10 Unique Places To Visit In Mexico You Didn’t Know Existed

Laura SausinaDestinationsLeave a Comment

10 unique places to visit in mexico

The diversity of Mexico’s landscape makes it one of the most unique places to visit in the world. Mystical cenotes, crystal clear beaches, lush waterfalls and cliff-hanging hot springs are just a few of the attractions that make Mexico such an incredible travel destination.

While most people head to Mexico to sip margaritas by the pool, these 10 secret places in Mexico will make you pack your camera and take you on an adventure of a lifetime.

In our photography guide below we share 10 unique places to visit in Mexico that most people don’t even know exist.

And for the first time ever we’re also excited to share with you our behind the scenes photography tips to help you capture unbelievable pictures at these locations because nothing brings back memories of a place more than a photo you love.

 

10 Unique Places To Visit In Mexico:

1. Grutas Tolantongo
2. Hierve El Agua
3. Suytun Cenote
4. Edward James Garden
5. Tak Be Ha Cenote
6. Bacalar
7. Tamasopo
8. Tulum
9. Playa Balandra In La Paz
10. Isla Aguada In Campeche

 

To capture amazing images at these locations, we suggest to bring along these beginner photography items. This is the gear we have been using for several years to capture our travel photos and all the images in this guide were shot using this camera gear.

Photography Packing List:

Sony a5100 camera
Rokinon 12 mm wide lens
Polarizer Filter
Tripod
DJI Mavic Drone

If you want to learn more about the photography gear we use, check out our super-informative beginner camera gear article here.

 

1. Grutas Tolantongo

hidden gems in Mexico Grutas Tolantongo

Grutas Tolantongo Hot Pools

Grutas Tolantongo is one of the most incredible hidden gems in Mexico’s remote mountains. Located north of Mexico City this hot springs resort is a vacationers and photographers paradise.

Featuring hot pools tucked away between lush trees, a turquoise river running through the park and mysterious caves, Grutas Tolantongo is hands down one of the most unique places to visit in Mexico.

 

How To Get There

The Grutas Tolantongo resort is located 5 hours north of Mexico City. Some of the roads leading to Grutas Tolantongo travel through some pretty rugged mountains so you’ll need a reliable rental car to get you there.

Because of the far distance from any major cities, Grutas Tolantongo is rarely visited by International tourists which helps this resort keep its status as one of the best secret places in Mexico.

 

Entrance Cost

The entrance cost to Grutas Tolantongo is 140 pesos per person ($7 USD). Most people that travel to Grutas Tolantongo stay there for a few days to truly enjoy all that the park has to offer.

Grutas Tolantongo has hotel and tent camping options for its visitors that can be arranged upon arrival.

 

How To Get The Shot

If you love photography, you’ll be glad to find out that there are many amazing photography locations at the Grutas Tolantongo Resort.

The park features lush waterfalls, a beautiful turquoise river that can be captured by a drone, and the best of it is the thermal pools hanging on a mountain cliff side.

To get a clear shot of these pools stand in the hot pool facing right across from them. There isn’t any area to set up a tripod so you’ll need a buddy to help you out get this shot.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

These hot springs get pretty packed by local visitors so if you’re eager to get a shot without anyone in it, get there as soon as the thermal pools open for public at around 7:30-8:00 am. This time also happens to be the best time for lighting with the least shadows casting from the surrounding trees.

 

Gear Used For Photography

To get a shot of the hot pools we used our Sony a5100 camera with the standard kit lens. While I placed myself in the frame, my husband took the image from the hot tub across from me.

 

2. Hierve El Agua

incredible mexico landmarks hierve el agua

Hierve El Agua In Oaxaca

Hierve El Agua is a Mexico destination popular for its mineral formations, petrified waterfall, and cliff side infinity pools. Hiever El Agua is located on top of a mountain providing breathtaking views of a distant mountain range and the valley below it.

Hierve El Agua’s beautiful landscape and colorful mineral formations make it one of the best places to go in Mexico for photography.

 

How To Get There

The Hierve El Agua landmark is located an hour and a half drive from Oaxaca. Many tourists take a taxi out to visit it, a guided tour company, or public transportation. If a rental car is an option, that would be the most flexible way to travel there especially for sunset or sunrise photography.

 

Entrance Cost

Entrance to Hierve El Agua is 25 pesos per person for a day visit (around $1 USD). We ended up camping at this location overnight to shoot sunset and sunrise photos which cost 40 pesos extra per person ($2 USD).

Although there aren’t any hotels in the small town where Hierve El Agua is located, car camping or tent camping can be arranged at Hierve El Agua with the security guards on duty. They were nice enough to let us stay overnight and gave us access to photograph this location at any time we wanted.

