Mexico is a tremendous destination for fresh air fiends. Whether you're looking to conquer some tall peaks, to ride some serious waves or whitewater, or to explore bottomless sinkholes and world-class reefs in a scuba suit, there are plenty of options to keep you occupied. Birdwatchers will also be happy here.

Birdwatching

Given the diversity of Mexico's ecosystems, it's little wonder that the country is an excellent destination for birders. The Copper Canyon has over 400 resident, migrating and wintering species, Oaxaca's Northern Sierra is home to over 500 species, while Sian Ka'an and Calakmul Biosphere Reserves are great for spotting endemic species.

Diving & Snorkeling

Mexico has numerous great diving and snorkeling spots. The best diving conditions are found in the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean coast, off Quintana Roo and along the Yucatán Peninsula's Riviera Maya and Costa Maya. Additionally, advanced divers can explore the Yucatán's many cenotes (sinkholes).

Safety Guidelines for Diving

Before embarking on a scuba-diving, free-diving or snorkeling trip, consider the following to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Possess a current diving-certification card from a recognized scuba-diving instruction agency.
  • Be sure you are healthy and feel comfortable diving.
  • If you don’t have your own equipment, ask to see the dive shop’s before you commit. Make sure you feel comfortable with your dive master: after all, it’s your life.
  • Obtain reliable information about physical and environmental conditions at the dive site from a reputable local dive operation, and ask how local trained divers deal with these considerations.
  • Be aware of local laws, regulations and etiquette about marine life and the environment.
  • Dive only at sites within your level of experience. Engage the services of a competent, professionally trained dive instructor or dive master.
  • Find out if your dive shop has up-to-date certification from PADI (www.padi.com), NAUI (ww.naui.org) or the internationally recognized Mexican diving organization FMAS (www.fmas.com.mx).
  • Know the locations of the nearest decompression chambers and the emergency telephone numbers.
  • Avoid diving less than 18 hours before a high-altitude flight.

Surfing

The the best surfing in Mexico is found primarily along the Pacific coast, with Puerto Escondido, Mazatlán, Sayulita, La Ticla and Troncones among the hot spots. There's also surfing along Baja, with relatively uncrowded waves in north Baja, around Ensenada, and more consistent (but crowded) waves around Cabo San Lucas.

Kitesurfing

Kitesurfing has recently taken off as a sport in all the main coastal regions. Top locations include Cozumel, Isla Blanca and Playa del Carmen in the Yucatán, the Pacific Coast's Bucerias, La Ventosa, and Puerto Vallarta, Baja's La Ventana and Punta San Carlos and the Costa Esmeralda in Veracruz.

Whitewater Rafting

The three main regions for rafting are Veracruz, San Luis Potosí and Morelos. Veracruz' Río Filobobos and Río Antigua vary from mild to wild (Class II-IV), Santa Maria's Class III rapids in San Luis Potosí are suitable for beginners, while Morelos' Río Amacuzac is Class III-IV on the lower rapids.

Hiking & Trekking

Mexico's volcanoes provide the country's most challenging trekking; the Pico de Orizaba in Veracruz is a week-long endeavor. Less demanding are the Nevado La Toluca, El Malinche and Iztaccíhuatl peaks. Hiking trails run through the Copper Canyon and between the Zapotec village of Oaxaca's Sierra Norte, among other places.