10 Natural Wonders of Mexico
Mexico is not only known for its gorgeous beaches, ancient pyramids or colonial culture. Many of Mexico’s natural attractions can safely be called a miracle, so striking are their natural beauty and strangeness. Some of Mexico’s natural wonders have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you won’t find anything like it in any other country in the world.
Hidden Beach in the Marietas Islands
The Marietas Islands archipelago is located off the coast of the Riviera Nayarit in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The archipelago consists of two large islands, one of which is the Hidden Beach (Playa Escondida), also known as Love Beach.
The beach is a cavity in the volcanic rock, similar to a crater. The only way to get to this paradise is to swim through a tunnel in the rocks. More than 90 species of birds live here, and being inside, through the open top you can watch thousands of seagulls overhead. Hidden Beach was declared a UNESCO National Park and World Heritage Site in 2005. Therefore, visiting the beach is limited, requiring permission and hiring an authorized tour operator.
The underground karst cave Sótano de las Golondrinas is located in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. The cave is bottle-shaped (extends downward) and reaches a depth of 380 meters. Many swifts and parrots live inside, and every morning at 5:30 the birds begin to leave the cave in sync, going up the spiral.
The cave is difficult to access, led to it by a narrow hiking trail and a dirt road that only off-road vehicles can drive on. In addition, the air inside the cave is quite stale, and being inside without special equipment is dangerous to health. Descent into the cave takes about 20 minutes with mountaineering equipment and about 10 seconds for a long parachute jump. Climbing up takes about two hours and requires good climbing and physical training.
This is another of the natural wonders of the state of San Luis Potosi and one of Mexico’s most beautiful waterfalls. Cascada de Tamul comes out of the Gallinas River; the height from which the water falls is 105 meters. There is an observation deck at the top of the falls, and you can also go down to the foot of the falls.
You can reach the waterfall by boat from the town of Tanchachin or on foot, leaving the transport a kilometer upstream. The waterfall is attractive not only because of its height, but also because it has crystal clear turquoise water.
The best time to visit is from July to October, when the water level in the river lowers.
Archipiélago Revillagigedo is located in the sea opposite the Mexican state of Colima. It includes 4 islands: Socorro, famous for its Everman volcano, Clarion, which is a biosphere reserve, San Benedicto, where you can swim with humpback whales from November to March, and Roca Partida, where you can dive and watch whale sharks.
The archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.
El Pinacate and the Great Altar Desert
El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar, a nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the state of Sonora. The name “Pinacate” comes from the Nahuatl language and refers to a species endemic to this desert beetle. NASA used the site to train astronauts before their first flight to the moon.
The reserve has a high concentration of volcanic craters and some can even be climbed. There are also more than 540 plant species, 40 species of mammals, 200 species of birds, 40 species of reptiles, and many amphibians and freshwater fish.
The name Barrancas del Cobre Canyon comes from the copper hue of its rocks. The canyon is located in the state of Chihuahua, in the Sierra Taraumara mountain range. The canyon consists of six separate canyons. The canyons were formed over 20 million years ago by six rivers that flow into the western Sierra Taraumara. All six rivers merge into the Rio Fuerte and flow into the Gulf of California.
For centuries this place has been the home of the Rarámuri people, and you can visit their dwellings and learn about their culture, as well as the caves that once served as shelters for them.
Among the main canyons are: Urique, the deepest canyon in Mexico (1,879 meters); Sinforosa, whose slopes contain the Rosalinda and San Ignacio waterfalls; Batopilas, home to some of the most traditional Rarámuri communities; Candamena, home to Piedra Bolada and Basasajic, two of the highest waterfalls in Mexico, and El Gigante Rock, 885 meters high; Huapoca, home to the Paquime and Chinipas archaeological sites.
Cañón del Sumidero is located in the national park of the same name, 45 minutes from Tustla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas. The walls of the canyon are almost vertical and rise up to a thousand meters above the Grijalva River bed. The canyon fracture was formed about 12 to 15 million years ago.