 

How To Get The Shot

unique places to visit in mexico hierve el agua

Hierve El Agua in Oaxaca

The main Hierve El Agua area has two different infinity pools with a beautiful mountain backdrop. One of the pools has a unique bare tree that adds a cool element to photography.

The second area has a petrified waterfall, one of the only two petrified waterfalls in the world. Both areas are very beautiful and you’re virtually guaranteed to walk away with an incredible photo.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

The best time of the day to photograph the infinity pools is during sunset. If you’re lucky, the sky might even change into various hues of purple and pink.

For the petrified waterfall, the best time to shoot is during the morning when the sun rays illuminate the waterfall and the distant valley behind it.

 

Gear Used For Photography

To capture close up shots of the mineral formations and the pools we used our Sony a5100 camera with this tripod.

We shot the petrified waterfall on our DJI Mavic Drone to get a good angle of the entire waterfall and to show off the grand scale of this location.

 

3. Suytun Cenote

best places to go in Mexico suytun cenote

Suytun Cenote in Valladolid

Mexico’s Yucatan area has over 6000 cenotes. With so many cenotes it can be tough to choose which ones to check out on your trip to Mexico but there are a few remarkable ones, like the Suytun Cenote, that stand out above all others.

What makes the Suytun cenote such a unique Mexico attraction is a walkway leading down the center of the cenote.

The Suytun cenote is completely underground and the only light that makes into the cenote is from an opening in the ceiling. When timed right, a light shines down towards the walkway creating an alien-like light beam.

 

How To Get There

The Suytun Cenote is located in Valladolid, around 2 hours away from Cancun and Tulum.

To get to Suytun Cenote many visitors sign up for tours with agencies, but usually, that means arriving with busloads of other people. If you’re interested in getting a shot of the place without anyone in it, try to go on your own with a rental car and wait out the crowds.

 

Entrance Cost

The entrance cost to Suytun Cenote is 70 pesos per person (around $3.50 USD) and the cenote opens to visitors at 9 am.

 

How To Get The Shot

unique places to visit in mexico suytun cenote valladolid

Suytun Cenote in Valladolid

To capture the entire Suytun cenote set up your tripod and camera halfway down the stairs facing the walkway through the railing. We couldn’t do a self-timer because of the distance so we had our friends help us out to get this shot.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

To get the Suytun Cenote signature light beam arrive at the cenote around noon when the beam shines directly down. If you go too early in the morning, the light beam might not be out yet. If you go too late in the day, the beam might already be gone.

To get the light shining through make sure to go on a sunny day. On a cloudy or rainy day, there won’t be any sunshine to create the light beam.

 

Gear Used For Photography

To capture a shot of the entire Suytun cenote we used our Sony a5100 camera with this wide lens. The wide lens is great for landscape shots and this lens also has a low aperture of F2 which helps brighten the image in dark places.

We also used this tripod to stabilize our camera. Since it’s very dark underground you’ll need to lower the shutter speed to increase brightness. When using low shutter speed a tripod is a must otherwise the image will come out blurry.

 

4. Edward James Surrealist Garden ‘Las Pozas’

hidden gems in mexico edward james surrealist garden las pozas xilitla

‘Las Pozas’ Edward James Surrealist Garden in Xilitla

Edward Jame’s Surrealist garden Las Pozas is one of the best secret places to visit in Mexico’s jungle. This surrealist garden was built by Brittish poet Edward James with a vision in mind to create an Eden like place with surrealistic architecture.

Filled with elaborate decorative buildings, doors that open into nowhere, stairs that lead into the sky and lush waterfalls it’s safe to say that Edward James vision of recreating paradise truly came true. Now Las Pozas garden is open to the public for visiting and photography.

 

How To Get There

The closest major city to Las Pozas is Mexico City at around 7-hour drive away. The Edward James Surrealist garden is located in the small town of Xilitla so you’ll need a rental car to get there.

 

Entrance Cost

The entrance fee to Las Pozas Surrealist Garden costs 70 pesos per person ($3.50 USD).

 

How To Get The Shot

unique places to visit in mexico las pozas edward james surrealist garden xilitla

Edward James Surrealist Garden ‘Las Pozas’ in Xilitla

The Edward James surrealist garden is filled with unique sculptures in the midst of a rainforest jungle and offers many photographic options.

One of the best shots is located at the dome like building and can be shot from standing directly across from it on a viewing platform. To protect this building’s structure only a couple people are allowed to walk upon it at a time and only for 5 minutes so be ready when your turn is up.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

To avoid harsh shadows from the trees try to visit this park early in the morning or later in the evening when lighting is best.

 

Gear Used For Photography

We used Sony a5100 camera with the kit lens to get this image.

 

5. Tak Be Ha Cenote

hidden gems in mexico tak be ha cenote tulum

Tak Be Ha Cenote in Tulum

One of the best hidden gems in Mexico is the incredible Tak Be Ha Cenote.

