The Complete Idiot's Travel Guide To Mexico's Beach Resorts (1999)

Overview

All Mexican resorts are not created equal. So what's the difference, and how should first-time travelers know which one to choose? The answer is found in The Complete Idiot's Travel Guide to Mexico's Beach Resorts, which rounds up everything you need to know about the top places for fun in the sun: Acapulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Cozumel. The guide begins with a quiz to help readers match their interests (diving, nightlife, shopping, authentic cultural ...

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Overview

All Mexican resorts are not created equal. So what's the difference, and how should first-time travelers know which one to choose? The answer is found in The Complete Idiot's Travel Guide to Mexico's Beach Resorts, which rounds up everything you need to know about the top places for fun in the sun: Acapulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Cozumel. The guide begins with a quiz to help readers match their interests (diving, nightlife, shopping, authentic cultural experiences, and so on) to the resort that's best suited to their tastes. There's an extensive section on package tours that helps you save big bucks, and tips on cultural differences, safety, documents, customs, safety, and more-all designed to help nervous first-time travelers have a worry-free vacation. And a gorgeous full-color photo insert lets you see the various resorts for yourself!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Mexico in Mind

Maybe you're thinking "Mexico" right about now.

If you are, and if you're also thinking "beach," then The Complete Idiot's Travel Guide to Mexico's Beach Resorts by Edie Jarolim would be a good book to have.

Yes, I know. I hate the title of this series, too. But it is an indisputable fact that these are marvelous books. Each one of them crams in a staggering amount of information in an easy-to-use format, in a style that's light and amusing, and in a tone that doesn't — I hate to say this — treat you like an idiot.

Even if you're devoted to sun and fun Mexico-style and a veteran who calls Puerto Vallarta "P.V.," I think this guide, among the many available, would be a good thing to study pretty thoroughly. It covers all the right spots: Cancún, Cozumel, Acapulco, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Los Cabos.

For starters, its hotel and restaurant recommendations are based on those of the Frommer guides, so you're off on the right foot. Then you get the special Idiot's Guide features. For example, restaurants for each place are sorted out by price, style, location, and every which way from domingo. Kid-friendly places are clearly flagged. And if you're suffering from burrito burnout, it tells you where to get a pizza or a waffle when you really need one. Plus, it has assorted sidebars, like the one for Cancún labeled "Most Likely to Have to be Carried Home From." It also has excellent large, clear maps.

The "Yo, Gringo!" boxes provide useful tips and reminders,aswell as advice on rip-offs, romantic spots, where to try if you're really stuck without a room, and everything else from golf to gazpacho.

Let's not kid ourselves. We all know that many of these resorts are more like a Disneyesque "Mexico-land" than Mexico. You may not care about that as your friends carry you home, but the next day you'll be glad they had this book's nifty map to help them find the way.
— Alan Ryan, barnesandnoble.com

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Product Details

Table of Contents

The Complete Idiot's Travel Guide to Mexico's Beach Resorts

Part 1 - The Big Decisions: Where & When to Go

  • Chapter 1 - Weighing Your Options: Which of Mexico's Beach Resorts Is Right for Me?
    • Introducing Cancún
    • Introducing Cozumel
    • Introducing Acapulco
    • Introducing Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo
    • Introducing Manzanillo
    • Introducing Puerto Vallarta
    • Introducing Mazatlán
    • Introducing Los Cabos
    • Quiz: Creating Your Dream Vacation
    • Is One Enough?

  • Chapter 2 - When Should I Go?
    • Sunshine on Your Shoulders
    • Resort by Resort: What's Up & What's Coming Down
    • Seasons in the Sun
    • When Shouldn't I Go?
    • Planning for Fiesta--Not Siesta--ville

Part 2 - Lost in the Land of the Look-alike Brochures: How to Make Sense ofIt All & Plan the Trip That's Right for You

  • Chapter 3 - Getting Started
    • Information, Por Favor
    • Surfing the Web Before Snoozing on the Sand: Online Information Sour ces
    • Travel Agent: Friend, Fiend, or In-Between?