The rich coastal tropical vegetation is home to spider monkeys, jaguars and ocelots, and there are many crocodiles in the river. There are several observation decks above the canyon, one at 1,200 meters. Boat tours usually offer a 32 km route to the Chicoasen Dam.
Finger of God.
El Dedo de Dios is located on Maruata Beach, on the Michoacan coast. There are very intense tidal waves here that have formed a geological shape that seems to point to the sky. Magnificent scenery, cliffs and caves against a backdrop of deep blue waters enhance the romance of this place.
From July to March, black turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs. You can also just stroll here, go boating or horseback riding.
Maruata Beach has been a biosphere reserve since 1986 and is a favorite destination for eco-tourists.
Boiling Water Cascades
Hierve El Agua are located 70 km east of Oaxaca in the Sierra Mix and Sierra Norte de Oaxaca mountain ranges. Runoff water with high mineral content has formed three petrified waterfalls of an almost white color. Two of them have vertical walls, and the third, called the Amphitheater or Cascade de Chica, is horizontal. The tallest waterfall is 60 meters.
The Amphitheater has two large artificial swimming pools, as well as several smaller pools. One of the artificial pools is at the very edge of the cliff. You can see similar formations in only one other place in the world, in Pamukale, Turkey.
Tourists are charged twice for access to the cascades, once on the road and once at the entrance to the park.
The Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas
The Rio Lagartos Reserve on the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most striking natural attractions on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Here you can take a fascinating boat tour through the mangroves of the bay, watch large flocks of flamingos up close, see crocodiles in their natural habitat, and even take mud baths in the purest white clay.
But the most striking natural attraction are the Las Coloradas lagoons with pink-colored water. The lagoons are artificial reservoirs used for salt extraction. The pink color is determined by a high concentration of salt and the presence of microorganisms.
What to see in Mexico: top 20 attractions
Mexico … The name alone evokes associations with the golden sun, azure waters, emerald forests and mysterious ancient civilizations, the ruins of which are hidden in the shadow of the jungle. Therefore, tourists who do not know which attraction is in Mexico should not worry. There are so many interesting places in the country that one vacation is definitely not enough to explore each one. Therefore, we offer the top 20 main attractions of Mexico with brief descriptions.
An ancient city in Mexico founded more than 2.5 thousand years ago. Located on a low mountain range. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At one time Monte Alban was considered a political, economic center and capital of the Zapotecs.
The city has many tombs, tombs and temples crowned by bells and frescoes. There is an ancient observatory, a library and a ball field. The central part of the palaces and squares with sculptures. Also of great interest to tourists are excavations on the hills.
At the exit of the complex are stores and cafes selling sandwiches. More nourishing food tourist can eat only in the city of Mexico – Oaxaca.
- where is it located: 9 km from Oaxaca
- opening time: 09:00-17:00
- cost to visit: 51 pesos (photo and video are paid separately)
City of Coba
Considered to be the largest settlement and trade center of the Maya civilization, where the ancient roads, the sakbe, crossed. Their true purpose is still unclear, because the ancient Maya did not have carts. In total, there are more than 6,500 structures hidden in the jungle. Now available only five. It is noteworthy that the found structures have not been restored and preserved their original form.
The buildings are scattered over a huge area. They can be viewed on foot (about 4 hours), by bicycle (50 pesos) or rickshaw (120 pesos for two). The highest Mayan pyramid in Mexico, the Nooch Mul (42 m), attracts special attention. Its summit is accessed by 120 narrow, time-broken steps, but the difficulty is worth it because it offers an unforgettable view. It is believed that those who climb the stairs will gain life force.
