America’s tropical neighbor to the south has the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters to rival Bali (in the best possible way!) Mexico has long been a popular vacation destination for North Americans with its ease of proximity and ideal access to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. While the cultural and international hub of Mexico City is inland, there are coastal communities of digital nomads springing up and making a convincing case that there’s more to the Mexican beach lifestyle than spring breakers.
We’ve set our sights on the Riviera Maya shores of Playa del Carmen as the newest and hottest destination for our Edumads and digital nomads alike.
For many digital nomads from the United States and Canada, staying in the same time zone as their company greatly reduces the challenges of remote work. This will be a huge advantage for Edumads who may be taking online classes that require specific class-time attendance (as opposed to self-paced online courses). You won’t have to worry about middle-of-the-night lectures or assignment due dates, and can put the same time and effort into your coursework as you would back home!
And if you’re new to international travel, Mexico is a low-risk investment as you get your feet wet. There is still a ton of culture and language to learn without feeling so far from home, and an expansive country to explore further afoot the more comfortable you become.
Here's a preview of what makes Mexico such an ideal destination for us Edumads.
If you have ever wanted that unique, Instagram-worthy swimming experience, cenotes are located all over the Riviera Maya to give you that epic shot. Created by the collapse of limestone bedrock, these watering holes are actually natural sinkholes of exposed groundwater. They are connected to larger bodies of water and may still be connected to active cave systems.
If you’re adventurous, there are many cenotes that require a bit of climbing and crawling to access the cavernous pools. Ancient history even claims cenotes were sometimes used by the Mayans for sacrificial offerings!
As the third most spoken language in the world (native English is actually fourth!), you have an amazing opportunity to put your Spanish skills to the test. Even if you’ve never taken a formal class in school, there are a variety of options to learn the language through local schools or popular apps, and immediately put it to use in your day-to-day interactions.
You’ll understand why so many travelers choose to spend months in a single location in order to make significant progress on language studies and immersion.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, this archaeological site is a regular addition to the bucket lists of travelers in Mexico. Chichen Itza was the center of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya civilization for over a thousand years, ruled by elite dynasties and an economic powerhouse during its prominence. El Castillo is the infamous pyramid you’ll see dominating all of the temples.
Chichen Itza is only a 2-hour drive inland from Playa del Carmen, making this cultural site a great option for a weekend trip to change up the scenery and take the time to learn more about the history of the Yucatán Peninsula.
With two miles of white sandy beaches in Playa del Carmen stretching the coast along the Caribbean Sea, the beachfront is the main hub of activity for beachgoers, water sports, outdoor movies & festivals, and al fresco dining. You’ll be spoiled for choice with all of the different beaches that each have a unique vibe.
And since daily life revolves around the beach clubs, restaurants, and dive shops that dot the coast, the beach will be the centerpiece of anyone’s time here. Sunrise, sunset, and everything in between.
Scuba diving and snorkeling take on a whole new meaning in PDC because the waters - both fresh cenotes and ocean - are at the crossroads of both marine life AND ancient civilization. Two for the price of one! Dive the caves and sinkholes where the remains of prehistoric animals have been found, go turtle watching out in the reefs, or explore the shipwrecks not far off the coast.
You’ll find these adventures right at your doorstep or not far away in nearby Cozumel. There is an abundance of diverse sea life you won’t see anywhere else, so pack your GoPro!
There’s more to Playa del Carmen than tropical bliss. You’re in the epicenter of one of the most ancient civilizations, where the pyramids still stand and many heritage sites and museums exist to preserve its history. Mexican culture is all around in the open-air markets where you’ll learn the art of local haggling and in the authentic Mexican cuisine you can’t find anywhere else.
The Riviera Maya may look different than the larger, land-locked cities throughout Mexico but you’ll have just as many opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture. Plus, if you’re working on your Spanish language skills, you’ll unlock even more hidden gems and a whole new appreciation for the Mexican culture.
The closest international airport to Playa del Carmen and arguably the biggest spring break destination in the world is only an hour up the coast. Cancun is known for its all-inclusive resort culture and vacation status, which makes it a pretty great getaway destination to check out the beach parties and nightlife!
While we wouldn’t position ourselves here long-term, it’s definitely worth an overnight trip to see what it’s all about.
And only an hour south is the neighboring nomadic hotspot Tulum, which is also the Yucatán Mayan word for “fence, wall, or trench.” There are ancient walls that still stand near the Tulum fort as a defense against invaders.
Now, this popular beach town boasts iconic beaches and azure waters, sea turtle sanctuaries, rugged cenotes, and some of the best mezcal this side of the Yucatán. Come for a weekend, stay for a week, you’ll feel as if you’re in Bali with all of the attention around town on health & wellness.
However you choose to spend your time south of the border, spending an extended amount of time in and around Mexico is sure to challenge whatever preconceived notions you might have had about the country at one time or another. It is rich with ancient history, deep respect and pride for the colorful culture, and an abundance of natural beauty. We can’t wait to make Playa del Carmen our newest home away from home!