The Mexican Riviera is known for its dramatic coastline, lush jungle interior, and centuries-old villages. It is also one of the most popular cruise destinations because of its pristine beaches, clear water, and year-round sunny weather. They are particularly popular during holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Spring Break or Mother’s Day. Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries typically visit ports on Mexico’s Pacific coast including Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, and Ensenada. Some cruises also stop in Huatulco, Manzanillo and Acapulco.
The region offers a variety of Mexican Riviera attractions that will keep you busy for days on end. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or just some relaxation, there’s something for everyone here to enjoy.
Here are 15 Best Mexican Riviera Attractions You Can Enjoy While on Cruise
1. Vallarta Botanical Gardens
This is a great natural escape from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta. Here, you can explore more than 64 acres of tropical flora that are just waiting to be admired by visitors. There are also a few man-made caves to explore as you enjoy the Mexican Riviera cruise ride. They include a bat cave and a butterfly garden, both very popular with visitors to the gardens. In addition to admiring flowers and foliage, you can also look out for red macaws flying overhead.
2. Planeta Cacao Chocolate Garden
This little-known attraction is a must for chocolate lovers. The garden features a working cacao plantation, where you can see how the cocoa bean is transformed into chocolate. There’s also a Chocolate Museum with interactive exhibits and a Chocolate School where you can learn to make your confections.
So, if you’re a chocoholic, then this is the place to be. This unique garden produces some of Mexico’s finest cacao beans used to make their delicious products that include chocolates and even tequila-flavored drinks. It is also the only place in all of Puerto Vallarta where you can learn about everything there is to know about this amazing plant.
3. Aquaventuras Park Vallarta
There are many things to do in Puerto Vallarta, and one of the best is at Aquaventuras Park Vallarta. You’ll find an array of water attractions-including a wave pool, a kiddie area with slides and fountains, and a lazy river, as well as outdoor activities like zip line and rock climbing. This is a great place to have some family fun while on a Mexican Riviera cruise. There are several other attractions here, including an aquarium, zoo, restaurant, and more, making this park one of Puerto Vallarta’s best places.
4. El Arco (or the Arch)
The Arch is a famous landmark at Cabo San Lucas which is considered to be one of the top natural wonders of Mexico. If you are looking for great Mexican Riviera attractions, the El Arco is definitely one of the most popular and noteworthy. Standing at almost 230 feet high, this natural rock formation is a popular spot for photos and to watch the sunset.
5. Camel Safari (Cabo San Lucas)
Camel riding is one of top things to do in Cabo San Lucas. The safari offers you a chance to ride a friendly camel near the scenic landscapes at Sierra Mountains and to see local wildlife up close.
6. Wild Canyon Eko Park
It is located near Cabo San Lucas, and it is a great place for canopy, bungee jumping, sling wing, atv and ziplines. As the largest privately-owned park in Baja, California, this natural habitat is home to more than 1,500 plant species, including over 100 types of cactuses! The canyons offer a unique way to explore the area’s geology.
7. The Mazatlán Aquarium
This is another one of the great Mexican Riviera attractions that you can visit when cruising to Mazatlán. The aquarium is home to more than 200 species of fish, including rays, sharks, and eels. You can also see sea lions, dolphins, and other marine life in the interactive exhibits.
8. Historic Cathedral
One of the oldest Mexican Riviera attractions is the Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción in Mazatlán. This majestic cathedral was built in the 18th century, and it is known for its baroque-style architecture.
9. El Faro de Mazatlan
One of the best things to do in Mazatlán is climbing up to the famous lighthouse, that sits on top of Cerro del Creston. This is a quite popular tourist attraction that can be a highlight of a Mexican Riviera cruise. At over 523 feet high, it’s the tallest lighthouse in Mexico. You can climb to the top for stunning views of the city and the ocean.
10. Mazatlán Malecon
If you stop at Mazatlán during your cruise trip, you’ll see thousands of people walking along the pedestrianized Malecon. This is a fun and exciting place to visit no matter what time of the year you choose to go.
It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and have fun in the sun with your loved ones. You can join in on all kinds of festivals that take place here throughout the entire year, including the International Jazz Festival, which takes place every April for several days. There are also many cafes along this stretch where you can sit back with your favorite drink and enjoy the beautiful views of this charming city.
11. Playa Miramar (Manzanillo)
Playa Miramar, located on the coast of Colima, is one of the most beautiful beaches that form part of Mexican Riviera attractions. It has soft white sand and crystal-clear water. You can go swimming or sunbathe while enjoying an ocean view like no other, but whatever you choose to do, make sure you bring along your camera because this place was made for taking pictures.
12. Plaza Civica
Plaza Civica is a great Mexican Riviera attraction to see if you’re in Ensenada. It’s home to the city’s cathedral and government buildings, and restaurants and shops surround it. The highlight of the attraction includes the Three Heads of Ensenada’s historical figures: Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo and Venustiano Carranza.
Plaza Civica is a large public square where you can go and enjoy some music from the live band that usually plays here at least once per day, or even grab something delicious from one of its many food stands while watching people walk by on their busy days.
13. La Bufadora (Ensenada)
If you’re looking for something unique, visit a natural phenomenon that is only 17 miles from the city of Ensenada. While on the cruise trip, look out for La Bufadora. The geyser (it is a blowhole actually) shoots water up to 80 feet into the air, and it’s one of the most famous attractions in all of Mexico.
During high tide and strong winds, water flows into an underground cave that shoots it out through a hole near its top, creating some awesome photo opportunities for visitors at this gorgeous attraction. La Bufadora is also a great place to go kayaking if you’re interested in something more engaging than just taking some pictures.
14. Museo de Historia
While on a Mexican Riviera cruise, you’ll also have the chance to visit the Museo de Historia de Ensenada. This museum is dedicated to the history of Baja California, and it features exhibits on pre-Hispanic cultures and the conquest of Mexico.
The building itself is an attraction as it featured beautiful architecture from back when this place was first being built. Many school projects take place throughout the year for those who want to bring their children along to learn some of their histories.
15. Fort of San Diego (Acapulco)
This is the last of the Mexican Riviera attractions on our list, but it’s not the least. The fort is a 16th-century Spanish fortress that’s now a popular tourist attraction. It offers great views of Acapulco Bay and the surrounding area.
There you have it – 15 Mexican Riviera attractions you can see on a cruise. If you’re hoping to visit some of Mexico’s most popular places, this is a great way to see them all in one go. Book a Mexican Riviera cruise today and start planning your vacation!