A short drive away from its more popular sister cenote Sac Actun, it has similar features like the low hanging stalactites and turquoise blue water, yet it’s rarely visited due to lack of advertising. While most people pay top dollar and flock to the Sac Actun cenote, Tak Be ha remains one of the best non touristy Mexico destinations hidden in the Tulum jungle.

 

How To Get There

The Tak Be Ha cenote is located a short drive from Tulum beach area. The road leading into the Tak Be Ha cenote is a bit rugged but completely doable. To avoid dealing with cars and parking many people also opt to ride bikes here from Tulum which takes about an hour.

 

Entrance Cost

The entrance cost to Tak Be Ha cenote is 200 pesos per person ($10 USD) and includes access to snorkel and swim in the refreshing cenote water. Compared to the other more visited cenotes in the area this is one of the cheapest cenotes to visit yet equally stunning.

 

How To Get The Shot

secret places in mexico tak be ha cenote tulu

Tak Be Ha Cenote In Tulum

To get this shot of the Tak Be Ha cenote line up the subject below the little opening in the ceiling for extra light. The cenote has a platform that you can stand on while shooting images or hop around on the rocks to get different angles.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

The best time of the day to shoot images inside this cenote is mid-day during a bright and sunny day. The inside of the cenote is pretty dark so try to find the lightest areas for best color and sharpness. This cenote is not frequently visited so dealing with people and crowds is usually not an issue.

 

Gear Used For Photography

We used our Sony a5100 camera with this wide lens to get the shot. The wide angle lens is great for capturing lots of open space so the cenote doesn’t feel closed off.

 

6. Bacalar

quiet places in mexico bacalar

Camping Spot In Bacalar

Bacalar is one of the best alternative Mexico vacation destinations with water so blue that it compares to places like the Maldives. The 5-hour drive from Cancun to Bacalar discourages most people from visiting it which is the main reason why it’s still one of the less traveled destinations in Mexico.

 

How To Get There

To get to Lake Bacalar you’ll need a rental car. Unfortunately, the distance is the major obstacle why most tour agencies and public transportation doesn’t head out that way. But if you’re already heading on a vacation to Tulum, you won’t regret making a day or two detour to Bacalar.

 

Entrance Cost

Most of lake Bacalar access is closed off by private businesses like hotels and restaurants, but there are a few public access points that are super cheap and really beautiful. The public pier costs 20 pesos ($1) for parking and provides access to swim in the lake along with a palapa area to hang out.

Most hotels, restaurants, hostels and camping spots have their own private access to the lake. If you stay at any of these places, that will give you access to enjoy the lake.

 

How To Get The Shot

non touristy mexico destinations bacalar

Lake Side Hammock In Bacalar

Many of the lakeside hotels and hostels have set up their own swings and hammocks in the water for relaxing (and photos of course). If you walk along the shore you will also come across many cool areas without any people at them.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

The best time for taking photos at Bacalar is during mornings on bright and sunny days. The sun reflecting in the water can bring out the beautiful light blue color that Bacalar is known for.

 

Gear Used For Photography

To capture these images we used our Sony a5100 camera with this polarizer filter to remove any reflection from the water.

 

7. Tamasopo

less popular mexico destinations tamasopo huasteca potosina

Waterfalls In Tamasopo

One of the most scenic yet less popular Mexico destinations is the Tamasopo area. Located in the Huasteca Potosina region, Tamasopo offers a chance to experience incredible waterfalls, jungle vibes and turquoise blue rivers in the midst of a tropical rainforest.

From hidden camping spots to secret caves, this area holds some of the best secret gems in Mexico.

 

How To Get There

To get there you’ll need to travel through some distant mountain areas so you’ll need a reliable vehicle to get you to this area. The closest airport to Tamasopo is the San Luis Potosí International Airport around 3 hours away.

 

Entrance Cost

Not many international visitors travel into Tamasopo so it’s one of the most scenic quiet places in Mexico. You can expect to pay very low prices geared towards locals so a couple of dollars will give you access to waterfalls, camping spots and incredible parks.

 

How To Get The Shot

secret places in mexico tamasopo huasteca potosina

Private Waterfalls In Tamasopo

This image was taken at one of the best-hidden camping places in Mexico. We found this camping area in Tamasopo by taking the wrong turn and ended up camping next to a blue river with private waterfalls that we could enjoy all to ourselves.

To get this image we hiked up the little hill and shot the image facing the waterfall from the side. My husband took the image on a tripod while I placed myself on the waterfall edge.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

We shot this image right before sunset during the golden hour when the lighting and colors look the best. It’s always tricky shooting images around lots of trees that can potentially cast super harsh shadows so shooting around golden hour usually eliminates bad lighting.

