Mexico - Yucatán Peninsula

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Things to Do in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula

The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico really does offer something for everyone: party animals will love the notorious city of Cancun, beach bums will enjoy lazing by the turquoise waters, and history nerds can spend days strolling around Mayan buildings. It’s best to hire a car to fully experience all this region has to offer, including its more remote historical landmarks.

Mayan Ruins

With over a million visitors a year, the UNESCO world heritage site of Chichen Itza is the Yucatán Peninsula’s most-visited Mayan site. It features around five square kilometers of archaeology and stone buildings, surrounded by dense forests.

Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Chichen Itza is the Yucatán Peninsula’s most-visited Mayan site.
 

While popular landmarks like the El Castillo pyramid and the ornate Jaguar Temple are well-worth visiting, there are plenty of other ancient sites in the region if you want to avoid crowds. Calakmul, for example, is a Mayan city located deep in the jungle near the Guatemalan border. It’s surrounded by the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and has two huge pyramids, the largest of which is 55 meters tall. For smaller, but equally as fascinating sites, check out Uxmal, a short drive from Merida, or Tulum, which overlooks the picturesque Caribbean Sea.

Blissful Beaches

Playa del Carmen stretches from Cancun to Tulum. Its main highlight is the walking street of La Quinta Avenida, lined with boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Once you reach Tulum, you’ll find its own gorgeous beach, where you can scuba dive, kite surf, or head out to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve for mangrove and wildlife tours.

Tulum, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Tulum is great for scuba diving and kite surfing. 
 

Explore the perfectly pink lakes of Las Coloradas, which get their color from the high salt content. Most of the lakes are privately owned, meaning swimming is no longer allowed, but you can take incredible pictures of the water and matching pink flamingos.

Flamingos, Las Coloradas, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
The pink flamingos live around the pink lakes of Las Coloradas. 
 

Be sure to check out Bacalar Lagoon, which was once overrun by pirates but is now one of the best spots in the region for kayaking. It’s known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors because its different depths make each patch a slightly different shade.

Discover Marine Wildlife

Head to Akumal Beach, just south of Playa del Carmen, to see three varieties of sea turtles in the shallow blue-green waters. For a more thrilling experience, take a 25-minute ferry ride from the mainland to Isla Holbox, where you’ll find whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean. Swimming alongside these bus-sized creatures can be scary, but don’t worry: they prefer plankton to people!

Isla Holbox, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Isla Holbox is located just 25 minutes from the mainland. 
 

Another great island adventure is Cozumel, located an hour’s ferry ride from the mainland. It’s situated close to the second-largest coral reef in the world, the Meso-American Barrier Reef, making it a great location to spot eagle rays, octopus, stingrays, barracudas, and more!

Cozumel, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Cozumel is another great island adventure! 
 

Once you’ve explored the sea water, head to one of the region’s cenotes (underground caves filled with fresh water). There are about 2,000 of these dotted around the Yucatán peninsula, including Dzitnup, Azul, and Dos Ojos.

Cenotes, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Cenotes are underground caves filled with fresh water.

Colonial Towns

Merida is the capital of the Yucatán state, one of four states that make up the peninsula. Don’t leave the colonial town without buying a souvenir, such as wooden Maya carvings, from its market, or strolling around its beautiful Cathedral de San Ildefonso. The town of Izamal, meanwhile, is often known as the Yellow Town, as almost every building was painted in a deep golden shade for a visit from the pope in 1993. Head just outside of the center to climb a huge pyramid for panoramic views over the town.

Izamal, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
The town of Izamal is often known as the Yellow Town. 
 

While Cancun is notorious for its bars, and clubs, there’s more to the city than nightlife. You can scuba dive, rent jet skis, or head downtown for a more local experience, where you can try local food in more relaxed establishments.

Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Cancun is an exciting city day and night.
 

Looking for more Mexican delicacies? Visit Valladolid for its quaint plaza, Spanish-looking buildings, and great food. Be sure to try dishes such as Cochinita Pibil (pulled pork) and Relleno Negro de Pavo (black turkey soup).

Activities & Accomodation 

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Reviews

Irma

15 Jul 2019
26-30 years
Puerto Rico

Merida, Chichen itza,Rio Lagartos & Telchac

Highly recommend going to Yucatan. We stayed at Merida and travel in a rent car to chitchen itza, Rio Lagartos and Telchac Puerto. At least a week is recommended.

Chitchen itza Drinking water that is not bottled

Sightseeing

Beaches & water

Nature & outdoors

Nightlife


Alexandra VanDrimmelen

21 May 2019
31-35 years
United States of America

Cancun Mexico

We stayed at The Hard Rock Resort and it was absolutely wonderful... enjoyed the food, the bars, the inclusivity, and the tours we planned out with our resort.

The Mayan Ruins of Chichén Itzá NOT doing your research before going

Sightseeing

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Noëlle

23 Apr 2019
19-25 years
Netherlands

Isla Holbox Isla mujeres

Best aviation ever, Love Mexico!

Isla holbox /

Sightseeing

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Gabor

14 Apr 2019
46-50 years
England

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a beautiful, peaceful paradise just across the Bahia de Mujeres from Cancún. Isla Mujeres is more laid-back and tranquil than Cancún. White sand beaches, calm crystal clear turquoise waters and friendy locals.

Playa Norte I wouldn't recommend to stay in Cancún.

Sightseeing

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Julia

13 Apr 2019
26-30 years
Germany

Akumal , chichen itza, xcaret,playa d. Carmen

The beaches are awesome Mexico has such a Great culture with Dances, food, buildings etc. People a Kind and Friends So much to explore

Chichen itza and xcaret park Shopping its expensive

Sightseeing

Beaches & water

Nature & outdoors

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