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Everything You Need to Know to Travel to Mexico this Winter

by Brent May

Is Mexico Open for Tourism?

You’ve heard people have been traveling to Mexico and you’re ready to head south or at least get your tickets for some winter sun. We hear ya’! Here’s everything you need to know to make your informed travel decisions for Mexico.


First of all you’re wondering, can I even go to Mexico?

Yes, you can travel to Mexico. Mexico never closed its borders and has been one of the unique destinations in the world to remain open without any requirements. Mexico is still one of the easiest destinations to visit in the world. So what’s it really like in Mexico now? Are there any protocols? And what do I have to do to get home? Very valid questions. Let’s explore.


What Has Tourism Been Like This Past Year?

 International tourism strongly rebounded this summer (178% increase in tourist numbers) compared to 2020 and has even surpassed the summer of 2019 by about 32% in air arrivals, according to the Federal Tourism Ministry (SECTUR) statistics. As of July 31, 20.2 million tourists have traveled to Mexico this summer. More Americans have traveled to Mexico this past year than usual, followed by Spanish, Swiss and French travelers.

During the entire pandemic, Mexico has kept borders open and does not require travelers to show proof of vaccines, tests or to quarantine. This is valid for land and air travel. Land borders into Mexico opened Nov. 8.

To return to the U.S. via land, air or ferry, proof of vaccines are now required for all travelers.  However, at land crossings, travelers have largely verbally attested to their vaccination status. But travelers can be asked to provide their vaccination documentation.

 If you are using CBX (Cross Border Xpress) between Tijuana and San Diego to reenter the U.S., proof of a negative test is not required because passengers are considered as “in transit.” You should be prepared to show your vaccination status at this port of entry. You may be required to show it or you may just have to verbally confirm your status.

The ease of travel to Mexico has made it a top destination even though in the case of Americans, the CDC has advised to reconsider travel plans or warned against traveling for the moment. Currently at “Level 3” or “high risk”, the CDC recommends being vaccinated before traveling to Mexico. 

Mexico’s states operate on a tri-colored traffic light system. States move through the colors depending on number of cases, hospitalizations and fatalities. All of Mexico except Baja California as green as of November 2021. This stoplight system is also used locally. Across Mexico,  hospitalizations and fatalities are way down compared to the initial waves. This is true along the Oaxaca coast.


What You Need To Know If You Are Planning Travel to Mexico

Mexico does not require proof of vaccines, tests or quarantine procedures. Sporadically, local protocols may be put in place.  Check your destination’s local protocols before you travel to be sure you are comfortable with them. All in all, measures are mainly local as the federal government has taken a laissez-faire attitude since the beginning of the pandemic.


What’s Open in Huatulco?

Everything is open in Huatulco, the sun is shining and the ocean is calm. Restaurants, beaches and hotels are open with some basic protocols in place. Periodic local measures can be implemented according to the local health situation. For example, the local government may issue a mask mandate in businesses, stores, markets, banks and government buildings and wherever a lot of people are gathered.

Beaches are open in Huatulco. Depending on local case numbers, authorities may suggest beaches have opening and closing times but even the authorities admit this is a difficult measure to control. The local government and citizen organizations say that the beaches will remain open as long as there are no large gatherings of people. A section of beaches closed in Puerto Escondido for this reason but are all open now.


Travel Back to the U.S., Canada and Europe

This past year, we have experienced high tourism numbers. PCR and rapid antigen tests are widely available in Huatulco and Puerto Escondido and everywhere in between including Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite. It is quite easy to get a test that is accepted in the U.S. and Canada. Antigen test prices range from 350 pesos to 1200 pesos depending on if you have it done in a large pharmacy chain or with a private doctor or at home. PCR tests are around 2100 to 2500 pesos in Huatulco at Laboratorio Huatulco, as an example. These are at home prices and can be less if there is more than one person. At the Grupo ARH Lab in Pochutla and Puerto Escondido, the PCR costs 1500 pesos. You will find at home antigen and PCR testing all along the coast. Expect the pricing to be higher for this service.

As of November 2021, the U.S. requires a negative test within 72 hours of your flight for fully vaccinated travelers, either PCR or antigen test to enter the United States and proof of vaccination. Check requirements here. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/requirements-for-air-travelers-to-the-us.html

As of November 2021, if you are a fully vaccinated Canadian re entering Canada, you are required to show a pre-entry molecular test, required to use ArriveCAN, required to take an arrival test if selected but are exempt from quarantine and 8-day testing.  You can check requirements for re-entry into Canada here: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid

As of August 2021, Europe requires proof of vaccination and a negative PCR or antigen test or proof of having recovered from COVID to re-enter.

Requirements evolve quickly. Please check them before you leave your country and again before your planned return trip.


Antigen & PCR tests are available everywhere

Anitgen tests are ready within 15 minutes and PCR tests are ready usually within 24 hours. However, we encourage you to make an appointment for either test at any of the labs or pharmacies providing the test. All tests are readily available.

If you’re flying American Airlines, you may use the Verifly app to upload your information and negative test result which will be shown to the airline upon check-in. Without the negative test at flight check-in, either paper, digital or via the Verifly app, you will not be allowed to board the flight. American has a direct flight from Dallas to Huatulco.

Please check the links here for up-to-date information on entry requirements.


Should I Book My Winter Sun Trip?

We recommend taking all of the above into consideration when buying your airline tickets. Buy refundable tickets or tickets that allow changes for free. You can always buy insurance but be sure to read the fine print because not all insurances will reimburse because of sickness or a positive Covid test result.

We also recommend taking this into consideration when booking your accommodations. Many accommodations offer changeable dates or refundable reservations. Privilege these accommodations. Ask specifically about the cancellation policy before booking. Make sure you are comfortable with it. Some accommodations no longer offer Covid-related cancellations because they assume travelers know there is a risk involved in travel now.

If you test positive before your flight home, you will need to delay your flight and wait for a negative test.


Huatulco’s Local Health Situation

We feel fortunate to live where we do. Huatulco is a low-density, master-planned community with modern infrastructure. We have an amazing expat community and a friendly local community. We have a great health care system along the coast. We have enjoyed being outdoors, swimming, paddle boarding, hiking, biking, walking on the beach and soaking up plenty of Vitamin D.

Until this past July, we were not strongly affected by the pandemic. Cases went up locally in July and August with the Delta variant but were quickly brought under control.   Local protocols were implemented for 3 weeks, vaccination campaigns increased so now anyone over the age of 18 who wants a vaccine has been able to receive the vaccine. Mexico is currently vaccinating teens 15-18 and administering 3rd doses.

We are ready for a safe winter season. If you are planning on visiting us this winter, be sure to check your country’s re-entry requirements. They may change. We don’t expect Mexico’s entry requirements to change, but here is a link to verify: https://embamex.sre.gob.mx/eua/index.php/en/2016-04-09-20-40-51/tourism/1760-mexico-s-covid-19-monitoring-system

So, yes, the good news is you can come to Mexico. We recommend that you check current requirements before you fly. Mexico’s economy relies on tourism to stay healthy. It provides many people’s daily bread. So, just be socially responsible and kind and follow local rules. 


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