Top 10 Hidden Gems in Mexico
Mexico is full of natural and exotic beauty. It’s well known by adventurers and travelers as a tropical paradise with so much to explore and see. However, there are many hidden gems in Mexico, that travelers are unaware of.
There are sandy beaches, cenotes, coral reefs, jungles, waterfalls, and Mayan ruins scattered around the country, many that are untouched by tourists.
Some amazing locations in Mexico are rare and unique while other great spots are more well known.
If you’re looking for a trip to Mexico that is exciting, different, and full of new experiences, you’ve come to the right place.
This article will give you Mexico’s best-kept secrets; the 10 best places off the beaten path. You’ll find fewer visitors and truly get to experience why these locations are so awe-inspiring and unique.
Let’s Dive-In to the best Hidden Gems in Mexico
1. Copper Canyon
Also known as Barranca del Cobre, this canyon might be even better than the Grand Canyon in the U.S because it’s many times longer and deeper.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of six separate canyons located in Northwestern Mexico in the desert area of the major mountain range, the Sierre Madre Occidental.
The Copper Canyon is 25,000 sq miles and got its name from the copper/green hue of the canyon walls.
The Tarahumara people who are descendants of the Aztecs have lived in the canyons for thousands of years and still live a simple life to this day.
The most popular and arguably the greatest way to view the canyon is by taking the El Chepe train which rides from Los Michos to Chihuahua and stops in many locations along the way.
It is considered one of the most scenic train rides in the world.
The railway covers 390 miles and crosses 39 bridges and 86 tunnels. Two different trains make the trek each day and the first class option goes from one end to the other in about 13 hours.
Many tourists will choose this train and stop about halfway to spend a night in the heart of the canyon.
It’s important to book your ticket and lodging ahead of time as it can fill up fast but it’s worth it for stunning views of the canyons.
You don’t have to stay overnight, either. Many tourists will ride the train only for a stop or two to experience the canyon from this unique perspective and explore quaint little towns along the way.
Truly the best views come from El Chepe and it’s also the easiest way to access the canyon but of course, you can view the canyon without taking the train.
2. Cancun Underwater Museum
This museum of underwater sculptures, known as MUSA, was created as an alternative place for divers to explore to save the reefs.
It opened in 2010 and consists of hundreds of sculptures. The museum benefits the protection of the coral reefs and depicts detailed people and scenes of life.
There are many artificial coral reefs in the ocean that marine life inhabit such as sunken ships and other debris on the ocean floor.
The point of these sculptures is not only artistic but creates a new home for coral to grow and marine life to inhabit.
The statues are made of materials that help foster new life as an artificial coral reef and have holes for sea animals to colonize and feed.
The statues have already begun to be transformed by underwater life and eventually, the sculptures will barely be visible once they’re fully engulfed as a coral reef.
There are various ways to view these sculptures including scuba diving, taking a glass-bottom boat ride and snorkeling. It’s quite the experience to see these magnificent sculptures especially because the idea for them is so unique.
Their benefits for marine life and coral reefs make it even more amazing and these magnificent statues are worth checking out!
3. Hierve el Agua
In Spanish, this means “the water boils” and it’s a set of rock formations that looks like a waterfall.
It’s located in San Lorenzo Albarradas and there is an unpaved road that will lead you to this magnificent site.
Your eyes will fool you as it looks like a running waterfall but it’s actually solid, white rock that has created the illusion of cascading water.
Hierve el Agua consists of two rock cliffs that were created by freshwater springs that had over-saturated calcium carbonate in the water.
The excess was deposited on the cliffs which created the white effect on the rock and formed over thousands of years.
Cascada Chica is the more easily accessible and often visited “waterfall.” There are four springs at this cliff with small natural pools of water and two large artificial pools where visitors can swim.
The water in the pools is a turquoise color because of the high mineral concentration of the fresh spring water.
This is a very magnificent, and relaxing place to visit, especially if you get the chance to swim in these natural pools while gazing at this unique, natural structure.
4. Cenote Oxman
This list wouldn’t be complete without a cenote which is one of Mexico’s Yucatan Pennisula’s greatest treasures.
Cenotes are created when a collapse of limestone bedrock forms a sinkhole of groundwater. Some are completely underground and others are open-air formations.
Although there are over 6,000 cenotes in Mexico, some are pretty unique formations that are worth visiting and others are still being found to this day.
Cenote Oxman is located outside of Valladolid.
Because of its remote location, it’s less visited than many other cenotes around Playa del Carmen which makes it them one of the perfect hidden gems in Mexico.
The best way to get to this cenote is by renting a bike in town which makes it an even more fun excursion.
This open cenote brings in a lot of light over the beautiful turquoise blue water. It’s located on the land of an old hacienda. Which was a colony from the Spanish Empire.
There are gardens and a countryside mansion on the property.
As well as a pool at the entrance with a pool-side bar for visitors to enjoy. Now that is how I like to spend my vacation. A cocktail in hand while I relax in a pool.
At the cenote, you will find, rope swings for jumping into the serene water. As well as beautiful rock formations that create walls around this natural pool.
