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The locals' general lack of interest in outdoor activities doesn't stop growing numbers of intrepid gringos from trekking off into what Mexicans probably consider absurdly rough country. Trails around the Copper Canyon and Baja California are among the most popular and developed. Sport fishing is especially popular off the Pacific coast and in the Gulf of California. Snorkeling and diving is wonderful in Mexico, particularly at Caribbean coast resorts like Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Punta Allen and Banco Chinchorro. On the Pacific coast, try Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco and Huatulco. Inland, there are many balnearios, bathing places with swimming pools, often centered on hot springs in picturesque surroundings. Surfing is popular on the Pacific coast. Some of the best surf spots are between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, Bahía de Matanchén, Ensenada, Mazatlán, Manzanillo and the 'Mexican Pipeline' at Puerto Escondido. Los Barriles is Baja California's windsurfing capital, and further south Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo can be good too. Veracruz state is the epicenter of the country's white-water rafting industry. A number of Mexico City-based organizations conduct hiking and mountain-climbing trips on Mexico's volcanoes, including Iztaccíhuatl, Pico de Orizaba, Nevado de Toluca and La Malinche.


Mexico's reputation for full-blooded festive fun is well founded: just about every month sees a major national holiday or fiesta, and every other day is a local saint's day or town fair celebration. Carnaval (Carnival), held late February or early March in the week before Ash Wednesday, is the big bash before the 40-day penance of Lent; it's particularly flagrant in Mazatlán, Veracruz and La Paz. The country's most characteristic fiesta is the wonderfully macabre Día de los Muertos, held the day after All Saints' Day on November 2. The souls of the dear departed are believed to return to earth on this day, and for weeks beforehand the country's markets are awash with the highly sought-after candy skulls and papier-mâché skeletons that find their way into many a visitor's souvenir collection. December 12 is another big day on the Mexican calendar, celebrating the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the country's major religious icon.

Public Holidays:

January 1 - New Year's Day

February 5 - Constitution Day

February 24 - Day of the Flag

March 21 - Anniversary of Benito Juárez's birth

March/April - Good Friday-Easter Sunday

May 1 - Labor Day

May 5 - 1862 victory celebration

September 16 - Día de la Independencia

October 12 - Día de la Raza

November 20 - Día de la Revolución

December 25 - Día de Navidad

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