  • Chapter 4 - The Pros & Cons of Package Tours
    • What Is a Package Tour?
    • How to Tell the Deals from the Duds
    • The Pick of the Packager Crop
    • Some Runners-Up
    • Playful Packages
    • Worksheet: Good Things CAN Come in Small Packages--So, Which One Is Right for You?

  • Chapter 5 - Fighting--and Winning--the Airfare Wars
    • Who Flies Where?
    • Happy Landings: Going to Mexico Without Going Broke

  • Chapter 6 - The Lowdown on Accommodations in Mexico
    • Figuring Out What Kind of Place Is Right for You
    • Is the Price Right?
    • Hotel Strategies for Families Traveling with Kids

  • Chapter 7 - Money Matters
    • A Pocket Full of Pesos
    • What's in an Exchange?
    • Should I Carry Travelers' Checks or the Green Stuff?
    • Plastic
    • Stop, Thief! What Do I Do if My Money Gets Stolen?
    • What Will This Trip Cost?
    • What if I'm Worried I Can't Afford It? Keeping the Bill in Check
    • Budget Worksheet: You Can Afford This Trip

  • Chapter 8 - What About Me? Tailoring Your Trip
    • We Are Family: How to Travel Successfully with Kids in Tow
    • Tips for the Senior Set
    • Advice for Travelers with Disabilities
    • Advice for Gay & Lesbian Travelers
    • Going Solo

  • Chapter 9 - Tying Up the Loose Ends
    • Do I Need to Rent a Car in Mexico?
    • Travel Insurance: Better Safe Than Sorry?
    • Pack It Up
    • Home Alone 4: An Essential To-Do-Before-You-Go Checklist
    • A Packing Checklist: Don't Forget Your Toothbrush

Part 3 - Culture Shock: Surviving in a Foreign Country

  • Chapter 10 - Crossing the Border & What to Expect on the Other Side
    • The Paper Trail
    • Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
    • Getting Plugged In & Connected
    • In Sickness & in Health
    • Getting Around in Mexico: Trains, Planes & Buses, Oh My!
    • Playing It Safe

  • Chapter 11 - When in Mexico . . .
    • A Brief History of Mexico (in Less Than 10 Chapters)
    • No Comprendo: Making Yourself Understood
    • The Customs of the Country

  • Chapter 12 - Eat, Drink & Be Merry (for Tomorrow We Diet)
    • The Whole Enchilada
    • Finding the Worm: A Guide to Drinking in Mexico

Part 4 - Cancún

  • Chapter 13 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right For You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels from A to Z
    • Quic k Picks: Cancún's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 14 - Finding Your Way Around Cancún
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • How to Get from Here to There (and How Not To)
    • Where to Get More Information & Guidance
    • Cancún A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Chapter 15 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Hitting the Beaches
    • Water Fun for Everyone
    • On Deck: How to Enjoy the Waves without Getting Your Hair Wet
    • Keeping Your Head Above Water: Cancún's Top Attractions
    • Cancún's Best Shopping
    • What to Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Side Trips: Getting Out of Cancún

  • Chapter 16 - The Best of Cancún's Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Cancún's Restaurants at a Glance

Part 5 - Cozumel

  • Chapter 17 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right for You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels from A to Z
    • Quick Picks: Cozumel's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 18 - Finding Your Way Around Cozumel
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • How to Get from Here to There (and How Not To)
    • Where to Get More Information & Guidance
    • Cozumel A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Chapter 19 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Beaches, Beaches, Everywhere
    • Underwater Exploration
    • Hooked on Fishing
    • An Assortment of Water Sports
    • On Deck: Enjoying the Waves Without Getting Your Hair Wet
    • Keeping Your Head Above Water: Cozumel's Top Attractions
    • Cozumel's Best Shopping
    • Markets
    • What to Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Side Trips: Getting Off the Island

  • Chapter 20 - The Best of Cozumel's Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Cozumel's Restaurants at a Glance

