The Mexican Riviera is a world reknowned paradise for vacation goers and one of the most popular cruise destinations! The Mexico coast offers incredible geographic vistas from snow topped volcanos, ancient ruins, and bustling cities. You will discover time warped sleepy towns, very glitzy resorts, magnificent deserted beaches and awe inspiring flora and fauna!
The blend of new and old is the surreal part of the Mexican Riviera’s charm whether you are throwing back margaritas, surfing the Pipline, listening to the jungle sounds or climbing over exotic Mayan ruins. The Mexican Riviera is enjoyable year round, but October to May is generally the most pleasant time to cruise these waters. May and September can be hot and humid particularly in the south. In land temperatures can reach freezing during December-February!
Semana Santa, which is the week before Easter and Christmas and New Year are the peak domestic travel periods.
The Mexican Riviera climate has something for everyone. It is hot and humid along the coastal plains and drier and more temperate along higher elevations inland.
Sunshine, sand and surf – what more could you ask for? The Mexican Riviera is filled with rich culture, bright flavors, scenic vistas, and most definitely, fun in the sun. The La Quebrada cliff divers of Acapulco will leave you amazed at their daredevil flying feats. The cobbled streets of Puerto Vallarta’s Malécon are ideal for a relaxing stroll. And the deep-water lagoons, coconut groves and laid-back attitude of Zihuatanejo provide a delightful taste of Old Mexico. Don’t forget Mazatlán’s long sandy beaches and the chance whale spotting off Cabo San Lucas. There’s plenty to do and see.
What can you do cruising the Mexican Riviera?
Puerto Vallarata is one of the most popular ports on a Mexican Riviera cruise. It lies in the middle of the 22-kilometre wide Bahía de Banderas , the seventh largest bay in the world, fringed by endless sandy beaches and backed by the jungly slopes of the Sierra Madre. Its hotels are scattered along several miles of coast with the greatest concentration in Nuevo Vallarta , north of the town and sliced through by an eight-lane strip of asphalt. Just south of Nuevo Vallarta is the new marina , where you can stroll along the boardwalk and have a look at how the other half live, on beautiful boats. Despite the frantic development of the last decade, the historic town centre, with its cobbled streets and white-walled, terracotta-roofed houses, sustains the tropical village atmosphere.
Ships dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, about three miles north of downtown. The number of ships calling at Puerto Vallarta has increased beyond the capacity of the docks, though, and many ships are on a rotating tender schedule. Check your cruise itinerary to verify whether you will dock or tender into port.
Cabo San Lucas at the southernmost tip of Baja, was once a base for pirate ships waiting to pounce on Spanish treasure ships. Famous for the Land’s End Arch which is the biggest and most impressive attraction, it has become a staple stop for Mexican Riviera cruises. You can board a fibreglass skiff and head out to El Arco (The Arch), a jagged natural feature which partly fills with the tide. Pelicans, sea lions, sea and sky – in fact, what brought people to this area in the first place.
Ships anchor offshore and tender passengers to the marina, which is a pleasant 10-minute waterfront walk to the heart of Cabo San Lucas. Not shy about pursuing cruise ship business, the town is usually wide open at 8 a.m. (even at that time you can have breakfast at Cabo Wabo or go parasailing). Even the pelicans are out early.
Mazatlan At first glance this might appear to be a working-class port city with a very touristy Golden Zone (Zona Dorado) serving up Diamonds International and souvenir shops, beaches, bars and eateries. But take a closer look, particularly at Old Mazatlan, and you’ll be surprised. We certainly were. This was our favorite port call on the Mexican Riviera itinerary, a nice sample of the “real Mexico.” Located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, just below the Tropic of Cancer.
From the city stretching north are 14 miles of white sand beaches and blue lagoons that have gained the city the nickname “Pearl of the Pacific.”
You dock at the commercial port — and because it’s a bustling cargo port you are taken on a free tram to the cruise terminal. Here you’ll find a festive atmosphere with timeshare vendors trying to give you free rides (if you look at their properties), craft vendors and shops, including a pharmacy where you can buy Viagra and other medications without a prescription. There are tables set up under shade trees if you have a hankering for a cold beer. There’s also a second, quieter crafts market across from the chaos of the cruise ship terminal.
Acapulco– One of the major attractions in Acapulco is the cliff divers. You can watch these skillful divers off the western cliffs 150 feet high into the canyons below, timing the dive to hit the water as the sea is rushing into the canyon below.
What Acapulco undoubtedly has going for it, however, is its stunning bay : a sweeping scythe-stroke of yellow sand backed by the white towers of the high-rise hotels and, behind them, the jungly green foothills of the Sierra.
Ensenada is just ninety minutes on from Tijuana by the toll road and sitting on Bahia de Todos Santos, is favoured by Californians “in the know”, and at weekends it’s packed with partying groups of southern Californians. Yet it remains far calmer, cheaper and smaller than Tijuana – though still with a pretty clear idea of the value of the US dollar – and has a growing reputation as an ecotourism spot. With some life and culture of its own as a major port and fish-processing centre, it’s also home to one of the nations largest wineries, although the distinctly average quality of the stuff produced here makes this a somewhat dubious badge of distinction.
However the beauty of Ensenada is not the town, but the grey whale!
The gray whale is the most common species seen near the cost of the Baja. Other whales are present but tend to seek deeper waters while the gray whale’s swim in shallow waters seeking Baja’s many lagoons for calving.
The Baja California coastline is teeming with whales during the calving season from late November to late March.
Who Cruises The Mexican Rivieria
Mexico is a year round destination and most cruises leave from Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco and can range from short 3,4,5 day cruises to 7-10 days. The following cruise lines sail the Mexican Riviera:
- Carnival Cruise Lines
- Celebrity Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Royal Caribbean
- Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
- Holland America Line
And don’t forget to view the following cruise travelling tips!!!
There is so much to do and see on the Riviera. By day, swim, fish, shop or soak up the local culture. By night, savor the bold and fresh flavors of the region, like handmade tortillas and fresh guacamole, then pick up some new steps, dancing the night away to a salsa beat. It’s time to go to! Bon Voyage!