Probably the most celebrated tourist-heavy country in the world, Mexico is like an entire world in itself. From gorgeous beaches, a rich cultural mix of people, crazy diverse interiors, and a whole variety of other draws that seem to have cemented the Latin country into the forever hall of fame. A true tropical gem through and through.
From the world-famous eastern coasts to the Hollywood-hit west, to the European north to the exotic south, Mexico is one country that never truly runs out of reasons for people to visit. The Latin country has been making noise since the onset of its tourism boom in the 70s and has endured since, you can only cover so enough in one reading.
What Makes Mexico Unique?
The World’s Best Beaches
When you hear Mexico, or find the country in travel articles and promos somewhere, you can easily imagine all the gorgeous beaches available to satisfy every traveler’s woe. The association, of course, holds a tremendous amount of truth, for Mexico is indeed home to many of the world’s most famous beaches. From the white sand stretches of Cancun to the jugged and rocky edges of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is a paradise for the beach bum.
Every region has its best contenders for Mexico’s best, and each has their quirks and draws that keeps tourists lured and revenue for the country flowing. Here are some of Mexico’s best beaches:
The undisputed Mexican tourist mecca has been on every globetrotter’s (or even the aspiring ones) radar and bucket lists because of its reputation and sheer beauty. The legendary party city boasts a 12.1-kilometer or a 7.5-mile white sand beach stretch that basically covers its entire coast, giving huge beach access to the city.
The city’s expansive beach stretch is lined with many of the city’s top-rated resorts and hotels all sprawled out providing upscale and developed amenities to the beachside. However, due to this development, Cancun can often feel a little less tropical and more cosmopolitan. But nonetheless, the iconic stretch provided the classic thrill and fun for the beach bums, making Cancun a must in Mexico.
Just further north from Cancun, located in the same state of Quintana Roo, Isla Holbox is often touted as one of Mexico’s last secret beaches until a few years ago.
Now the beach town and all its natural splendor have dazzled beach lovers all over the world and have been making the right noise around the world. One amazing thing about the beach town of Holbox is that, apart from its aquatic delights, the town can feel rustic and authentic providing an experience that is truly Mexico.
Isla Holbox is teeming with cultural quirks like textile markets, homegrown food places, and warm people. You can feel at home while relishing the proverbial feel of a small seaside town in the far reaches of Mexico’s fabled eastern coasts.
If you’re into some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, chances are you’ll probably have heard of Cabo, and probably one too many times. Cabo San Lucas or the entire tri-town area of Cabo, including San Jose del Cabo, and the Tourist Corridor at the southern end of Baja California Sur, is a celebrity-approved vacation hotspot that packs a lot of draws.
Cabo fronts the Pacific Ocean is known for its dark blue shade and quirky features and attractions that seem also seem to be famous for divers and other enthusiasts of aquatic adventures.
The beaches of this iconic seaside town are the stuff of Mexican travel post-cards, Cancun may have uber-developed seaside highs, and white sand stretches but Tulum has a raw, rustic, authentic beauty, coupled with the enchantment of an ancient ruin perched over the coast. The sights and mood provided by Tulum are a true testimony to the undisputed charm of Mexico’s rich natural and cultural beauty.
Tulum is also situated on the same eastern coast as Cancun, which is just a few hours away from each other. You can easily plan a few days’ worth of itinerary to go beach-hopping across the Yucatan Peninsula.
This picturesque beach isn’t a mainstream entry, because of its off-the-beaten-path reputation. Yelapa is more of an extra mile you can go if you’re in huge touristy coastal cities, like Puerto Vallarta. The indubitable charm of Yelapa lies in its pristine waters, and picture-perfect beaches, without the swaths of tourists. The beach is noticeably crescent-shaped and teeming with hammocks for relaxation and beach bars and restaurants to take you further away into enjoyment.
The Undisputed Fame
When you hear Mexico, or just saw the name somewhere, chances are you’ll probably be flooded by hundreds if not thousands of all things Mexican, like Tacos, Mariachi, Tequila, and even the Pixar film Coco. A phenomenon such as this is only best reserved for countries that have achieved worldwide fame that surpasses mainstream media, Mexico is in so many ways goes down as one of the most celebrated cultures in the world.
