Mexico has relaxation down. If you need a chaise lounge, a drink that's bedazzled with its own umbrella and a bedroom that is steps from the beach, you're going to be happy in Mexico. But for travelers who crave high adrenaline, wilderness, and stunning, rugged landscapes, Mexico also fits the bill.
"While we certainly have some of the most exquisite beaches and coast lines in the world, we also are blessed with world class culture, nature, landscapes, and active travel experiences," says Zachary Rabinor, CEO of Journey Mexico. "While not often recognized for our adventure travel options, we also possess some of the most exciting active travel opportunities in the world."
The Baja peninsula, for example, is a prime spot for active adventure. Snorkeling, sea kayaking and surfing are three of the top activities that round out this destination.
One of the best kayak outfitters in Baja is OARS (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists). OARS is an adventure company with tours all over the world, but its offering in Baja is particularly epic: Its sea kayaking tour takes travelers out into the Sea of Cortez to Espiritu Santo Island, where travelers visit a sea lion rookery and join the animals for a swim. OARS' Baja itineraries are seven- to eight days long and include coastal sea kayaking along the peninsula, hiking in nearby canyons, fishing and snorkeling.
Surfers will flock to iconic Todos Santos, one of the best locations in the world for surfing. But while the waves in Todos Santos are legendary and built for the pros, newbies can still try their luck at Cerritos Surf Colony, a resort in Cabo that is home to championship surfing as well as surf lessons for beginners.
In the northern part of Mexico, in the state of Chihuahua, travelers will find the Copper Canyon, a stunning natural beauty that slants a total of 37,000 miles in length. These canyons are longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon and are perfect for hiking, trekking and mountain biking.
Many travelers will explore Copper Canyon via Chihuaha el Pacifico, also known as El Chepe, the train that runs the length of the canyon from Los Mochis to Chihuahua, but those looking for a more adrenaline-packed itinerary can sign up with Journey Mexico on a nine-day, multisport itinerary. Journey Mexico's itinerary combines the classic train ride with intense hiking and camping through the biggest canyons, including Urique, San Rafael and Guitayvo. The tour also incorporates visits to local spots like San Alonso village or the Cerocahui Mission.
Still even more intense travel can be found along the snow-capped volcanoes of Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl and Mexico's highest mountain, Pico de Orizaba, which tops out at 18,491 feet about sea level. These towering, glaciated peaks are world-renowned bases for mountaineering and climbing. Most travelers climbing these mountains will make their base in Puebla. This Magic Town of Mexico has gorgeous colonial heritage, architecture and some of the best food in the country.
(While staying in Puebla, be sure to arrange a visit to nearby Cholula, which is known for its Great Pyramid, an Aztec complex home to one of the largest known pyramid structures in the world.)
Divers can do little better than off the coast of Cozumel, home to the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Most dive sites here are found within the boundaries of Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park. The park, which was founded in 1996, is home to 26 types of coral with more than 100 subspecies and more than 500 species of fish. Divers may also see loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles.