After spending nearly two years on the Pacific coast of Mexico with our sailboat, Groovy, we realized we had done very little REAL Mexico travel. So we ventured inland in southern Mexico during 2012-13. We left Groovy behind in anchorages and at marinas in Huatulco and Marina Chiapas (to see Southern Mexico) and Zihuatanejo and in Puerto Vallarta (to see Central Mexico). On these inland trips we discovered vibrant Spanish colonial cities that were full of color and life. Better yet, we found it easy to visit lots of thousand-year-old ruins dating from the days when the Zapotecs and Mayans ruled the land.
Where is Everything and How do you Get There?
For more details about how to put together an inland adventure, see these pages:
Mexico by Bus – How and where to catch buses between Mexico’s coast
and the hot spots inland.
Marina Chiapas Inland Travel Notes – Visit Mexico’s incredible Mayan ruins and see the country’s most beautiful state.
What was the Best Place?
It’s all fabulous, and hopefully future cruisers will see even more than we have. However, for those in a hurry, our favorite ancient ruins were at Palenque and Yaxchilan & Bonampak (map further down this page). Our favorite colonial cities were Guanajuato and Oaxaca (see map below).
Places we visited while Groovy was at Paradise Village Marina in Puerto Vallarta. If you make only one off-the-boat inland journey to a colonial city, this is the one to do.
- Flashback – Meeting Toller Cranston in Mexico 01/29/15 While visiting Guanajuato we met maverick skater & artist Toller Cranston at his home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
- Guanajuato – Full of Song and Spirit! 06/24/13 Guanauato, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is not only colorful but a place where street music is elevated to high performance art.
- Guanajuato – Colors, stairs, tunnels and characters! 06/14/13 Guanajuato amazed us with its vivid colors, steep hills & deep tunnels. It’s a fun town with lots of character and characters!
Places we visited while Groovy was anchored off Las Gatas Beach in Zihuatanejo. An alternative is to leave the boat at Marina Ixtapa. Morelia is a beautiful colonial city and it is lovely to see the millions of migrating monarch butterflies in the ponderosa pine forests of the inland mountains.
- Morelia Mexico’s Magnificent Cathedral & Aqueduct – Awe-inspiring! February 27, 2013A whirlwind tour of Morelia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, blew us away with its gorgeous cathedral, churches and antique aqueduct.
- Monarch Butterfly Migration at El Rosario – A Fabulous Daytrip!! March 2, 2013High in the Michoacán mountains near Morelia, Mexico, we hiked into the forest at El Rosario to see millions of monarch butterflies.
- Pátzcuaro – A “Magical City” with a colorful outdoor market March 5, 2013With Groovy safe at anchor in Zihuatanejo, we explored Pátzcuaro, a “Magical City” in Mexico with a vibrant outdoor market.
Places we visited while Groovy was at Huatulco’s Marina Chahué: An inland jaunt to Oaxaca gives you both a fantastic colonial city experience AND some wonderful ancient Zapotec pyramid ruins.
- Oaxaca – Quirky, Fun, and lots of Gold Leaf February 12, 2012Energetic and artsy, Oaxaca, has a fabulous gold leaf trimmed 16th century cathedral & a huge town square full of activity.
- Oaxaca – A City of Vibrance, Color & Soul February 18, 2012Oaxaca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, treated us to all kinds of action and fun: concerts, parades, and a golden cathedral wedding!
- Oaxaca’s Monte Alban – Mysterious Ancient Zapotec Ruins February 24, 2012The Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban are mysterious and alluring, and the beautiful Oaxaca Cultural Center houses Mixtec relics.
- Oaxaca’s “Mitla Tour” – Ancient Zapotec Ruins & More! February 28, 2012On Oaxaca’s outskirts, we visited the 2,000 year old Zapotec ruins at Mitla, saw petrified waterfalls and met traditional weavers.
- Huatulco’s Hagia Sofia (1) – Exotic fruits and tropical flowers in a lush garden oasis December 2, 2012November, 2012 – Hagia Sofia is a lush 350 acre garden oasis filled with exotic fruit trees and stunning tropical flowers.
- Huatulco’s Hagia Sofia (2) – Hammocks, hills, waterfalls and a Oaxacan feast December 11, 2012November, 2012 – After trekking through orchards and waterfalls at Hagia Sofia, we were treated to a Oaxacan feast.
Places we saw while Groovy was at Marina Chiapas (also known as Puerto Chiapas and Puerto Madero near Tapachula). These places can be reached from Huatulco too and are worth every effort to get to. The Mayan ruins at Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak are absolutely mind boggling.
- Yaxchilan and Bonampak – Haunting Ruins in the Jungle 04/08/12 March, 2012 – We visited the Mayan ruins of Yaxchilán & Bonampak, an all-day adventure highlighted by wandering through these awe-inspiring ruins…
- Agua Azul & Misol-Ha – Waterfall Adventures 03/30/12 Special Biosphere Reserve Agua Azul Waterfall is a fabulous cascade of turquoise, while Misol-Ha is a tall thin spray!
- Palenque – Ancient Mayan Ruins and Terror in the Jungle! 03/20/12 A beautiful all-day bus ride delivered us to the exotic ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque where we got spooked in the jungle!
- San Cristobal – Colonial Delights & Spanish Immersion 03/10/12 March, 2012 – San Cristóbal is a bustling and pretty colonial town where we took a week of intensive Spanish classes in hopes of conversing better…
- Chiapas by Bus – A Day of Adventure 03/05/12 March, 2012 – Bus travel in southern Mexico is an adventure, and our all-day bus ride through Chiapas from Tapachula to San Cristobal was thrilling…
- Antigua, Guatemala – Trying Hard for Tourist Dollars 03/01/12 February, 2012 – Antigua, Guatemala, was disappointing after the vibrant warmth of Mexico, but the colonial architecture, Mayan textiles and cobbled streets were lovely…
To see the links to our blog posts from the other regions of Mexico, check out these summary pages (you can also find them under the Mexico menu item (Pacific Mexico Destinations) in the menu bar at the top):
- Pacific Coast of Baja Mexico (San Diego to Cabo San Lucas)
- Sea of Cortez (La Paz to San Carlos)
- Mexican Riviera & Costa Alegre (Mazatlan to Manzanillo)
- Costa Grande & Costa Sur (Zihuatanejo to Chiapas)
If you are considering cruising Mexico’s Pacific coast and/or Sea of Cortez, have a look at our Mexico Cruising Guide and Insider’s Guide to Cruising Mexico as well as our Life in Mexico page of light-hearted posts about what it is like to live here.
_________________________________________________To help you plan your cruise and get you inspired, we created the video series, "Cruising Mexico Off the Beaten Path - Volumes 1-3," shown below. This is a fun-to-watch and easy-to-digest introduction to Mexico from a cruiser's perspective, giving you lots of valuable information that isn't covered by the cruising guides. Each video is available individually at Amazon, either as a DVD or as a download. For discount package pricing on the whole series, visit our page Cruising Mexico Video Series.
Volume 1 (left) reviews the geography, weather and seasons in Mexico and shows you what the best anchorages between Ensenada and Manzanillo are like.
Volume 2 (middle) gives detailed info that can't be found in any of the guidebooks about the glorious cruising ground between Manzanillo and the Guatemala border.
Volume 3 (right) provides all the info you need to get off the boat for an adventure-filled trip to Oaxaca.Our Gear Store also has a boatload of ideas for your cruise!