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Chasing Sunsets: A Solo Travelers Guide to Mexico,Hidden Gems and more

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Updated February 23, 2024

Chasing Sunsets: A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Mexico’s Hidden Gems

The Beginnings of a Lifelong Love Affair with Mexico


In the year 1996, my journey to Mexico unfolded for the first time, an adventure that commenced with a flight to Bucerias, accompanied by a cherished friend. The town, nestled just outside of Puerto Vallarta, was familiar to my parents, who had vacationed there on several occasions through a timeshare with friends. Little did I know, this trip would ignite a lifelong fascination with Mexico, its culture, its hidden treasures, and obviously its food.

From the moment I stepped onto Mexican soil, the country’s vibrant culture enveloped me. The food, a palette of flavors I had never before experienced, became an instant addiction. The atmosphere of the streets, alive with music and laughter, painted a picture of life that was both exuberant and serene. And amidst this enchantment, I discovered an unexpected sense of security. Despite being a solo traveler in a land far from home, I felt embraced by the warmth of the local people and the safety of the environment they cultivated. It was an adventure, yes, but one where fearlessness found fertile ground.

This initial expedition to Bucerias, and the subsequent visit to Puerto Vallarta, were not merely vacations; they were the opening chapters of a story that would lead me back to Mexico time and again. As a now solo traveler, I have a new found unique freedom in exploring Mexico’s corners, each offering new experiences and lessons. The allure was not just in the well-trodden paths of tourists but in the hidden gems that lay quietly, waiting to be discovered by those willing to look beyond the surface.

The theme of this blog post is a reflection of that journey — an exploration of Mexico’s hidden gems through the eyes of a solo traveler. It is a guide, yes, but also a personal narrative that seeks to share the beauty, the culture, and the adventure of Mexico. From the bustling streets of Bucerias to the serene beaches of La Ventana, this is a story of discovery, of places less known and experiences rich with life. Join me as we chase the sunsets and uncover the treasures of Mexico, a journey that promises the beauty of the unknown and the joy of exploration.

Chapter 1: The Beginning of a Lifelong Journey

My first trip to Mexico was an eye-opener, revealing the lively buzz of tourist spots alongside the quiet charm of lesser-known places. This initial adventure showed me two sides of Mexico, each equally captivating in its own way.

In Puerto Vallarta, the energy was contagious. The beaches were packed, the markets full of colorful crafts and delicious smells, and everywhere you went, the air was filled with music. Nights in Puerto Vallarta were something else, with the sounds of mariachi bands filling the streets, making the whole city feel like one big celebration.

But then there was Bucerias. Just a short ride from Puerto Vallarta, but it felt like entering a whole new world. Here, life moved at a slower pace. The crowded beaches and noisy streets gave way to quiet, cobblestone lanes and peaceful shorelines. Walking through the market, chatting with locals, and enjoying the simple beauty of the place, I discovered a different kind of magic in Mexico—one that you might miss if you only stick to the usual tourist paths.

One evening in Bucerias stands out particularly. Sitting on the beach, watching the sky change colors as the sun set, surrounded by new friends, I felt a sense of peace and happiness that was new to me. It was a moment that captured the essence of what makes the hidden corners of Mexico so special. Away from the hustle and bustle, I found a place where the authentic spirit of Mexico shines through.

This journey between the well-known and the hidden was just the start of my love affair with Mexico. It taught me the joy of exploring, of finding beauty in the quiet, unassuming places as much as in the lively, popular ones. Puerto Vallarta showed me the fun and excitement of Mexico’s tourist side, but Bucerias showed me its heart. And it was in discovering this balance that I truly fell in love with traveling solo through Mexico.

Chapter 2: Embraced by the Winds of La Ventana

In 2017, an invitation from my brother to join him in La Ventana, a place where he had become a winter regular for kite surfing and, more recently, wing foiling, marked the beginning of another chapter in my Mexican travels. Initially, my plans were modest—a single month to explore and enjoy the company of my brother in this windswept paradise. Yet, the captivating allure of La Ventana quickly unfolded, leading me to extend my stay to two full months, a testament to the profound impact this place had on me.

