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Despite Violence, Tourism Is Strong in Mexican Resort Areas

Travelers continue to book trips to Cancún and the Riviera Maya, where homicides have prompted authorities to increase security. Travel operators bill Cancún and the adjoining Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast as carefree beach escapes with something for everyone from spring break partyers to families. But a wave of violence, linked to rival drug gangs, threatens travel in the region like a storm hovering on the horizon.

The local news site Noticaribe reported 14 murders in Cancún over a 36-hour period in early April, continuing a pattern of violence reported last summer. Gun deaths have also occurred in Playa del Carmen, the biggest town on the Riviera Maya, about 40 miles south of Cancún.

Travelers have not been targeted in these crimes, but a bomb that detonated in February on a ferry linking Playa del Carmen with the island of Cozumel, a popular cruise port, injured more than two dozen passengers, including tourists. It prompted the Department of State to issue a travel ban on the ferry route for government employees. Reuters later reported the bomb was a homemade device believed to be unrelated to terrorists or organized crime.

Since then, Mexican authorities have strengthened security around the ferry as well as the ferries that run between Cancún and Isla Mujeres, including adding metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs. The American government subsequently dropped its ban on ferry travel.

The State Department’s advisory level remains at the second of four cautionary categories, indicating travelers should “exercise increased caution.” It is the same threat level of Antarctica, Denmark, Italy and Britain. Its report, updated on March 16, on the state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancún and the Riviera Maya, notes the uptick in homicides but does not restrict travel for U.S. government employees.

“While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents injuring or killing bystanders have occurred,” the advisory stated.

Tourism authorities have responded by stepping up security. The Mexican navy patrols the beaches, federal police monitor the highways and the army is in charge of entry points into the region’s cities. Dario Flota Ocampo, the director of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board, said that 3,000 new surveillance cameras are being installed in the Cancún and Playa del Carmen areas.

“Tourism is the main industry for the state of Quintana Roo, which is why our main concern is to provide security and ensure travelers have great experience because we want them to come back,” Mr. Flota Ocampo said.

Some 16.9 million visitors came to the state in 2017, an increase of 5.3 percent over the year prior, according to the state tourism board. Over 52 percent of those arrivals were repeat visitors.

Whether it was the very cold winter endured in the northern United States, or the number of deals coming from the rapidly growing destination (some 14,000 hotel rooms are currently in development), tourism has shown resiliency.

In the first quarter of 2018, hotel occupancy in Cancún stayed level with 2017 figures at a healthy 77 percent, even though the room inventory grew by 3 percent this year, according to STR, Inc., a travel research company that tracks hotel data.

Travel agencies report strong interest in the region. AAA Travel predicted that Cancún would be its most popular international destination for family travelers this year.

The deal site Travelzoo currently has packages at a luxury resort in Playa del Carmen at $529 for three nights for two people, just over half off. The site’s senior editor, Gabe Saglie, said hotel promotions have “created some amazing value south of the border, enough to get many travelers, while cognizant of security concerns and undoubtedly traveling with heightened self-awareness and vigilance, to pounce.”

Bookings are up 12 percent to Mexico over this time last year at the luxury-focused travel agency Ovation Vacations in New York, even though advisers are fielding more inquiries regarding safety.

“There’s a lot of hesitancy, but there’s resiliency,” said Jack Ezon, the owner of the agency.

Mexico likely benefited from those seeking to avoid hurricane-hit islands in the Caribbean, he said, but noted that Mexican resorts also offer strong value.

“It’s hard to find that kind of beach within three to five hours flight with that kind of service,” Mr. Ezon said.

Summer Travel in Mexico

Though most travelers to Mexico come in the winter to escape the cold, there are quite a few excellent reasons to visit Mexico in the summer months. You can partake in colorful cultural festivals, enjoy interacting with animals that are easier to spot this time of year, and take advantage of great savings and few crowds, since this is low season. You may be concerned about the weather, but the weather in Mexico in the summertime can be quite pleasant, and summer rains turn the landscapes lush and green.

Colorful Festivals and Events

Summer is a perfect time to enjoy some of Mexico’s vibrant cultural offerings. The Guelaguetza is one of the country’s most important folk festivals, and takes place in Oaxaca City each July. Zacatecas holds its international Folkloric festival in the summer, and there is also an important chamber music festival in San Miguel de Allende held in August.

