Five prime vacation spots along the Gulf coast of Mexico include the state of Veracruz, its capital Xalapa, Nanciyaga, Villahermosa, and Campeche. The state of Veracruz borders the states of Tamaulipas to the north, Oaxaca to the south, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo and Puebla to the west, and Tabasco to the east. The tropical climate is desirable year round with an average temperature of 77º F. Veracruz and the surrounding area presents multiple opportunities for aquatic sports, hiking and climbing. It is home to the Citlatapetl Volcano and Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in the nation. Not to mention the well-preserved cities and towns that have retained their historic architecture.
Also in Veracruz, the Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano is a massive 129,027-acre, 132-foot deep reef system ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. With its 17 reefs and plentiful coral formations, Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano is one of Mexico's most significant marine parks. The habitat consists of a diverse group of mollusks, along with numerous fish and crustaceans.
Xalapa's surrounding areas offer an assortment of outdoor recreational activities. The Clavijero Botanical Garden is home to more than 700 regional plant species in its impressive gardens. You can also camp and mountain climb at the Cofre de Perote National Park, which is the second highest mountain in Veracruz and the eighth largest in Mexico, with an altitude of 14,130 feet above sea level. Observe the archaeological site El Tajin, an ancient capital of the Totonacs, and one of its most prominent structures, the Pyramid of the Niches.
Nanciyaga, 103 miles south of Veracruz, has a 99-acre ecological reserve to explore. It has a rotating population of turtles and crocodiles that are reintroduced into the wild. Nanciyaga can be toured by day, or as part of a complete vacation. Cabin packages are available that include mineral baths, meals, massages, canoes, kayaks and a guided tour.
South Gulf Coast
Villahermosa, the state capital of Tabasco, is a modernized city dubbed the "Emerald of the Southeast." It offers the stunning Parque-Museo La Venta and Parque Tomas Garrido Canabal parks and the intriguing Carlos Pellicer Regional Anthropology Museum. The city also presents many entertainment options, notably at the Tabasco 2000 complex, which hosts a planetarium, shopping mall Galerias Tabasco 2000, as well as various department stores, boutiques, restaurants, and a five-star hotel. Villahermosa's surrounding areas invite you to admire the mountains, jungles, lakes, rivers and the Centla Marshes at Cascadas de Agua Blanca. A few of the activities available include climbing Agua Selva, and rappelling or mountain biking in the ecotourism center of Centro Ecoturistico Yu-Balcah. Agua Selva boasts 4,940 acres of jungle vegetation and 330-foot cliffs that are ideal for rock climbers. Centro Ecoturistico Yu-Balcah is a 642-acre protected jungle zone with unique animal species such as the howler monkey.
The city of Campeche is surrounded by areas to enjoy outdoor adventures, such as at the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve with hundreds of pink flamingoes. Another option is Calakmul, which is one of the largest biosphere reserves in the nation and an ideal location for camping, mountain biking and hiking.
Five popular retreats also lie along the Pacific coast of Mexico extending from Baja to Chiapas. This region is a popular destination for surfers and well known for its prime surfing beaches in Huatulco, Acapulco, Ixtapa, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Surfboards are available to rent from beach vendors.
More than 3 million tourists flock to Puerto Vallarta each year. Situated along Banderas Bay and 219 miles from Guadalajara, the state capital of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta sits among the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range. The area boasts various forests, rivers, and waterfalls, with a comfortable average temperature of 80° F. Notwithstanding its awesome surf, you can take a canopy tour in Vallarta Adventure hovering 13-69 feet high above the tropical landscape, or sail among the 11 islands surrounding Bahia de Chamela.