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kkyllo Oct 18th, 2015 11:27 AM

Something different in Mexico
I am taking my husband on a trip to Mexico in February. We honeymooned in Playa Del Carmen 20 years ago when PDC was much more laid back and "small" than today and we loved it. We have been to Cancun and hated everything about it. What I am looking for now is the PDC of old. I have been focusing on the Pacific side, for something different. Would like to have some things to do there, but don't need much in the way of adventure, this is supposed to be a trip to relax in the sun and eat great food! Accommodations just need to be clean and safe, don't need all inclusive or large resort. If it was on the quiet side that would be preferred. Any help would be much appreciated.

MichelleY Oct 18th, 2015 03:29 PM

We went to Loreto on the Sea of Cortez several years ago. Loved it plus went over to Magdalena Bay on the Pacific to see the baby whales. A bit of a hassle to get to from the Midwest or Eastern US.

Here is the link to my trip report:

Christina Oct 18th, 2015 03:51 PM

I haven't been anywhere on the Pacific side but Puerta Vallarta and it's sure not undiscovered, so I guess that's out. It's not small, either. And I know Mazatlan, Cabo, etc. are wellknown, also. I guess in Baja you could look at La Paz or Loreto.

My one suggestion was there are other places on the Gulf if you want to consider them, less developed than the places you named, like Puerto Morelos might be more like what you wanted.

On the Pacific, you could try Puerto Escondido to the south, it's popular with surfers but others, also, and is still rather small and authentic. It's in Oaxaca state, I believe.

Stewbear Oct 18th, 2015 04:42 PM

Check out Zihuatanejo. It may be the perfect choice for you.
Moderate in size but large enough for all services including super markets, movies, clubs & hotels/inns fairly large to just a few rooms.
Nice beaches & lovely views.

Jeff_Costa_Rica Oct 18th, 2015 07:29 PM

Must it be a beach destination? I'm a big fan of Merida and Oaxaca, both of which have a lot of colonial charm and a lot to see and do in their respective regions.

baldone Oct 18th, 2015 07:37 PM

What you're looking for is what so many are looking for as well. Mexico has over 5,000 miles of coastline, so surely you can find your spot! Here's my thoughts as a resident. Zihua/Ixtapa is the 3rd most visited area behind Cancun and PV, so if you're looking for relative isolation, eliminate that. But the Baja suggestion is good.
Christina mentioned the gulf, but Puerto Morelos is not on the gulf. That said, Gulf of Mexico destinations, such as the Costa Esmeralda are indeed isolated, but tends to be cooler in February.
To me, the best destination for you would be Huatulco. It's a FONATUR development like Cancun and Ixtapa/Zihua, so there is plenty of tourist infrastructure, (but not as touristed) but since there are some 9 bays, you can still find the isolation you want. Maybe rent a car for a day and explore the coast, checking out San Augustinillo and the turtle farm in Mazunte.

baldone Oct 18th, 2015 08:13 PM

Forgot to mention Isla Holbox! It's becoming more popular, but since it takes effort to get there, still pretty isolated. Jeff makes a good suggestion too, as TAR will have routes from Oaxaca to Huatulco for under $50. Oaxaca arguably has the best food in Mexico. A few nights in colonial Oaxaca, food, ruins, & mezcal, then on to the beach in Huatulco. The perfect Mexican vacay.

Orlando_Vic Oct 19th, 2015 05:39 AM

Paul, No advertising on Fodors.

kkyllo Oct 19th, 2015 06:03 AM

Baldone, can you give me an opinion on Isla Holbox vs Mahahual/Costa Maya? Any thoughts would be very helpful. And how far are they from the Cancun airport?
Thank You!

emd3 Oct 19th, 2015 06:30 AM

You may want to check out Sayulita.

Rohelio Oct 19th, 2015 07:33 AM

I agree with Baldone as isla Holbox is very quiet and most certainly laid back... once there of course, as it is somewhat isolated and takes an extra effort to get there. There are no cars on the island, simply golf carts and is a little like Playa 20 years ago, no paved streets with dogs and chickens roaming the small city streets. Great seafood and small but clean hotels.

