The ‘C’ word on everyone’s lips right now and the one we’re all sick of – Coronavirus has taken over everyone’s lives and mental health in the last few weeks. I don’t want to add to the constant noise of the media-induced panic we’re faced with. More to share my own backpacking experiences from Central and South America during this time. As some of you may know, I made the decision to fly home to the UK after things escalated in Colombia over the last week. It’s a decision I’m glad I made. But knowing how many backpackers and travellers are affected. I wanted to share my experiences and best travel advice for Central and South America right now.

I’m not inviting criticism and comment on my own decisions. As I’ve seen full well over the last few weeks, any form of panic brings out the keyboard warriors in force. This blog is not a place for that. I simply want to focus on what is happening to the travellers caught up in the border closures as the pandemic starts to extend it’s grasp to the continent. Being a backpacker means being in a privileged position. I want to take this opportunity to remind anyone who is considering travel right now, that not everyone has healthcare, money and privilege to escape Covid-19 in this way. Please be sensitive and mindful when making travel decisions at this time. And remember these decisions affect a lot of people – not just you.

Coronavirus struck South America, pics from Costa Rica, girl on beach at sunset

What was it like in Central & South America during the Coronavirus outbreak?

Guatemala & El Salvador

This was the first part of Central America where the Coronavirus really touched my little travel bubble. You see, when you’re at home in the UK, it’s easy to get swept up in the panic and the chaos. After all, you’re constantly bombarded by the media on TV, in the papers and on the radio. But in Central America, it’s easy to cut yourself off. That is exactly what I had done for the weeks previous due to my travel schedule. It was easy to be unaware of the mounting panic and the scale of the problem.

But when I crossed the border between Guatemala and El Salvador. Medics stopped our bus at the border and took all of our temperatures. They quizzed us all about our recent travels and home countries. It was so strange, it seemed so far removed from the life we had been living over there. But it was an early sign of what was to come with both countries being among the first over there to close borders.


It was several countries later when I next felt the effects of Covid-19. I spent just over a week in Panama City and in that week, the situation escalated a lot. With the number of cases growing (still only 30 confirmed at that stage) schools and universities were closed. Also music venues and large gatherings were closed down. People started to wear masks, supermarkets had sanitiser at the doors. A man flinched away when I coughed behind him in the queue.

Then, overnight, the San Blas Islands closed. This was entirely understandable as the indigenous Kuna people who live on the islands may be more susceptible to Coronavirus due to lack of exposure. But sadly it also meant the islands closed just days before I was due to spend a few days there. It also meant my plans to sail down to Colombia with a company I was working with were cancelled. I don’t disagree with the decision at all, it was the right thing to do. But it was the first big travel disruption I experienced and was just a few days before the borders started to close.


I was in Colombia for just four days and in that time, the situation across Central and South America blew up. Borders closed across four countries in Central America with many forced to flee across borders from Honduras. Many others are now stuck indefinitely, unable to fly home or travel to a country with open borders. Within days, Colombia started to talk about Covid-19 border closures and enforced a 10pm curfew. Overnight, that curfew changed to 6pm, and 24/7 on weekends.

The panic spread through the hostels as some accommodations closed and others cut back to 60% capacity for safety. Restaurants were only allowing max 10-12 people in and everyone was sitting 2m apart, then a lot of restaurants closed entirely. The queues outside the supermarkets were curling around the block. The streets became quiet and backpackers panicked, buying flights home and sending the prices soaring as airlines shut down flight paths.

Girl on beach at sunset, Costa Rica

Why I had decided to stay in South America

Before the situation blew out of control – I had made the decision to stay in South America and wait it out. I’m not inviting judgement on this, I simply want to explain my reasons because I know many other travellers out there had the same mindset. I had read all of the available information and advice, which changed on an almost daily basis. But I tried my best to make an informed decision about the situation.

My reasons for staying during the Coronavirus outbreak

My original plan was to meet with a group of friends for a trip we had already planned, but instead of travelling, we would rent a house somewhere and self-isolate together. This way we would be a group, we could look after each other if anyone did get sick and most of all, we would avoid travelling at such a risky time. This would cause minimal spread of the virus, and put us at minimal risk of catching it.

