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-   -   Mexico or Panama? (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/mexico-or-panama-419159/)

ninimehta Apr 5th, 2004 09:02 AM

Mexico or Panama?
 
Hi, my husband and I live in San Francisco and have 1 week off starting June 20th. We'd like to go somewhere warm with good beaches- but also someplace with culture that's not too touristy. We've been trying to decide between Panama/Costa Rica and Mexico (either Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta). We're worried about it being too hot and humid or too rainy. Any suggestions for any of these locations or somewhere else where the weather might be better?

Sam_Salmon Apr 5th, 2004 10:02 PM

"not too touristy"?
Then absolutely forget about the two Mexican destinations-both 'tourist hell' templates.
Ditto most of Costa Rica.
OTOH if it's Panama you want how's your Spanish?
'donde esta el baño'? doesn't go too far in Panama-you need to be able to communicate freely in Spanish and have good listening skills.

mabel Apr 6th, 2004 05:49 AM

Sam Salmon, I have read two of your posts today and they are both HARSH. Chill out, guy. People are just on this board for some info. Give them a break. You don't have to be fluent in Spanish to go to Panama. Puh-lease. I know a 60-year-old woman who's traveled all over Central and South America and had a great time knowing about 10 words of Spanish. You'll probably have a richer cultural experience if you speak the language, but you can also have some unique experiences because you don't know the langauge. It's all good.

Okay, ninmehta. All I can tell you is that June is the rainy season in CR and Panama. I haven't been to Playa del Carmen or PV, but both seem pretty touristy. Why don't you post a new topic asking about the best non-touristy beaches in Mexico/Central America? May-December is the rainy season in all of Central America though. What about South America? Brazil's beaches are awesome and those in the Northeast are nowhere near as touristy as those around Rio. You might also consider somewhere like Ecuador, which is a great, underrated country with lots of culture and not many tourists (apart from the Galapagos-going crowd).

GeordieFoley Apr 6th, 2004 10:16 AM

I agree with Mabel. This stuff is suppose to be fun

Anyway, having been to both places in July, I would recommend the Yucatan over Panama.

Playa del Carma IS somewhat touristy but not as bad as Cancun and a lot of fun. Also just a few minutes south of Playa is Tulum and the Punta Allen (Try staying at Las Ranitas which is right on the beach). You are near ruins, the biosphere, cenotes, good food (try Hechizo at Rancho San Eric) and great shopping in Playa.

Another idea- although you do not get those good on shore breezes- are the haciendia hotels that are a part of Starwood's "The Luxury Collection" in the Yucatan They are wonderful, romantic and great places to stay

The first time I went to Mexico and Panama I spoke no Spanish. Since then I have taken several course and am somewhat fluent. Nonetheless I did not find it much harder to get around the first time than I did the last. In the Yucatan they are especially helpful in working with over the lack of Spanish skills but Panama was fine also.

suze Apr 6th, 2004 12:58 PM

I absolutely disagree with Sam that Puerto Vallarta is a "tourist hell" template. And assume that he has not spent much time (if any) there. Certainly there is a newly developed tourist zone north of town, but there is also a normal downtown - El Centro of 250,000 Mexican people going about their lives. It can be an authentic welcoming, and charming place if you know where to look and are selective about the part of town you stay in.

melis1314 Apr 6th, 2004 01:03 PM

Just suggesting a completely different place: How about Kuai, HI or someplace in the South Pacific - Bora Bora

You could also go to Cape Cod, MA or Hamptons/Montauk in NY (Not much culture I guess)

ninimehta Apr 7th, 2004 11:33 AM

Hi everyone, thanks for the helpful replies. Based on weather, distance, and expense, I think we're now deciding between PV and Los Cabos. We're hoping to make the final decision based on a balance between good weather (seems like Los Cabos has a lot less rain and humidity in June) and beauty/authenticity. There are a lot of posts on this site about how overdeveloped and pricey Cabo is so I guess we're wondering if there are "secret" or less explored areas in that region- or if we should go to PV instead and just deal with the likely rain and humidity? Thanks again for your feedback! Neera

suze Apr 7th, 2004 12:12 PM

PV is a gorgeous setting with beaches, mountains, jungle & has so much to offer. It's less expensive than the Baja, with a wider variety of options for places to stay. But if you decide on Cabo for weather/logistics: you could rent a car & go up to Todos Santos, over to La Paz, back down thru San Jose del Cabo for a change of pace from the resorts.


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