La Ventana, a stark contrast to the bustling tourist centers I had known, was a revelation. Nestled on the shores of the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur, it presented a world where the pace of life was dictated by the wind and waves. Here, the community was a tight-knit tapestry of locals and visitors, all drawn together by a shared passion for the sea and the adventures it promised.

The charm of La Ventana was not just in its breathtaking landscapes or the thrill of the sports it hosted but in the simplicity of life it offered. Days were spent on the water, riding the wind, and evenings were about sharing stories and meals under the stars. It was a place where time seemed to slow down, allowing for moments of connection and reflection that were rare and precious.

This extended stay allowed me to delve deeper into the essence of La Ventana. I discovered hidden coves, engaged with the local culture, and even began to dabble in kite surfing myself. The freedom and exhilaration of being propelled by the wind across the water were unlike anything I had experienced. It was here, in these moments of pure joy and challenge, that I found a new aspect of myself. I was not traveling alone so i didn’t need to read a solo travelers guide to Mexico

The decision to extend my visit was spontaneous, driven by the realization that there was so much more to La Ventana than I could absorb in just a month. The beauty of the landscape, the warmth of the community, and the sheer joy of living so intimately with nature were compelling. It became clear that La Ventana was more than just a destination; it was a retreat, a place of learning and growth.

Reflecting on my time in La Ventana, it is evident that this adventure was pivotal. It deepened my love for Mexico and its diverse landscapes and cultures. More importantly, it underscored the value of being open to the unexpected, of allowing a place and its people to hold you a little longer than planned. La Ventana, with its winds and waves, had not just been a detour in my journey but a destination that shaped the course of my travels and my connection to Mexico in profound ways.

It is important to mention that wind sports are something I have never gotten in to.  The time spent in La Ventana is something that is thoroughly enjoyable without the wind addiction, in fact we did a really popular blog post about the things to do in La Ventana besides Wind Sports, check it out by clicking here.  

Chapter 3: Solo Travelers Guide to Mexico: Tips and Safety in Mexico

Traveling solo in Mexico presents an exhilarating opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and experiences this country has to offer. It is a journey that demands preparation, mindfulness, and an openness to the unexpected. Herein, I share insights gleaned from my own adventures, aimed at empowering fellow solo travelers to navigate Mexico with confidence and joy.

Safety First: Navigating Mexico with Confidence

Safety remains a paramount concern for any solo traveler, and Mexico is no exception. It is essential to exercise a standard level of caution, akin to that which one would apply in any new and unfamiliar environment. Researching your destinations ahead of time, staying in well-reviewed accommodations, and keeping family or friends updated on your itinerary can significantly enhance your sense of security. Additionally, embracing the local culture and learning basic phrases in Spanish not only enriches your travel experience but also helps in building rapport with the local community, often leading to helpful advice and recommendations.

Budgeting Wisely: Maximizing Your Mexican Adventure

Mexico can be a haven for travelers seeking experiences that are both affordable and rich in value. Budgeting wisely does not mean skimping on experiences but rather making informed choices that align with your priorities. Street food, for example, offers a delicious and authentic taste of Mexican cuisine without the hefty price tag of tourist-targeted restaurants. Similarly, public transportation and shared rides can provide both an economical and authentic way to explore. Investing in experiences, rather than things, can lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the places you visit.

Off-the-Beaten-Path: Discovering Mexico’s Hidden Gems

The true essence of Mexico often lies beyond the boundaries of well-trodden tourist paths. Venturing into less explored areas can unveil breathtaking landscapes, untouched cultures, and unique experiences. However, doing so requires preparation and respect for local customs and advice. Engaging with locals, whether through a friendly conversation in a cafe or a guided tour, can open doors to experiences not found in any guidebook. Always approach such adventures with an open heart but also with prudence, ensuring you are aware of your surroundings and following any guidance on areas to avoid.

