The Gulf of Mexico is a large coastal region and ocean basin spanning the United States, Mexico, and Cuba, and is one of the most popular beach getaway destinations for Americans as well as Canadians. With a diameter of about 1,000 miles across, the Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world and was initially formed by rifting continental plate movements during the Triassic period. The northern stretch of the gulf is known to Americans as the Gulf Coast, and at nearly 1,700 miles in length witnesses some of the country’s largest beach tourism economy. Finding accommodation in the Gulf of Mexico region, such as vacation rentals, is as easy as selecting one of the plentiful apartments and villas on Wimdu.
Find a rental condo on the most beautiful beaches and historic regions along the Gulf of Mexico
Travel and tourism around the Gulf of Mexico region evokes specific memories and ideals local to the region. The cities and cultural epicenters of Yucatán, Houston, New Orleans, Destin, Tampa Bay, Havana, and the Florida Keys come to mind. The fresh southern hospitality and spicy creole cultures of the US Gulf Coast, the exotic and comfortable lifestyles of the Yucatan Peninsula, the voracious and sparkling nightlife of Havana and Houston, not to mention the relaxing, amenable and whitest beaches in the world along the coast of West Florida. The ideal way to begin the true ‘Gulf Experience’ would be to visit the Floridian coastal region and rent a beach cottage or condo and explore the various beaches and sandbars of the region.
The Gulf of Mexico: Did You Know?Here are some interesting facts about the Gulf region that you may not have known already:
- Did you know that Havana is just about 200 years older than New Orleans?
- Did you know that the famously white sands of the Florida Panhandle are ultimately eroded quartz from the Appalachian Mountains, or that the region is popularly referred to as the Redneck Riviera during party season?
- Did you know that there is a popular 'Rigs to Reefs' program in the Gulf, converting old, unused oil rigs into ocean habitats for coral reefs and other wildlife?
Destin, Tampa Bay, and the Keys
Enter Destin, Florida, one of the premier beach vacation destinations of the Gulf Coast for families all across the US. Located along the Florida Panhandle’s ‘Emerald Coast', famously coined for its view out across emerald green waters, Destin touts some of the world’s most pristine whitest sand beaches and great opportunities for gulf fishing excursions (Destin also has the moniker of ‘The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village’). Destin is located on a peninsula covering both the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. Originally an island, the Gulf’s wild weather temperaments and hurricane patterns reconnected it with the mainland over centuries. Alongside the wide variety of motels and hotels, there are plenty of beach condos or rentable villas and short stay apartments up for grabs. Just browse through the offers on Wimdu and discover yours today without any obligations! Other key beaches in the vicinity include Pensacola Beach, Miramar Beach, Panama City Beach, and the popular ‘Miracle Strip’, also known as Fort Walton Beach. Pay a visit to Seaside, a picturesque coastal city between Panama City Beach and Fort Walton Beach known for its fresh sea food and fantastic wine culture.
From there, venture over to the Tampa Bay area. In Tampa Bay, you have unlimited access to countless family-oriented activities such as water rafting, boating, theme parks, and family-oriented restaurants. Or get the party started by taking advantage of Tampa's infamous nightlife, go to popular clubs such as Liquid or Orpheum. By day discover the historic Latin Quarter known as Ybor City, and at night retreat back to your private apartment in the Bay area for rest and relaxation.
After experiencing the Tampa lifestyle, head on down to Fort Myers Beach, about a 2 hour drive down I-75, and catch the Key West Express ferry to the Florida Keys. The cruise totals just about 3.5 hours and lets you experience some rather breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico's aquatic landscape. Key West is famous for having once declared independence as the "Conch Republic", and also is the former home of famous American author Ernest Hemingway, who envisioned and wrote some of his most important works there.
