Mexican Travel Information
Things to do on your Mexico Diving Holiday
Looking for some information to make your dive trip to Mexico run smoothly?
Mexico is a country that fires the imagination: images of old-style bandidos, sleepy sun-drenched towns, lively fiestas and its own distinct and world-famous cuisine.
For divers you can add thrilling Pacific Ocean encounters with marine megafauna such as mantas, sharks and whales. You can also add the Caribbean beaches and islands where glorious diving is just a few minutes from shore. If that is not enough then throw in the unique experience of disappearing through the jungle floor into the crystalline environment of the Cenotes.
Above the waves, Mexico is renowned for being the ultimate blend of sunshine, entertainment, culture and natural splendor. Lie back on the golden sands or sip a tequila in a beach bar. Indulge in the archaeological wonders of the Mayan culture. Revel in the carnival atmosphere and shake your booty to vibrant Hispanic music. All this and more packed into one exceptional country.
Geographically, Mexico is located in North America, bordered by the United States to the north, Belize and Guatemala to its south, the Gulf of Mexico to its east and the North Pacific Ocean to its west. As such it is a blend of old world and new, a bridge between continents and a nation rich in its own cultural heritage.
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Tourist Security and Safety
There is no doubt that Mexico has security problems, with battles between drug cartels and the governments, between cartels themselves and organized crime. This violence very rarely filters down to tourists who are not involved in the drug trade. The most dangerous places include Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Ciudad Juarez, all of which are close to the US border and very far from anywhere that divers would visit.
Of course nowhere is immune to trouble and Acapulco, a tourist destination, (also nowhere near where we recommend diving) has had its share of bad press too. The Mexican government makes considerable efforts to protect tourists, and major tourist destinations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas have historically not seen anything like the levels of drug-related violence, as the northern border regions. Being educated about where the risks lie in your travels should quell any apprehension about visiting Mexico and experiencing the country's world-class cuisine, rich culture and majestic nature.
ATMs are best avoided unless inside a bank. It's safest to always carry some cash on you for times when you won't be able to use a credit card, and you should exchange your currency before you go. Unless you're vacationing at the beach or hanging out at a resort, wear pants and sensible shoes so you don't stick out as a 'foreigner'. Don't carry your camera around your neck. Also, avoid wearing or traveling with expensive-looking jewellery or watches and don't flash your smart phone around too much.
The usual advice applies to visiting Mexico, including avoiding badly lit areas and walking alone. If you are going to be taking tours off the beaten track then you should be sure to do so with a qualified guide. To maximise your comfort, we can recommend that you take out insurance to cover diving and travel activities, including trip cancellation. See our insurance programme for a competitive quote.
How to Get There
If you are diving Socorro or the Sea of Cortez you should fly into San Jose Cabo International Airport, near Cabo San Lucas.
Guadalupe liveaboards can mean flying into San Diego, connected throughout North America by United and US Airways, and also with the UK via British Airways. Alternatively you can fly into Tijuana with AeroMexico from L. A., New York and many other US cities, as well as international flights via Mexico City from London, Madrid and Paris.
If you are going to Cozumel, there are direct flights from several US cities, or you can transfer from Cancun. Cancun has a lot of direct flights from the USA, as well as some Central American countries. Both Cozumel and Cancun also have good connections through Mexico City with AeroMexico.
If you need to stay overnight on your way in or out of Mexico, or simply want to extend your holiday by a few days, then see our affiliated hotel reservation agents Agoda.com:
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There are 2 main seasons in Mexico: the rainy season and the dry season. May to October roughly corresponds to the rainy season where there is an increased chance of hurricanes. November to June is the dry season. During this time northerly winds can blow down form the USA, meaning windier weather and choppier waters.
Altitude also plays a part. Generally the coastal regions maintain a balmy warmth all year round, despite the variations between dry and wet seasons. At altitude however, the temperatures can vary much more and can at times be positively chilly.
Mexico has been populated for over 13,000 years, producing a number of civilizations prior to the Spanish conquest of the 16th century. In the centuries since, those cultures have blended with the Spanish influence and the country is now home to both the largest number of Spanish speakers and the largest number of native American language speakers.
Before the Spanish arrived, Mexico was populated by a large number of native groups including the Mayans of the Yucatan, the Aztecs and the lesser known groups such as the Mixtecs, Zapotecs and the Toltecs.
In the north, they were a small group of mainly hunters and gatherers and in the rest of the country the natives were agriculturalists which allowed the support of dense populations. Among these were the Maya of the Yucatan, Totonac, Mixtecs, Zapotecs and Aztecs. Some of them developed high civilizations such as the Mayan civilization, the Toltec city of Tula, and the city of Monte Alban established by the Zapotecs.
