Seven Safer Places to Visit in Mexico

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#1: Cancun -- Cancun is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico and also one of the closest and easiest for Americans to get to.

Its superb Caribbean location makes it the perfect place for everything from ecotourism, snorkeling, horseback riding and fishing, to golf, scuba diving, surfing and sailing.

Cancun is comprised of three distinct but integrated areas: the city of Cancun, a boomtown of more than 500,000 people, popular for shopping, and dining; the ecological reserve with many mangroves and lovely lagoons; and the resort zone, an island.

For those looking to escape the beach, there are nearby Mayan ruins. And at night, the vibrant club scene takes over.

#2: Riviera Maya -- Located in the Mexican Caribbean on the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Riviera Maya is located just 11 miles south of Cancun International Airport but is worlds apart.

Considered the unofficial capital of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen combines the feel of a quaint fishing village with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Visitors in search of luxury, shopping and dining can visit Playa del Carmen's Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) and stay in the nearby resort area of Playacar, offering upscale accommodations and several all-inclusive hotels.

One of the Riviera Maya's most popular natural attractions is Tres Rios, a tropical reserve named after the three rivers flowing through the area. Popular activities in this virgin jungle territory include canoeing down crystalline rivers, swimming, snorkeling, horseback-riding and bicycling.

The small fishing community of Puerto Morelos offers the Crococun crocodile farm and the Yaax Che Botanical Garden, as well as its own Marine Natural Park (Reefs of Puerto Morelos), boasting a wide variety of multicolored tropical fish, dolphins and turtles, as well as breathtaking corals.

#3: Los Cabos -- Located on the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Los Cabos is one of Mexico's most breathtaking beach destinations. Los Cabos, which means the Capes, includes the picturesque 18th century mission town of San Jose del Cabo to the northeast, Cabo San Lucas at the southernmost tip of the peninsula where the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific Ocean meet, as well as the 20-mile stretch of golf courses and luxury hotels in between both towns called El Corredor.

The region's geography is diverse and beautiful, with unspoiled desert landscape, white sandy beaches and dramatic rock outcroppings. Popular beaches include Playa Azul, El Chileno (great for diving), Palmilla, El Medano, Cabo Real and Playa del Amor. During the winter, the western beaches of Cabo San Lucas are ideal for whale-watching on the Pacific. Los Cabos is also known as the world's capital of marlin fishing.

#4: Puerto Vallarta -- This city offers 25 miles of golden beaches on the Mexican Pacific and is characterized by its impressive colonial and modern buildings, hotels, shopping malls, fishing villages, mountainous landscapes, jungles and golf courses. These attractions have made the city a favorite among vacationers and retirees, who now call the city home.

The best beach for water sports like sailing, fishing and jet skiing, for example, is Bahía de Banderas, while Quimixto, Punta Mita and Los Arcos are ideal for diving. Boat rides around the bay offer the chance to observe dolphins, turtles and humpback whales.

One of the greatest natural sights to witness is the famous Ridley turtles laying their eggs on Vallarta's shores.

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