Location: Veracruz is located about 5-6 hours south west of Mexico City situated on the Gulf of Mexico.
How to get there: Getting to Veracruz is very similar to getting to Oaxaca; you have essentially 2 options. You can take a 5-6 hour bus or a one hour flight. The bus costs between 400-900 pesos one way. If you plan ahead and buy your plane tickets in advanced, as of 2019, you can find flights around $1600 pesos round trip. Face value the flights actually make the most sense as they are about the same cost. I was not on my game and so when I went to look at the flights they were much higher. I was also planning on diving and there are a minimum number of hours between your last dive and you next flight so bus it was for me. I was bummed to find out the student discount (50%!) ended the 20th of August so I was stuck paying full price.
Setting: Situated on the Gulf of Mexico Veracruz is Mexico’s oldest and most important port town. While the climate is hot and humid breezes off the water help keep you cool as you walk along the shaded side of the street. Veracruz once held the largest number of slaves in the Americas, second only behind Brazil, and also became a distinct destination for Cuban refugees. Along with the Spanish and indigenous influences Veracruz is a melting pot of cultures. During the day you can walk the streets and find cafes and restaurants dating back 50 years. At night wander to the Zocalo where dozen are dancing the traditional Cuban, Danzon, dance. Unlike many of the bigger towns on the Gulf of Mexico Veracruz is not a huge tourist location. While it does offer some “touristy”, I really enjoyed, what I felt like, was a more authentic look into life on the Gulf of Mexico.
Recommendations: For my short time in Veracruz I stayed at Oyster Hostel. As is often the case Oyster Hotel is not the cleanest nor the nicest hostel I’ve ever stay at, but at 300 pesos a night for a private room ( you know I’m getting older when staying in a 10 person dorm room to save 7 dollars is no longer appealing) I didn’t regret my decision. I got in early (8am) and they let me store my stuff and use the restroom before the 11am check-in. The free breakfast consists of the normal pancakes, bread, and instant coffee. On a surprising side the beds were quite nice, and the private room had air conditioning. I ate breakfast at the Cochinito de Oro, which I discovered later is quite a famous place. I had juevos racheros, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice for $80 pesos (about 3 dollars). I went diving at Scubaver located about 4 blocks from my hotel.
Experience: With only 5 weekends in Mexico City I had to be very strategic with my time. The weekends of the 16th and 20th I wanted to stay in the city as they were the Day of Independence and my birthday respectively, and the 26th I had a planned 4 day trip to Cuba. That essentially left me with only one extra weekend to explore a different part of Mexico. Full transparency– I came to Veracruz for two reasons: to dive, because one of my favorite Natalia Lafourcade songs is “Mi Tierra Veracruzana”. I arrived Saturday morning incredibly tired from my overnight bus and after walking around, and eating breakfast went back to my hostel where I took a 2 hour nap. It’s really weird to be traveling solo again. All throughout the summer I was either traveling with mom or with my friend R, which was great, but it’s just different when you’re traveling solo. During my nap I kept waking up from a stress dream making me think I needed to get a hold of “her” that “she” was waiting for me and we need to plan our trip. I have no idea who “she” was, but it wasn’t until I fully woke up that I truly remembered I was traveling alone.
As much as I wanted to make the most of my time in Veracruz I don’t regret my nap. I finished up eating and arrived back to the hostel around 10:30 in the morning- right when the sun was getting hot. After my nap and shower I went back out around 2, scheduled my dives for the following day, and then found a coffee shop where I could get some work done. Sunday I woke up early, shoved some food in my mouth and walked 4 blocks to Scubaver. It cost me 1300 pesos, $65, for two dives. This is neither cheap or expensive. We went to two different dives sites: La ahogado, and la virgin. To be honest I wasn’t that impressed with la ahogado, but thankfully la virgin easily made up for it. There were ton of coral, fish, and fun things to look at. I was especially excited about both large and multiple baby moray eels I got to see. I would say it was worth it.
As always let me know if you have any questions/comments/concerns