San Andrés Tuxtla
Like a lot of modern towns, San Andrés puts function before beauty. The busy service center of the Las Tuxtlas region is best used for bus connections and link-ups to its more enticing peripheral sights, including a volcano and a giant waterfall. Cigar aficionados will definitely want to visit, as San Andrés is Mexico’s cigar capital.
Reserva de la Biosfera Los Tuxtlas
The various nature reserves around Catemaco were conglomerated in 2006 into this Biosphere Reserve under Unesco protection. This unique volcanic region, rising 1680m above the coastal plains of southern Veracruz, lies 160km east of the Cordillera Neovolcánica, making it something of an ecological anomaly.
Santiago centers on a lovely, verdant main plaza – one of the state’s prettiest – and is surrounded by the rolling green foothills of the volcanic Sierra de los Tuxtlas. It's far more laid-back and a touch more charming than its built-up neighbor San Andrés, with its plaza strewn with ladies arm-in-arm, couples lip-to-lip and shoes getting vigorously shined.
Acayucan is an important and busy commercial center and a passable stopover for those heading south to Villahermosa or inland to Oaxaca and Chiapas. It’s at the junction of Hwy 180 and Hwy 185. If you’re here in transit, you’ll find services are good. To reach the central plaza from the bus station, walk uphill to Avenida Hidalgo, turn left and walk six blocks.
The important late-Olmec center of Tres Zapotes is now just a series of mounds in cornfields. However, interesting artifacts are displayed at the museum in the town of Tres Zapotes, 23km west of Santiago Tuxtla. The trip to this tiny town is well worthwhile if you're interested in archaeology.