Mega Mexico

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Cross country and downhill skiing are great, as are hikes on winter days when the sun sparkles off the snow, but being active outdoors in southwestern Ontario means bundling up and braving the cold. When winter goes into overtime in March and April it’s tempting to call foul, shuck that heavy uniform and head south to enjoy some outdoor adventures in sunny, warm Mexico.

Tom and Jo Anne Droog agree. The couple, who split their time between living in London, Alberta and Mexico, head south in November and often don’t come home until March. They reside on the Baja Peninsula, in a quieter village called San Jose del Cabo.

“The weather is fantastic compared to Ontario at this time of year,” Tom (69) explains. “It’s usually 16C at night and 25C to 28C during the day in January. No toques, gloves or heavy winter jackets here,” he explains.

Because they are located on the coast, Droog often takes vacationing visitors fishing on charter boats. “It costs around $100 per person and we recently caught a 65 pound tuna. It took four of us an hour to land it, lots of fun,” says Droog.

Travel specialist Michelle Whalen, with Uniglobe Enterprise Travel Ltd., adds that whale watching and watching cliff divers are pursuits enjoyed at one of her favourite places to visit on the country’s west coast.

Mazatlán was a favourite stop for cruise ships in the 1970s and is now again emerging as a sought out destination. She says that a stop at the nearby village El Quelite is worthwhile. “Visiting this rural village with dirt roads, brightly coloured buildings and donkeys in the streets is a great way to get a sense of the country’s colonial history.”

El Meson de Los Laureanos is a must-experience restaurant in the village, according to Whalen. “The food is amazing and the roosters and goats walking through the restaurant add to its authentic feel.”

Whalen and her husband, George Devlugt, who are in their 50s, like to vacation in Mexico because of its cultural, historic and gastronomical offerings, in addition to getting a break from Ontario’s winter

Londoners Janet and Peter Christensen (66 and 70 respectively) have also been wintering on the Baja Peninsula for many years, in the village of La Ventana. They were attracted to the area because of its favourable breezes and Peter’s love of wind surfing.

Janet explains that those seeking active fun love vacationing in the area and enjoy wind surfing, kite sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Trails have been developed through the desert and mountain biking and hiking are attracting more vacationers who love to be outdoors in the winter.

Both the Christensens and Droogs comment on the affability of the local people, saying they feel safe though the country’s west coast has been spotlighted because of violent acts lately.

Janet sums it up: “Just like anywhere you travel, you have to be sensible.”

She adds that the many vacationers seeking the abundant outdoor activities stay in resorts that are typically smaller than those in the Mayan Riviera on Mexico’s east coast.

Just two miles from Playa del Carmen, the Hotel Occidental Xcaret is a large complex with over 700 rooms. Its size also offers variety. For instance, of the five pools, one is adults-only. This allows vacationers to curate their experience. It is located next to the Xcaret Ecological Park, with a wide range of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences for the whole family.

From London International Airport, direct flights to Cancun allow Londoners to experience all-inclusive packages at more than 100 resorts in the Mayan Riviera, with chains like the Karisma Group, which offers adults-only resorts (El Dorado) and family resorts (Azul Fives).

These resorts offer excursions that allow vacationers to experience new, warm weather adventures like sailing on catamarans, exploring underground caves, swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, riding horses and zip lining.

For those who want to be immersed in history, the temple ruins at Chichen Itza and Tulum offer glimpses into the Mayan culture. The latter has one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.

To get outdoors and get active – in water or on land – warm up to Mexico.