Enriching Encounters: The Heart of Solo Travel

Perhaps the most profound aspect of solo travel in Mexico is the opportunity for meaningful encounters with locals. These interactions, from sharing a meal in a family-run eatery to participating in local festivities, offer glimpses into the daily life and spirit of Mexico that remain invisible to many visitors. One memorable experience was when a local family invited me to join their celebration of a traditional festival. The warmth and inclusivity of that experience not only deepened my appreciation for Mexican culture but also highlighted the universal values of community and hospitality.

Any solo travelers guide to Mexico is sure to mention that it will be an adventure that can transform your understanding of the world and yourself. With preparation, respect, and an open mind, the journey through this vibrant country can be one of the most rewarding experiences. It is a path paved with stunning vistas, enduring friendships, and the indelible joy of discovery.

Chapter 4: Discovering Mexico’s Hidden Gems

Embarking on a journey through Mexico in a motorhome has unveiled a mosaic of hidden gems, each with its unique charm and allure. This chapter delves into the heart of Mexico’s less trodden paths, where culture, cuisine, and nature intertwine, offering solo travelers an unparalleled exploration experience.

Unveiling the Unexplored: A Journey Beyond the Map

Traveling southward, the road less traveled revealed destinations far removed from the clamor of popular tourist spots. Places like the tranquil town of Todos Santos, the lush and rugged beauty of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, and the serene beaches of Xcalak offered a glimpse into Mexico’s diverse landscapes and cultures. Each location, with its distinct character, invited a deeper connection with the natural world and a richer understanding of Mexico’s cultural tapestry.

Cultural Riches: Immersing in the Local Way of Life

In these hidden corners of Mexico, the cultural experiences are as rich and varied as the landscape itself. Todos Santos, for example, with its vibrant arts scene, offers a window into the creative soul of Mexico. Walking through its cobblestone streets, one can visit galleries, interact with local artists, and witness the blend of traditional and contemporary art that defines the town. Similarly, the indigenous communities in the Sierra de la Laguna mountains provide an opportunity to learn about ancient traditions and practices that have shaped the region’s history and identity.

Culinary Delights: A Taste of Mexico’s Hidden Flavors

The culinary journey through Mexico’s lesser-known locales is as diverse as it is delicious. In places like Xcalak, the freshness of the sea is on full display, with seafood dishes that capture the essence of the Caribbean coast. Cooking classes and market visits offer immersive experiences, where one can learn the art of Mexican cuisine, from the simplicity of a perfectly made taco to the complex flavors of mole. These experiences are not just about tasting food but about understanding the history and culture that inform each dish.

Nature’s Bounty: Exploring the Untouched Wilderness

The natural landscapes encountered on this journey are nothing short of breathtaking. The Sierra de la Laguna mountains, with their rugged terrain and hidden waterfalls, offer hiking experiences that challenge and reward in equal measure. The tranquility of the beaches in Xcalak, where the coral reefs teem with life, provides a serene backdrop for reflection and relaxation. Each of these natural wonders speaks to the adventurous spirit of solo travelers, offering moments of solitude and connection with the natural world.

The Journey Continues: A Path Less Traveled

The exploration of Mexico’s hidden gems in a motorhome has been a journey of discovery, not just of places, but of the depth of experiences that solo travel can offer. These destinations, with their rich cultures, delicious cuisines, and breathtaking natural landscapes, underscore the beauty of venturing beyond the familiar. They remind us that the true essence of travel lies in the unexpected, in the moments of connection with people and places that touch our hearts and inspire our journeys.

For solo travelers seeking the path less traveled, Mexico offers a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. It is a journey that promises not just the beauty of solitude but the richness of the world in its most authentic form.

Chapter 5: From Tourist to Aspiring Local

Over the years, my travels in Mexico have transformed from the initial wide-eyed explorations of a tourist to the deeper, more connected experiences of someone who aspires to become a part of the local fabric. This journey towards becoming an aspiring local, coupled with my quest to find a property, marks a significant evolution in my relationship with this vibrant country.