Mexico has given the world a lot of things to fall in love with and the list is endless. Despite the bad rep, the country got thanks to misrepresentation in mainstream media, Mexico still remains to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and is a constant cultural favorite among many people.
The Tourist Meccas of all Tourist Meccas
Mexico is one of the most visited countries in the world with a staggering count of 45 million in 2019 alone, rising to the ranks of other tourism giants like Turkey, Thailand, Germany, and many others. With an abundance of resort cities, seaside wonders, magic towns, and historical sites, Mexico has everything you’re looking for in a dream destination.
Not to mention Mexico’s unquestionable natural beauty, from the beaches to its diverse interiors of forests, mountains, volcanoes, and even desert terrains across the country. You can be sure to have an endless itinerary of exploring when you visit.
The Latin American country’s influential dishes have perhaps changed the game of the international culinary landscape along with the leagues of Italian, Japanese, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Mexico has penetrated food stalls, restaurants, and pubs because of its flavorful cooking, and distinct taste and twang that seems to be appealing to a slew of people from all over the world.
With Mexico’s supercharged palates, and diverse flavors you can only sample so much, but here are some of the staples:
Tacos is certainly synonymous with Mexico, these flavorful and sometimes spicy staples are probably the most famous dish from Mexico. You can find them in an abundance of varieties such as birria, carnitas, al pastor, and many more.
It is basically a corn tortilla filled with vegetables, spices, beefsteak, flank steak, chorizo, offal, or “al pastor” – hot and sweet marinated pork. Ask friendly locals, or look up food review online platforms for the best taco place in whichever city or town you’re visiting.
Another Mexican icon, Enchiladas often come spicy, depending on the variety. In general, they are corn tortillas dipped in a special hot sauce filled with different kidneys of vegetables, stews, and sometimes even proteins like beef, or chicken. They are usually served with onion, celery, sour cream, or fresh cheese.
Enchiladas can be traced back to Mayan times when residents in Mexico’s Valley ate maize tortillas wrapped around tiny fish.
Northern Mexico’s entry to the world culinary stage, Burritos is a household name, even beyond the Americas. They are typically cylinder-shaped tortillas made from flour stuffed with a variety of ingredients, usually a stew.
Cheese is probably the most abundant ingredient in a quesadilla recipe. They usually consist of a corn tortilla sometimes flour, mainly filled with cheese alongside varieties of meats, spices, and other fillings, then cooked on a griddle or in a pan on the stove.
Quesadillas, just like tacos are easy to find in many restaurants all over the country. And maybe brush up on your high school Spanish when ordering.
Another staple that originated from the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the region. The popular dish dates back to the time of the Aztecs, Mayan, and Incan tribes who needed to take healthful sustenance into battle on the go.
They usually come in pockets of corn dough stuffed with cooked banana leaves or maize husks with a sweet or savory filling. The fillings often vary, either they can be made from meats, fruits, vegetables, cheese, chilies, and mole.
Apart from all of Mexico’s natural and cultural appeals, the country’s long, rich, and curious history is another thing to behold and worth knowing about, especially the civilization that predates the colonial time.
Mexico got its name from the Aztec culture, which thrived in the region where CDMX or Mexico City now stands. The Aztec empire saw great prosperity, and longevity due to their advanced ways and customs. The Aztecs arose as the dominant force in central Mexico, building an elaborate social, political, religious, and commercial organization that brought many of the region’s city-states under their authority by the 15th century, all from their magnificent capital city of Tenochtitlan.
Invaders led by Spanish adventurer Hernán Cortés toppled the Aztec Empire and seized Tenochtitlan in 1521, bringing Mesoamerica’s last major civilization to an end.
But you can still see what remains of the Aztec empire in many ruins around Central Mexico, you can visit: Teotihuacan Ruins, just outside of the capital, El Tepozteco, a small site in Morelos, and Templo Mayor, right at the heart of Mexico City.
The Ancient Mayans are one of the most dominant indigenous people and cultures in pre-colonial times. Around the sixth century A.D., it achieved the pinnacle of its power and influence.
