Active Adventures in Mexico Top 10 Places

Active Adventures in Mexico Top 10 Places

In my previous post I listed the Top 10 places to live or retire in Mexico for “Cultural Explorers.” This time I am covering “Active Adventures in Mexico Top 10 Places.”  Next, I will cover the Top Locations in Mexico for Rural Self-Reliance types.

There are 3 separate lists of “Top 10 Places for Mexico” because not everyone enjoys the same things.

We just completed a 5-month tour of the best places to retire in Mexico. We spent a week in each place. We gathered data as we traveled with the intention of creating this ranking once the tour was complete. I have raked the 20 we visited from top to bottom. Along with ranking them, I have made short comments about each, whatever sticks out in my mind.

But here is the bad news first. When deciding where to go in Mexico, I picked destinations that included charming old town colonial-era city centers. We also visited places that already had large expat communities even if they were not colonial-era cities. That means that the 20 places we visited and ranked below were already skewed for cultural explorers and existing expat populations. That limits the effectiveness of this list because it will only include places that we visited.

Here are the archetypes we used to order the 20 places we visited.

Location Preference Archetypes:

  1. Cultural Explorers: These are people that are interested in the history and culture of the world and their surrounding environment. They often want to live near and walk to the cultural center of older cities near temples or churches, museums, restaurants, coffee shops, nightlife, live entertainment, and fresh food markets. Cultural explorers may also be the other archetypes, but they are only secondarily interested in them.
  2. Active Adventure: These are people that may enjoy cultural exploration, but are more dominantly focused on exploring nature and their own personal physical limits. They may even be drawn to extreme sports. It would include outdoorsmen, mountain bikers, white water rafters, snow enthusiasts, scuba divers, windsurfers, paragliders, and skydivers. In general, they prefer being closer to the mountains, rivers, snow, and or the ocean. They may also enjoy the other archetypes, but adventure is their dominant interest.
  3. Rural-Self Reliance: These are people that may want some distance between themselves and their nearest neighbors. They may also want to grow their own foods and live off the grid if possible. They might even be interested or curious about survival systems and self-protection during social change. In some cases, they are interested in associating with smaller less traditionally defined communities. They might be interested in the other archetypes, but rural self-reliance is dominant.

This post is ordered for the active adventure archetype. I spent a few hours creating the below activity table. My methodology was simple. I Googled the “Best Places in Mexico for ‘each activity.’” If a place is presently well known for a particular activity it would show up in my search, I gave it a check mark in the below table.

I did not Google the “location name” with “an activity” because that would likely provide false positives on many places that are only moderately known for that activity.

After I completed the below table, I made slight adjustments based upon my personal observations of the natural terrain surrounding an area. For example, forested mountains are likely to be good for some activities even if nobody is presently reporting that activity online for that area. Not all 20 areas we visited ended up on the list. The places that didn’t show up in searches, I made judgments based only upon the terrain.

Extreme Sports in Mexico

The table includes active adventures in Mexico such as Mountain Biking, Wind Surfing, Kite Surfing, Sailing, White Water Rafting, Cenote Scuba Diving (Cave Diving), Glacier Climbing, Hiking, Fishing, Water Skiing, Scuba Diving, Rock Climbing, Extreme Sports, Urban Extreme Sports, and Surfing.

Here is what I ended up with:

Links to the Top 10 places for the other archetypes are at the bottom of this page. Now, here is my Active Adventure archetype list of top places to live or retire cheap in Mexico.

Active Adventure: Top Places to Live or Retire Cheap in Mexico

Tulum Mexico Retire Cheap Report (<<<<< Click these links to see my full review on each destination): Tulum is the number one place for adventure activity types. You can wind or kitesurf, sail, cenote dive, scuba dive, hike, fish, water ski, snorkel, run on the beach, and mountain bike. You can do most or all of this also in Playa del Carmen and Cancun, but experience tells me that active adventure types are often more attracted to natural beauty (Tulum) more than the city life (Playa del Carmen, Cancun). While exploring Tulum, consider also checking out nearby Puerto Morales. It is a fishing village just north of Playa del Carmen that offers many of the same amenities without the congestion of Cancun or Playa del Carmen.

