I swore (emphatically) that I would never, ever set foot in Mexico again.
Last year while in Mexico I was pulled over by their state police and they took all my money. Technically I guess it wasn’t at gunpoint because they weren’t actually pointing their war guns at me, but these were super scary motherfuckers who weren’t going to take no for an answer. Suffice to say there were several of them posturing away with their guns and doing their best to be as intimidating as possible. Frankly it really was pretty scary, to say the least.
The sad thing is that I have always believed that when going to Mexico, because everything is so inexpensive you need to bring cash to give to the vendors on the beach. I saw it as a vacation tax. So I had about $100 in small denominations so that we could buy stupid plastic sunglasses and beads and whatever junk the vendors would be selling. Because this is how they feed their families. And really, it is only pure luck that I was born into a better socio-economic space than they were, and it could just as easily have been me in their place.
So anyway, fleeced of my cash, they got nothing. And they told me it happens every single day. The US Border Guard on the way back home went ballistic at me, gave me some horror stories about what happens there every single day, and told me to go on the various government websites warning tourists not to go there. Basically I am completely cured of any desire whatsoever to go to about 99% of the tourist spots in Mexico.
Oyster.com sent the following post to my inbox recently. If I were to plan a trip to Mexico again, it would have to be to one of the following four places. (this post does contain affiliate links)
The Four Safest Destinations In Mexico
Mexico has been getting a bad rap. Yes, some areas are dangerous. But more than a few cities are not only beautiful vacation spots, but perfectly safe as well. Mexico has plenty going for it for U.S. tourists, from easy flights to bargain prices to cultural standouts.
First off, it’s important to know the difference between the two different travel advisories the U.S. State Department issues: . A travel alert is a short-term caution, signaling events that should be over fairly quickly: tumultuous elections, labor strikes or protests, and viruses, among other things. Travel warnings are more long-term, signaling overall red flags for entire countries. While Mexico is currently under a travel warning, the State Department acknowledges that the tourist resort cities below are generally safe for U.S. citizens.
And in case you were wondering…the U.S. State Department shares everything it knows about where is safe to travel — and where isn’t — on its website. The press representative we spoke to assured us that staffers don’t have any insider knowledge they hold back; that’s what the “No Double Standard” policy ensures.
Of course, whenever you are traveling internationally (or in the U.S., for that matter), certain common-sense precautions are necessary: Keep cash and electronics out of sight, stick to areas tourists frequent, and don’t go out alone at night.
Here are four tourist destinations in Mexico where you can generally feel safe.
Why It’s Safe: Besides petty thefts, which virtually every tourist destination deals with, overall crime — like homicides — is almost non-existent, at 1.83 murders per 100,000 citizens.
Why It’s Great: Great snorkeling, 20 miles of beautiful beaches, and pretty sunsets are all draws. The nightlife is also appealing to 20-somethings, though in recent years Cancun has shed its spring break rep for a more family-friendly vibe.
The U.S State Department Says: Currently, there is no travel advisory for Cancun. Of course, because it’s a very hot tourist spot, the general rules to staying safe apply: don’t wear expensive jewelry or conspicuous designer accessories, and never walk by yourself late at night.
Why It’s Safe: Mexico City has one of the best police-officer-to-citizen ratios in the world, with . The murder rate — 8.4 for every 100,000 citizens — is also lower than some cities in the U.S., such as 14.8.
Why It’s Great: The Mexico City metro, the second largest train system in North America (who knew?) makes it inexpensive and easy to get around the entire area. Zocalo, a vast square deemed to be the heart of Mexico City, is surrounded by cathedrals. The street food, including tacos and tortas, is as cheap as it gets, and so, so good.
The U.S State Department Says: Currently, there is no travel advisory on Mexico City.
Why It’s Safe: Playa Del Carmen is located in Quintana Roo, a state that is known for its lack of crime and prevalence of high-end tourist resorts with excellent security. Just like in Cancun, visitors to Playa should practice standard tourist precautions, but can be basically free of the fear of major crime.
Why It’s Great: Playa del Carmen has great nightlife, arguably the best shopping in the Riviera Maya, and wonderful restaurants, but it has kept the essence of Mexico, as well as a laid-back ambience, in a region where mega-resorts and mass-tourism are the norm.
“We love Playa,” shares Gaetana Holtje of Richmond, VA, who’s vacationed there twice with her husband, Bill. “It has a quaint, walkable-town feeling that we didn’t have when we visited Cancun. We don’t feel nervous about safety at all. Bill worries more about my shopping when we go,” she laughs.
The U.S State Department Says: There is currently no travel advisory for Playa Del Carmen.
Why It’s Safe: You have the options of flying into Cabo San Lucas International Airport or arriving by cruise ship. Most of us would be unlikely to try driving there, but in case the thought does cross your mind, don’t. Carjacking can happen, especially at night. But otherwise, you can relax in this favorite tropical hideaway of tourists and Hollywood glitterati alike.
Why It’s Great: At the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas — a beach town on the stretch of coastline collectively known as Los Cabos (The Capes) — has long been a popular vacation spot for sun-worshipping party seekers. (Hence, the nickname Cabo San Loco.)
The U.S State Department Says: There is currently no travel advisory for Cabo San Lucas. Stick to toll roads if you absolutely must drive and only do so during daylight hours.
We made a run for the border and didn’t stop until we hit the coast.
