law student needs cheap vacation, cerveza
November 5, 2010 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Where can my fiance and I spend a week decompressing on a warm beach in Mexico/Caribbean/Latin America without paying through the nose OR sleeping in a thatched hut?

Me and Mr. F are in Los Angeles, looking to fly down to Mexico for about 6 days the second my law school's final exam period ends. We've heard wonderful things about Isla Mujeres and the area south of Cancun, but flying to Cancun in mid-late December would be very expensive--about $725 a ticket. Yikes. That plus a hotel room would be too much for us. We'd like a vacation somewhere on the beach, where we could do lots of quiet relaxing, and he could surf, possibly. Not partiers, not dedicated to climbing on any Mayan ruins, very interested in eating our weight in delicious shrimp tacos. Here's what I'd like from you fine people:

1) other places in Mexico that could be lovely, wouldn't be as expensive to fly into, and are far enough south to avoid the recent unpleasantness (i.e., Mexico's devolution into a gang-ruled hell)

2) other vacation spots that would allow us to swing in a hammock, staring into the crystal blue ocean, eat tacos and drink beer

What I don't want:

1) The name of this hostel you stayed in once when you were backpacking through Costa Rica that only had a *moderate* cockroach infestation. I may be a student, but we're old, and I'd sooner stay home than sleep in a bunk bed.

2) all-inclusive resorts in downtown Cabo San Lucas or Cancun where someone with a whistle will try to make a margarita in my mouth.

(I know, there are a hundredy-million questions on here that have already been asked about Mexican beach vacations. I read them, and found great suggestions. However, my main deal is the cost of the flights out of Los Angeles, $700 being *way* too much.)
posted by charlemagne to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Travelzoo tends to have a lot of really cheap Carribean vacation offers
posted by np312 at 3:34 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Alaska Air is having a Mexico Beaches fare sale right now. If you're interested in Puerto Vallarta, I can recommend Quinta Maria Cortez, the B&B run by the same people who have the Casa Tres Vidas villas next door -- beautiful, relaxing accommodations away from the touristy/party-hearty bustle of the rest of PV.
posted by scody at 3:37 PM on November 5, 2010

I've always driven down, but you can fly into Guaymas, SO, Mex and then drive/ride over to San Carlos. Catch-22 beach has some excellent resorts, including a former Club Med site. Also, shrimp out the wazzoo (if you know where to look, you can buy it by the lb super cheap), plenty of opportunities to get out on the water, and lots of other activities that aren't whistle-driven.
posted by carsonb at 4:13 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I loved Sayulita, which is just north od Puerto Villarta. I actually rented a house just north of there in San Francisco (aka San Pancho), which was a sleepy fishing village. Sayulita has a little more going on, but still feels like Mexico. It's on the Pacific though, so no crystal clear water, like in the Cancun area.

(and the seafood is great)
posted by murrey at 4:56 PM on November 5, 2010

And good luck on your finals...been there (a long time ago but the misery is still etched in my memory)
posted by murrey at 5:00 PM on November 5, 2010

You have some time. Start playing with priceline to Cancun, see what you get. Like, start at $200 a ticket, work your way up slowly. You can take the bus further south and find nice less expensive accommodations. NB: The Riviera Maya is not CHEAP, but you can find some deals.
posted by cyndigo at 5:10 PM on November 5, 2010

There is some good advice about current Caribbean sales going on, as well as advice on how to get good deals, in this article published recently in the NY Times.
posted by np312 at 5:12 PM on November 5, 2010

I haven't looked into recent air fare but you might want to consider a vacation rental on the beaches near Merida. Last Thanksgiving week we rented a six bedroom house with a pool on the beach for $1400 for 8 days. A smaller place can be had for $450 and it's ridiculously private during the winter.
posted by FlamingBore at 5:45 PM on November 5, 2010

Try the Pacific coast because it's an easy flight from LA. My favorite place I've been so far is Zihuatanejo. The seafood is also great there and it's very relaxing without being too resort-y.
posted by matildaben at 6:30 PM on November 5, 2010

For surfing the Pacific coast would be fine. Relaxing snorkeling, you want Gulf of Mexico.
posted by cyndigo at 8:45 PM on November 5, 2010

Response by poster: thanks folks! this is all quite helpful information--and I'd gladly take more!
posted by charlemagne at 4:57 PM on November 8, 2010

This probably won't blip your radar because you can't get there without a longish bus/car ride, but I just wanted to chime in and say i DON'T recommend the "quaint fishing village" of San Blas (on the Pacific coast). My beau and I were looking for a similar experience to the one you describe and put all our eggs in the San Blas basket only to be very disappointed. Crappy river delta beaches, gray water, half-hearted waterfront development abandoned when the tourists didn't actually turn up like everyone said they would.

I've never been but I've heard Puerto Escondido on the Oaxacan coast can be lovely. You could fly to Oaxaca (the city) but I don't know about airfares. Then it is a bit of a bus ride down to the coast, but they have nice 1st class buses.
posted by dahliachewswell at 6:36 PM on January 13, 2011

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