Agriculture, pottery, hieroglyphic writing, calendar-making, and mathematics were among the Maya’s many talents, and they left behind an incredible amount of spectacular building and symbolic artwork. The ancient people didn’t originate from Mexico per se, but rather in the further down south of the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala, and Belize.
Mexico’s most famous ruin, Chichen Itza is the Mayans’ greatest gift to the world of archaeology. Now one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the ruins of Chichen Itza are the most visited places in the country.
Other famous Mayan ruins you can visit in Mexico are the: Tulum, where ruins are perched on a hill overlooking the beach, Coba, which neighbors both Chichen Itza and Tulum, and Uxmal, found in Merida.
The Dominican Republic is a bit of feisty heaven on earth, between the gorgeous Northern Atlantic to the north and the renowned Caribbean to the south. Everything about the Latin American country is a draw in and of itself, with diverse topography, postcard-perfect scenery, unique local culture, and possibly the most fun-loving Latinos you’ll ever meet.
From the appealing ambiance of Santo Domingo’s historic streets to Punta Cana’s perfect blend of relaxation and recreation, Puerto Plata’s gorgeous beaches, Azua’s wineries, and Bani’s unique landscape. The Dominican Republic is one of those amazing places on the planet that never fails to entice you and make you fall in love with it. On top of that, the cuisine is outstanding.
What Makes the Dominican Republic Unique?
Ridiculously Gorgeous Beaches
Long lengths of white sand beaches, cradled by the stunning blue of the Atlantic and Caribbean, await visitors to the Dominican Republic. All of the best beaches in this Latin American country are as stunning as they come, and are frequently regarded as the country’s top tourist attractions. You may expect to find a variety of beaches here, all of which are suitable for your preferences. In the Dominican Republic, there is always something for everyone.
Here are a few that might pique your interest among the seemingly endless number of beaches in the area:
Playa Grande is located far from the resorts and upscaled highs of Punta Cana and Puerto Playa, and is away from the regular mainstream beaches. If you want to feel like you’re in the Dominican Republic, visit Playa Grande, which is underdeveloped and rustic, with palm trees and a small number of food vendors.
A postcard dream come true, situated within the resort town of Punta Cana. Bavaro Beach is idyllic and gorgeous, with wonderfully smooth white sand, crystal-clear sea, and a well-developed resort scene. While the beach’s premium charms give it a more commercial feel, it still has a tropical paradise feel to it.
Playa Rincon is unquestionably a sunseeker’s dream because of its length. You can enjoy a variety of things here, but none better than sunbathing and swimming, thanks to a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) stretch of uninterrupted beach. Playa Rincon is bordered by a dense grove of palm trees, which creates a beautiful contrast to the beach’s vast stretch of sand.
The famed Kite Beach, one of the most internationally renowned beaches in the Dominican Republic, is particularly appealing to watersport lovers, notably kitesurfers. Kite Beach in Cabarete, dubbed the world’s most lively and action-packed beach, ensures that you will never be bored. When you visit, you can expect warm friendly smiles, tremendous energy, and a dynamic that is both welcoming and intriguing.
A family-friendly beach that is a short distance from the typical shining white sand beaches, with golden sands set against a backdrop of lush green mountains. The coast is lined with mid-rise resorts and hotels that offer all-inclusive services while maintaining the homey vibe of Playa Dorada. This is one of the most well-known beaches in the Dominican Republic, and it may get rather crowded at times.
You can enjoy the Dominican Republic’s incredibly beautiful beaches as well as its eccentric villages and cities. The Latin American country also has a bevy of odd interior characteristics that are frequently extravagant and unexpected. From densely forested areas to welcoming flowing waterfalls, gorgeous outer cays, natural ponds, sand dunes, and salt mines, there is something for everyone. There are numerous reasons why the Dominican Republic is one of the best destinations to visit in the Caribbean, if not all of Latin America.
Here are some of the top locations to go when you’re in the area:
Los Pozos de Romeo
A series of beautiful pools that were formed from underwater caves that have openings to the sky. Los Pozos is a sight to behold of how enchanting they can be for first-time visitors, the appeal is in the curiosities of its formation. You can head to Los Pozos on your way to the popular Bahia de Las Aguilas.