Merida Mexico Retire Cheap Report: This has many of the same opportunities as Tulum but is less worldly. I have ranked it second to Tulum because Active Adventure types often like to travel in groups in case someone gets hurt. Because of the more worldly nature of Tulum, you are more likely to find others willing to go on adventures with you in Tulum than in Merida. They are in Merida but there are just not as many of them per capita. For that same reason, you may conclude that Puerta Vallarta is a better choice for you than Merida. On the other hand, Merida is a better choice, if you also have a cultural explorer twinge to your personality.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Retire Cheap Report: Puerto Vallarta (PV) has all of the same activities as Tulum except cenote diving. But you can surf in PV. Although surfing is possible sometimes in Tulum, it is less likely because the water is typically too calm. Additionally, there are Pacific Coast mountains that provide do-it-yourself activities like climbing and hiking that is more interesting. Plus, PV temperatures are not as extremely humid in the summer and fall months as the Yucatan.

Querétaro Mexico Retire Cheap Report: Queretaro has 4 adventurous activities. It also has a large average capita income which helps support burgeoning activities. Plus, the population is more socially Internet-enabled. All of this helps support people interested in new toys to play with on weekends.

Mexico City Retire Cheap Report: Everything I said about Queretaro is also true about Mexico City. Plus, the larger population in Mexico City and its frequent and cheap direct flights all over Mexico provide easy access to other locations. You can find cheap flights not just to other parts of Mexico, but all over the world. I listed Queretaro above Mexico City because you can be out in nature quicker in Queretaro. Whereas, you can easily be caught up in traffic trying to get out of Mexico City for adventure.

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Top 10 (#6 through #10)

Playa del Carmen Mexico: Playa del Carmen (PDC) is only this low on the list because I assumed most active adventure types like being close to nature and less in the city. If you also love great restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, you may decide that PDC is at the top of the list. The beaches do seem to be shrinking since a previous visit 5 years ago (global warming?) and the urban sprawl seems to be growing faster than the supporting infrastructure.

Isla Mujeres Mexico: Although only a small island, this place has many of the ocean-related activities as PDC and Tulum. There are no cenotes on the island, but you are a 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland where all the cenotes are located.

San Cristobal Mexico: This is in a very green mountainous part of the world at a higher elevation with rivers and a longer cooler rainy season. It also has a relatively low human population by comparison and a short period of time to get out of the city. This implies many activities that didn’t seem to show up in Internet searches. That is why I have it near the top even though it didn’t show up very often in my activity searches. The same could be said for the following Patzcuaro.

Patzcuaro Mexico: Patzcuaro has many of the same mountainous qualities that I mentioned above for San Cristobal. Plus, it is just a 10-minute bike ride from a beautiful lake with all that implies for activity types.

Guanajuato Mexico:  The mountains surrounding this city are a bit more arid than the previous two discussed. But the city streets and walkways are very steep. So if you like urban downhill bike riding or skateboarding, this place is natural.

Top 20 Places (#10 through #20)

Oaxaca Mexico: Surrounded by beautiful mountains. 6 hours from the Pacific Ocean by bus.

Campeche Mexico: On the Gulf of Mexico but not as developed as nearby Merida.

Chapala Ajijic Mexico: Beautiful rural village surrounded by rolling hills located on the largest freshwater lake in Mexico. Large expat community that loves the place. Well organized systems in place for new retirement-oriented expats. Great fishing, hiking, and bicycle riding.

San Miguel de Allende Mexico: One of the most beautiful villages in the world surrounded by gorgeous trees on arid rolling hills with hiking trails.

Morelia Mexico: Beautiful mountains only 1 hour away.

Puebla Mexico: Beautiful mountains only 1 hour away.

Cuernavaca Mexico: Surrounded by gorgeous trees on arid rolling hills with hiking trails. This location lists white water rafting in Mexico but the example pictures seem limited.

Tepoztlan Mexico: Gorgeous low population (hostel party) village in rolling hills just an hour from Mexico City which lists other extreme sports activities.

Taxco Mexico: Very steep streets for urban extreme sports.

Guadalajara Mexico:  This is a larger city with a layout more conducive to automobile lovers. Beautiful day-time colonial-era city center. Surrounded by rolling hills and just 70 minutes from the largest freshwater lake in Mexico with weekend getaways at Chapala-Ajijic.

This completes our list of Top Places to Retire in Mexico based upon the Active Adventure archetype. Here are the other archetypes and more.

  1. Top 10 Places in Mexico for Cultural Explorer Archetypes
  2. Top Places in Mexico for Rural Self-Reliance Archetypes
  3. Best Travel or Retire Cheap in Paradise Locations in the World

Here is our Vagabond Buddha Youtube Channel with videos about all of my ranked retire cheap in paradise locations worldwide.

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This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?

Warning: I am not offering you these prices.  These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post.  Your costs will likely be drastically different if significant inflation or deflation occurs or the market changes after this post.  I will not update these numbers until I am on the ground again here, if ever.   

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