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  • Coastline Sierra Madre meets sparkling sea
  • Coast life Shopping, surfing and sunbathing

Skewered by the stunning Sierra Madre and edged by the warm waters of the Pacific, Jalisco is often said to be the most Mexican of Mexican states, and, since it gave the world tequila, mariachi, and rodeos, it’s not hard to see why.

From snow-capped volcanoes of the highlands, down to the central plains and steamy coastal jungles, the state of Jalisco boasts a rich diversity of landscape and culture. Its indigenous peoples (the Huicholes, Coras and Tepehuanes) still maintain their languages and traditions, while urban hubs such as Guadalajara – Mexico’s second largest city and the state’s capital – offer their own attractions: grand gastronomy, upmarket boutiques and a lively night-time scene. Along the Costa Alegre (or ‘happy coast’) you reach the inexplicably popular Puerto Vallarta, but venture a few steps from the beaten path and there’s dozens of sleepy fishing villages and unspoilt beaches to be enjoyed, while taking in the staggering biodiversity of the Pacific coast – whales, dolphins, turtles, seals and rare seabirds.

Do go/Don’t go

Between November and June, the weather is at its sunniest and the festival season is in full swing. From February to April the climate is warm and sunny, without being too humid. It’s always a good idea to bring warm clothes to Mexico as, depending on altitude and geography, the nights can often be colder than you might expect.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Aeromexico, Mexicana and Aviacsa all have flights from Mexico City to Guadalajara. American and United Airlines fly in from the US. United Airlines and Air Canada have direct flights to Puerto Vallarta from several major US and Canadian cities.
  • Boats Some seaside towns, such as Yelapa, can only be accessed by boat taxi – you can hop on board one in Boca de Tomatlan or Puerto Vallarta.
  • Trains The railways never really reached Mexico. Bus services are comprehensive and reliable but the distances involved are huge. Uno (www.uno.com.mx) are probably one of the best companies, as they offer first-class buses with reclining seats, and blankets for overnight journeys.
  • Automobiles Driving in Mexico is relatively easy and the roads are generally well maintained. However | venture far from the main highways and you’ll be in dirt track territory – rent a 4x4 if you intend to explore in depth.
  • Taxis In Guadalajara and Jalisco’s major towns, cabs are easily hailed in the street and you’ll find ranks at the region’s airports and bus stations. If you want to book ahead, try Taxi Aguirre in Guadalajara. (+ 52 33 3644 4818).