The coasts of Mexico serve up stunning views, powdery beaches and many opportunities for fun in the sun. Explore the mysteries of the Mayan people, or see whales spouting offshore. Savor an authentic taco, or shop for crafts. Soon, you'll be shouting "Viva Mexico!" at our favorite cruise ports.

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1. Puerto Vallarta

You know Puerto Vallarta has wonderful Pacific beaches — 25 miles of them. But what might surprise you is how quickly you can get from the port into the tropical forest of the Sierra Madre for hikes or zip-line canopy tours. Alternatively, head out in a small boat to frolic with dolphins, or tour the beachfront malecón (promenade) and colonial Old Town — perhaps shopping for fine art or Huichol beadwork along the way.

2. Cabo San Lucas

On the tip of the Baja Peninsula, arid Cabo is famous for its celebrity visitors and for El Arco, an ethereal rock formation. Gray whales pass by on their yearly migration. In the lively port town you can shop, eat and drink, lounge on white sand beaches, and arrange sport-fishing trips. Laid-back sister town San José del Cabo has a colonial mission church and lots of boutiques that sell Mexican art and crafts.

3. Acapulco

Sierra Madre-backed beaches and a dose of glamour are Acapulco's calling cards. But nearly all tours – whether to explore history in the colonial Old Town or view the multimillion-dollar homes of Hollywood luminaries — lead to this Mexican cruise port's key attraction: La Quebrada's cliff divers. Seeing someone leap from a 130-foot cliff into a narrow gorge is thrilling; divers have been plunging here since 1934.

4. Costa Maya

On Mexico's Caribbean coast, near the border of Belize, Costa Maya wasn't even on the tourist map until it opened as a cruise port a decade or so ago. You can linger at the port's shopping and entertainment complex, or visit the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben, where some structures date from 700 A.D. Take an ATV ride through the jungle, go snorkeling or dig your toes into the powdery sands in the nearby fishing village of Majahual.

5. Cozumel

With its marine-life-rich reefs, Cozumel is one of the world's top dive destinations. Even just walking into the crystal-clear Caribbean at Parque Chankanaab, a national marine and cultural park, you'll see fish aplenty. The town of San Miguel de Cozumel is a great place to shop for souvenirs and at the nearby San Gervasio ruins you can explore Mayan temples, a must-see on any cruise to Mexico.