- where is it located: 3 hours from Cancun
- opening hours: 08:00-17:00, 17:00-19:00
- cost to visit: daytime hours 50 pesos, evening hours 220 pesos
The Pyramids of Teotihuacan
The mysterious and oldest city in Mexico. The exact date of its foundation is still unknown. Today, Teotihuacana is Mexico’s most popular open-air museum complex. The archaeological group includes: palaces with preserved ancient frescoes, a citadel (a mini-complex of pyramids and temples), a museum where the artifacts found here are kept.
The pyramid of the Sun and the pyramid of the Moon, located on both sides of the “road of the dead”, deserve separate words. The Pyramid of the Sun is the third highest pyramid in the world (64 m). On top of the pyramid of the Moon sacrifices were performed, as evidenced by the human and animal remains found.
- where is it located: 40 km from Mexico City
- opening hours: 07:00-17:00
- cost to visit: 75 pesos.
The most famous Mayan settlement, where thousands of tourists come to Mexico every year. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to it the ancient temples, once looted by the Spaniards, have been recreated in their original form.
The complex includes: an observatory, a warrior temple, the Temple of the Jaguar, a 50-meter sacrificial well where jewels and bones were discovered, a wall of skulls, a stadium for a ball game during which sacrifices for the gods were determined, and many other structures. The most famous structure is the Temple of Kukulkan (Feathered Serpent). Its height reaches 30 meters, and the number of steps equals the number of days in the year – 365. The spring and summer carnivals of Mexico are held here.
- Where is it located: 1.5 hours from Merida
- open hours: 08:00-18:00
- Cost to visit: 220 pesos (without guide)
Another ancient Mayan site in Mexico. Unfortunately, the original name has not survived. The Spanish dubbed the place by its current name. The ruins of the city, often shrouded in mist, are built in a picturesque place – in the heart of the jungle among the waterfalls and rivers. It is protected by UNESCO.
Palenque consists of 1.5 thousand structures, and only 34 of them are studied. The location of available attractions is indicated on the map at the entrance to the complex. The most popular of all are the grand palace complex, consisting of a whole labyrinth of passages, and the temple of inscriptions with thousands of hieroglyphs. The tomb of a Mayan leader was discovered there. A mysterious image was carved on his tombstone, which they are still trying to decipher.
- where is it located: northwest of Chiapas
- opening hours: 08:00-17:00
- cost to visit: 75 pesos (57 pesos – photo and video)
Another UNESCO monument in Mexico. Again, tourists can touch the remains of an ancient civilization. Ushmal is considered one of the most beautiful Mayan cities.
Among the attractions of Mexico tourists are attracted by the pyramid of a magician, the palace of the governor, a convent. The pyramid of the wizard is the tallest building, almost 40 meters. From there shamans once dropped sacrifices to the gods. Unique with its rounded corners and base. The palace of the rulers, built on an 8-meter pedestal, is covered with mosaics, sculptures of snakes and deities. The convent, an ornate complex of four structures, was not really a temple. It is believed that it was a Mayan educational institution.
- where is it located: 68 km from Mérida
- opening hours: 08:00-17:00
- cost to visit: 400 pesos.
Combines the delights of ancient civilization with the best beaches in Mexico. On the coastline there are bars and cafes, where the bill for a full meal is about 200 pesos. Of the modern buildings is in great demand Sky Bar, with a roof garden.
Lovers of antiquity will be interested in the Mayan city, surrounded by a high wall. Of the sights stand out especially the temple of frescoes and El Castillo, which, according to scientists, served as a lighthouse.
Among the natural attractions Tulum offers tourists to Mexico to visit the caves and swim in the mysterious underground river Sac-Actun. It is most often visited by visitors from the Riviera Maya resorts.
- Where is it located: 68 km from Playa del Carmen
- opening hours: 08:00-16:30
- Cost of attendance: 65 pesos.
The Sac Actún Underground River. Tulum.
