Peter Greenberg is the
winning travel editor
for CBS News and host
of The Travel Detective
on public television
MORE IN ARCHIVES
search “Travel Connection.”
MOST TRAVELERS don’t realize the true size
and diversity of Mexico. This is a country with ;;
separate states and more than ;,;;; miles of
coastline. And that’s just for starters. There are,
of course, the iconic Mexico destinations, and
then there are my choices for special places and
experiences. Here are a few.
Cancún and Playa del Carmen
When I go to Cancún, I sneak away to Puerto
Morelos, about ;; miles south of the crowds. It’s
a quiet town between Cancún and Playa del
Carmen, and great for Caribbean immersion.
It’s also home to uncrowded beaches and a
great reef experience. The coral here is healthy,
and the fish love it. Be on the lookout for branch,
brain and fan corals, as well as green turtles,
southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays, sergeant
major fish, black grouper and more.
Afterwards, check out the octopus or conch
ceviche at Los Pelicanos, a great local restaurant
right on the beach.
And I’m partial to the Puerto Morelos flea
market on Avenida Rafael E. Melgar, where you’ll
find great local trinkets and souvenirs cheaper
than anywhere else.
From Playa del Carmen, head south on
Highway ;;;. In about ;; minutes you’ll see the
Tulum ruins on the left; keep driving for another
five minutes and turn right on Avenida Satélite.
A couple of blocks later you’ll see Azafran, a must-stop for breakfast. There you’ll find fresh juices,
fruit, crepes and more international cuisine.
When you’re done, get back on Highway ;;;
and continue your drive for about ;; miles. Slow
down, because the street you’re going to turn left
on doesn’t have a name. Look for the two roads
between a blue bus stop sign and a Tiki hut. (I’m
serious!) Take the road on the right side and drive
about three-quarters of a mile until you come to
a gate. You must park your car there and walk the
rest of the way. But the trip is worth it. You’ll soon
arrive at the turquoise-colored, dreamlike
On your way back, stop by Antojitos La
Chiapaneca, on Highway ;;;, a traditional locals-only (except you, of course) Mexican restaurant.
I’m not talking fancy tables or beautiful décor.
But the authentic Mexican cuisine is worth it.
One caution: There are just two types of sauces
here—hot and extremely hot!
My secret Puerto Vallarta starts with breakfast
at the River Cafe on Cuale River Island. The island
is on the mainland, surrounded by the Cuale River
on either side and home to some of the area’s
coolest restaurants, bars and art galleries.
From Puerto Vallarta, head south along the
coast on Highway ;;; for about ;; minutes until
you hit the small oceanfront town of Boca de
Tomatlán. You can take a water taxi from the port,
which gets you to the other side of the bay. That’s
where you’ll have lunch at Ocean Grill, an
almost-hidden restaurant overlooking intimate
Colomitos Beach and lush, junglelike surroundings. You do need to call ahead or book online—the
place is reservation only.
After lunch, walk off your meal along the
white sand beach. That’s where you’ll find iguanas
and butterflies. Keep walking and you’ll come
across the Colomitos waterfall. C
Little-known gems to enhance your visit
Costco Travel offers vacation
packages to many Mexico
destinations. To learn more,
click “Travel” at Costco.com or
Left: The quiet town of Puerto
Morelos. Below: A view of
Boca de Tomatlán.