6 Hidden Gems in Mexico You Should Know About
If you love Mexican culture and its natural wonders, you may want to learn about the best secret beach Mexico has to offer and other less-known destinations. In this post, I will explain what’s so unique about this country south of the border and why you should look for the hidden gems in Mexico—away from the mass tourism so common in beach towns and colonial cities.
I guarantee you’ll be impressed by each of the 6 hidden gems included on this list, as I personally have visited them all.
What’s So Unique About Mexico?
Every country in the world has its own unique features, natural wonders, and cultural attractions. However, the unique location of Mexico as a bridge between North and South and East and West has played a crucial role in the country’s immensely rich history.
In Mexico, you can visit some of the best beaches in the world, but also quite a few of the most impressive archaeological sites you can find anywhere, and some beautiful magical towns of colonial past and nostalgic architecture.
Looking for the Best Hidden Gems in Mexico
Paradoxically, when a country such as Mexico becomes an international hotspot destination, many of its most outstanding sites get overlooked by the world-famous beach towns like Cancun and Cabo.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Cancun and Cabo, and Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan, are extraordinary places to visit, but at some point, it seems those are the only things that Mexico has to offer: beaches and pyramids.
But I’m changing that today. I’m going to show you the most amazing hidden gems in Mexico to visit, as well as a couple of candidates for the best secret beach in Mexico. You won’t find these gems in most travel guides—these are “off the beaten track” kinds of attractions that only locals and travel connoisseurs know about.
6 Hidden Gems in Mexico
Without further ado, these are the 6 hidden gems in Mexico that you can’t miss on your next trip to this beautiful country:
In the search for “the next Tulum,” many candidates have come and gone as the seemingly never-ending growth of the Riviera Maya multi-destination continues its expansion.
However, there’s one little village near the border with Belize that perfectly fits the hidden gems in Mexico description: Xcalak.
An Unspoiled Paradise
Xcalak is right now what Tulum used to be some 10-15 years ago, an unspoiled piece of paradise. The white sand beach is long and uninterrupted, and the blue turquoise waters are pristine and calm thanks to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that runs parallel to the shoreline.
This spectacular reef system is the second largest in the world and a favorite destination for scuba divers and snorkel enthusiasts.
If you want to discover the last piece of undeveloped Caribbean coastline in Mexico, Xcalak is the place for you.
Must-Do Activity: Drive South to the end of the road where Mexico literally ends. As a bonus, you get to see the famous 7 color lagoon of Bacalar.
Located in the eastern state of Veracruz, Catemaco has long been “Mexico’s witchcraft capital.” When someone needs to see a brujo or “sorcerer,” also known as chamán, they would go to this little town set on the shores of a mystical lake.
A Band of Brothers
The 13 main chamanes in the area are known as los hermanos or “the brothers,” and they organize the booming witchcraft business in the area. However, Catemaco is much more than just a witchcraft town, as it’s home to a few interesting archaeological sites and the Nanciyaga biosphere reserve which is a feast for nature lovers.
Must-Do Activity: When in Catemaco you have to see a chamán and get a limpia or “cleaning” of all the bad vibes and possible spells you may have on you.
3. Guadalupe Valley
The northern region of the country also has its share of hidden gems in Mexico, as the Valle de Guadalupe or “Guadalupe Valley” can attest.
This beautiful region of Baja California is known as “the Mexican Napa,” due to its wide diversity of quality vineyards, and luxury design hotels. Yes, Mexico not only produces tequila and popular beers, it also has some great wines and the Guadalupe Valley is the place where they’re all produced.
Just a 2-Hour Drive from the Border
What’s more, Guadalupe Valley is just two hours away from San Diego, California in what amounts to a very pleasurable drive that takes you into a side of Mexico unknown for most. Once there, pamper yourself in the luxury gourmet restaurants, eco-hotels, and fancy spas.
Must-Do Activity: In Guadalupe Valley, you have to tour the vineyards and participate in wine tastings. The culture of wine here is contagious and there’s a lot to learn about it.
4. El Cuyo
This one is my favorite secret beach Mexico has to offer. El Cuyo is one of the best-hidden gems in Mexico Yucatan, a little fishing village with a long and wide stretch of unspoiled beach, a small but picturesque collection of sandy streets, and little more.
No Big Hotels
El Cuyo is so secret that even when it’s located in the famous Yucatan peninsula, it has managed to keep mostly unbothered by tourists. There are no big hotels here, just a couple of small local lodges, and a few houses for rent.
However, its beach has great winds, and recently windsurfers and kitesurfers have discovered it and this sleepy town is starting to wake up.
Must-Do Activity: You have to drive to la carretera costera or “coastal road” from Las Coloradas to El Cuyo. This might be the best road trip of your life as it follows a one-way sandy road with ocean, crocodiles, and flamingos, on both sides of the road. An unforgettable experience!
5. El Chepe
El Chepe is without a doubt one of the most beloved hidden gems in Mexico. A luxury train that takes you in a fascinating 14-hour scenic ride across the spectacular Barrancas del Cobre or “Copper Canyon.”
On Board of Mexico’s Most Beautiful Train
El Chepe, which is the name of the train, takes visitors on this enthralling journey covering a total of 655 kilometers and passing through 86 tunnels and over 39 bridges. This railway was decades in the making, until 1961 when it finally opened and connected the Pacific Ocean with the central region of Mexico.
Must-Do Activity: Here the activity is hopping on the train itself, but you have to take lots of photos and videos of the extraordinary Barrancas del Cobre which are four times bigger than the Grand Canyon.
On the search for the most beautiful secret beach, Mexico has to offer, Mayto has to be included on any list. Located in the western state of Jalisco, just a 2-hour drive from the popular beach town of Puerto Vallarta, Mayto is the prototypical “virgin beach.”
The drive there is an adventure in itself, as the final stretch is just a dirt road with very few signs and even fewer gas stations around. But, that’s where its beauty lies.
The beach is long and wide and with no signs of construction around, besides a small hotel on one extreme of the beach and a turtle camp managed by a local university.
The biologists in the camp patrol the beach at night in search of turtle nests, in order to collect their eggs and protect them from poachers. Besides that, you won’t see any other sign of human activity in the area. A perfect spot for camping on the beach and reconnecting with nature.
Must-Do Activity: Just walk that long beach and enjoy the quiet beauty of unspoiled nature. If feeling adventurous, you can drive 20 minutes south to the town of Tehuamixtle, rent a boat, practice some fishing, and have your catch cooked at the local restaurant.
Discover the Hidden Gems in Mexico and Practice Your Spanish
Mexico is a beautiful country with lots of attractive destinations to visit. However, today I wanted to show you the most outstanding hidden gems in Mexico, those places that you hardly will find in most travel guides, but that they’re more than worth a visit.
Remember that speaking Spanish makes it easier to travel to Mexico and every other country in Latin America. By speaking the language, you’re able to communicate at ease with the locals, learn more about their culture, and yes, discover the most secret beach Mexico has to offer.
Prepare for your trip to Mexico by speaking Spanish with a certified, native Spanish-speaking instructor from Guatemala. Our teachers offer flexible scheduling and tailored Spanish packages. Sign up for a free class today and get ready to enjoy the hidden gems in Mexico!
Ready to learn more about Mexico and Latin America? Check these out!
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