One of the truly fantastic things about living in Arizona is being so close to the beautiful Mexican resort town of Puerto Penasco. From Phoenix it’s an easy 2 1/2 hour drive to the border followed by an hour to the coast.
I hadn’t been to Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) in years, and now I can’t remember why I ever stopped going? This fishing-village-turned-resort-town is just fabulous.
The drive from the border to Sandy Beach is a straight shot on a perfectly maintained highway. Almost every car you see on the highway has either Arizona or California license plates. I was actually surprised at how many California plates we saw! Anyone who drives from Arizona to Southern California with any regularity will appreciate how bad the condition of the highway is once you cross into California, so I couldn’t help but wonder if the Californians noticed how pristine the Mexican highway is?
We have always stayed in an area called Sandy Beach, on a kid friendly stretch of the coast that is populated with gated resorts.
Sandy Beach, Rocky Point, Mexico
The resorts are comprised of privately owned condos, all of which have balconies facing the ocean. We normally stay at the Sonoran Sun, with it’s array of pools and swim up bar just steps from the beach, but this time we stayed next door at the beautiful and luxurious Bella Sirena.
Our condo was absolutely gorgeous. It was 1400 square feet, with 2 bedrooms (each of which has an ocean view) and 2 bathrooms, a huge kitchen with an open plan dining and living area.
the master bedroom
room with a view
the living room looked out over the ocean
the ceiling lit up at night
Beautifully decorated and fully appointed with everything you could possibly need, and with a huge patio from which the views were just breathtaking.
breakfast view from our patio
We ate every meal on the patio, also the loveliest spot to enjoy morning coffee and to take in the sunset with a glass of wine.
the sun sets over the Sea of Cortez while we watch from our balcony
Nights in Phoenix are now paralyzingly hot, so the balmy, ocean breeze filled evenings spent on the patio felt heaven sent.
It was 113 degrees in Phoenix…
The Bella Sirena property itself is beautiful.
The gardens and foliage lined walkways are lovely.
There are multiple swimming pools including one with a swim up bar,
hammocks to stretch out on, grassy areas and of course, it’s own stretch of beach.
The Bella Sirena offers the choice of different sized condos as well as villas with roof patios for rent.
Villa at Bella Sirena
beach villa at Bella Sirena
Normally I like to rent a condo on one of the higher floors for the unimpeded view. This time we were only on the 2nd floor but still had a glorious view.
Our mini vacation was made possible by Home and Away Rent the condo we stayed in here
All images are from my iPhone and may not be used without my written permission.
Last week’s travel post ( re-posted from The Daily Eight) got me thinking about making a bucket list of places I have to visit. Where would you love to go? Tell me in the comments section below!
Banana Island, Doha Qatar
Anantara Banana Island, Doha
My Bahrani makeup artista friend has been telling me all about this magical man-made island 20 minutes from the heart of downtown Doha.
From the moment you get there, by luxury yacht or by helicopter, you immerse yourself in splendor. The accommodations are divine, with every room overlooking crystal clear, pristine waters (check the out here).
Banana Island, Doha Qatar
There is no alcohol here, but there is everything else you can imagine, in abundance. It’s exclusive, it’s opulent, it’s beautiful. Check out the resort here
My Jordanian princesses have me desperate to visit the Rose City, so named for the color of the stone it is carved from. Thought to have been established in 312 BC, this UNESCO Heritage Site has been named one of the Seven Wonders Of The World, and is on Smithsonian Magazine’s “28 Places To See Before You Die”
colbybrownphotography.com spectacular image of thousands of candles leading to the Treasury in Petra
“Only 5% of Petra has been excavated, but that 5% could take days to explore” You can read more about Petra in this blogpost byGinger and Scotch
image of Petra via Ginger and Scotch blog
I have wanted to visit Japan for as long as I can remember.
If you are going to immerse yourself in a major city, why not check out this dynamic, mega city?
From shopping to night life to cherry blossoms there is so much culture and excitement to see and absorb here.
Also noteworthy is that Tokyo is extremely clean, functional, well organized and incredibly safe.
Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
Rio de Janiero
Ipanema Beach, Copacabana Beach, bikini shopping, looking up at Christ the Redeemer up on Corcovado mountain,
Christ the Redeemer, Rio
Carnival, samba, bossa nova,
Carnival in Rio
drinking caipirinhas – Rio is one of the most visited cities in the southern hemisphere, home to the 2016 Summer Olympics, and a city I am dying to visit.
Beautiful Hamilton Island is the largest of the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland Australia.
Pristine and pure, the only motor vehicles on the island are those of tradesmen and public transport, all other commuting happens via golf cart. Owned by Australian winemaker Bob Oatley and on long term lease to the Commonwealth Government, Hamilton Island is luxurious and beautiful and
San Miguel de Allende
I once saw a program on the Travel Channel all about San Miguel de Allende. It has always stuck in my mind, this gorgeous little artsy town in the heart of Guanajuato in central Mexico.
The historic center of town has buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries and is full of light and color, expats and artists.
streets in San Miguel de Allende
doors in San Miguel de Allende
Great Wall Of China
I don’t know exactly where along the Great Wall I would like to go. I just want to go.
Playa Paraiso Cuba
Playa Paraiso, Cuba
Thought to be one of the most spectacular in the world, Playa Paraiso in Cuba is a secluded beach, gorgeous with turquoise waters and flour-like white sand.
Playa Paraiso, Cuba
I’m fascinated with all of Cuba actually. Everyone I know who has been there loves it, so not only Playa Paraiso is on my list, but Havana is too.