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An Adventure Traveler’s Guide to Mexico

Skydive | © Morgan Sherwood/Flickr
Skydive | © Morgan Sherwood/Flickr
For the adventurous traveler, Mexico has it all. Boasting multiple terrains – from sweeping desert plains in the north to verdant jungles in the south, craggy mountains dotted here and there and crashing waves all along the coast – there’s literally something to suit everyone. So, if you’re a thrill seeker looking for the best adventure options in Mexico, all you need to do is keep reading.

Get scuba certified in Quintana Roo or Baja California

Scuba certification is one of the preferred activities of the adventurous traveler in Mexico, given that the country has some of the best coral reefs in the world and over 9,000km of coastline in total. As a result, there are a number of companies that offer scuba certification programs in various destinations across the country. One of the top places to test the waters with this new hobby is the island of Cozumel in Quintana Roo, although whale lovers should head to Isla Holbox or Baja California Sur.

Scuba diving, Cozumel © Dan Hurt/Flickr

Surf in Sayulita

This hippie beach town in Nayarit, just up the coastline from popular holiday spot Puerto Vallarta, has long been a favourite with fans of great surf conditions and overnight raves. Easily accessible for a day trip from Vallarta, the surf shops in the small town and along the beaches of Sayulita will gladly rent equipment to beginners, so you can try your hand at surfing the crashing waves of this quaint adventure destination.

Sayulita, Nayarit, México

Climb the Nevado de Toluca

The Nevado de Toluca is Mexico’s best mountain for the moderately skilled, or even beginner, climber. The fourth highest peak in the country, it’s often overlooked by visitors to Mexico; however, it’s definitely worth checking out. It boasts two long extinct craters in the centre, as well as some spectacular views and a hiking trail for the less adventure-minded among your party. As with the majority of Mexico’s peaks, it’s best attempted between November and March (the dry season). If you’re already a skilled climber you might instead consider scaling the Pico de Orizaba, situated in Puebla.

Nevado de Toluca, Estado de México, México

Pico de Orizaba, Puebla, México

Dive into cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula

Mexico as a whole is littered with thousands of cenotes (sinkholes filled with fresh water), but the Yucatan Peninsula is the place to be if you want to explore them in earnest. While many are undiscovered, or simply inaccessible to the public, there are hundreds that can be visited free or for a small charge. Some of the biggest and most extravagant are at Cenote Dos Ojos and Cenote Azul, but we also recommend Cenote Zaci. Snorkel, swim, scuba – the possibilities are endless in these massive underground caves.

Cenotes © Elizabeth K. Joseph/Flickr

Mountain bike in Oaxaca

Oaxaca makes for a stunning destination, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or not, but why not up the ante and take part in a mountain biking tour of Oaxaca and its surroundings? This tour company has all the information but, equally, you could rent a bike and set off alone to take in the spectacular views over Oaxaca city. When it comes to biking, the options are endless. Alternatively, you could even stick to Mexico City and head to the renowned mountain biking hotspot, Parque Desierto de los Leones.

Mountain biking in Oaxaca © Scott & Emily/Flickr

Leap into the Huasteca Potosina

If you prefer to stay on the surface of the water, head instead to the Huasteca. This vast cultural and geographical region extends over several Mexican states but the most well-known area is arguably the Huasteca Potosina, located in San Luis Potosí. Many tour companies operate adventure packages throughout the Huasteca Potosina, allowing you the opportunity to try your hand at white water rafting, or even waterfall jumping for those with more of a head for heights. Either way, this region is truly unmissable for the adventurous traveler in Mexico.

San Luis Potosí, México

Zipline in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta boasts the triple delight of jungles, beaches and a gorgeous old town all within driving distance of one another. Known for a humid climate, it’s also the perfect place to try out ziplining – after all, what could be more refreshing than speeding down a zip wire?! Build up your skill level over the 14 noticeably longer and zippier ziplines, each one more impressive than the last. After you’re done, take a refreshing dip in the Orquideas river, or taste test some tequila.

Los Veranos Canopy Tour, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, México, +52 322 223 6060

Skydive in Morelos

However, if being attached to solid ground by means of a wire seems far too boring, why not just jump out of a plane instead? In Morelos – or should that be, over Morelos? – you can bite the bullet and live every adrenaline junkie’s dream by skydiving in tandem with an experienced professional. There are two companies that offer skydives in Morelos, so take your pick! We’ll stay on terra firma for now though.

Morelos, México

Get sky high in Monterrey

If heights mean nothing to you, and you can look down from the roof of a tall building without so much as a wobble at the knee, then crank it up a notch and book yourself a place on the Vía Ferrata tour in Nuevo León. Located just outside the city center, in the state’s own little slice of Huasteca, the so-called Ruta Vértigo involves mountain climbing, rappelling and ziplining, all 500 meters off the ground.

Vía Ferrata, Nuevo León, México, +52 81 2165 0203

Or, just do it all in the Copper Canyon!

The deceptively plain sounding Adventure Park, located on the Copper Canyon route, Chihuahua, is actually an adventure lover’s dream location. You can zipline over some truly spectacular views, reaching speeds of up to 80 kilometers an hour. Alternatively, brave the Vía Ferrata, which is essentially an aerial obstacle course involving abseiling and rope bridges. If you fancy something different, stop off in Creel (the main tourist town in the Copper Canyon) and take part in some mountain biking instead.

Copper Canyon © Marc Cappelletti/Flickr