Zihuatanejo's golden beaches and sparkling waters remind travel agents of the beauty of Polynesia, yet the locals are delightfully Mexican to the bone.
Zihuatanejo is often referred to as the Acapulco of 50 years ago, although the Acapulco of now is still a vibrant scene. Spectacularly embraced by both mountains and sea, Acapulco is the gathering place for pleasure-seekers from around the world. Acapulco Bay, one of the most beautiful bays in the world, is the heart and soul of the city, shimmering with the reflection of mountains during the day and twinkling with the city's lights at night. Watch as cliff divers leap from La Quebrada and into a small cove below. Thrilling is hardly the word.
Thrilling may not be the best word to describe the travel agent who arranged your Mexican Riviera cruise. Effortless, reliable, trouble-free—those words better describe the experience of dealing with a trusted travel agent, as they help plan your itinerary and excursions, finding the best rates and taking care of all the little details so you don't have to. All you have to do is learn a little Spanish in time for your perfect cruising holiday.
One Spanish phrase you will not like to use is adiós — goodbye. It will be difficult for you to say goodbye to the beauty, the ease and the warmth that envelopes the Mexican Riviera—and its visitors—radiantly. But it's easier to say knowing that you can and should return to these beaches again, every time you can.
Say "Hola!" to paradise. Contact a travel agent today and start planning your cruise to the Mexican Riviera.
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Photos courtesy Mexico Tourism Board