Part 6 - Acapulco

  • Chapter 21 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right for You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels From A to Z
    • Quick Picks: Acapulco's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 22 - Finding Your Way Around Acapulco
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • How to Get from Here to There (& How Not To)
    • Where to Find More Information & Guidance
    • Acapulco A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Chapter 23 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Hitting the Beaches
    • Water Fun for Everyone
    • Angling for a Good Time
    • Getting Soaked on a Booze Cruise
    • Keeping Your Head Above Water: The Five Best Things to Do on Dry Land
    • Let the Games Begin
    • Hitting the Links
    • Acapulco's Best Shopping
    • What to Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Side Trips: Getting Out of Acapulco

  • Chapter 24 - The Best of Acapulco's Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Acapulco's Restaurants at a Glance

Part 7 - Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo

  • Chapter 25 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right for You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels from A to Z
    • Quick Picks: Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 26 - Finding Your Way Around Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • Getting Around by Bus
    • Getting Around by Taxi
    • Where to Get More Information & Guidance
    • Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo from A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Chapter 27 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Hitting the Beaches
    • Wate r Fun for Everyone
    • On Deck: Enjoying the Waves without Getting Your Hair Wet
    • Keeping Your Head Above Water: The Top Attractions
    • Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo's Best Shopping
    • What to Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Side Trips: Getting Out of Town

  • Chapter 28 - The Best of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo's Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo Restaurants at a Glance

Part 8 - Manzanillo

  • Chapter 29 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right for You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels from A to Z
    • Quick Picks: Manzanillo's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 30 - Finding Your Way Around Manzanillo
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • Getting from Here to There
    • Where to Get More Information & Guidance
    • Manzanillo A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Chapter 31 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Beaches, Beaches, Everywhere
    • Water Fun for Everyone
    • A Bucket Full of Water Sports
    • Getting Sloshed on Deck
    • Keeping Your Head Above Water: Exploring Manzanillo
    • The Sporting Life
    • Better Shops Around
    • What to Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Getting Out of Manzanillo

  • Chapter 32 - The Best of Manzanillo's Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Manzanillo's Restaurants at a Glance

Part 9 - Puerto Vallarta

  • Chapter 33 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right for You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels from A to Z
    • Quick Picks: Puerto Vallarta's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 34 - Finding Your Way Around Puerto Vallarta
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • Getting Around by Bus . . .
    • . . . and by Taxi
    • Where to Get More Information & Guidance
    • Puerto Vallarta A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Chapter 35 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Sunshine on Your Shoulders, Sand Between Your Toes
    • Water Fun for Everyone
    • On Deck
    • Keeping Your Head Above Water: Puerto Vallarta's Top Dry-Land Attractions
    • The Sporting Life
    • Puerto Vallarta's Best Shopping
    • What to Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Side Trips: Getting Out of Puerto Vallarta

  • Chapter 36 - The Best of Puerto Vallarta's Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Puerto Vallarta's Restaurants at a Glance

Part 10 - Mazatlán

  • Chapter 37 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right for You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels from A to Z
    • Quick Picks: Mazatlan's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 38 - Finding Your Way Around Mazatlán
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • How to Get Around (and How Not To)
    • Where to Get More Information & Guidance
    • Mazatlán A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips
  • Chapter 39 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Hitting the Beaches
    • Water Fun for Everyone
    • Keeping Your Head Above Water: Mazatlán's Top Activities
    • Mazatlán's Best Shopping
    • What to Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Side Trips: Getting Out of Mazatlán

  • Chapter 40 - The Best of Mazatlán's Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Mazatlán's Restaurants at a Glance

Part 11 - Los Cabos

  • Chapter 41 - Choosing the Place to Stay That's Right for You
    • Location, Location, Location
    • My Favorite Hotels from A to Z
    • Quick Picks: Los Cab os's Hotels at a Glance

  • Chapter 42 - Finding Your Way Around Los Cabos
    • You've Just Arrived--Now What?
    • Orientation: You Are Here
    • How to Get from Here to There (and How Not To)
    • Where to Get More Information & Guidance
    • Los Cabos A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Chapter 43 - Fun On & Off the Beach
    • Beaches, Beaches Everywhere
    • Water Fun for Everyone
    • Cruise Control
    • Los Cabos's Top Dry-Land Diversions
    • Los Cabos's Best Shopping
    • What To Do When the Sun's Gone Down
    • Side Trips: Getting Out of Los Cabos

