Separating the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a vast coastal region brimming with tropical beaches, spectacular wildlife, ancient Mayan ruins, small villages, and adventure activities. It’s the place where you can can walk amongst ancient ruins, get lost in the jungles of Sian Ka’an, enjoy the lazy beach life and experience the region’s vibrant culture in Merida. And let’s not forget about the food! Did you say tacos? 😉 There’s something for everyone here!
How to reach
The gateway to the Yucatan Peninsula is Cancun International Airport (CUN), which is also the biggest airport in the region. You will find daily flights from the major cities to Cancun on Mexico’s national airline, Aeromexico.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Yucatan in Mexico is during the dry season between December and April.
Things to do
If there’s one thing Mexico is famous for, it’s the Mayan sites. Known as the most advanced civilization in ancient Mesoamerica, the Maya people were the original inhabitants of what we know today as southern Mexico and Central America. Today there are hundreds of Mayan ruins that are scattered throughout the Yucatan and open to the public for exploration. Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum and Coba are some of the archaeological sites of Yucatan. Wander through this ancient city and delve into the history of the place!
Throughout the Yucatan there are thousands of natural freshwater sinkholes known as cenotes. Cool off in one of the many turquoise cenotes dotted across the Yucatán Peninsula and experience natural swimming holes that reveal a secret subterranean world. The most famous being Ik Kil, Dos Ojos, Cenote Azul, among many others.
A short ferry trip from Cancun, the island of Cozumel is a wonderful location covered in lush greenery, but the waters around the island are equally interesting. The place is famous for the thriving marine life that make the scuba diving here some of the best in the world. The Cozumel reef system is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest coral reef system in the world.
Another island off the Yucatan Peninsula that is gaining in popularity is the peaceful, car-free island of Isla Holbox. The village is typical with its colorful and drawn walls, virgin dream beaches and a wide variety of wildlife. Home to amazing marine life, whale sharks can regularly be spotted in the summer months, and there are several tours that offer you the chance to swim alongside the majestic animals.
In a corner of the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, about 3 hours from Cancun, you’ll find a magical place where sea water turns bright pink on an epic scale – The Las Coloradas pink lakes. Drive down to the famous lakes and walk along their shores taking surreal photos of the pink water. You may even spot some flamingos hanging out in the area too.
Who loves swimming with sea turtles? If you do, then you can at Akumal beach, just 30 minutes South of Playa del Carmen. The shallow blue-green water is home to 3 different kinds of sea turtles that you can swim with.
Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is famous for its luxurious hotels and resorts. Choose from small boutique beachfront in Tulum to all-inclusive luxury in Cancun on Mexico’s most famous strip of sand.
Speaking of Tulum, it’s the only fortified Mayan city built on the coast and boasts stunning cliff-top views of the Caribbean. Visit the Castle, the Temple of the Descending God, the House of Columns (The Great Palace), and the Temple of the Frescoes here. Tulum is also a fun town with a great backpacker culture. Every night you can walk up the main street to find quirky bar and lively hangouts. I dare you to not get sucked into the beach bum lifestyle while visiting here!
Take a full-day excursion to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where you’ll have opportunities to kayak amid the mangroves, spot local fauna (more than 300 bird species live in the biosphere), and paddle past the ruins of Mayan buildings. Bring your swimsuit for an opportunity to swim, or float in an inner tube, along an ancient Mayan canal.
Think guacamole, tacos and spicy margaritas on repeat. Hunt down restaurants off the main strips where you can relish the exotic Mexican cuisine!
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