More summer festivals and events in Mexico:

Sea Turtles. Whale Sharks and Surfing

Certain activities and eco-adventures can best be enjoyed in the summertime. Whether you’re looking to interact with sea turtles and whale sharks, or catch some waves, this is the best time of year to do it.

Summertime is sea turtle season in Mexico. Female sea turtles begin to arrive on Mexico’s beaches in May to nest and lay their eggs, and the babies start to hatch some 40 days later.

Sea turtle rescue programs search the beaches for nests and either mark them or transport the eggs to safe spots, and after they’ve hatched, release the baby sea turtles to the ocean. You can join in these efforts, or do your part by practicing caution on beaches which are known sea turtle nesting areas.

Learn more about volunteering with sea turtles.

Summer is also whale shark season, and if you want to swim with these giants of the sea, you may do so from Isla Holbox or Cancun from July through November, or attend the whale shark festival in Isla Mujeres in July. More about swimming with whale sharks on Isla Holbox.

Summer is prime season for surfing. Check out the best destinations for surfing in Mexico.

Low Season Deals

Whether you’re planning a family getaway or a romantic escape, summer offers great value for travel to Mexico. Since it’s low season, you’ll also enjoy few crowds and super-attentive service. You can take advantage of the many kids stay free deals offered by resorts in Mexico for big savings on a family vacation.

The Weather

You may automatically rule out travel to Mexico in the summertime thinking that it will be too hot to bear, but this isn’t necessarily the case, as the weather conditions vary throughout the country.

In northern Mexico it does get extremely hot: Baja California and Chihuahua, and other states bordering the US, may receive temps of up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months.

Coastal Mexico is also hot, but not so extreme, with temps of up to mid 80s and 90s. If you don’t like the heat, choose a destination inland at a higher altitude, where you’ll enjoy cooler temperatures throughout the year. San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas is an excellent destination choice if you’re looking to beat the heat.

Summer is rainy season in central and southern Mexico and you’ll find that places that are otherwise dry and brown spring to life as the rain turns the vegetation lush and green. It generally doesn’t rain all day: you can usually plan your activities around the predictable afternoon thundershowers.

Hurricane season in Mexico begins in June, though statistically most hurricanes take place between August and November. Check to see if your hotel offers a hurricane guarantee and follow our other hurricane season travel tips.

Check the weather forecast for your destination for particulars, but for travel to Mexico in the summer, it’s a good idea to pack an umbrella or raincoat. Sunscreen is always a must, and remember that you can get a sunburn even on an overcast day.

Cheap Mexico Airlines With Bargain Airfare

Cheap Mexico airlines are easy to find, with Avolar, Azteca, Click, Interjet, vivaAerobus, or viva Aerobus, and Volaris offering competitive and inexpensive fares.

More cheap Mexico airlines will probably be on the way as Mexico privatizes major airline AeroMexico. The cheap Mexico airlines below are like Southwest in the U.S. and budget airline easyJet in Europe — cheap airfares to sometimes (to Norte Americanos) obscure or remote airports, though some, like RyanAir’s vivaAerobus, will be serving a few U.S. cities, too.

Check out the list of current cheap Mexico airlines below and bear in mind that you may have to use Mexico buses to get around to the airports, or that the buses may (likely) provide cheaper long haul Mexico travel than flying within Mexico. Most sites are in Spanish and the deals are very hard to find — persist and it may be worth it. Different airlines serve different hubs, meaning you may have to search a couple of airlines to put together the ultimate route you want. 

List of Cheap Mexico Airlines

  • Aviacsa – Aviacsa’s hub is Mexico City and it’s got one of the larger destination maps among the budget Mexico airlines. Aviacsa’s site has an English section. Aviacsa phone number: 1-800-758-2188 or 54 82 82 80 in Mexico.
  • Click – Click Mexicana serves many very cool and somewhat less touristy areas, like beach resort Huatulco (south of Oaxaca city) and colonial Merida (play a few days, then drive to Cancun and Tulum), with often very cheap Mexico airfare specials.
  • Interjet – Interjet offers Veracruz, Tampico and Monterrey routes among its cheap Mexico airfares
  • vivaAerobus or Viva Aerobus – RyanAir’s Mexico airline started offering cheap Mexico airfare in September, 2006 — RyanAir is the cheap European airline champ based in Ireland and will be teaming with Mexico’s IAMSA bus company for the Ryanair Mexico airline.
  • Volaris – Volaris airline is one of the cheap Mexico airlines with a Bajio Leon (San Miguel de Allende) routes, as well as a Tijuana-Cancun route. Volaris telephone number: 1-800-7VOLARIS.
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Kabah, Mayan Archeology Site