The next popular destination for the Gulf of Mexico is Cuba, specifically its capital city Havana. Getting to Cuba can prove to be rather difficult depending on where you are, for instance there are no chartered ferries to Cuba from the Florida Keys. Instead, it is better to make your way to Miami and get a chartered flight from there to Havana. Havana was once the hottest, most lively vacation spots in the whole Gulf of Mexico region, but since Communism took its hold on this island nation, there has been an almost total ban on travel for US citizens and travellers from the United States. Once in Havana, make sure to exchange your currency as they only accept Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) from tourists, while the local inhabitants usually spend in normal Cuban Pesos. Visit the old town of Havana, La Habana Vieja, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. For a fantastic view of the Havana coast, ride bikes or walk along the Malecón, the official sea wall of the city where you can often find locals picnicking or having a drink on the shore. For all you cigar connossieurs, a visit to the Partagás Cigar factory (Fábrica de Tabaco Partagas) is an absolute must. In the evening, take a stroll along the Prado, where you have access to wonderful street events, cafes, and restaurants. When in Havana, it is best to stay in the old city, the liveliest portion of Havana with countless apartment options, or in the outer district Vedado, a bit more green and peaceful with plenty of options for stay, such as larger, villa-style accommodation.
The Yucatán Peninsula: Progreso, Cancun, Cozumel
Catch a flight from Havana to Mérida, Mexico, which is by far the best and safest way to get from Cuba to the Yucatán Peninsula. The Yucatán was once the center of a few major Pre-Columbian civilizations, and ever since it was conquered by the Spanish in the 1500s, it becomes taken over year after year by eager North American party-goers and adventure seekers who want to experience an exotic change of pace to their normal lives. Cozumel, Cancun, and Progreso are among the most popular desintations for travelers from North America. From Mérida you can head on to the coastal town of Progreso, where you can easily and cheaply rent a beach house for your Yucatán vacation. English is widely understood by the local inhabitants, but it never hurts to pick up some Spanish prior to your arrival. Interestingly enough, the old Maya language is often still spoken within the Yucatán region. Yucatán is considered a very safe place to visit, and if you rent a car you have access to most of the peninsula on your own. This way you can discover famous monuments such as the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
From Galveston to New Orleans
Last but not least, returning up the Gulf from Yucatán to the Texan and Louisiana Gulf Coast regions is not to be missed. Houston represents some of the Gulf Coast's best nightlife, and although is not directly along the Gulf of Mexico, is definitely worth visiting. For some more coastal action, an hour southeast of Houston is the famous beach town of Galveston, very frequented by Houstonian beach goers and is famous for its Schlitterbahn water park, Moody Gardens resorts, East Beach, which has a reputation for being 'the' party beach, as well as for its fresh seafood variety. There is a ferry you can take from Galveston to Bolivar Island, which gives you the opportunity to continue travel to New Orleans, The Big Easy, by avoiding the horrendous Houston traffic. Driving from Bolivar Island to New Orleans takes a measly 5 hours, but once there, you are truly in the hospitable, cultural nest of the Southern United States. Approximately 674 miles northwest of Havana, New Orleans has a rich colonial history. Begin your exploration by checking out the French Quarter (Vieux Carre) on foot, full of famous restaurants and museum such as the Historic New Orleans Collection and the local restaurant tip Bayona, serving great French/Creole fusion cuisine. In the evening, catch a horse-drawn carriage down Bourbon Street and wind up at Fritzels or another local venue to experience some of that live, famous New Orleans jazz music.
In short, here is a list of must-sees and must-dos in this large, beautiful region:
- The pure white sandy beaches of Destin, the Florida Gulf Coast, and the Key Islands
- Lavish in the historical beauty of smokey old Havana and jazz-inspired New Orleans
- Just relax and have a trip with friends in the Yucatán Peninsula, beaches of Progreso and history at the ruins of Chichen Itza
Best Ways to Get Around The Gulf of Mexico
The best way to get around the Gulf of Mexico is by getting cheap flights from the major urban centers of each respective local area and using rental cars or bus transportation from there. Aside from having your own personal yacht, it is a great idea to go on a cruise tour of the Gulf, offers for which you can find all over the net, such as Carnival Cruises. These frequently make stops in the top Gulf of Mexico destinations, such as New Orleans, Havana, Cozumel, Tampa Bay, and Key West.