As for Puerto Morelos, (half hour south of Cancun) which is very easy to get to, there are several restaurants and hotels to choose from in the 2 and 3 star category, a very wide and beautiful beach, great for fishing, snorkelling and relaxing.

Again, in the Yucatan, there is Progreso about 40 minutes north of Merida with great condos and houses to rent and right on the beach. This is a small town which in my eyes has just about everything and if you want more, you head down to Merida for a day or two and take in the real meaning of Mexican life in the city with its famous week end activities and folkloric dances in the streets and restaurants , museums, churches, ruins, Paseo de Montejo ave. monasteries theatre and so much more

I have heard great things about Zihuatanejo (never been) on the Pacific side with the small streets and beautiful country side and an apparent incredible view of the ocean from the hillside.

Stewbear Oct 19th, 2015 07:42 AM

Baldone Zijuatanejo's visitors are mostly Mexicans. Not even in the top 10 for foreign tourists. Far Far behind Cabo, PV Cancun etc

Shanti Oct 19th, 2015 07:51 AM

I'll be going to Barra de Natividad in a couple months. I wanted to check it out basically for all the reasons you listed in your post.

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until December to find out what I will think of it.

MichelleY Oct 19th, 2015 07:55 AM

Shanti - looking forward to your report.

Shanti Oct 19th, 2015 07:55 AM

Barra de Navidad not Natividad. It is about an hour north of Manzanillo.

I should know better than to post before finishing my morning coffee.

Rohelio Oct 19th, 2015 08:11 AM

Mahahual is about 4 hours drive south of Playa del Carmen ,easy to get to, very beautiful and laid back where cruise ships set anchor for a few hours and the village comes alive, including prices, after which everything slows down when they leave, including prices of course...

Isla Holbox is about 3 hours from Cancun which involves and includes second class bus (Mayab) line ,possible taxi and ferry to the island.
You should not rent a car for this as you will have to park it in the ferry lot... and this is not recommended.

In my opinion, the Yucatan peninsula is best, mainly the Quintana Roo province which includes the riviera maya corridor,and this, mainly for the beauty of the beaches and clean turquoise waters, cenotes, mangroves, ruins, food, safety, reliable transportation, communication and so much more !!!

suze Oct 19th, 2015 09:47 AM

I do exactly what you describe in Puerto Vallarta. It's not exactly quiet there though :-)

I rent an apartment a few blocks off the beach, and just relax, read in the sun, hang out by the pool, go to the beach, walk around town, eat in the fantastic local restaurants.

But I'm guessing it might be too much hussle & bussle for you, it's a vibrant, lively, noisy, Mexican town/city.

glover Oct 19th, 2015 10:14 AM

Adding on to some other comments above, we thought Hualtulco seemed a nice mix of some tourist structure, not high risey,
some good restaurants, and a nearby easily walkable very Mexican city (complete with zocalo). We only stayed there a couple nights - and spent the other 4 or 5 or so in San Augustanillo, which we loved!! Definitely a small village.
I did a trip report on our recent trip to Colombia and Mexico which includes description of our time in San Augustanillo. And of course after those days we took a van/shuttle to Oaxaca. So, as some others have said above, a nice combo.

jamie99 Oct 19th, 2015 12:23 PM

Majahual is very nice but gets very busy on cruise ship days, we only visited a couple of times. We stayed in Xcalak (car is needed) which is about a 4 hour drive with a stop for gas and lunch in Felipe Carrillo Puerto. There is a Pemex in Majahual now, but it used to run out from time to time. Sadly one of the best restaurants in the entire Roo, Leaky Palapa, closed earlier this year.
I also liked PV a lot, tons of good restaurants but not a small town.

suze Oct 19th, 2015 12:57 PM

It's a little tricky for me since I don't know what "the PDC of old" was like!

Maybe Zihuatanejo?

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