Cozumel, an island in the Caribbean off of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, draws scuba divers, snorkelers and sun seekers. The island also offers all other manner of on- and around-the-water attractions, many of which are unique, such as underwater sculpture gardens, a submarine excursion and a sailboat-racing experience. For visitors who are intrigued by Mexico's Maya culture, there are several archaeological sites near Cozumel, including the UNESCO-inscribed Chichén Itzá and, on Cozumel itself, San Gervasio, where women once made offerings to the goddess of fertility. When you're done sightseeing, there's shopping for traditional Mexican crafts, jewelry and leather goods, including custom-made sandals, and excellent food.
Mazatlán, nicknamed the Pearl of the Pacific, is a pleasant port city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, where the best of traditional Mexican architecture, food and culture is found alongside contemporary conveniences, amenities and attractions. There's a reason why Americans and Canadians flock here, particularly in winter: It's a warm and welcoming place with plenty to keep visitors entertained for a vacation getaway. There really is something for everyone here, from golfing, fishing and zip lining to sampling agave-based spirits on a distillery tour or learning more about local history at the archaeological museum. There are plenty of cultural opportunities, too.
Puerto Chiapas, Mexico
The southernmost port on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Chiapas is named for the state in which it is located. It is relatively new, built in 1975, and is the primary hub from which the region’s agricultural goods, including coffee, are sent abroad. For travelers arriving by cruise ship, the town of Puerto Chiapas is a jumping-off point to explore surrounding areas, including Tapachula, the second-largest city in the state of Chiapas. In addition to visiting the coffee estates and banana and cacao plantations of the area, day trips include excursions to Maya sites such as Izapa.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Unlike some of Mexico’s beach resorts, Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific Ocean, retains its colonial-era charm. Its town square, Plaza de Armas, and the gorgeous parish church topped with an ornate crown serve as the loveliest representations of bygone ages. Alongside them are an ambitious public art project along the seaside walkway (the malecón) and trendy restaurants. Round these out with outdoor activities on Banderas Bay (whale-watching! snorkeling! jet-skiing!) and a side trip to one of Mexico's pueblos mágicos (magical towns, a designation recognizing smaller towns that possess historical and cultural value), and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant port.