The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most diverse places in Mexico. Tropical in climate and filled with jungle and beaches, its history is vast and truly ancient. Although it’s a place primarily associated with the Mayan culture, its history began many centuries earlier with the fall of the asteroid that is believed to have extinguished the dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago.
In addition to historical diversity, the Yucatan Peninsula is equally diverse in tourist activities. From the high-rises and great resorts in Cancun, ecotourism, and even walls that guarded entire cities from pirates in Campeche, it’s a truly magical place to have an unforgettable holiday.
One of the best-known cities in Mexico, it’s famous for its great hotels and resorts. It’s one of the best options to have a holiday focused on relaxation. In addition to its unique color, the sea in Cancun is very shallow, so you can go many meters just submerging your waist.
Cancun is full of places to visit and enjoy, as well as restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. The nightlife is comparable to that of cities like Las Vegas, while during the day one can enjoy the beaches and the warm weather as well as the stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, where the turquoise blue is probably the nicest you have seen across the world. Most Cancun resorts offers tours to the Riviera Maya, where you can visit places like Tulum—with Mayan ruins on the beach—, Puerto Aventuras, or Playa del Carmen, some of them with boutique hotels different from the resorts in Cancun.
One of the most romantic beaches on the Yucatan Peninsula is Holbox. After a two-hour drive from Cancun to the town of Chiquila, one must take a ferry across the lagoon to get to the island. Lobster is one of the main dishes of this beach and can be enjoyed in any presentation, even pizza.
This region is home to several species, including some in danger of extinction. There is no pavement and almost no cars on the island. The main transportation is handled through golf carts—which can be rented to tour the island—and bicycles. On Tiburon Ballena Street there are many places to eat with local ingredients that are not to be missed. The walls are full of murals by different artists showing their style and diverse themes.
Some other activities include water sports, such as surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, or something less extreme like snorkeling, or the Yalahau cenote—whose water is said to have special properties—or visit the beaches with bioluminescence in the evenings from July to January.
Just an hour and a half from the resorts in Cancun is one of the best places to swim with turtles. In Akumal bay, green turtles, loggerhead turtles, and hawksbill turtles come to feed, so it’s possible to swim with them. Access is limited to a certain number of people per day and must be done with a guide, so it’s recommended to arrive early.
Although swimming with turtles is one of the main activities at this beach, snorkeling is also possible. Equally as beautiful as Akumal Bay is Half Moon Bay a little to the north. This bay is much quieter and the best place for windsurfing and kayaking.
Past Half Moon Bay is the Yal Ku lagoon. Besides enjoying its crystal-clear waters, it’s ideal for swimming and snorkeling. This freshwater lake is connected to the salt waters of the Caribbean making it an ideal home to several species of tropical fish, starfish, corals and sometimes sea turtles. Out of the water you can see a variety of bird species, as well as sculptures by Francisco Zuniga around the cenote.
This island can be easily accessed by ferry from Cancun and can be booked from any Cancun resort. The main reason to visit is to relax on the Playa Norte—considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world—, although, like other beaches in the Riviera Maya, one can go snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and many other activities and sports on the beach.
The Garrafon Park is a must-visit, as it’s a much more peaceful spot. It’s a small private beach and for an entrance fee, there’s access to lounge chairs, umbrellas, 3 zip lines, a pool, kayaks, and snorkeling equipment. On this note, it’s a perfect place for snorkeling, as it’s part of the longest coral reef in the northern hemisphere. A perfect spot for a relaxing holiday and enjoying the local food.
Isla Mujeres is also home to great craftswomen, so it’s recommended to visit the Cooperative of Women Artisans of Isla Mujeres. A very small place where local craftswomen make and sell bracelets, earrings, and necklaces with local materials and designs.