It’s truly a treasure of Mexico and so worth the trek to the countryside.
More Hidden Gems in Mexico
5. Laguna de Bacalar
In English, it’s known as the “Lagoon of 7 Colors” because the water always appears to be at least 7 shades of turquoise, blue, indigo, and green.
Because the water is crystal clear and the sand is powdery white, the water is morphed into these unique color palettes. Making it one of the most colorful hidden gems in Mexico.
There aren’t many tourists here because it’s located 4 hours from Cancun at the southern tip of Quintana Roo.
All the more reason to visit this magnificent place.
It looks like the ocean, but it’s actually a freshwater lake fed by underground cenotes.
Containing some of the oldest life on the planet, the cauliflower-like stromatolites that only exist here and a few other locations.
The best way to arrive to Bacalar is either by car or bus.
If you rent a car you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the town.
When you are at the lagoon, you can swim in the beautiful waters and explore cenotes.
You can also walk along the shore for different views of the lagoon which is 37 miles long.
You’ll want to stop in the small restaurants and clubs along the way. Also, don’t forget rent kayaks or take a boat tour out on the lake, it is truly magical.
6. Tamasopo Waterfalls
One of my favorite hidden gems in Mexico has to be Tamasopo waterfalls.
That is because they are not visited by many tourists. Located in the Huasteca Potosina region, Tamasopo is a great town to visit with many places to swim and relax.
The Tamaposa Waterfalls are full of lush, green jungle that looks like a modern-day Eden.
The sound of the rushing water and the opportunity to observe large sheets of liquid crash on the rock is a beautiful experience.
There are many falls to spend your time at in this area but Puente de Dios is one of the best spots. The flow of the Gallinas River will slowly push you towards a small cavern that is illuminated by rays of sun through crevices in the rock.
Many stalactites and stalagmites cover the area, making it unforgettable and very relaxing experience.
7. Palenque Mayan Ruins
If Mayan ruins weren’t already a spectacular site, Palenque tops the list. Located in Chiapas, this place has remarkable ancient Mayan ruins that include palaces, temples, courtyards, and fortifications.
Mayan ruins are mind-blowingly amazing and Palenque has so much to see and appreciate.
This place was once a Maya city that flourished in the 7th century and the ruins date back from 226 BC to 799 AD.
It was then covered by jungle, but has since been excavated and restored to its historical state. If you plan on visiting Mayan ruins while you are south of the boarder these are the hidden gem in Mexico you will want to visit.
There are still many structures covered by the jungle to this day, but historians have been able to learn so much about this ancient civilization through its preservation of these ruins and leaving some still covered in the jungle.
The incredible detail and work that went into these structures are truly inspiring and should be seen by all.
8. Guanajuato City
Still looking for hidden gems in Mexico? Why not visit Guanajuato City? Mexico’s most colorful city.
A city located in central Mexico that is known for its colorful buildings. Tourists are truly missing out on the chance to explore this place.
The city features houses and buildings of every single color in the rainbow. It is as bright, colorful, and magical as can be. It’s a great way to take some time off from the beach and explore this quaint place.
You could spend the day walking in and out of restaurants and shops and taking countless pictures as it’s one of the most beautiful places.
A popular place to check out in Guanajuato is the Museo de las Momias (The Mummy Museum) which truly is a museum of real mummies. If you needed another reason to visit this beautiful city.
9. Puerto Escondido
Located in the state of Oaxaca, Porto Escondido is a small port town and much less known to tourists.
It’s a great place to surf in Mexico and is also perfect for relaxing. Since it is one of the hidden gems in Mexico you can also score. get great deals on accommodations.
You’ll be able to enjoy the Pacific sun and beautiful beaches, while finding a more true Mexican experience than a resort can give you.
Surfers visit this area from May to July when the waves can reach up to 30 feet.
It’s a great place to spend your days on the beach and try authentic Mexican meals, visit shops and small food markets.
It’s a quaint and unique little town that will give you a chance to truly relax without being around many other tourists.
If you want a jaw-droppingly beautiful beach to yourself, this is the place.
10. The Sea of Cortez
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a great snorkeling spot. That is if you couldn’t get enough snorkeling in Cozumel.
The sea of Cortez separates the Baja California Peninsula and Mainland Mexico and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There is so much marine life to see and the chance to swim with sea lions tops the list.
Snorkelers and divers that know about this spot love it because of the diverse and colorful marine life to observe. It’s been nicknamed “The Aquarium of the World” because of how much life there is here.
Whether you choose to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, relax on the beach, or all of the above, you’ll truly have a trip of a lifetime and see more sea animals than you thought possible.
It’s quite a gorgeous spot.
Mexico is a beautiful country that has more to offer than just hidden gems.
Mexico has such a diverse landscape and character. It’s truly a natural haven and worth the visit. With everything from jungles, to cenotes, to some of the best snorkeling in the world, it’s one of the most beautiful and adventurous countries.
A trip to Mexico will open your eyes to such tremendous beauty and fill your hearts with adventurous desires.
Whether you are there to visit the best hidden gems in Mexico or stay on a path more traveled, Mexico will not disappoint.