 

Gear Used For Photography

Along with our Sony a5100 camera, we used this tripod to stabilize the image for long exposure that gives the water that beautiful flowy look. We also used this polarizer to take out any glare in the water.

 

8. Tulum

non touristy beach towns in mexico tulum

Beach in Tulum

Tulum is one of the best places to go in Mexico for a relaxing beach vacation. The lack of mega hotels and chain restaurants make it one of the cutest beach towns in Mexico.

Filled with white sand beaches, beach hammocks, swings and palm trees Tulum is not only one of the best places to vacation in Mexico, but also a magnet for cute photography.

 

How To Get There

Tulum is located 3 hours away from the Cancun Airport. Many hotels offer shuttles that will take you there and public transportation runs very often as well.

 

Entrance Cost

Tulum offers endless free photo opportunities. Most resorts and hotels have set up swings and hammocks to attract guests and while some expect you to buy a drink to hang out in their designated area, there are plenty of places that don’t.

 

How To Get The Shot

alternative mexico vacations matcha mama tulum

Matcha Mama in Tulum

One of the most famous places to take a picture in Tulum is at the Matcha Mama smoothie joint. The jungle vibes and colorful façade make this small smoothie shack a highly sought out photo spot. From fashion bloggers to lifestyle influencers, the swings of Matcha Mama have been visited and photographed by just about anyone visiting Tulum.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

The best time to shoot images in Tulum is really any time you’re not busy relaxing on the beach.

 

Gear Used For Photography

To shoot images of Tulum we used Sony a5100 camera with the standard kit lens.

 

9. Playa Balandra in La Paz

where to go in mexico balandra la paz

Balandra Beach in La Paz

Mexico is well known for its beautiful pristine beaches but one of the best places to visit in Mexico is the beautiful Balandra beach in Baja California. Tucked away on the outskirts of La Paz, Balandra is one of the less traveled beached in Mexico for international tourists, but highly loved by the locals for its crystal clear water and its relaxing nature.

 

How To Get There

Most people visiting Balandra fly into the Manuel Marquez de Leon International Airport and stay in La Paz. Many visitors also choose to fly into Cabo San Lucas International Airport and head to La Paz after spending a few fun days partying in Cabo.

 

Entrance Cost

Balandra is accessible to the public for free.

 

How To Get The Shot

The best way to show off the crystal clear waters of Balandra is by taking a kayak or paddleboard for a spin in the water. Balandra’s water is so clear that it casts a shadow underneath the kayak making it seem as if the kayak is floating above the water.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

The best time to photograph the kayak reflection is in the morning after the sun has come up. The bright sun brightens the water and adds a cool shadow beneath the kayak.

 

Gear Used For Photography

To photograph the kayak we used our DJI Mavic drone. While I paddled out into the bay my husband took the images from the land. The kayaking distance will limit communication so plan your shots ahead of time.

 

10. Isla Aguada in Campeche

less traveled mexico beaches isla aguada mexico

Isla Aguada In Campeche

Campeche is one of the most beautiful non-touristy regions in Mexico. From less traveled beaches to quiet cenotes this region is one of the best alternative places to visit in Mexico.

Some of the nature highlights of Campeche include Isla Aguada with its beach town vibes and turquoise clear blue water.

 

How To Get There

The closest airport to Isla Aguada is the Ciudad del Carmen International Airport, around an hour drive away so the best way to get around this region is with a personal rental car.

 

Entrance Cost

Isla Aguada is free to enjoy for visitors but to enter the island by car a toll fee needs to be paid of around 180 pesos ($9 USD).

 

How To Get The Shot

mexico undiscovered beaches isla aguada campeche

Isla Aguada In Campeche

Isla Aguada has a free tourist area with cute swings in the water and a few wooden piers. To get a shot of the swings and the piers look for an area called Puerto Isla Aguada on the map.

 

Best Time Of The Day For Photography

The best time to shoot the Isla Aguada area is in the morning before too many tourists show up.

 

Gear Used For Photography

To photograph the Isla Aguada swings we used our Sony a5100 camera with a polarizer filter to take out sun glare from the water.

 

non touristy mexico destinations hierve el agua

Hierve El Agua In Oaxaca

These 10 unique places to visit in Mexico are so amazing that you’re guaranteed to return from your trip with incredible pictures.

If you can’t get enough of Mexico’s hidden gems, you’ll love our post on top things to do in Huasteca Potosina, Mexico. Never heard of it? Neither did we until we visited this region and fell in love with its turquoise jungle rivers and incredible waterfalls.

 

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Related Articles:

Top Things To Do In Mexico City

Visiting Teotihuacan Pyramids In Mexico City

15 Top Places To Visit In Baja California, Mexico

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