By Julie R Butler
If you haven’t yet been convinced about why you should visit Mexico this (and every!) summer with our recent festival listings (July and August) or our favorite off-the-beaten-track beaches, then maybe one of these extraordinary Mexican eco-adventures will entice you!
Swim with Whale Sharks in their Summer Breeding Grounds
One way to experience amazing sea life in Mexico is to swim with whale sharks in the warm waters of their summer breeding grounds off the coast of Cancún. Don’t worry, they’re neither whales nor sharks; rather, they are fish – the largest fish in the ocean, in fact! You can book tours to visit with these gentle giants of the sea from Cancún, Isla Holbox, or Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, where the annual Whale Shark Festival takes place in July.
More Great Mexican Snorkeling Spots
Mexico has many great snorkeling spots, and they’re not all in the ocean, as the cenotes of the Yucatán Peninsula also provide for some interesting underwater experiences. One of the best is the Dos Ojos system of cenotes near Tulum.
Meanwhile, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which begins at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula and is the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere, encompasses several protected areas and parks, including Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Arrecifes de Xcalak National Park, Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, and Cayos Cochinos Marine Park.
Then there’s Cancún’s Museo Subacuático de Arte, an artificial reef that’s also a haunting underwater sculpture museum.
On the west coast of Mexico, the Sea of Cortez also offers clear waters and beautiful sea life to explore, as well.
Mexican Sea Turtle Conservation Programs
Mexican beaches serve as nesting grounds for different types of endangered sea turtles including hawksbills, loggerheads, letherbacks, and green turtles. Although there are opportunities to volunteer to help protect eggs and release hatchlings into the ocean throughout the year, the high season for these important conservation activities is between May and November. And although there are many places where you can participate (most hotels can help with local bookings), the most well-established turtle rescue and educational program is the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga of Mazunte, Oaxaca. Other Mexican sea turtle hotspots include Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, as well as Akumal Bay, X'Cacel Beach, and Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve in the Yucatán.
Explore Yucatán Wildlife at Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve near Tulum
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve isn’t just a turtle hangout – it’s over 520,000 hectares of protected area of “intricately linked marine, coastal, and terrestrial ecosystems” made up of tropical forests, marshes, wetland savannahs, and the coral reef system that are home to hundreds of animals, including over 300 types of birds, and around four thousand plant species. Sian Ka’an also contains several archeological sites, as well.
Chill Out at Lagunas de Montebello National Park, Chiapas
Sand and salt water not your thing? Head to Lagunas de Montebello National Park for an encounter with nature on the high plains of Chiapas. At altitudes between 1,500 and 1,800 meters (about 4,900 to 5,900 feet), this national park encompasses 59 lakes that are famous for their striking colors, which vary according to their mineral content. It’s a great summer vacation spot for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. This beautiful park also holds cenotes and limestone caves as well as impressive vistas and the Mayan ruins of Chinkultic.
Magical Encounters with Fireflies
Make the best of Mexico’s summer rainy season, typically from June through August, by surrounding yourself with fireflies at one of central Mexico’s firefly sanctuaries – or santuarios de luciérnagas – in the states of Tlaxcala, Puebla, and Mexico. Not only will you have an unforgettable, magical experience the whole family will enjoy, but also, you will be supporting more sustainable forestry practices in the heart of Mexico.
As these eco-adventure parks and activities prove once again, Mexico is filled with beauty and wonderment!