  • Chapter 44 - The Best of the Los Cabos Dining Scene
    • A Dining Overview: Where's the Burrito?
    • My Favorite Restaurants from A to Z
    • Sound Bites: Los Cabos's Restaurants at a Glance

Appendices

  • Appendix A - Hotel Preferences Worksheet

  • Appendix B - Mexico A to Z: Facts at Your Fingertips

  • Index
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First Chapter

[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]

The Complete Idiot's Travel Guide to Mexico's Beach Resorts
- 3 -
Getting Started

In This Chapter

  • Where to go for information
  • Surfing the Web
  • Using a travel agent

Naturally, I'm going to try to tell you every little thing you need to know aboutMexico's resorts in this book. But if you're an insatiable information hound, Webaddict, brochure hoarder--or any combination thereof-- I wouldn't want to depriveyou of any fun, so grab a pencil, phone, fax, and modem, and get ready. I'll alsoclue you in here to the pros and cons of putting yourself in the hands of a travelagent when it comes to arranging your vacation.

Information, Por Favor

The Mexico Hotline (800/44-MEXICO) is a good source for generalinformation, including brochures and answers to the most commonly asked questions.Keep in mind, however, that hotels and other concessions spend a fair amount of moneyon photographers and writers, so their brochures are often like hearing about yourblind date in advance: Don't be surprised if everything isn't exactly as advertised.They can be useful, however, for putting you in the picture--albeit one shot througha rose-colored lens.

The U.S. State Department offers a consular information sheet on Mexicowith a summary of safety, medical, driving, and general travel information takenfrom official State Department offices reports. Write or call and ask for OverseasCitizens Services, U.S. Department of State, Room 2201 Sea St. NW, Washington,DC 20520 (202/647-5225).

A fax machine nets you the Fax-Me Mexico line operated by the Mexican Ministryof Tourism
(541/385-9282). Start out by leaving your fax number on the automated systemand requesting the list of topics; there are more than 100, ranging from generaltips about food, money, and accommodations to specific information about variousdestinations, including all the beach resorts. Pick the topic(s) you're interestedin--no more than three at a time--phone again, and punch the appropriate numbersinto the system. (Beware: This is a good, but addicting, resource. You can spendlots of time and end up with piles of faxes.)

You can also get a broad sprectrum of information from the following MexicanGoverment Tourist Office branches:

  • In the United States: 300 N. Michigan Ave., 4th Floor, Chicago, Il 60601 (312/606-9015); 10440 W. Office Dr., Houston, TX 77042 (713 780-3740); 2401 W. 6th St., 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90057 (213/351-2069); 2333 Ponce de León Blvd., Suite 710, Coral Gables, FL 33134 (305/443-9160); 405 Park Ave., Suite 1401, New York, NY 10022 (212/755-7261); and the Mexican Embassy Tourism Delegate, 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (202/728-1750).
  • In Canada: One place Ville-Marie, Suite 1526, Montreal, PQ H3B 2B5 (514/871-1052); 2 Bloor St. W., Suite 1801, Toronto, ON M4W 3E2 (416/925-1876); 999 W. Hastings, No. 1610, Vancouver, BC V6C 2W2 (604/669-2845).

Surfing the Web Before Snoozing on the Sand: Online Information Sources

For a country not universally known for technological advancements, Mexico issurprisingly well plugged in. Any good search engine will dump thousands of listingsonto your desktop, so to save you time, I've compiled some of the best ones I found.In addition to the following Web sites, I'll be providing you with other, morespecific ones throughout the book.

Just the Facts

The best Web site by far for both general and specific information about Mexicois !@migo¡ at www.mexonline.com. This site haseverything from a mini-telephone directory with the numbers of such diverse organizationsas the Mexican Wildlife Office, which gives you hunting information, and the MissingPersons Hotline (presumably there's no connection between the two), as well as foreignembassies and consulates, banks, and organizations with ready information about thecountry and its services. It also has an excellent state-by-state guide to popularcities.

