The Caribbean Coast of Mexico is top of our list for places to spend US winter.
The advantages are that we’d get some beach time which we’ve been missing since we left Hawaii, we’d get to eat Mexican food(!), and the flights from the US would be very cheap. For example, for NYC to Cancun, JetBlue has flights for less than $200 each way.
Note that the Pacific Coast of Mexico has rougher, colder water. We like warm, calm water. If you do too, we recommend sticking to the Caribbean coast.
If you’re planning a winter escape, here are some options and tips.
Even when at the beach, we like a location that has conveniences. We like to be somewhere big enough that it has supermarkets and a Wal-mart or the local equivalent (such as Tesco-Lotus in Thailand). This makes life a lot easier when we’re staying for a few months rather than a few days or weeks.
Cancun also offers the option of day trips to Isla Mujeres by ferry, which everyone seems to enjoy. While downtown Cancun isn’t that flash, the beaches are still spectacular and just not in a “good for a city beach” way.
We also tend to like places with a mixed locals/tourist presence rather than places that are solely devoted to tourism.
Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen is a spot where travel bloggers and other snowbirds like to flock and rent apartments for the winter. However, it’s become considerably more expensive in recent years. The advice we’ve heard is that arriving to start your rental in November is a much better option than attempting to find somewhere in December.
Playa Del Carmen is very livable. It has conveniences and plenty of choices of restaurants but it’s much small than Cancun. While many people love the beaches there, they’re not the best of the best in terms of what Mexico has to offer.
You can see vegetarian food options in this post about vegetarian restaurants in PDC. Lots of great photos are included, but unfortunately for vegans there’s quite a bit of cheese featured in the post!
Tulum is generally regarded to have some of the absolute best beaches and swimming in the region. It’s further south down the coast from Playa Del Carmen, and further way from conveniences and transportation. To be able to get around easily, you’d realistically need to budget for a rental car, which you wouldn’t need in Cancun. There are lots of awesome options in the Tulum area for seeing Mayan ruins and swimming in the cenotes (massive underground sink holes).
If you’re comparing your options, also check out this an awesome post by Nicole from Suitcase Stories, who shares some great points about where to base yourself along the Mexican coast.