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Top 3 destinations to explore in Mexico for expats

Expats in search of the perfect destination in Latin America will not be disappointed by what Mexico has to offer. Truth be told, Mexico is an incredibly popular destination for not only tourists but also expats from all over the world. So much so that tens of thousands of expats call Mexico their second, if not permanent home!

Mexico boasts some of the most astounding places to explore and retire in. To begin with, you’ll find seemingly endless sunshine, stunning scenery and landscapes, magical beauty spots, white sandy beaches, and not to mention its astonishingly rich cultural heritage and history. Even the well-traveled will be blown away by the sheer number of magical destinations to visit.

So to help travelers, expats, and potential retirees get a taste of what Mexico has to offer, this article by Pacific Prime Latin America looks at the top 3 destinations to explore in Mexico.

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1. Lake Bacalar, Quintana Roo

Lake Bacalar, Quintana Roo (Photo courtesy of Max Harris Brassil from Unsplash)
Lake Bacalar, Quintana Roo (Photo courtesy of Max Harris Brassil from Unsplash)

If you plan on heading to the Quintana Roo region of Mexico, then make sure to add this magical destination to your list. Lake Bacalar, better known as the Lago de los Siete Colores (Lake of Seven Colors), is considered to be one of Mexico’s most spectacular natural attractions. As the name suggests, it is famous for its tonally distinct shades of blue, green, indigo, and turquoise caused by the white sandy bottom of the lake. The rich technicolor waters make it attractive not only for locals, travelers, and expats, but also fish and waterfowl.

If you look close enough, you will be stunned by the natural stromatolites, a biodiverse living colony of microbes similar to corals. Although a series of interconnected waterways leading to the ocean, Lake Bacalar is roughly 60 kilometers long and is well known in history as a passage for seafarers and even pirates!

Did you know the authorities of the Spanish Viceroyalty in the early 15th century built a fort called the Fuerte de San Felipe, to protect the area and locals from seafaring pirates? Today, the fort is a museum that is open to members of the public and expats looking to learn more about its past. Check out the historical landmark by visiting the museum at the address below!

Museum of Fuerte de San Felipe – address:

Av. 3 entre calle 36 y calle 38.

Colonia Mario Villanueva Madrid

C.P. 77930.

Bacalar, Quintana Roo, México

Traveling to Lake Bacalar by car or plane

The easiest way to Bacalar is by renting a car in Mexico and driving yourself to Bacalar. If you are staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum, then driving is your best option. You can easily rent a car there or get a rental car at the Cancun airport when you fly in. The roads are well marked and easy to follow to help you get to Lake Bacalar safely. The approximate timings and distances from the above destinations to Lake Bacalar are shown below:

  • Cancun to Bacalar – approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes – 345 km
  • Playa del Carmen to Bacalar – approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes – 279 km
  • Tulum to Bacalar – approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes – 215 km

If you are traveling from another part of Mexico, then flying will be your quickest option. Chetumal is the closest airport to Bacalar, around 45 minutes by road.

2. Copper Canyons, Chihuahua

Copper Canyons, Chihuahua - (Photo courtesy of Sandra Dempsey from Unsplash)
Copper Canyons, Chihuahua (Photo courtesy of Sandra Dempsey from Unsplash)

Did you know that the system of Copper Canyons (Barranca del Cobre) in northwestern Mexico is both longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon in the US? It’s a vast geographical landscape that is perfect for travelers and expats looking for some raw adventure, whether that’s hiking along the trails, biking, or climbing some of the wilderness’s mountain faces.

The coppery color of the majestic canyon is surrounded on both sides by kilometers of boulders, rocks, waterfalls, meandering streams and rivers, that will leave even the most veteran of visitors perplexed by its natural beauty. The region forms part of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, also known as the Silver Route, and is one of Mexico’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Although you will find small and intricate towns dotted across the region that offer rich, cultural heritage and history, the best places to visit for an otherworldly experience are the natural splendors in which the ravines have to offer. The natural hot springs of Recohuata (Recowata) hot springs near Creel is very well known. The area has been developed to include a series of concrete pools across different levels. A lovely resting spot for soaking up some warmth and atmosphere of the Copper Canyons.