The cay is known for its breathtakingly beautiful crystalline waters. Its shallow seas allow you to snorkel and explore the surrounding areas, which is one of the best things to do here. Expect to observe some schools of fish swimming around Cayo Arena while you’re there.
27 Waterfalls of Damajagua
To be honest, your waterfall experiences here will not be for the faint of heart, since Damajagua’s 27 waterfalls are best saved for thrill-seekers. Climb to the top of a narrow canyon of waterfalls and then jump into one of the pools below. When climbing, however, you will be escorted by a tour leader and provided with a life jacket.
Sand Dunes of Bani
The world-famous Bani Sand Dunes are a unique feature of the Dominican Republic’s landscape. There aren’t many areas where you can locate a stretch of Sand Dunes, much alone a vast selection of sceneries. The sands, which are located in the town of Bani, are near to the beach, adding to their allure. Consider how much fun that would be.
Las Salinas Salt Mines
The Salt Mines, which are also located in Bani, are vast terraces that resemble massive salt mountains that can be visited while traveling across the Dominican Republic’s southern regions. You can observe how salt is made and exported around the world. The salt mines have become tourist attractions as a result of their unusual nature, which has boosted the local economy by creating more jobs.
The culinary repertory of the Dominican Republic is a wonderful blend of culinary influences from nations that have left their imprint in the country, the majority of which are attributable to colonialism. The cuisine of the country is a delectable fusion of Spanish, indigenous Taino, Caribbean, and African influences. Trying some of their delectable foods will round off your Dominican adventure.
When you visit, you should try some of these well-known foods and classics:
This meal is so well-known in the Dominican Republic that visitors frequently mistake it for the national cuisine. Sancocho, on the other hand, is not unique to the country; in fact, it is a staple in various Latin American countries.
Sancocho a la Dominicana, also known as Sancocho de Siete Carnes, is a meaty, thick, and substantial stew made with seven varieties of meats, often blended with root vegetables and plantain. This is a Dominican classic.
In Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, beans and pulses are a cheap and abundant source of protein, and the Dominican Republic is no exception. In Dominican cuisine, they’re quite common.
The Dominican meal Habichuelas Guisadas is served with rice, most commonly Arroz Blanco. It’s one of the Dominican Republic’s four corners (the traditional Dominican lunch meal). Every Dominican home may have their own version, with small differences in ingredients and flavors.
Tostones are a Latin American classic made from unripe plantains that can be served as a side dish or as part of a larger meal with meat and fish. I have yet to find a Dominican who does not appreciate tostones, and you will understand why once you try them.
Mangu is a Dominican delicacy consisting of mashed plantains, eggs, fried Dominican “salami,” and Queso Frito, as opposed to many of the previously stated meals (Fried Cheese). When served together, they are known as Los Tres Golpes (The Three Strikes). It’s typically eaten for breakfast, although it can also be found on the dinner table.
Chicken is inexpensive, plentiful, and easy to prepare. It should come as no surprise that it is one of the most popular meats in the Dominican Republic. If you haven’t tried Pollo Guisado, you’re losing out on a delightful fall-off-the-bone chicken with robust flavors and a delectable sauce. Chicken is regularly featured on the typical Dominican lunch menu.
The Dominican People
If there’s one thing that the entire Dominican Republic, not just Punta Cana, can agree on, it’s which resort is the best and most popular. The Dominicans, without a doubt, are the most welcoming and fun-loving people on the planet. Dominicans are known for being friendly, genuine, courteous, cordial, and, above all, cheerful.
These attributes are especially evident when they try to make tourists and guests from all over the world who are interested in their culture feel at ease. The Dominicans provide a swirl of flavor and richness to an otherwise top-rated Dominican Republic experience with their pleasant personality, Spanish-speaking bits, warm spirits, and outstanding culinary.
Is the Dominican Republic Better Than Mexico?
Both the Dominican Republic and Mexico are tourist giants in the Caribbean, consisting of the best draws you can ever think of in a proverbial vacation destination. However, when it comes to fame and reputation none in the tropical world can overshadow the mammoth that is Mexico. The blueprint of tourism success, the industry, and its beauty itself have become the most important backbones of the country’s economy.