Deepening Connections: Beyond the Role of a Visitor

My early adventures in Mexico were characterized by an eagerness to discover and experience everything the country had to offer. However, as I returned again and again, drawn back by the allure of its diverse landscapes and the warmth of its people, my perspective began to shift. My repeated visits turned into a deeper exploration of what it means to truly belong to a place, to understand its rhythms, and to contribute to its community.

This winter, my travels were imbued with a new purpose: identifying a locale in Mexico that could serve as my haven during the winter months. This search was not just about finding a picturesque retreat but about discovering a place where I could immerse myself fully in the local way of life, where I could transition from an observer to an active participant in the community.

Lessons Along the Way: Embracing the Journey to Aspiring Local

The path from tourist to aspiring local has been paved with invaluable lessons. Patience and openness have emerged as crucial virtues, teaching me the importance of embracing the slow and often complex process of integrating into a new culture. The challenges of navigating language barriers and understanding local customs have only deepened my respect for the country and its people.

Building connections with both locals and fellow expatriates has been another cornerstone of my journey. These relationships have not only enriched my understanding of Mexican culture but have also provided insights and access to experiences far beyond those of the average visitor. From local culinary secrets to intimate celebrations and traditions, these connections have been my gateway to the heart of Mexico.  Check out my post about one of my favorites places to stay on the Baja Playa Santispac  by clicking here

The Quest for a Winter Home: A Commitment to Community

My ongoing search for property in Mexico is a reflection of my desire to lay down roots and make a lasting commitment to this land that has captivated my heart. It represents a step beyond mere travel, signaling my intention to become part of the community and to contribute to the life and vibrancy of this country.

With every visit, Mexico continues to unveil its secrets, offering new discoveries and forging deeper connections. Whether it’s the lively markets of Oaxaca or the tranquil beaches of the Yucatán, every corner of this country offers a chance to learn, to grow, and to edge closer to becoming an integral part of the local tapestry.

Looking Forward: A Heart Set on Becoming Part of Mexico

My journey in Mexico is a testament to the transformative power of travel, not just as a means of escape but as a path to finding a new home. As an aspiring local, my adventures are far from over. They are filled with the promise of new friendships, deeper cultural understandings, and the ongoing quest to find my place within the rich mosaic of Mexican life. This journey, fueled by a desire to belong, to understand, and to contribute, continues to be a source of joy, learning, and anticipation for all the experiences yet to come.

Chapter 6: Planning Your Solo Adventure in Mexico

Getting ready for a solo trip to Mexico is an exciting step towards an adventure filled with new experiences. Here’s how to make the most of your journey, from picking the best time to go, to diving into the local culture, and making sure you pack everything you need.

Best Times to Visit

The ideal time to head to Mexico really depends on where you’re planning to explore. For most places, the months between November and April are perfect. You’ll avoid the rainy season and the summer’s intense heat. This period is also when a lot of Canadians, often called “snowbirds,” head to Mexico to enjoy its warm winter. Popular spots for these winter visitors include the Pacific coast, Baja California, and the Yucatán Peninsula, known for their beautiful weather and welcoming communities.

How to Find Authentic Local Experiences

To really get to know Mexico, look for activities that connect you with everyday life there. Visiting local markets, taking cooking classes, or joining in community events are great ways to meet locals and experience the culture first-hand. Check out sites like Meetup or local Facebook groups to find unique events and activities. Airbnb Experiences can also be a goldmine for finding one-of-a-kind tours and workshops that show you a side of Mexico you might not see otherwise.

What to Pack

When packing for Mexico, aim for a mix of comfort and practicality. Essentials include:

  • Comfortable, light clothes for the day and something warmer for cooler evenings.
  • Sunscreen with high SPF and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  • A durable water bottle, ideally with a filter.
  • Copies of important documents like your passport and insurance, kept separate from the originals.
  • A basic first aid kit and any personal medications.
  • A Spanish phrasebook or app to help with language barriers.