I also had an extremely good travel and health insurance policy which would support healthcare if it were needed. I know that South American healthcare systems may not quite be the same standard as the UK. But as healthy, young and fit people, we were already at a much lower risk of catching Coronavirus. And I also know the extreme pressure the NHS must be under at the moment – it’s hard enough to get an appointment at the best of times. And finally, the number of cases across South American countries was significantly lower than those of the UK and Europe. Which means even flying back to the UK, I would be placing myself and others at great risk of catching Covid-19.

sunset beach costa rica, girl on blanket on sand

Why I had to fly home to the UK

But things don’t always go to plan and Coronavirus is anything but under control. So the decision I had made just days before quickly became impossible as my friends and I were separated by border closures at opposite ends of the continent. One was stuck in quarantine in Chile, another in Argentina while I was up in Colombia. It wasn’t safe or possible to reunite, so we had to think about other options. But before I could make another decision, Colombia made the choice for me.

The country closed its borders to all but residents, which meant I could either stay there until the end of May, or come home. I chose to come home for the following reasons:

Covid-19 experiences of other travellers

I know of many European backpackers who tried to escape the border closures, only to find they were refused entry elsewhere. An American friend leaving Honduras to get to Guatemala where she could stay safely reported German and Italian backpackers being refused entry at the border. I also have a friend who is stuck in quarantine in Chile. I’ve heard of huge groups of Israelis, UK and Dutch backpackers stuck in Peru. The country closed its borders and they are all desperate to get home. Some are trying to work with the government to arrange transport.

For those who have managed to book flights, these journeys are often 40+ hours long, containing multiple flights, stresses over visas and border closures, and even refused entry. I know my own journey back to the UK (I’m currently writing this halfway through at JFK airport) has been a nightmare to book and take. Flight prices were also skyrocketing due to so many booking at once and the lack of availability with flights not able to land at many European destinations. Many were unable to find flights and have been left stranded, having to stay and wait it out.

Coronavirus warnings advice, beach at sunset

Coronavirus advice to backpackers in Central & South America

I’m not a medical professional, so I won’t offer health advice. But when it comes to travel, Central and South America is a no-go right now, as is much of the world. And yet, I keep seeing backpackers and travellers posting on Facebook groups asking if it’s possible to go. I want to stress that the vast majority of the continent is closed due to border closures. There is a good chance the rest will follow suit shortly.


If you’re considering travelling to this part of the world – PLEASE DON’T. Now is not a time for travel, by travelling you are putting yourself and others at great risk of contracting Coronavirus. If you do get ill, you will be placing delicate healthcare systems under even greater pressure. If you do decide to go, you will be very limited on your travel anyway as most of the bigger tourist attractions are closed including national parks. Plus shops, restaurants, hotels and hostels are closing up fast.

If you are smart, you will save your health and that of others from risk of exposure. You will save your money and your time by staying at home and waiting Covid-19 out. Wait until the world is healed and trust me, the travel prices will be low for a long time. Something like this can really decimate the travel industry and it is already feeling the effects. The discounted prices you see now will still be available for months to come while quarantines take place worldwide.

meditating on beach, costa rica

If you are trying to get home:

Doc HQ health banner

Useful sources of information on Covid-19 & travel

If you are going to make decisions, please base them on factual information and health advice from sources such as the following. Please don’t buy into the media hysteria – make calm and sensible decisions based on the facts.

Also, look up the relevant advice and border closures for the country you might be stuck in. This is easy to google and find up-to-date information about border closures. Here are some previous blog posts that you might find helpful:

feeling sad, beach costa rica sunset

Why it’s okay to be devastated about everything

I want to be the one to speak up and say, it’s not selfish to be sad. I’m absolutely devastated to have to cut the trip of a lifetime short. It doesn’t mean that I don’t agree that it’s the right decision. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not putting everyone’s health first. But this has been a huge blow to the lives of many who had weddings, holidays, birthdays, travels and even moving abroad planned for the year. This doesn’t detract from the fact that people have lost their lives. And I agree that such a colossal waste of life is far more important. But that doesn’t devalue our emotions.

I’m sick of seeing people post that it’s selfish to feel sad or disappointed at what you’ve missed out on. We’re all just human and you know what? In a confusing and scary time, it’s okay to be gutted that your life has been put on hold. It’s okay to feel scared and lonely, or to not know what to do. It’s okay to not feel yourself and it’s okay if you do. My point is, we’ve all been through a lot over the last few weeks and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down. So just know, whatever you are feeling is okay, and we’re all going through the same. So less judgement of others and a LOT more kindness please and thanks.

What are my next plans?