Kabah, Mayan Archeology Site


Ancient Maya “Strong Hand”

Also known as Kabahaucan or “Royal Snake in the Hand”


Open Daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

There is a watchman at the gate who will charge you the standard fee & extra for video cameras.

Admission 2013 43 pesos. Free on Sundays for nationals and Mexican residents.

Allow at least 1 1/2 to 32hours, especially if you like to climb.


You can stroll safely undisturbed throughout the site. Take good shoes as there is plenty of climbing- and a fair amount memory and batteries for your photographs. As this is site is in a somewhat remote area, take water and insect repellant. There are no restaurants, food vendors or lockers.

Dress according to the season you are visiting.


GPS – N20.24.53 W 089.38.50


Tours and tour buses go frequently to Kobah and generally make a combination package of sites along Highway 126.

Drive from Merida:

Take Highway 18o South and then turn to Mexico 261 also going south.

Drive approximately 76 KMs and the site in visible from the highway.  103 KMs – approximately 1 ½ hours.

Drive from Campeche:

From the Periferico take Highway 261 past Hopelchen and then the Campeche/Yucatan border. Drive past the turnoff to Sayil to Kabah. 152 KMs – approximately 2 hours.

The safest places in Mexico for travelers

Ed Hewitt,

Mexico City: Despite a longstanding reputation as a dangerous city to visit, Mexico City is conspicuously absent from the State Department’s warning, and for good reason; the downtown core in particular is considered quite safe, and the city has numerous attractions for visitors — including street art, colorful markets and more than 150 museums. 

“Is Mexico safe?” It’s a question many American travelers have asked themselves, especially in the wake of a sweeping security alert for Mexico issued by the U.S. State Department in early March 2018. Such travel advisories can be confusing, but this one is pretty clear and even includes a color-coded map revealing the most dangerous (marked in red) and safest places in Mexico (marked in yellow).

Mexico is a vast country, with heaps of beautiful and interesting places to see, and some 28 million Americans safely travel there each year. To help you plan your own trip, I’ve gathered some of the safest places to visit in Mexico, complete with information on why you should go and where to stay.

A travel warning has been issued for Playa del Carmen, Mexico, following an unnamed threat that has closed the U.S. Embassy there. Buzz60

Keep in mind that bad things can happen even in the safest places in Mexico, and destinations that don’t appear on this list could still be great spots for a vacation. No matter where you go in Mexico, you’ll want to follow common-sense rules such as drinking only in moderation, getting a cab instead of wandering around after dark, and leaving your valuables at home.

Mexico City


Despite a longstanding reputation as a dangerous city to visit, Mexico City is conspicuously absent from the State Department’s warning, and for good reason; the downtown core in particular is considered quite safe, and the city has numerous attractions for visitors — including street art, colorful markets and more than 150 museums.

Where to stay: The small, beautifully decorated Nima Local House Hotel is one of the best luxury hotel options in the city. For a more affordable option, consider the Chillout Flat Bed & Breakfast, which earns plaudits for friendly service and homemade granola.


Once considered a nice day trip from Mexico City (it’s two hours away by car), Puebla is emerging as a primary destination in its own right. After all, it’s not a small village; Puebla is Mexico’s fourth-largest city, with some of the country’s best examples of Spanish colonial architecture. Additionally, at 7,200 feet above sea level, Puebla never gets too hot, and it’s considered one of the safest places in Mexico.

Where to stay: There are numerous places to stay in Puebla that won’t break the bank. One of the best is the Casona Maria Hotel Boutique, with its pretty courtyard and convenient location within walking distance of the historic center.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is one of the safest places in Mexico, as evidenced by its popularity with expats. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated almost right in the middle of Mexico and offers cobblestone streets, Spanish colonial churches and plenty of great restaurants.  The nearby Sanctuary of Atotonilco, less than 10 miles away, is also a World Heritage Site and an important pilgrimage site for penitent Mexicans and tourists alike.