If you’re staying a while, bring along some personal items to make your space feel homely, like a favorite book or a travel journal, and any gadgets that fit your lifestyle, such as a quality camera or a portable hammock.

Resources for More Planning

For more detailed planning, there are several resources tailored to solo travelers:

  • Websites: Check out Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor for comprehensive guides and active forums where you can get advice from those who’ve been there.
  • Books: “The People’s Guide to Mexico” by Carl Franz and Lorena Havens offers an in-depth look at traveling in Mexico, with tips on everything from navigating local customs to finding hidden gems.
  • Forums: Join expat forums like Expat.com or the Mexico section on InterNations to connect with people who live in Mexico or have traveled there solo. They can offer valuable, up-to-date advice.

With the right preparation, your solo trip to Mexico can be an unforgettable experience, filled with the warmth of the Mexican sun and the country’s welcoming culture. Whether you’re escaping the cold back home or looking to immerse yourself in new experiences, Mexico has something for everyone.

Chapter 6: Planning Your Solo Adventure in Mexico

Embarking on a solo trip to Mexico presents an exhilarating opportunity for personal discovery and cultural immersion. Here are essential tips for planning your journey, from selecting the optimal time to visit, engaging with the local scene, to essential items for your packing list, all while adhering to a style that avoids contractions.

Optimal Times to Visit

Determining the best period to visit Mexico hinges on your destination within the country. Generally, the months from November to April are ideal across most regions, steering clear of the rainy season and the intense summer heat. This timeframe also aligns with the influx of “snowbirds” — Canadians and other northerners seeking refuge from their colder climates. The Pacific coast, Baja California, and the Yucatán Peninsula are notably favored for their delightful winter weather and vibrant communities of winter visitors.

Discovering Authentic Local Experiences

Immersing oneself in Mexico’s rich culture requires seeking out experiences that offer a genuine connection with local life. Participating in market tours, cooking classes, or local festivals provides invaluable insights into the community and its traditions. Utilizing platforms such as Meetup or local Facebook groups can reveal events and activities that might not be widely advertised. Airbnb Experiences also serves as a resource for unique local tours and workshops, enabling a deeper exploration of the area’s heritage and lifestyle.

Packing Essentials for Your Journey

Packing for Mexico calls for a balance between practicality and preparedness. Essential items include:

  • Lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for warm climates, alongside layers for cooler evenings.
  • Sunscreen with high SPF and a protective hat against the potent sun.
  • A sturdy water bottle, preferably with a filter, to stay hydrated.
  • Copies of crucial documents, such as your passport and travel insurance, kept separately from the originals.
  • A basic first aid kit along with any personal medications.
  • A Spanish phrasebook or a translation app to facilitate communication.

For those planning longer stays, incorporating personal items like a beloved book or travel journal, and lifestyle gadgets such as a high-quality camera or a portable hammock, can enhance your experience. If you plan to travel with your dog you should read my blog post about bringing your pet to Mexico click here to read.  

Additional Resources for Planning

For further guidance in planning your solo adventure in Mexico, several resources are tailored specifically to solo travelers:

  • Websites: Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor provide extensive guides and forums for inquiring and receiving advice from experienced travelers.
  • Books: “The People’s Guide to Mexico” by Carl Franz and Lorena Havens is a thorough resource covering a wide range of topics from cultural etiquette to discovering off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  • Forums: Platforms such as Expat.com and the Mexico section of InterNations are excellent for connecting with expatriates and solo travelers who can offer fresh advice and recommendations.

Proper preparation is key to a fulfilling solo journey in Mexico, ensuring not only a smoother experience but also enriching your adventure with deep cultural engagements and personal growth. Mexico awaits with open arms, offering endless opportunities for exploration, connection, and discovery.  Check out my blog post a snowbirds guide to driving in Mexico, essential tips for a safe journey by clicking here.