At the moment, I have put everything on hold while I wait to see what happens. I have two lovely weeks of quarantine where I’ll try not to go insane and then I’ll be taking each day as it comes. I’m focusing on being home with my family and taking a break from travel. During this time, I will focus on some other projects and work for a few months. Hopefully by the end of the summer things will have calmed down a bit. My plan is to travel again once Coronavirus is under control and it is safe again. I will finish my travels in South America. I also have a working holiday visa for New Zealand sitting in my emails. But I’m prioritising health and safety – so watch this space.

If your travels been affected by Coronavirus – leave a comment and share your own experiences. Has Covid-19 cut your trip short, or are you waiting it out abroad?

absolutely lucy sign off

An absolute must-visit for any travellers heading to Costa Rica – Monteverde Cloud Forest Nature Reserve completely blew me away. One of the wildest, purest landscapes I have been lucky enough to hike during five years of travel. Yes, Costa Rica is touristy, but it’s easy to feel like you’re the only traveller in the forest, lost somewhere high in the clouds. After exploring the hotter and more humid areas of the country, Monteverde was a sunny mountainous escape with fresh breezes of the crisp, clean air.

The sound of birdsong and the beating of a hummingbird’s wings rang clear on the breeze. The damp earthy smell of the trails, the odd tree root stretching out across the path and the spray of raindrops as the trees moved in the breeze. This curiously misty canopy was the perfect place for animals to hide away, watching on as the travellers hiked the paths. Monteverde was a place I was dying to visit long before I ever set foot in Central America and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Macro nature shots from Monteverde, leaves close up in the jungle

Why visit Monteverde Cloud Forest Nature Reserve?

There’s a reason Monteverde is on every traveller’s must-see list when they come to Costa Rica. Monteverde actually means Green Mountain – and it’s a place that could easily inspire the myths and legends of days gone by. Stepping into the forest feels like stepping back into the Jurassic era. Witness trees that have stood for hundreds of years, vines and creepers inching their way along the branches. Moss growing on every surface, and every shade of green you can imagine, and more.

The fresh clean air clings to your lungs and your skin is damp from the second you enter the trees. On the forest floor are the remains of trees of times gone by, and yet they live on by fuelling the next generation of saplings. The Monteverde Cloud Forest, or Bosque Nuboso Monteverde as it is also known, is one of the most eco-diverse places I have ever visited. It has masses of wildlife in all shapes and sizes, from frogs, birds and insects, to snakes, monkeys, sloths and even cats! Although it’s rare to see these. Birdwatchers flock to the area to spot and study unique species.

Read: Planning your trip to Saxon-Switzerland National Park

Lucy sitting on the Hanging Bridge at Monteverde

Visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest Nature Reserve:

How to get there? Combining with other Costa Rica stops

If you’re travelling from San José, getting to Monteverde is the cheapest and easiest. You can arrive by public bus, the most cost-efficient option and perfectly comfortable. The bus runs twice daily, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and it takes around 4.5 hours. From San José, the bus leaves from the Downtown station, Terminal 7-10 and runs with Transmonteverde.

If you have visited nearby La Fortuna, you can get a shuttle to Monteverde, but not a direct bus. This is the route I took and the shuttle – which I booked via Selina Hostel for $26. These run at 8am and 2pm, and take around 3-4 hours to arrive. If you are travelling as a group, hiring a car may be the best option as splitting the cost gives you freedom and flexibility in your schedule, but on a budget.

Read: Envision 2020: Why go to a music festival solo?

Macro nature shots from Monteverde, red spotted plant with berries close up in the jungle

When to visit? How long do I need?

It’s important to remember that Costa Rica has a dry season (December to May) when prices are higher and attractions are busier. But this also means the best weather for hiking the Monteverde Cloud Forest and least rain. In the wet season (May to December), this is also possible, but the weather may be more unpredictable, and if rains are heavy, I imagine that some parts of the forest paths might be more slippery or even inaccessible. I visited at the beginning of March, and despite the weather being perfect, I found the park quiet and peaceful. It was easy to escape the tour groups and have whole trails to myself.

You can easily hike the entire Cloud Forest independently in one day, it took me from 9am until 2pm, others might be faster/slower. Or you can break up the trails across different days, but you will have to pay the entrance fee each time you enter. I recommend spending at least 2 full days in Monteverde – this gives you a day for the forest and a day to either enjoy the town, take a coffee tour or visit some of the other local attractions.

