The Best Outdoor Activities in Mexico

Mexico brims with exciting outdoor activities for the adventurous. The essentials of a Mexican vacation include a mix of colonial towns, Mayan archeological sites, delicious street food, vibrant and colorful festivals and stunning white-sand beaches. But beyond this, there’s a lot more going on!

From diving with amazing marine creatures in the Caribbean Sea, to exploring deep mysterious caves in the forest (not to mention cenotes, probably the most spectacular natural wonder in the country), there’s a wide range of sports and activities to cater all tastes.

Are you planning a trip to Mexico soon? Take a look at all our tours in the country. And if you are a nature and sports lover, you may want to check this guide of the best outdoor activities in Mexico.


Cavern Diving in Cenotes

Part of an intricate system of underground caves, Cenotes are sinkholes of fresh water and one of the top natural attractions in Mexico. The Riviera Maya, Yucatán and Cancún boast a large number of Cenotes, each of them different and extremely beautiful.

Cenotes are amazing spots for cavern diving. Only certified scuba-divers can take part of this unique experience.

Cenote dos ojos is one of the most famous sites, located north of the small town of Tulum. A short walk in the jungle leads you to this magical crystal-water cavern which consists of two connected sinkholes. There’s a lot to explore (ancient rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites, narrow passages) and visibility is extraordinary!

Gran Cenote is one of the most popular cenotes for diving (and also snorkeling). With a very easy access, this amazing sinkhole just outside Tulum can be also visited by non-divers. There are many routes to explore inside this cave. If you are lucky to have a sunny day, you’ll enjoy the spectacle of light bouncing off the water. It is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Latin America!

Bird Watching and Rappelling at ‘Sotano de las Golondrinas’

In the Mexican state of San Luis de Potosi (near the small town of Aquismón) lies an intriguing natural pit called ‘Sotano de las Golondrinas’, which means ‘Cave of the Swallows’. This enormous vertical cave with a 1092 ft (333 m) drop is one of the most beautiful in the world.

If you enjoy bird watching, this place is definitely a must! Every day early in the morning, flocks of millions of birds go out from the cave. They fly in concentric circles towards the forest, giving a unique spectacle that can last for an entire hour. Tourists usually gather there to witness their exit in the morning and their return in the afternoon, when they fly back inside the mouth of the cave.

Those who are up for something more extreme can sign up for a rappelling descent into the depths of this abyss. It can take half an hour to complete the descent, as you’ll be lowered using ropes and pulleys.

You can combine this trip with one of the highlights of this area known as Huasteca Potosina: the Tamul waterfalls, the largest in Mexico.

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Holbox Island

Every year around April and May, the whale shark ―the biggest fish species in the sea― arrives on the coasts of the Mexican side of the Caribbean. Holbox, a small island adjacent to the Yucatan Peninsula, is one of the best locations to spot this wonderful creature, which can be 40 feet long. Daily trips from Cancun can be made to Chiquila Port, where you can catch a ferry to the island.

Whale shark tours consist of a boat trip into turquoise waters that will take you in search of this elusive fish. Once you find them, you are allowed to take several dips and swim with them using a snorkel. Whale sharks feed on plankton, moving slowly with their giant mouth open. But they can be rapidly gone in a blink of an eye, far away from swimmers.

Because whale sharks are a vulnerable species, the conservation authorities in Mexico are quite strict about the number of trips allowed at the same time. That’s why it’s important to book the tour ahead of time.

Whitewater Rafting in Veracruz

The state of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, is home to some world-class rafting venues. With more than 40 rivers and rapids, you can practice rafting  medium to advanced rapids.

Actopan river is one of the most popular places for beginners wanting to enjoy their first experience in the rapids. Filo-Bobos river is another exciting venue, surrounded by a stunning landscape of rainforest and waterfalls.

Finally, the beautiful canyon on Antigua river offers different sections either for beginners or to advanced paddlers. The section called ‘Pescado’ is the most demanding, featuring class IV whitewater rafting. A true challenge only for adrenaline-lovers! The best starting point for a rafting adventure in Antigua’s rapids is the village of Jalcomulco.

Surfing on the Pacific Coast

Mexico is a paradise for surfers, with waves all-year-round and a lot of incredible spots all along the Pacific Coast.

At only a 40 minute drive from San Diego (USA), in the Mexican state of Baja California, lies Rosarito, a top-quality surfing spot in the country.

Another popular destination for those in search of powerful waves is Sayulita, which was once a fishermen’s village. With a hippie vibe, this small town in the state of Nayarit promises a good surfing experience for both first-timers and advanced surfers. In fact, it’s a great place for those who want to learn: you can take surf lessons and practice your first moves under the guidance of a professional instructor. It also boasts great bars to enjoy a tequila and relax after a strenuous day in the sea!

Going down the Pacific Coast to Oaxaca, you’ll find Puerto Escondido, another famous surfing location. Here you’ll find the iconic Zicatela beach, which is considered one of the four best beaches in the world for surfing. Every year, in November, this place hosts an international surfing competition, a great opportunity to see some of the world’s top surfers in action.


Marina Parra

Marina is a journalist, content writer, mountain lover and amateur photographer living in Buenos Aires. She’s traveled in Argentina and South America enjoying great conversations, local cuisine and breathtaking natural wonders.