The Heartbeat of Mexico: Why I Return Time and Again

My journeys through Mexico have profoundly shaped my perspective on travel, culture, and the art of living. With each visit, I have peeled back another layer of this complex and vibrant country, discovering not just its places but also parts of myself. Mexico has taught me the value of patience, the beauty of spontaneity, and the importance of connection—lessons that have enriched my life beyond measure.

There is a magic in Mexico that is difficult to articulate; it is a feeling, an energy that vibrates through the bustling markets, the quiet streets, and the expansive landscapes. It is in the warmth of the people, the depth of the culture, and the spirit of resilience and joy that permeates every corner of the country. This magic has been the force that continually draws me back, eager to explore, learn, and experience more.

I extend an invitation to you, the reader, to venture beyond the well-trodden paths of Mexico’s tourist hotspots. There is a wealth of beauty and adventure waiting in the lesser-known towns, the secluded beaches, and the rural communities. Each journey offers a chance to discover hidden gems that resonate with your own spirit of adventure and curiosity.

Embrace the opportunity to see Mexico through a different lens—to immerse yourself in its diverse cultures, to connect with its people, and to allow the experiences to transform you, as they have transformed me. Let Mexico be a canvas for your own journey of discovery, a place where you can write your own stories, learn your own lessons, and find your own magic.

Mexico is not just a destination; it is a journey, a teacher, and a friend. It is a land that generously offers its treasures to those willing to explore with an open heart and an eager spirit. So, take the road less traveled, seek out your own hidden gems, and let Mexico change you, as it has changed me. The adventure that awaits is bound to be as unique and unforgettable as the country itself.

Share the Wanderlust: Your Mexico Stories Wanted

Have you ventured into the heart of Mexico on your own? Have you stumbled upon a hidden beach that felt like it belonged only to you, or a quaint café where the coffee tasted like nowhere else? I would love to hear about your adventures, the hidden gems you have discovered, and the lessons you have learned along the way. Your stories and tips for navigating the beauty of Mexico as a solo traveler could inspire and guide others looking to embark on similar journeys(start your own blog by clicking here).

And if you are curious to dive deeper into the wonders that solo travel in Mexico has to offer, I invite you to follow along with my journey. There are countless more stories to tell, tips to share, and guides to offer, all aimed at enriching your solo travel experiences. Together, let us explore the vibrant tapestry of Mexico, uncovering new places, people, and paths with every step we take.

So, share your story, lend your advice, and join me as we continue to discover the endless adventures that solo travel in Mexico presents. Your journey is unique, and your insights invaluable. Let us navigate this beautiful, ever-surprising country together, one solo adventure at a time.

Below are some Blog posts we have done about some of our favorites places on the Baja BCS, Mexico

Here is a link to a blog post I wrote about Los Barrilles, check it out. 

Have you been diving in Cabo Pulmo?  Here is a post we wrote about camping and diving in Cabo Pulmo  Check it out

Here is another post about Cabo Pulmo, we loved it there so much, but didn’t get a chance to go diving.  This post is about all the things to do in Cabo Pulmo besides diving.  Check it out.  

This blog post is about another of my favorite because to free camp.   Play Bonita is a beautiful portion of Pichilingue beach just outside of La Paz, BCS, Mexico.   

Todos Santos is no longer a hidden gem, but it sure was my first visit there in 2006, check out my blog post about a day trip to Todos Santos  

This winter, 2024, was my first ever trip to La Ribera and I am absolutely obsessed.  Check out our blog post about free beach camping in La Ribera / La Rivera to some, BCS, Mexico.

Anyone who surfs has likely heard of Cerritos.  I had a wonderful opportunity to step out of the van and enjoy the wonderful amenities of Cerritos Beach hotel aka Desert Moon hotel in Cerritos BCS mexico.  Read all about it.  

My 1st book is available!

I can offer the book at a much better price on the website to my visitors vs. using online publishers.

My 15+ years of full time RV living and travel through North America in the convenience of a PDF file.

Phew! You made it to the end of the post . . . who writes this much about these things? You COULD share the story on one of your socials, it would mean a lot to me!
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