How much does it cost?

Entry to the Cloud Forest costs $26 per adult, this is payable in cash or by card. Discounts available for those with a student card, and the elderly/children.

Absolutely Lucy tiny under the canopy of huge trees, Monteverde

Can I do a self-guided tour? Do I have to take a tour?

You DO NOT need to take a tour. It is entirely possible to visit Monteverde Cloud Forest independently and to self-guide the trails. The tours are expensive, noisy and do not spot many animals (this seems to be the big draw for taking a tour). Checking with people who took the tours, they said they spotted birds, frogs and insects – I saw all of these independently. I much preferred visiting independently because it meant I could enjoy the peace and quiet while visiting. Instead, I could hear the birdsong, the wind in the trees, and my own thoughts! If you do decide to do a tour, read the reviews and do your research before booking.

Shuttles/transport to the Monteverde Cloud Forest

There are various options available for getting to/from the nature reserve depending on your budget. Taxis are by far the most expensive and are not really necessary, but are an option if you prefer. I would really recommend either renting a car and driving yourself. However, please note the car park is quite a distance from the park entrance, so if you don’t fancy the walk up the hill, you may want to rethink.

For those on a budget, I really recommend either taking the public bus or do what I did and book the shuttle. It costs $5 for a return ticket and they pick you up at your accommodation (you can choose to go at 7.30am, 8am or 9am) and then you can return at 11am, 2pm or 4pm. This worked perfectly for me and I went at 8am and returned on the 2pm bus, having seen everything at the park.

Macro nature shots from Monteverde, moss with raindrops close up in the jungle

What to do at Monteverde Cloud Forest?

Which trails to hike?

Sendero Bosque Nuboso – Sendero La Ventana – Sendero Camino – Sendero Wilford Guindon (4km – easy)

The most popular hike, and one that is suitable for all abilities with the most to see, is just under 4km and can take a while to complete as there is so much to see! This route takes in some amazing natural sights, a nature trail, the Sendero La Ventana viewpoint over the Continental Divide, plus the hanging bridge, and more incredible nature on the way back. It follows the Sendero Bosque Nuboso trail towards Sendero La Ventana, then heads to Sendero Camino and finishing up with Sendero Wilford Guindon trail.

Sendero Tosi – Quebrada Cuecha – George Powell (3.3km – easy)

Each trail is different and has unique sights along the way, plus the ever changing landscape as you move between different altitudes and walk from below the clouds, to right above them. It’s a crazy feeling to stand above the canopy, and then to move down into the dense forest. If you’re feeling athletic – there’s also an option to add an extra 3.3km hike to the waterfall, which is definitely worth seeing, and you can build in the Sendero Tosi, Quebrada Cuecha and George Powell routes.

Overall completing these routes took me around 3 hours – not because the hike is difficult but because there is SO much to see and I kept stopping to take photos. It’s an incredible place so make sure you give yourself the time to enjoy it and to really spot the animals/nature.

Sendero Chomogo – Sendero Roble – Sendero Wilford Guindon (2.8km – steep/slippery)

If you still have energy after this and fancy more of a challenge – there’s another hike that will expect a slightly higher fitness level. It’s still suitable for all abilities if you have the time to go slower, but expect steeper inclines – both up and down – plus slippery steps. Make sure you wear proper shoes for this one and take your time, plus take plenty of water.

Please note the Sendero Chomogo – Sedero Roble route is not signposted once you are on it, so it can be difficult to judge how far you have gone. Just keep following the trail, it’s not as far as you think, 2.8km total and that includes revisiting the hanging bridge and Wilford Guindon trail. Allow time for this trail, I completed it in 45 minutes, but I had to rush for my shuttle bus so I did it at high speed. It was still beautiful – and very different to hiking the other trails. The nature you see along the way is very different and more tropical jungle feel.

Absolutely Lucy at the Continental Divide, Monteverde

What sights to see?

The three main sights are the Sendero La Ventana (Continental Divide), the Hanging Bridge and the Waterfall. All of these are worth seeing and are highlights of the trails – easily combined into one hike. But there is also a lot to see on all of the trails along the way including spectacular views across the jungle/forest, into the canopy, spectacularly huge trees, vines and creepers, animals and much more. Don’t rush your hikes, slow down and take in the view. Plus the slower and quieter you move, the more likely you are to see wildlife.

How hard are the hikes?