From 1519, after the arrival of the Spanish, Mexico became part of its huge colonial empire. Gradually the demographics shifted and the population became more Spanish and 'Mestizo'. 1810 saw independence from Spain after a long struggle but that was not the end of international interference. 1846 saw the Mexican-American war and 1861 witnessed invasion by the French.
Ultimately under the rule of Porfirio Diaz Mexico began to modernize and develop infrastructure and trade. Although the country was developing, the poor were neglected and rose up in the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1929, bringing to power the Partido Revolucionario Institutional. Despite huge emigration to the U.S.A., the predominant Catholic faith meant the population continued to grow throughout the 20th century. 2000 saw the PRI replaced by the Partido Accion Nacional, only to return to power in 2012 charged with taking control of the violent scourge of Mexico's drug cartels.
The Local People
As of 2012, the population of Mexico is around 115.3 million people of which the majority belongs to the classification 'Mestizos'. Native groups that remain prominent include Mayas, Zapotecas and Nahuas. Eastern European and Asian nationalities are also reflected, as are Spanish who left their home country during the Spanish Civil war. Choosing Mexico as an alternative home was obvious given that Spanish remains the official language followed by English.
Taking care with your food and drink in Mexico is normally the key to maintaining good health. Avoiding untreated tap water and fruits that do not require peeling makes sense. You should consult your local doctor before planning a trip to discuss any vaccinations or malaria medication that may be advised. Malaria is present in some rural areas.
The worst that most travellers experience is the dreaded Montezuma's Revenge (diarrhea), named after Moctezuma II (1466-1520), the Aztec ruler defeated by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. His revenge upon future foreign invaders being a bad dose of the runs.
There are several hyperbaric chambers throughout Mexico; at least one in each of Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum and Merida. The tourist spots all have clinics and medical centres and are used to treating foreigners for whom the costs for minor treatments are generally quite inexpensive.
You need a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended stay as well as a return ticket.
Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Island, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela.
You should always check with the appropriate consular authorities and satisfy yourself that you satisfy the relevant visa requirements.
Visitors are permitted to stay for up to 30 days and extensions may be granted when in the country. You may, although it is unlikely, be asked to prove that you have sufficient funds for your visit (US$ 50 per person per day).
Mexico is -6 GMT, the same as United States Central Time.
Banks: Monday to Friday: 08:00 to 16:00 hrs; Industry: Monday to Friday: 08:00 to 14:00 hrs, 16:00 to 18:00 hrs.
The Mexico Peso (MEX$) has a fixed exchange rate of MEX$ 12.80 to US$ 1. The majority of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept US currency, travellers checks, or credit cards. Credit card payments often attract a 2-6% service charge.
Power is 120/240 volts AC, 60 Hz - the same voltage as in the USA. Most plugs in Mexico have 2 flat prongs (US style). Some have a third, circular prong and these require adaptors for most sockets.
For printing your digital photos while in Mexico, visit the photo department in major supermarkets (e.g. Soriana, Wal-Mart). There are also independent photography shops, common in small towns. Film and videotape for non-digital cameras are hard to find, but may still be available in some specialist photographic stores in larger towns and cities.
High Speed internet is now widely available in Mexico, except in the more rural areas. You are likely to find plenty of bars and cafes with WiFi services, often free of charge. A number of stand-alone WiFi services are available, which may be especially useful if you are traveling or don't have access to a land-based high speed internet connection.
Mexico's postal service can be used for letters, postcards, greetings cards. A letter or postcard from Mexico will take about a week to get to the US/Canada, and between 1 and 2 weeks to make its way back to Europe or Australia. There are 'Oficinas de Correos' in most towns and every city in Mexico.
Codes of Behaviour
Tipping and bargaining
It is customary in Mexico to tip in return for good service. Look out for signs telling you that service charge is included in the price of hotels and certain tours. In such cases no further tipping is expected. However, it is worth keeping small denominations of pesos to hand for small favours like hotel porter assistance.
Formal clothing is not really necessary for people on holiday in Mexico. Choose lightweight, cool airy clothing such as breathable dri-fit sports shirts. Short skirts are a no-no for most travelers (except Spring-break college girls when they want to cover up). Most tourists keep bathing suits for the beach and pool only (except Spring breakers who consider it a must-wear all-day uniform). Protection from the strong sun is highly advisable: Slip (t-shirt), slop (sun cream), slap (hat), and wrap (polarized sunglasses).
Adhering to the usual good practices when on holiday should be enough to allow you to avoid any unfortunate experiences with crime. Do not flash you wallet, phone or bling around and you will not alert any watching malfeasants that you are a good target. If you can manage to avoid drug dealers and prostitutes during your time in Mexico, you are less likely to run into trouble.
If you're keen to discover the underwater world of Mexico, then click below to check your options for:
Be sure to book up in plenty of time to avoid limited choice! The best Mexican scuba diving vacations are booked by repeat customers who book well in advance to ensure their reservation!
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