Mexico Travel Guide at www.go2mexico.com/navigate/html gives a goodgeneral introduction to various Mexican destinations, including all the beach resorts,but only goes into detail--glowing, of course--about sponsoring hotels, restaurants,and so forth.


Caveat Browser
Most sites are as ad- (or sponsor-) driven as any glossy brochures you might send for, and many are not updated re gularly. You may want to cross-reference information with another source.

Tour By Mexico (www.tourbymexico. com) offers a map of thecountry, state-by-state descriptions, very basic information on the culture, as wellas some offbeat takes on such topics as the electrical current, national holidays,and cargo shipping. It also has links to specific resort towns, with short takeson local beaches, scenic outlooks, wildlife refuges, archaeological sites, and shopping.The grammar is charmingly goofy (I know, let's see me try to write a Web site inSpanish . . . ).

Hotel Sites

Try www.mexicohotels.com for hotel information in the most popular resorttowns. Also good for Mexico hotel information is www.hotelstravel. com/mexico.html.Look up the region that interests you, and then scroll to the town you want to visit.Most of the popular hotels are listed.

The Camino Real chain is prevalent throughout Mexico. The site www. caminoreal.comgives you a brief tour of its properties throughout the country, including thosein Mazatlán, Acapulco, Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, and Manzanillo.

Welcoming you in four languages, Hyatt's offering, www.hyatt.com, takesyou on a cybertour of its Mexican resorts in places such as Cozumel, Cancún,and Acapulco.

Destination-Specific Information

www.travelfile.com/go takes you to many cities in Mexico for a closer lookat sponsoring companies in those localities. Type in the name of the destinationyou're interested in exploring further (say, Cancún, Mexico) and you'll get(sketchy) information about dive-boat charters, accommodat ions, restaurants, andso on, as well as passport and visa information.

The Travelocity home page, ps.worldview.travelocity.com/, lets youperuse a list of cities in Mexico and then explore local options for shopping,cultural events, monetary exchange, transportation, restaurants, hotels, and so forth.

Separate from the other sites (although you can link to it from various places)is Puerto Vallarta's Web site, www.puerto-vallarta.com. The information onhotels, home rentals, tour operators, restaurants, and so forth is as commercialas you might expect, but it's also more up-to-date, complete, and better-translatedthan most of the material you'll find on foreign cities' Web pages.

The California-based Los Cabos magazine also has an excellent Web siteat www.loscabosguide.com, with good maps, informative articles on local activities,and useful links to its various advertisers.

Travel Agent: Friend, Fiend, or In-Between?

A good travel agent is like a good mechanic or a good plumber: hard to find, butinvaluable once you've located the right one. The best way to find a good travelagent is the same way you find a good plumber or mechanic or doctor--word of mouth.

To make sure you get the most out of your travel agent, do a little homework.Read about your destination (you've already made a sound decision by buying thisbook), and pick out some accommodations and attractions you think you like. If necessary,get a more comprehensive travel guide, such as Frommer's. If you have accessto the Internet, check airfare prices on the Web yourself in advance (see chapter5, "Fighting--and Winning--the Airfare Wars," for more information on howto do that) so you can do a little prodding. Then take your guidebook and Web informationto the travel agent and ask him or her to make the arrangements for you. Becausethey have access to more resources than even the most complete Web travel site, travelagents should be able to get you a better price than you could get by yourself, andthey can issue your tickets and vouchers right there. If they can't get you intothe hotel of your choice, they can recommend an alternative, and you can look foran objective review in your guidebook right there and then.

Remember, too, that things change rapidly in the travel business, so if your agentvisited a city 5 or 6 years ago, his or her information could be woefully out ofdate. Therefore, it's a good idea to clue your travel agent in after you returnfrom your trip--what was good, what was not-so-good, and so on, so that future travelersto the same place will benefit from your experiences.

In the past 2 years, some airlines and resorts have begun limiting or eliminatingtravel agent commissions altogether. The immediate result has been that travel agentsdon't bother booking these services unless the customer specifically requests them.However, some travel industry analysts predict that if other airlines and accommodationsthroughout the industry follow suit, travel agents might have to start charging customersfor their services. When that day arrives, the best agents should prove even harderto find.

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