A cenote or “Gateway to the Realm of the Dead” is a natural well that the Maya used to obtain fresh water and sacrifice rites. Today, the cenotes, scattered all over the island, are more popular than ever with tourists in Mexico. They are included in most tours of ancient Mayan ruins, and divers often come here.
The cenotes usually have stairs. There is a place for photographs, sometimes towers for jumping. The walls of the well are twined with plants, and there is a penumbra. It is believed that if you dive into the cenote, you can find yourself in the open sea.
Rio Lagatos Reserve
The place with the most stunning scenery in Mexico. Rio Lagatos boasts the richest flora and fauna. Of the animal life, tourists are attracted to the crocodiles that roam peacefully through the Mexican reserve.
Feeding the predators is allowed only in the presence of a guide.
In addition to reptiles, tourists long to see the legendary pink flamingos. Flocks of unusual birds live in the reserve, but are afraid of people, so you should not go close to them. Besides flamingos, hundreds of other species of Mexican birds live in Rio Lagatos.
Among the natural beauties in the first place is the Pink Lake. The water in it has a rich pink hue because of the microorganisms. However, bathing in it is prohibited. Tourists also go to the salt plant, to admire the salt mountains there.
- location: 5 hours from Timisin
- Cost to visit: 1000 pesos
It was built in 1791 and was finished only in 1829 as a shelter and hospital for the poor. It is protected by UNESCO.
The hospital has a unique architecture. There is a 30 meters high chapel, a kitchen and gardens with fountains for walks. Inside, the chapel is decorated with frescoes by the famous Mexican artist of the 1930s, Orozco, of which there are almost 60. His works combine Spanish and Native American motifs. Today the hospital has become a museum with guided tours.
- Where is it located: city of Guadalajara
- opening hours: 10:00-18:00
- Cost to visit: 1000 pesos
A corner of Mexico where the amusement park, the reserve with wild animals, exotic plants and a piece of ancient civilizations are united. Guests of Mexico are offered a variety of activities: jungle walks, rafting, an extreme journey on an underwater river or a relaxing holiday on the beach. A butterfly park, a turtle farm, and a dolphinarium are of particular interest to children. In the evenings there are colorful performances dedicated to the ancient Maya.
In the park are the ruins of the city of Pole. You can also visit the Mayan village, watch the show and buy a souvenir. There are many cafes in the park with rather high prices (the average bill is 550 pesos).
- Where is it located: 6 km from Playa del Carmen
- opening time: 08:30-22:30
- cost to visit: 3000 pesos.
Or Women’s Island is a paradise in Mexico. On a small island neighbors exotic jungle, historic ruins, snow-white beaches and modern hotels. Tourists dive, snorkel, go fishing, visit nature reserves and relax by the sea. The best place to walk is Medina, a street with hundreds of cafes and stores where prices are lower than in Cancun.
The island of Mexico will be of particular interest to lovers of legends and mysteries. Legend has it that the ancient pyramid of the Goddess of the Moon, accessible to tourists, hides countless treasures, which hundreds of travelers are trying to find. Another mysterious place is the Maka Lagoon, where ruthless pirates lived and hid their gold.
- Where is it: 30 minutes from Cancun
- one way trip: from 160 pesos
A striking natural attraction in Mexico, often compared to the Grand Canyon in the U.S. The chain of 6 canyons reaches a depth of 1,500 meters, where forests and rivers extend. It got its name because of the moss, greenish-copper color.
In the canyon is a village of ancient Indians. It is home to a third of all life in Mexico, thousands of species of birds and plants. Climbers from all over the world come here.
- Where is it located: the state of Chihuahua
Isla de Cosumel
Mexico’s largest island, almost entirely covered by dense jungle. The main attraction here is the underwater world. Millions of divers come here every year to see one of the most beautiful reefs. Tourists can go snorkeling or take scuba diving lessons.
Of land-based activities, tourists are interested in parks, ancient Mayan ruins, and a museum. In the center of the island, San Miguel, there are stores, restaurants, cafes and clubs. The average bill in a cafe is 250 pesos.