I have a high fitness level and love to hike so I found the paths pretty easy. Some were more difficult in places because they were steep or slippery, but generally they were all fairly easy and flat. The hardest one was the Sendero Chomogo – Sendero Roble hike because of the elevation and how steep/slippery it was. But anyone can do it, you just need to make sure you have the time to go slow and walk at a pace that works for you. But I saw kids and elderly people walking most of the trails with no issues – just remember to go prepared and wear appropriate clothing.

Into the canopy – amazing tree views, Monteverde

What should I wear/take with me?

Here is your packing list for Monteverde Cloud Forest Nature Reserve:

Tips for visiting photographers

It can get very damp, rainy and misty in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. If you are planning on taking expensive camera equipment with you – which you will definitely want in order to capture the beauty of the area. I really recommend making sure you have something to protect your gear with. While I visited, the weather was beautiful, so I found I was okay to just use my backpack and hands to shield my camera from the mist. However, I have heard it can get much worse – if this is the case when you visit, perhaps try lining your backpack/camera bag with a plastic bag if you don’t have a waterproof cover for it.

Absolutely Lucy at waterfall, Monteverde

Guide to Monteverde town:

My love of Monteverde didn’t stop at the Cloud Forest, the town was a great place to spend a few days. I hadn’t expected there to be much around but it proved to be a great little stop on my Costa Rican adventures. Though small, it has everything you need including supermarkets, great accommodations, a choice of international cuisine at the restaurants. There’s a karaoke bar and another bar with live music each night, shops to browse, cafes, coffee tours and much more. I had a fab few days in the area and would really recommend a couple of days to really enjoy everything.

Best places to stay

Monteverde Hostels

A lot of the hostels in Monteverde appear incredibly basic and outdated. I had friends stay at others and they complained about them being dirty or having uncomfortable beds. If you want comfortable and quality hostels in Monteverde, I recommend trying the following two:

Monteverde Hotels & Apartments

If you’re on holiday or have a bigger budget and prefer a private room/hotel, try the following options:

Macro shot, Red flowers with raindrops, against green leafy backdrop, Monteverde

Best places to eat

Best things to do

Have you visited Monteverde Cloud Forest – would you like to?

absolutely lucy sign off



Ever wondered what it’s like to be vegan in Mexico? Not sure if you can find the best veggie options or just worry about accidentally ending up with chicken tacos? This guide is the one for you. Travelling with any specific dietary requirements can be pretty difficult, but especially when you don’t speak the language. For so many, this puts them off travelling to certain locations. But I want this guide to show you guys that the world is your oyster (or avocado, if you like).

Over the last five years of travel I’ve migrated more towards a plant-based lifestyle where possible. While always considering myself a “flexitarian” depending on the country I’m in. I won’t eat meat, but I am open to sometimes eating fish or dairy products if there is nothing else. It’s not always easy to stick to a vegan lifestyle. But it is worth it. I’ve never felt better than since I started focusing on plant-based meals. Around the world, there will always be countries where eating vegan/veggie is harder. But luckily Mexico is not one of these countries. Whatever your motivation for a vegan/veggie diet. I’m going to show you how easy it can be in this part of the world.

Read: Nine great tips for helping you to travel sustainably

Being vegan in Mexico guide, acai bowl and pineapple with colourful background


Eating clean & vegan – Mexico

I’ve just spent a month travelling around Mexico, in the Riviera Maya/Yucatan part of the country. It’s a beautiful part of the world and one I highly recommend to any traveller. A huge part of the cultural travelling experience over in Mexico is by far the food. Just because you’re vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian, you shouldn’t have to miss out! Luckily this part of Mexico has become a big centre for great vegetarian and vegan food so you’ll be spoiled for choice. You just need to know where to look.

How to find the best plant-based and vegetarian food

It can be super time consuming to track down restaurants that cater for your dietary needs. So often the very best vegan food is hidden away in a sea of meat-heavy restaurants. Last year, I stumbled on a great app that really has changed my travel food journey. HappyCow is the best way to track down the vegan/vegetarian and plant-based restaurants nearest to you at all times. Using it has meant that I have constant access to the most recent reviews of vegan restaurants, guides to healthy vegetarian food, natural food stores, vegan-friendly options nearby, recipes, and more.

