Tabasco is a state in southeastern Mexico. Tabasco receives the nickname of the Eden of Mexico, for the exuberance of its flora, the variety of its fauna and its quantity of natural beauties. Tabasco is rich in water: in swamps, jungles, lagoons and huge rivers, mainly the Grijalva and the Usumacinta.
- 1 Villahermosa — one of the oldest cities in Mexico
- 2 Cardenás — the second largest city in the state, and a transportation hub
- 3 Ciudad Pemex — prosperous PEMEX (Mexican state petroleum company) company town
- 4 Paraíso — beach and seafood
- 5 Tapijulapa — one of Mexico's officially-designated "Pueblos Magicos" (magical towns) and the only one in Tabasco
- 6 Tenosique — old Mayan town, now a mid-size city known for its artesanal cheeses
- 1 Comalcalco — Tabasco's most extensive archaeological site is a 1,500 year old Maya city
- 2 La Venta — Olmec archaeological site where several colossal head sculptures were found, operated by INAH as an open-air museum
- 3 Pantanos de Centla - 17,200 hectare protected area of swamps and coastal wetland forests that are home to crocodiles, jaguars, monkeys, and more than 230 bird species
Tabasco is about half-way in between Cancun and Mexico City. Known as the "Eden of Mexico", it is a mostly flat state with lush tropical vegetation, wetlands, forests, and enormous rivers, namely the Grijalva and Usumacinta. The state borders Veracruz to the west, Chiapas to the south, Campeche and Guatemala to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the north. Oil is plentiful along the shoreline and extensive operations are in place to exploit this natural resource. The inhabitants are called "Tabasqueño/as" in formal contexts, although they often refer to themselves as "choco/as".
Tabasco is the home of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (or "AMLO", as he is affectionately known). He was born in the town of Tepetitán.
Some of the oldest historical sites in Mexico are the Olmec sites in the western part of the state. These date back to at least 1800 BC. The most famous site is La Venta where several sculptures, including the famous colossal heads were found. An open-air site museum there is operated by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), though most of the sculptures are high-quality replicas with the originals moved to Villahermosa, where some of the colossal heads are displayed in the city's excellent Parque La Venta (a "must-see" if you're curious about Olmec culture).
The Maya civilization is the most famous Mesoamerican culture with well over a thousand sites throughout the Yucatán and the South, dozens of which have been explored and opened to the public. The largest site in Tabasco (and one of the oldest in Mexico) is Comalcalco, which is close to the beaches of Paraíso. A good weekend trip from Villahermosa could be to lie on the beaches with a frosty margarita with a few hours spent walking the ruins of Comalcalco.
Tabasco's climate can be summed up in two words: "hot" and "humid". The months of November, December, and January are the most comfortable times to visit, with daytime temperatures hovering between 25° and 30°C (77° to 86°F), although dew points will be high nonetheless, making the air still seem sultry for visitors from non-tropical climates.
Tabasco could be divided into five regions, known as Chontalpa, Centro, Sierra, Pantanos, and Rios, but these are superfluous and of no interest to the traveler given the state's compact size.
Natives speak a Caribbean-influenced variety of Spanish ("español choco") somewhat similar to that spoken in Cuba and Puerto Rico and therefore can be very difficult to follow. Few people speak or understand English, so Spanish is almost a must for the solo traveler.
Local slang words (perhaps shared with adjacent states) include:
- Asu - An exclamation of pity or weariness.
- Chamba - work. Chambear - to work. "La pura chamba" - hard work.
- Chelo/Chela - Male or female of fair skin, respectively - Mexican or otherwise. You also may hear "chelito/a" or "chelon/a". Similar to the usage of "guero"
- Hijole! - An exclamation of surprise or shock roughly equivalent to "Oh my!"
As in Central America, vos is sometimes used as a 2nd person singular pronoun (equivalent to "you"),
There are regular international flights to the Carlos Rovirosa Pérez International Airport (Villahermosa International Airport VSA IATA) from Houston and domestic flights on most Mexican carriers from Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX IATA) and from Santa Lucia Airport (NLU IATA) in northeastern Mexico City.
Sometimes cheaper connecting flights can be made had by flying into Cancún International Airport. Taking a first-class ADO bus from Cancun is not a good cost-saving strategy because the ride to Villahermosa lasts approximately 14 hours.
Mexico's new Tren Maya intercity rail system has 2 stations in Tabasco at El Triunfo (in the north) and at Boca del Cerro (near Tenosique). The train provides easy, comfortable transportation from major cities in neighboring states, including Campeche, Merida and Cancun.
Public transit links between cities are frequent and good. Transit within cities is also extensive, but the variety of routes and providers can lead to confusion.
La Venta, an archaeological zone that housed the most important civic-religious center of the Olmec culture, is one of the oldest in Mesoamerica. 3000 years ago the Olmec settled on the coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico.
Paraíso is the main beach where Tabasco people go, it has incipient tourist services, however, one of its main attractions is not only the sea and sands, but also being able to savor one of its delicious coconut ice creams. , which are simply unmatched.
In Villa Puerto Ceiba you can find a beautiful jungle and lagoon landscape.
As part of its tourism strategy, the state government of Tabasco has implemented five "thematic routes", each allowing the tourist to discover an aspect of the state.
- Ruta Aventura en la Sierra/Adventure in the Sierra Route: Teapa - Tacotalpa - Macuspana - Jalapa
- Ruta del Cacao/Chocolate Route: Comalcalco - Paraiso - Cunduacan
- Ruta Olmeca-Zoque/Olmeca-Zoque Route: Cardenas - Huimanguillo
- Ruta Pantanos/Wetlands Route: Centla - Jonuta
- Ruta Ríos/Rivers Route:
Active outdoors travelers find a wealth of activities in Tabasco, with offshore fishing from the villages like Puerto Ceiba on the Gulf of Mexico, swamps of the Centla Biosphere Reserve near the border with Campeche, mountains in the southern highlands near Tapijulapa, and even some Maya archaeological sites like Comalcalco to explore.
Having an extensive Gulf of Mexico coastline, mariscos (seafood) is a specialty of Tabasco. Look for ostiones (a type of oyster) on menus, as well as ceviche (raw fish or seafood "cooked" in a marinade), róbalo (snook), cócteles (seafood cocktail), and other products from the Gulf of Mexico, which are abundant and cheap, at least by inland U.S. standards.
All the Mexican standards can be found at vendors and restaurants across Tabasco, including regional foods like the Guadalajaran birria to Yucatecan salbutes, and Mexican takes on American food, e.g. hamburgers.
The state's hot sauce (it's not Tabasco brand, which is actually from the U.S.), made from habanero peppers and often found at restaurant and kitchen tables, is called Salsa Chimay and available in four varieties, from very hot to extremely hot. If you befriend a Tabasqueña family, they may very well send you home with bottles of Chimay as a souvenir.
Artesanal cheeses are made in Tabasco, which is also home to an annual cheese festival, Festival del Queso Artesanal, held each August in the town of Tenosique.
Villahermosa has a mediocre selection of international food, including Italian, Japanese, and Lebanese restaurants. In other cities, expect to content yourself with the usual selection of American fast food and Chinese take-out, if that.
Tabasco's traditional state drink is pozol, made from fermented corn dough and cocoa.
Tabasco is also a major center for cocoa production.
Parts of the state suffered a major security epidemic due to narco-trafficking in the early 21st century. Although incidents affecting tourists are rare, it is wise to observe normal security precautions and avoid potentially dangerous situations.