Where to stay: With its cozy common areas and brightly painted rooms, Casa de la Noche is an appealing place to rest your head.


As Playa del Carmen has been the site of some troubling violence of late, the coastal town of Tulum to the south may be a safer alternative at present. It is also less touristy than other resort towns on the Yucatan Peninsula, offering well-preserved ruins of the former Mayan city walls and other historic structures right in town. The State Department has explicitly stated there are no restrictions on travel to Tulum or to Chichen Itza, the magnificent archaeological site just an hour up the road.

Where to stay: Guests appreciate the clean, comfortable rooms and fast Wi-Fi at the centrally located Posada Luna del Sur.


A beach town located in Oaxaca to the southwest of Puerto Escondido, Huatalco offers tons of water activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, some nearby surf spots, and tours of coffee farms to boot. While Huatulco itself is considered one of the safest places in Mexico, the State Department is restricting travel along Highway 200 in the area (except to and from the airport), so you may not want to wander too far.

Where to stay: For an indulgent resort experience you can’t do much better than Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, where amenities include multiple swimming pools and tennis courts, yoga classes, watersports and seven restaurants.


Merida and Valladolid

Gerardo Tanaka Pacheco, senior account executive for MSL Group, the public relations firm for, recommends these two towns as great alternatives to other nearby tourist hot spots. “A lot of people go to Playa del Carmen and Tulum, but on the Yucatan Peninsula there are these two beautiful colonial cities that are so welcoming, colorful, and full of traditions that travelers won’t regret visiting them,” he says.

A great example of Spanish colonial influence, Merida is a walking-friendly town that is connected to Chichen Itza by a toll road, which is considered the safest way to travel in Mexico if you are driving. The Mayan influence remains strong here, and the area has its own style of cuisine that diverges considerably from what you will find in other parts of Mexico.

Midway between Merida and Cancun is Valladolid, a colorful and friendly city that’s within easy driving distance of several beautiful cenotes.

Where to stay: In Merida, consider snagging a poolside room at the Luz En Yucatan. In Valladolid, you can’t go wrong at the centrally located Hotel Posada San Juan.


Pacheco says that Bacalar, also on the Yucatan Peninsula, is “an amazing place, kind of unknown and definitely uncrowded. This is one of my favorite secrets spots in Mexico; the lagoon there is unbelievable.”

Called the Lake of Seven Colors, the lagoon stretches for 42 kilometers and is fed by underground rivers. Like Todos Santos mentioned below, Bacalar holds the official designation as a “Pueblo Magico,” or Magical Town, due in large part to the lagoon. In addition to being one of the safest places in Mexico, Bacalar is also very affordable.

Where to stay: At the Bacalar Lagoon Resort, you can get a view of the lake right from your cabana.


Why visit Guanajuato? Think old mines, a mummy museum and streets so narrow that one is called the Alley of the Kiss because couples can smooch one another from opposite sides. You can visit Guanajuato as a day trip from nearby San Miguel de Allende or use it as a home base in itself. Visitors to the area are mostly native Mexicans, so you can immerse yourself in the culture fairly well; try a miner’s enchilada if you get a chance.

Where to stay: For a cozy stay right near the funicular into the center of town, book one of the eight rooms at Casa Zuniga B&B. There’s a homemade Mexican-style breakfast every morning.


Another UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the western coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Campeche is a walled Spanish colonial city that has been superbly restored nearly to its former glory. The walled center is somewhat of a museum piece, but the life of the town surrounding it might even be the main attraction. There are also significant Mayan ruins in the state of Campeche, of which the city is the capital; these aren’t as well known as the famous ruins to the east, and as such they’re less crowded.

Where to stay: Try for a balcony room or suite at the modestly priced Hotel Socaire.


Queretaro’s streets are a wondrous mix of old and very old, as grid-like Spanish streets connect to the pre-Hispanic winding lanes from the time of the Otomi. From rock climbing and art galleries to architecture sightseeing, there is a ton to do in this central Mexican city.

Where to stay: La Casa del Atrio, across from the Museo de Arte, is both popular and affordable.


Yelapa is “Mexico’s last authentic beach town,” says Pacheco, “and is definitely under the radar. [Expect] great seafood, great beaches, nice hotels and none of the inflated prices.”

