(Left) Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in
Puerto Vallarta. (Bottom) Mayan temple at
Tulum near Cancún, overlooking the
Meet the new Mexico
By Irene Middleman Thomas
THE OPTIONS ARE infinite in the new
Mexico. This sophisticated, eco-savvy, tour-
ism-friendly nation welcomes you with fasci-
nating history, archaeology and culture;
adventure activities; fine cuisine; boutique
and luxury resorts; top-notch family and
romance programs; exciting festivals; and,
best of all, fabulous value for the dollar.
Think about an ATV adventure, a visit to
ancient Mesoamerican temple ruins or an
excursion to buy hand-painted tiles directly
from the artisan. Now, think about powdery
white sand with an aquamarine ocean stretch-
ing beyond. There you are, lazily sipping a
mojito and munching on blissfully fresh tacos
made from the fish you caught earlier in the
day. The youngsters are off in the kids’ club,
happily hunting for turtle nests. Ahh…
Mexico has had its share of safety issues. As
with traveling anywhere, exercising caution is
important. Check with the State Department
http://travel.state.gov) for information about the
cities you’ll be visiting. Currently, all the areas
mentioned here have no travel restrictions.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is a vacation haven
of sandy beachfront, fine hotels and an older
picturesque, traditional fishing village. It
hosts the free, open-air Art, Culture and
Tradition Festival, as well as the International
Sailfish Tournament; sailfish are caught here,
as well as plentiful black and blue marlin, yel-
lowtail and dorado.
At the tip of the 1,000-mile-long Baja
California peninsula, Los Cabos was Mexican
President Felipe Calderón’s choice for hosting
the international G20 Summit this month. A
new four-lane highway dramatically reduces
travel time from Los Cabos to other popular
areas, such as La Paz and Todos Santos.
PUERTO VALLARTA CVB
Once known as a sleepy area with sport
fishing as its main activity, Cabo these days
is renowned for five-diamond restaurants
(the destination has become significant to
foodie/wine-enthusiast travelers), art galleries and championship golf.
An old favorite is Puerto Vallarta for its
delightful colonial section and spectacular
beaches, as well as a thriving art and gastronomic scene. Vallarta has its new malecón
(boardwalk), which is like an alfresco art gallery, perfect for a leisurely stroll or shopping.
The newly finished 12-block-long, widened
promenade, now off-limits to auto traffic, was
redone in native materials such as cobblestone
and tile, and is now ideal for cycling, walking,
people-watching and relaxing, with comfortable white benches and sidewalk cafés.
North of Puerto Vallarta, the 192-mile-
long Riviera Nayarit is one of Mexico’s newest tourist destinations, developed to blend
luxury and nature, and sharing the authentic
Mexico in its small towns (including Sayulita,
Bucerías, San Blas and Punta Mita).
Families and upscale travelers will find
hotels that are a match to their needs. In
January, bird-lovers flock to San Blas for the
International Festival of Migratory Birds, and
in March the area hosts three weeks of regattas and surfing tournaments during the
Mexico has found a way to retain its traditional charm, while moving forward to match
the desires of the modern traveler. C
Cancún is the top U.S. tourism destina-
tion in Mexico. Its beachfront hotel zone
underwent a $71 million makeover in 2010,
and the visitors bureau launched an innova-
tive five-day “Cancun and the Treasures of the
Caribbean” route, enticing visitors to discover
the wide variety of experiences available to
travelers, including archaeological ruins; nat-
ural, cultural and gastronomical pleasures;
renowned nightlife; fun in the Caribbean sun;
and luxurious, world-class spas.
Heading south to the Riviera Maya,
you’ll find intimate boutique properties,
where Mayan cooking classes are offered, as
well as lavish, expansive resorts with numerous pools and dining choices.
The eco-archaeological park Xcaret now
features gourmet food-and-wine-pairing lessons in an underground wine cave. Check out
the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, featuring world-class performers. This area offers famed
archaeological sites and eco-adventure options.
Each May, Mexico’s largest island,
Cozumel, hosts the Sacred Mayan Journey, a
mystical experience, with 150 canoeists in
pre-Hispanic costumes traveling the 17 miles
from Xcaret. Cozumel also has a new multi-million-dollar marina with more than 300
slips and a yacht club.
Irene Middleman Thomas is a Denver-based
writer who has studied, lived and worked in
various parts of Mexico.
The Costco Connection Costco Travel offers vacation packages to Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancún and more. For information, click “Travel” at Costco.com or call 1-877-849-2730.
JUNE 2012 ;e Costco Connection 83