Last year, the Maya Train marked the triumphant return of the passenger railway in the Yucatan Peninsula after almost a century of defunding and lack of investment. It now connects all of the top tourist attractions around the Yucatán Peninsula, including Cancun, Tulum, and Chichén Itzá.
The success of the Maya Train is ongoing after initial hiccups getting started, with connectivity across the Mexican Caribbean having greatly improved and tourists now using the train to discover off-path parts of the country that were not as accessible before – but it doesn't end there.
Soon enough, yet another train route visiting hidden gems in two additional states will be launched, including a historical colonial port on the Gulf of Mexico and a laid-back beach town currently trending among surfing enthusiasts:
Mexico's Next Tourist Train Traveling From The Gulf To The Pacific Coast
As reported by The Cancun Sun, the so-called Isthmus Train is Mexico's next major development project heading into 2024.
Though it was inaugurated last December, it did not make a splash as all eyes were on the Maya Train, which set out on its inaugural journey from Cancun around the same time.
Despite being ignored at first, the Isthmus Train is now being touted as Mexico's next major breakthrough in tourism: the service is already up and running, connecting the city of Coatzacoalcos, in the state of Veracruz, to the quaint town of Salina Cruz, in neighboring Oaxaca.
Though the current railway map is not nearly as extensive as the much more popular Maya Train, calling at seven stations and linking the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Coast, authorities have promised ‘additional routes' will be added this year.
By the time of its completion, it is expected that the train will cover over 700 miles. The most exciting thing is, if you're traveling on the Maya Train from mid-2024, you will be able to connect to the Isthmus line in Palenque.
The Maya Train Will Connect To The Isthmus Line
@codigoveracruz Así se mira el Tren Interoceánico desde el aire partiendo desde Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz rumbo a Salina Cruz, Oaxaca #coatzacoalcos #tren #interoceanico #oaxaca ♬ Where Is the Love? – Est Realis TEAM
The UNESCO-protected archaeological zone is the last, southwesternmost station of the Maya Train, located at the far end of the line's enlongated ‘tail', and as announced by local media, it will host Isthmus trains as well.
This means it will soon be possible for passengers boarding the Maya Train in Cancun, or any major city on the line, to switch to the Coatzacoalcos-bound Isthmus Train when traveling all the way south to Palenque.
A Bustling Port On The Gulf Of Mexico
Coatzacoalcos is a strategic port on the Gulf of Mexico, best known for its booming ship industry and indigenous Olmec culture. The cityscape itself is characterized by a unique combination of colonial, modernist, and Mesoamerican revivalist architecture.
Two of the most emblematic symbols of Coatzacoalcos include Pirámide Malecón, an imposing modern pyramidal structure taking direct inspiration from the ruined cities that litter the Yucatán peninsula, and the whitewashed Cathedral of Saint Joseph.
The city also hosts a well-frequented shopping mall (Plaza Forum) with attractive prices and the Olmec Archaeology Museum, where artifacts from this lesser-known pre-Columbian civilization, which co-existed alongside the world-famous Mayans and Aztecs, can be admired.
A Quaint Pacific Town
On the other hand, Salina Cruz is a much smaller coastal hub best known for its unspoiled golden sand beaches, surfing culture, and year-round warm weather: winters are basically a non-existent concept here, where the lowest-ever temperatures average a pleasant 69.8°F.
Playa Cangrejo, a short half-hour drive from downtown Salina, is the perfect place for unwinding and basking in the sun without being disturbed by surging crowds, what with its quieter, family-friendly environment and varied selection of seafood spots.
@paadondee ¿Sabías que en #salinacruz existe una #poza ? Aquí te muestro cómo es y dónde la puedes encontrar! – – – #istmodetehuantepec #lugaresenoaxaca #juchitan #tehuantepec #costasdeoaxaca #salinacruzoaxaca ♬ Chill Vibes – Tollan Kim
Playa Azul is not to be missed either, as it is one of a handful in the region where the sands are virgin-white, and the seas are of an inviting azure color. An even shorter 20-minute drive from town, it is a popular half-day trip for tourists venturing down the Oaxaca coast.
Other non-beach, noteworthy points of interest are the Cortés Lighthouse, a state-protected monument built as early as the 16th century during the first Spanish incursions into Mexican territory, and the Piedra Cuchi viewpoint.
What We Know So Far About The Isthmus Train
Other confirmed stops on the Isthmus line, departing from Coatzacoalcos, include the towns of Minatitlán, Acayucan, Matías Romero, Unión Hidalgo, Ixtetepec, and Tehuantepec.
So far, we do not know whether the train tracks will be extended to the state capitals of Veracruz and Oaxaca, home to towering Spanish cathedrals and beautiful colonial centers.
As for tickets, prices for the Isthmus Train departing from Palenque have not been announced either, but the route already in operation, linking Coatzacoalcos to Salina Cruz, is quite affordable, starting from $27 for ‘tourist-class' passengers, and roughly $35 for executive.
If you're starting your journey in Cancun, you should expect to pay for one-way tickets to Palenque, where you'll connect to the Isthmus Train, costing between $123 and $197, depending on the chosen fare.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
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