Step onshore in these five ports for culture, nature, and exciting activities


Kelly
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta in winter, when the Bay of Banderas welcomes hundreds of humpback whales.
Among the Mexican Riviera’s port offerings are classic favorites such as Cabo San Lucas and off-the-beaten-path discoveries like Topolobampo. The following five represent the best of both worlds.

Cabo San Lucas: There’s so much more to this Mexico destination than its party spot atmosphere. A range of beaches offer secluded romance, whale watching, family-friendly spots, and practically every water sport in existence. Other great activities here include golf, fishing, shopping, and eco-tours in the desert, at sea, and up in the mountains.

Mazatlan: This classic cruise port has upped its ante – after losing some cruise business in recent years, the city has created a new $3 million tourism corridor between the port and its historic city center, as well as seriously investing in enhanced security. Both Old Mazatlan and the city’s Golden Zone are fairly close to the port, offering shopping, historic sites, and fabulous beaches.

Puerto Vallarta: Located on the beautiful Bay of Banderas, the Puerto Vallarta area offers 25 miles of beaches and borders the rugged jungles of the Sierra Madre mountains. The colonial old town is great for shopping and history, while excursion options range from jungle tours to horseback riding and visits to tequila factories. Don’t miss the Malecon, a restored walkway along the bay that is known for its sculptures.

Topolobampo, Mexico: This small beach town in the state of Sinaloa offers a low-key Mexico cruise stop. One of the most popular excursions is a train ride through the breathtaking Copper Canyon, an experience not to be missed. Take a stroll through El Fuerte, and don’t leave without trying some authentic local cuisine.

Ixtapa: In Ixtapa, cruise passengers get two destinations in one: the tourist-oriented Ixtapa, and the laid-back Zihuatanejo. Ixtapa is flush with water sport vendors, trendy shops, and prime beaches, while Zihuatanejo is a tranquil town with more of a village vibe and visiting humpback whales and sea turtles. Activities for a port visit include horseback riding, sportfishing, and relaxing beach days.