If you’re looking for a tropical getaway with the classic making of pristine beaches, interesting quirky towns and capitals, good food, and rich history and colorful histories you can most certainly find all of them in both. However, when it comes to the sheer charm, and several draws Mexico, undoubtedly takes the bag. From the pacific coasts, the central regions, to the eastern coast, Mexico is a whole world in itself.
But this doesn’t mean that you should completely put the Dominican Republic off the list. DR, as it is lovingly shortened, is also perfect for all kinds of travelers, with all its worthy natural and cultural appeals, on top of probably one of the warmest and most fun-loving people in the world. The DR’s Santo Domingo and Punta Cana are famous places.
But despite all the ins and outs of travel destinations, draws, and drawbacks the best determinant will always be your desire. What you want to get out of from a travel destination will depend on which option takes the bag.
Is Dominican Republic Safer Than Mexico?
Both the Dominican Republic and Mexico are unfortunately ridden with higher crime rates that can range from petty theft to extreme cases such as gang violence and drug cartel activity. However, most of these cases are only limited around non-touristy cities, making traveling around most parts of the DR and Mexico generally safe for tourists.
According to the latest data on their respective crime indices, the DR falls a bit higher on the danger scale because of the growth rates, and increasing reports over the years. Most of the crimes that have put the DR on a tighter spot than Mexico mostly involve drugs and gang activity, property crime, and violent discrimination.
Crime in Dominican Republic vs. Mexico
Recent data purported that most of the crimes that have riddled both the DR and Mexico mostly involve petty to grand theft, drug-related crimes, property and violent crimes, and corruption. A lot of the crimes can seem parallel in both destinations but DR’s data and rates fair higher than Mexico, making it a riskier place to be in.
However, that doesn’t mean that these places are not best for traveling, they are both two of the most enticing places in the Caribbean given the number of draws that they have. To err on the side of caution is still the best way to be wherever you chose to travel.
Is Mexico or Dominican Republic Cheaper?
Mexico is a bit cheaper than the Dominican Republic despite Mexico’s obvious bigger household name. Most prices and costs in the DR are around a dollar or two pricier than in Mexico, whether they are from simpler and essential purchases to luxury services. It’s best to budget well in advance and work around the costs by looking up prices and rates in advance.
Is It Cheaper to Go to Mexico or Dominican Republic?
It is cheaper to go to Mexico as prices tend to be cheaper there. According to recent data and statistics, the DR is around 42% more expensive than in Mexico. It is best to consider this disparity when deciding on which destination to visit.
Is It Cheaper to Fly to Mexico or Dominican Republic?
Heading to Mexico is noticeably more expensive compared to flying to the Dominican Republic, deposit the DR’s higher prices, Mexico has a higher demand when it comes to tourism.
Cost of Living Dominican Republic vs. Mexico
When it comes to the cost of living, the Dominican Republic tends to be much more expensive than Mexico. This may very well be due to Mexico being more efficient in producing its own resources than the Dominican Republic’s extra spending when it comes to importing resources. This, in turn, imposes higher tariffs and retail prices on goods locally sold, on top of the DR’s growing tourism demand.
Mexico vs. Dominican Republic Resorts
Mexico’s resorts are better suited for a more animated and dynamic traveler, especially as Mexico is known for its vibrant and colorful culture and an energy that is unmatched. You can certainly do a lot, and do the most in Mexico. The country’s several tourists spot has made it one of the most visited countries in the entire world, often touted as a blueprint for tourism success.
The Dominican Republic on the other hand can be vibrant and lively but its resorts and its touristy overtones lean towards a perfect balance of rest of relaxation in a region famously known for its animated spirit. The DR’s Punta Cana is its best testament to the country’s tourism vibe.
At the end of the day, it will all come down to the flavor you’re going for and the kind of experiences you want to have when traveling.
All-Inclusive Resorts in Mexico vs. Dominican Republic
If you want to get the most out of an all-inclusive resort package, Mexico no doubt takes the thrones. Just by the sheer number of all-inclusive resorts that riddle the country, Mexico’s tourism culture itself is a huge deal than most countries and islands in the tropics.
But that isn’t saying that the DR is anything less, the Caribbean darling is teeming with all-inclusive resorts that provide the ideal tropical island experience. Its drawback in comparison to Mexico is its relatively smaller tourism culture.