- Where is it located: 19 km from Peninsula. Yucatan
Palace of Fine Arts
The main attraction of the capital of Mexico, Mexico City, made of marble. The palace was built in the early twentieth century. It is an opera and ballet theater, museum and exhibition hall.
Many tourists visit the palace for the inexpressible beauty of the architecture. Over the interior decoration worked the best artists and architects of the past years. Elegance, luxury and wealth reign in every element of the decor.
- Where is it located: Mexico City
- for information on performances and prices, visit the official site
The capital and main attraction of New Mexico. Once here, it feels like you’re back in time. The houses, both residential and public, are all in the Pueblo style, named after the tribe that once lived in what is now Santa Fe.
The pueblos built their dwellings out of clay and sand. Today’s houses are made of concrete, but they don’t look any different from the old buildings. This is what makes Santa Fe a special place on earth. There are many good cafes, such as Sazón, and it is a great place to take a stroll.
- Where is it located: New Mexico
Underwater Sculpture Museum.
A relatively new but already very popular attraction in Mexico. Its author is Jason de Kairos Taylor. The installation consists of four hundred figures of people and cars and several parts.
You can see the underwater museum in detail only with a scuba diver. Although some tourists examine the exhibits with masks, this method does not allow you to see the attraction properly. The only drawback is the high price.
- Where is it located: near the island of Isla Mujares
- opening time: 09:00-17:00
- Cost to visit: from 1900 pesos
San Francisco de Campeche
The capital city of Campeche on the coast of Mexico. Is a UNESCO heritage site and has a long history. The city was built in the 16th century on the site of a Mayan settlement, and since 1999 has been restored about a thousand buildings.
The modern San Fransisco de Campeche preserves the colonial Baroque style. You can admire the monuments of architecture on foot or by tourist bus. Among the attractions of the city are the Cathedral, the historic center, the fortress of San Miguel, the Mayan ruins of Enza and much more.
- Where is it located: state of Campeche
National Museum of Anthropology
Mexico’s most famous museum. Every year it is visited by several million people, both tourists and locals. The museum has two presentations, ethnographic and anthropological, which in turn are divided into eleven exhibitions.
The museum contains thousands of exhibits of the culture of the ancient peoples of Mexico – the Maya, Aztecs, Olmecs and others. Among them are real treasures, sculptures of ancient deities and the famous Aztec calendar – the Sun Stone. Some of the exhibits are on display outside in the courtyard.
- Where is it located: Mexico City
- opening time: 09:00-17:00
- cost of admission: 75 pesos (free on Sundays)
This is not even one, but as many as three beaches located in the resort of Acumal. These are the beaches that are said to be “the paradise place”. Palm trees, snow-white sand and clear sea welcome tourists into their arms.
However, the beaches are not the only reason why tourists from Mexico come here. Akumal is the most famous place where there are big sea turtles. You can meet them if you swim with a snorkel about twenty meters from the shore. The sea bottom there is covered with algae, among which swim and wonderful creatures.
It is better to swim in the sea in slippers because of the seaweed and reef.
On the beach there are many cafes, stores, hotels. Entrance to the coast is free, but the locals often stand near the beach and demand money for the passage. Typically, they do not speak Russian or English, using gestures. The season lasts from November to March.
Colorful Mexico will not leave anyone indifferent. It preserves the monuments of ancient civilizations, which beckon with their mysteries and secrets, while much of it is still unexplored. There are beaches with clear blue water and snow-white sand, which everyone dreams to be on. Next to the modern constructions there is an impenetrable jungle, full of danger and spirit of adventure.
In addition to architectural and natural attractions, Mexico has many cities to explore, such as Monterrey, Isamal, Valladolid, and San Cristóbal de Las Casas. And even more resorts, for beach tourism – Cancun, La Paz, Mazatlan.