I’ve included Yelapa for folks who want a deeper Mexican experience, but note that it’s in one of the State Department’s orange zones, while nearby Puerto Vallarta is exempted — so you’ll want to do a bit more research before choosing this part of Jalisco.

Where to stay: The Hotel Lagunita is right on the water, with amazing views and a pool from which to enjoy them.

Todos Santos

This surf town in Baja California Sur features world-class waves and lots of natural beauty — and it’s just far enough north of touristy Cabo San Lucas to offer respite from the crowds. Todos Santos is slowly being discovered, but its stone streets and uncrowded beaches have earned it the official Pueblo Magico designation.

Where to stay: Posada La Poza has a fantastic oceanfront location at very reasonable rates.

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Playa del Carmen top tourist destination

Riviera Maya city No. 1 in Mexico and No. 15 in the world

Mexico News Daily

Users of the travel website TripAdvisor have ranked Playa del Carmen as the top tourist destination in Mexico and 15th in the world.

The Riviera Maya city, described as “a hipper and more modern version of the fishing village it once was,” earned the rankings in the site’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice awards.

It was the only Mexican destination on the list of the top 25 in the world. At the top of the list was Paris, France, followed by London, England, and Rome, Italy.

TripAdvisor said Playa is one of the top diving destinations in the world, “thanks to vibrant sea life and dazzling underwater caverns.”

“Spend some quality time on the golf course or wave hello to the playful spider monkeys at The Jungle Place sanctuary. Explore the ancient ruins of the Coba Mayan Village, or get in some quality people-watching as you shop and stroll along 5th Avenue.”

Like some other destinations in Mexico, Playa del Carmen has not escaped drug gang violence. But a recent travel alert warning United States government employees to avoid the city was lifted soon after.

The other top-10 Mexican destinations in the Travelers’ Choice awards were Cabo San Lucas, in second place, followed by Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, Mexico City, Zihuatanejo, Cozumel, San Miguel de Allende and Nuevo Vallarta.

Earlier this year, TripAdvisor travelers chose another destination in the state of Quintana Roo for having one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Playa del Norte on Isla Mujeres was ranked No. 10 out of 25.

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Understanding Mexico Auto Insurance


Mexican Vehicle Insurance

Get a  Quote online. Click Here:

You have to get Mexican Vehicle insurance if you want peace of mind while driving in Mexico. Mexico operates on Napoleonic law. You are guilty until proven innocent. If you are in a motor vehicle accident you are taken into custody and assumed guilty until it is proven otherwise. Unless you have Mexican Auto Insurance!.

Mexico Auto Insurance
What you need to know Click Here

Quality Insurance

Canadian and American Vehicle insurance doesn’t work in Mexico. While insurance is not mandatory – you would be crazy to risk going without. Mexican insurance can be purchased before you leave or at the border. 

“People ask us why we don’t buy the cheaper Mexican auto insurance?  The answer is simple, if you get in an accident in Mexico, you need the best insurance company.  We have seen how Mexico operates and we would not trust our Mexico Auto insurance needs to anyone else,”  On The Road In Mexico’s Bill and Dot Bell.

Mexican insurance is expensive for short periods of time. Get different time quotes. Sometimes monthly is just slightly more expensive than 2 weeks. Six months rates can rival 2 or 3 months. We now purchase annual insurance because it is only a $100 or so more expensive than 6 months and we seem to be popping down a lot lately.

Buy your Vehicle Insurance from Someone You Can Trust….Not a neon sign at the side of the highway

Get a free quote for Mexico Car Insurance

Many people buy their vehicle insurance just before they enter Mexico. And while it might work for them, it could mean a major problem if they get into an accident. Who was that agent?

Bill and Dorothy Bell are known experts in Mexico. You have probably visited one of their acclaimed websites or heard them on radio or in the news. They are folks you can trust for solid advice and have been for 25 years. 

Where in Mexico Are You Going

When you are planning your trip to Mexico, don’t forget to purchase the Bell’s famous Road Logs. These widely acclaimed guides are like having a well travelled friend guide you as you drive down the road. Part travel log and part commentary, you will enjoy your trip just that much more.   For a second time, we are offering the Road Log free with the purchase of our vehicle insurance. Get a quote and purchase your insurance and then write us. We will email you the latest copy of the Road Log.