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10 ‘Instagram Vs. Reality’ Photos Of Mexico’s Most Instagrammable Places To See Before You Book Plane Tickets

It’s no secret that Instagram is the highlight reel of life, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded from time to time. Sometimes we forget that influencers, celebs, brands —and even ourselves— are guilty of editing and filtering photos so heavily that they end up looking nothing like the real life version. In the search for the perfect “Instagram-worthy” shot, we lose perspective of what things looked like in reality. 

These places are still beautiful —just a little different than you might expect. 

This is why we thought we’d round up Mexico’s most “Instagrammable” spots according to social media users and show you the curated, edited and heavily filtered version, as opposed to the everyday scenario. And don’t get me wrong, all of these places are beautiful in their own way. I simply thought you might want to know that there can be crowds, it can get hot and humid, and Instagram won’t show any of that. 

1. Hierve el agua 

Instagram

Credit: @theminimalistmodel / Instagram

Reality 

Credit: mrs.fade / Instagram

Hierve el Agua is a set of natural rock formations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca that resemble cascades of water. There’s no denying that this place is a wonder of nature —but be warned; it will get crowded and the water isn’t always crystal clear. Depending on the season, the pools get a little opaque, just letting you know.  

2. Islas Marietas

Instagram 

Credit: trip_and_trip / Instagram

Reality

The Marieta Islands are a group of small uninhabited islands a few miles off the coast of the state of Nayarit, Mexico. Playa del Amor, commonly known as the Hidden Beach, is thought to be —because of deceiving IG posts— “a lovers’ beach, tucked below the surface of the island, provides a safe haven for romance.” In actuality, the beach is only accessible via boat —and you have to swim to get to the hidden beach. Once there, there are crowds and crowds of people in orange life-vests (these are mandatory unless you want to risk a ticket and fine). The place is still beautiful, but getting an insta-worthy shot might be close to impossible unless you make it out there before 9am.

3. Las Coloradas

Instagram

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Reality 

Credit: jorbaez22 / Instagram

The viral cotton candy pink lakes located in Yucatan, Mexico are really a sight to be seen. The vibrant pink color of these lakes is due to red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that thrive in the salty environment. As the water evaporates, these organisms become more concentrated, glimmering pink in the bright Mexican sunlight. Unfortunately this is a not a year-round event —sometimes the organisms that give color to the lakes run low, and so the water takes on the regular murky color of a good old lake.

4. Grutas Tolantongo

Instagram 

Credit: ilikemexico/ Instagram

Reality

Credit: bellacicero52018 / Instagram

Tolantongo is a box canyon and resort located 17 kilometres from Ixmiquilpan on Route 27 in the Mezquital Valley, State of Hidalgo in Mexico, It is about 1.5 hours northwest of Pachuca and 198 km or three-to-four hours northwest of Mexico City —aka. it’s a looong drive into the country. The place no doubt, is beautiful and well worth the drive. But you might have to wait a bit to grab a pool due to the large groups of tourists that flock to the area as soon as spring and summer hits Mexico.

5. Jardín Escultorico Las Pozas 

Credit: Mariana.14es / Instagram

Reality

Credit: ankakubacha / Instagram

Las Pozas is a surrealistic group of structures created by Edward James, more than 2,000 feet above sea level, in a subtropical rainforest in the mountains of Mexico. The place is comprised of over 80 acres of land —so you best bring a tour guide, lots of water and a change of clothes, because it will get sweaty. Oh, and don’t forget the mosquito repellent, it is the rainforest after all.

6. San Miguel de Allende

Instagram 

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Reality

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San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands, is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene and cultural festivals. In the city’s historic, cobblestoned center lies the neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Keep in mind that this city was first built in the 16th century so it wasn’t planned with cars and crowds in mind. The place can get pretty hectic and busy, so set a meeting point for your friends and/or family to meet in case you get lost in the crowds.

7. Ruinas de Tulum

Instagram

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Reality

The trendy town of Tulum was built next to the Mayan ruins. The 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park overlooks the sea. It incorporates the clifftop Castillo, built as a watchtower, and the Templo de las Pinturas, with a partially restored mural. The place is truly magical, you’ll get a chance to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Mexican Caribbean after you tour the ruins —but a word of caution: the walk from the parking lot into the archaeological site es LONG, and it’s HOT in Quintana Roo, so if you can, take the shuttle. Bring lots of water and if possible, a parasol or hat to to get some respite from the sun.

8. El salto del Meco 

Instagram

Reality 

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If you visit this waterfall in dry season (May-September), you might find it empty, because a company located next to it, takes all the water to provide energy for the region. But although the waterfall itself is just visible in rainy season, the beautiful green natural pools are always there to amaze you.

9. Sayulita

Instagram

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Reality

Sayulita is a village on Mexico’s Pacific coast backed by the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. It’s known for beaches with strong surf, like the central Sayulita Beach and for its brightly decorated streets. Yes, the place is beautiful but remember that filters and editing can make a place look much more ‘enhanced’ than it might look like IRL.

10.Mercado de la Ciudadela

Instagram

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Reality

The Ciudadela Market is a traditional style Mexican market which specializes in the sale of Mexican handcrafts and folk art, located in the southwest corner of the historic center of Mexico City. The place is ideal if you need to buy some souvenirs, other than that, it’s just a good old Mexican ‘mercado’.

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