While you do have to pay for the app, it is one of the best investments I have made as I use it on an almost daily basis. I have now used it across Europe, Asia and Central America and it has meant that no matter where I am, I can check local restaurants and whether they provide vegan options, it also gives me a guide to pricing and pics/reviews that have been uploaded by other app users. You can even browse through travel options and find vegan hotels, b&bs and resorts to stay at, for a vegan or vegetarian traveller – it’s an invaluable tool.

Read: Top tips for staying in shape when you travel

Absolutely Lucy at La Hoja Verde, Tulum, eating fresh healthy salads

Key words to learn for communicating your diet

You might not be fluent in Spanish, but it is important to learn a few phrases when travelling as a vegan in Mexico. It could mean the different between finding pork or beans in your tacos and nobody wants that surprise. Luckily, Spanish is a pretty easy language to pick up and learning these few phrases could make your life a lot easier.

Top tip: Always keep it simple, don’t try to overcomplicate by asking too many questions. There are a lot of times when people may not speak English and the more you ask, the more likely they are to just agree with you. Focus on whether it contains “carne” and “queso” (meat & cheese).

Read: Five ways I’m looking after myself more this year

My 3 favourite vegan eats for Mexico

There are no end of amazing dishes to try and I love the creativity when it comes to making amazing vegan food over here. But here are my top 3 foods to try when travelling the region:

  1. Mango with tajin – it’s a great street food snack you can find anywhere and is a fresh mango on a stick dressed with lime, chilli and salt. So refreshing and zingy!
  2. Vegan tacos – these can vary so much from place to place, but the best one I had were super heathy with loads of avocado and kale plus tofu. Absolutely delicious!
  3. Tostadas – a great breakfast option and really fresh when done with only the veggies, salsa and skip the cheese.

Top tip: Really make the most of the sauces. Most vegan Mexico restaurants/street food stalls I have been to have a fantastic range of sauces from the super spicy salsa verde/picante to the flavoursome chilli. If you’re finding the food a touch bland, this is a great way to really spice up your meal.

Vegan tacos in Mexico

Top 3 vegetarian eats for Mexico

If you can’t live without a nice bit of queso – these are great options for you to try out

  1. Mushroom quesadillas – I was addicted to these while in Tulum. The mushrooms have so much flavour over here and go great with the cheese.
  2. Elote – the Mexican version of corn on the cob – sold on every street corner, it’s a street food snack that is either served “on the cob” or in little pots bathed in salt, chilli powder, lime, butter, cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream.
  3. Vegetarian enchiladas or burritos – you don’t have to miss out on traditional Mexican food just because you’re veggie – just ask for beans and everything else as a filling instead of the meat.

Top tip: A lot of vendors are happy to swap out meat for cheese or beans combination instead. Don’t be afraid to ask, just make sure you check my key words guide above for the correct Spanish terms.

Best 3 pescatarian eats for Mexico

Whether you want a break from a meat-heavy diet or just prefer something fresher – these fishy options will be a great match for you.

  1. Ceviché! One of the biggest surprises for me in Mexico was how much I loved ceviché. The idea of it didn’t appeal at all but the super fresh dish is absolutely delicious. Bathed in citrus, salt, chilli and much more.
  2. Fish or shrimp tacos – such a great alternative to the meatier options available, these are much lighter and often fried in tempura but go great with the lime and avocado.
  3. Fresh barbecued seafood – if you’re staying near the ocean, it’s a great opportunity to try some fresh seafood. Snapper, tuna and various white fish are super popular, plus shrimp and lobster.

Top tip: Don’t be afraid of street food – usually it’s the freshest and most flavoursome food you will find! It’s also usually made fresh for you so you can easily ask the vendors to adapt the dish to your dietary needs.

Absolutely Lucy with ceviché in Playa del Carmen

City breakdown – where is it easy to find vegan/veggie food?


With many travellers flying in and out of Cancun, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself passing through here when travelling Mexico. The good news is that both the hotel zone and downtown areas are well-stocked with health and vegan/veggie restaurants.

My favourite was just a 10 minute walk when I was staying at Selina Hostel in the Hotel Zone – Natura Restaurant was underneath a hostel and offered a fantastic range of healthy and plant-based food options from breakfast to dinner and dessert. You should also check out Vegan Planet and Mora Mora in Downtown, Casa Tequila in the hotel zone and Greenverde Restaurant if you head to Isla Mujeres.

