Campeche, capital of the eponymous state on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, is a two-hour drive south of the airport in Mérida, but what it lacks in convenience it more than makes up for with charm, affordability, and the sort of immersive, gringo-free experience that's increasingly hard to come by in Mexico. The entire city, founded in 1540 and still ringed by its original forts, is remarkably well-preserved, but equally impressive is the array of things to do outside its walls. Hotel Socaire, a grand colonial residence given a fresh, hipster makeover (from $55/night), is an ideal base for a few days of easy adventures: In the afternoon, climb the Mayan ruins of Edzná, spelunk the ancient vertical wells of X'Tacumbilxuna'An, or dive a few of the 23 shipwrecks off this once-important port. If you're feeling lazy, camp out on one of the deserted beaches just south of town. In the evening, dine on fresh-caught pompano, buy a jipi hat, handwoven on the street from local palms, and hoof through spontaneous dance parties in the 16th-century central square, Plaza de la Independencia. "Campeche gets as many tourists in one year as Cancún gets in a day," says Raul Castaneda, owner of Tarpon Town Anglers, which offers year-round tours. "The history and natural beauty are so intact, there are places where you feel like you're the only person within 100 miles."
This Year's Best Gear
From toys and tools to gadgets and four-wheel fun, we give you the rundown of the most exciting new goods.
Plus: A Look Inside the Global Ivory Trade
ON NEWSSTANDS NOW
Sign up to receive the Men’s Journal newsletter and special offers from MJ and its marketing partners.