Getting around on the El Chepe

Expats that want to explore the beauty of the Copper Canyon, needn’t stress about having to climb across rugged terrains for the best views. You can easily experience the magic of Barranca del Cobre by El Chepe, the Copper Canyon Train. The El Chepe is the most popular way to get around the Copper Canyon and runs approximately 673 km from Chihuahua to Los Mochis. Travelers will be able to make many stops along the way including El Fuerte, Bahuchivo, Batopilas, Divisadero, and Creel to mention a few.

(Take note: For the best views along the way, sit on the right-hand side of the train.)

3. El Arco, Cabo San Lucas

El Arco, Cabo San Lucas - (Photo from Unsplash)
El Arco, Cabo San Lucas – (Photo courtesy of Itzel Naranjo from Unsplash)

Having already touched on Lake Bacalar and the Copper Canyons, both of which are found inland, the third recommendation from Pacific Prime Latin America has got to be one along the Mexican coast. This one we have saved until last for its legendary Instagrammable status, but also Jurassic-era like features formed by the powerful forces of the Pacific Ocean swelling with the Sea of Cortez.

El Arco (The Arch) in Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, is one of the most recognizable landforms in Mexico, as well as the planet. It is frequently visited by tourists the world over including A-list celebrities (so have your cameras at the ready)! Expats should definitely include El Arco as part of their places to visit as it explains much of the Baja California Peninsula’s geological history.

Did you know, the region was once part of the North American Plate about 12 to 15 million years ago and through plate tectonics, the peninsula was eventually formed? This means El Arco and the stacks of rocks sticking out of the sea nearby are several millions of years old! By looking at the eroded face of El Arco you can just about make out the bands of geology holding millions of years of secrets and more. Exciting indeed!

Getting to El Arco

Getting to El Arco is easy and a very quick boat ride from the marina of Cabo San Lucas. From there, you can hop on a water taxi, a glass-bottom boat to watch the sea life on your short journey, a private yacht, or a panga (small fishing boat). There’s certainly an abundance of marine animals that flourish beneath the surface of the nutrient-rich waters along the coast. Sea lions come and go and parrotfish, pufferfish, sea turtles, and guitarfish can be observed from the decks above.

If you are very, very lucky, then you could find yourself walking on the beach and directly under the arch. But it is best to stay safe and observe from a distance as continued erosion from the surrounding sea could make the visit quite hazardous.

All in all, El Arco is a timeless symbol of Los Cabos that captures the region’s effortless beauty and history. Not only is it a gateway to the sea, but also to the limitless experiences of Los Cabos and the beginning of an extraordinary life experience for expats.

Have any expat insurance-related questions?

We hope our top 3 destinations to explore in Mexico have been very welcoming and will add excitement to your time in Mexico. As we do our best to give expats first-hand insights into the country’s many wonders, our specialist area truly lies in educating and guiding expats when it comes to comparing health plans and choosing the best health insurance solution for them and their families.

Although healthcare costs are fairly affordable in certain regions of Mexico, having private individual health insurance coverage entitles you to top private healthcare facilities that are of high standards and with the right medical expertise. You needn’t worry either about paying out of pocket, as most of our plans include direct billing to save you the worry of paying numerous medical bills that have added up.

Check our article on all you need to know about healthcare services in Mexico. For extra reading, our list of blog articles provides plenty of information for expats wanting to know more about health insurance in Mexico and what to consider about the healthcare system.

As a reputable global insurance broker, Pacific Prime Latin America has a wide selection of insurance plans for you to choose from, including travel insurance, short-term medical health insurance plans, family health insurance, and so much more. Get in touch with our expert advisors for impartial advice or a free quote and plan comparison today.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Latin America
Jimmy is a content writer who helps simplify insurance for readers interested in international private medical insurance. He is on a mission in Thailand to support locals, expatriates, and businesses by bring the latest news and updates to his Pacific Prime blog articles.

His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.