Smiling dancer carries pineapple during dance performance in Acapulco

My first trip to Mexico was in August 1977 when I rented a Chevy Nova and along with my wife and 11 year old son drove down to the tip of Baja California to Cabo San Lucas. A hurricane wiped out the roads and we were stranded for a week in a hotel where waiters served dining room meals in water up to their knees. Since then I have returned many times, either on assignment for International Wildlife to do a story on the Lacondon Indians or for Islands Magazine to shoot Isla Mujeres. My longest and most enjoyable trip was spent illustrating a guide book on the entire country. Not every trip to Mexico is for work; I often enjoy the country as a holiday destination. Crossing the border from the U.S. is an instant jolt to the system. Unlike driving from France into Italy where the transition is seamless and barely noticeable the minute you arrive in Mexico you know you are abroad.

Resign yourself to the fact Mexico is impossible to experience in a single trip. Each region has something unique to offer. Here are ten of my peak experiences. I hope they will provide unforgettable memories and prompt you to discover ten other attractions.

  • Ride the Copper Canyon train to visit the Taramuhara Indian villages
  • Go whale spotting in the gray whale lagoons off Baja California
  • Hire a boat and mariachi band and float through Mexico City’s Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
  • Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Puebla where a war against the French started a national festival
  • Spend a night at the extravagant Las Hadas resort in Manzanillo
  • Browse the amazing historical artifacts in the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City
  • Rent a cliffside villa in the Italian Riviera style village of Punta Careyes
  • Wander through the ruins of the pre Colombian site of Monte Alban
  • Follow the self flagellating Penitentes during Holy Week in the colonial city of Taxco.
  • Visit the majestic Mayan archaeological site of Palenque in the jungle of Chiapas.