Is Mexico safe for a golf trip? I say sí - with a few words of advice
Is Mexico safe for golfers?
I can’t guarantee it. I can only relay my experiences.
I’ve been to Mexico for golf trips twice in the past two months and visited a third time on a family vacation in June. All of the trips – to Los Cabos in the Baja Peninsula and the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula and a day excursion off a cruise ship to the island of Cozumel - were amazing experiences. And never once did I feel threatened, concerned, unnerved or even uncomfortable.
The biggest threats came in the airports of Cancun and Los Cabos – where you must avoid the aggressive time share representatives trying to give you a ride – and the bar bathrooms – where I was solicited to purchase drugs in both Playa del Carmen and Cabos San Lucas. Otherwise, I found Mexico to be relatively stress-free. Obviously, golfers have the luxury of hanging out in gated resorts in high-end destinations. I stayed at a Sheraton and Westin in Los Cabos and the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso Resort near Cancun. These resorts guarantee a safety factor that can’t be replicated at other hotels near big cities.
Venturing outside of the resorts, however, comes highly recommended. There’s nothing like soaking up local culture while on vacation. Each time we went out on the town, we traveled in small groups, stayed together, came home relatively early (by midnight) and that ensured we stayed out of trouble. I did take precautions. I left my wallet behind and just took a limited amount of cash and a credit card. I probably should have brought a paper copy of my passport in case of an emergency but I did not. I also didn’t bring my big gaudy camera to attract attention. (Hence, I don’t have any great photos to show, but the photo above is of a small Mexican band that played for us while we were having drinks at the Marina at Puerto Los Cabos).
The party club scene in Cabo San Lucas turned out to be insane. It’s wildly fun. I found Playa del Carmen to be even more charming and delightful with a better family vibe. Fifth Avenue was filled with stores, street vendors, boutique hotels, interesting restaurants, American influences (Subway and Dairy Queen), tourist traps, clubs pounding thumping beats and casual hangout bars. Taking photos with men dressed as Mayan warriors was a popular souvenir for tourists.
I did notice a fair amount of police - some with machine guns. They help you feel more at ease. I couldn’t help but watch the families and friends stroll by and think, ‘If you’re scared away by the drug violence of Mexico, you’re missing out on a great destination.’
The other stereotype that went bust during these trips is the notion that Mexico should be just a winter destination. My rounds at Cabo Real, Palmilla and the Ocean course at Cabo del Sol in Los Cabos and Playa Paraiso and Iberostar Cancun Golf Club near Cancun were sometimes sweaty and hot, but they weren’t insufferable like I envisioned. Ironically, my rounds near Cancun this week were significantly cooler than the tee times I would have had in the 100-plus-degree temperatures at home in Michigan. Playa Paraiso (see photo above) is a fun P.B. Dye design.
Mexico is a beautiful place. Our snorkeling adventure and dolphin swim at Chankanaab National Park in Cozumel (see my photo below of the octopus we saw while snorkeling) was a memorable family event. Hopefully someday soon, the violence can cool off, allowing American tourists to travel to these special places again without fear. Until then, those who stay away don’t realize what they’re missing.
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