Playa del Carmen

Playa was my favourite place for plant-based food. There were so many healthy options and great restaurants that were really creative with the food. My absolute favourite was La Senda Restaurante and I ended up eating there multiple times and always loved the food. The vegan mushroom alfredo zucchini pasta and the vegan tacos were amazing.

Also check out Bio and Natural which has two branches across the city and also sells vegan products as well as food. Dr Juice for detox programmes and nutrition-based medicine and juices. Comet 984 if you fancy gorging on 1950’s diner style vegan fast food like hot dogs and burgers or 100% Natural for vegan salads, sandwiches, juices and more.


The home of laid-back healthy living was a haven of plant-based and vegetarian food. I could have eaten at a different restaurant for every meal and still had some left over to try! My favourite place was La Hoja Verde. It had such a range of juices, smoothie bowls and salads which I was craving.

Also try Aguacate Limon – an all vegan taco shop for those Mexican flavours. Farm to Table is a little bit more pricy but has a real focus on sustainability and all organic waste from the restaurant is used to grow fruits and veggies. Co.ConAmor is great for the raw food lovers and also sells vegan and sustainable products. I could easily list countless more options – if you’re interested, I really recommend the Happy Cow app – you will be spoilt for choice.

Street food tacos – messy but delicious


A much smaller stop, there wasn’t as much choice around this area. However if you’re a pescatarian you will be fine as there is a lot of fresh seafood available here including lobster and fish. My favourite vegan/veggie spot is one that doesn’t come up on the Happy Cow app – it was called Lil and was on the main street, a tiny place on a corner with a hammock outside. The woman who runs the place is so lovely and creates tacos, wraps, salads from the freshest vegetables – something that is really missing elsewhere in the area.

For the veggies/vegans, your main four options are Ibiza Sunset – apparently the chef there is vegetarian himself and happy to create vegan plates. Perlas and Cocos, Pitaya Beach Club and Blue Kay which is actually the hostel I stayed at – I didn’t try the food but but it comes in huge portions and has veggie options available.


Bacalar was one of my favourite places in Mexico and well worth a stop! The veggie/ vegan Mexico food here is much better than Mahahual and you’ll definitely be able to find some great options. I tried out El Manatí which I was really excited about, it has a gorgeous garden at the back and you walk through an art gallery and shop to reach it. There was live music playing when I arrived and it was a great spot to work for a few hours. But the food was a bit disappointing.

I also tried Mango y Chile which was a plant-based restaurant selling burgers and organic coffee, the burgers were great. Other options include Pasión Turca for Turkish and Middle Eastern food, Enamora for breakfast and café dishes and La Playita which has incredible (if a little expensive) food. There was also an amazing taco shop on the main square called Mister Taco which has some of the best vegan Mexican food I’ve tried. They have a range of meat, seafood and veggie/vegan tacos available.

What to do if you can’t find anywhere to eat?

It’s never ideal but anywhere you travel, there is always a chance you might not find food that fits your dietary requirements. Perhaps you’re sick of fried food or just want something super simple. Or perhaps you just visit an area that isn’t very touristy and doesn’t cater for a vegetarian or vegan Mexico diet. Another option if you want more control over what you are eating, is to stay somewhere with a kitchen and prepare your own meals. If you’re looking to save money when travelling, this can be a good option.

While hotels won’t offer this option, there are plenty of Airbnbs and hostels that will have a kitchen for you to use. I’ve previously stayed in the Selina hostels, which are scattered all across Mexico, including Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. These hostels always come with a fully equipped kitchen area and fridges to store and prepare food. You ca easily pick up supplies at the local markets if you want fresh fruit and veg, or pop to the supermarket and pick up pasta or anything else you might need.

Absolutely Lucy in local restaurant with mariachi band

The cost of being vegan/vegetarian in Mexico

Make sure you also take into account your budget. While eating out doesn’t have to be expensive in Mexico – it actually has some of the cheapest street food I’ve found in Central America. It can quickly add up if you’re eating out in vegan-specific cafés all the time. If you’re on a lower backpacker budget, you will be best placed to focus on street food and communicating to the vendors that you want no meat or no cheese – there are a lot that offer vegetarian or vegan options. Alternatively, as I said above, you can cook for yourself – if you’re travelling as a group or couple, this may be the best and cheapest option. If you’re on a shorter holiday or have a bigger budget, enjoy dining out on all the amazing vegan and vegetarian food.

Are you vegan or vegetarian? Have you been to Mexico? Would you like to try authentic Mexican food?

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