When you think of Mexico, do you think of sitting on a white sandy beach with perfectly clear blue-green waters with gently rolling waves crashing against the shore? That’s one of the many reasons people from all over the globe head to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula every year. But those stunning beaches aren’t the only reason to visit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
While it has a reputation as a fun-and-sun destination, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula also has some cultural and adventurous opportunities to make your trip more interesting.
1. Chichen Itza
For thousands of years, Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been known as one of the great cities of Central America. Here, you can view some of the massive ground stone buildings that were Mayan Ruins on the nearly 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of land full of archaeology and thick forest surroundings.
2. Las Coloradas
Head to the far corner of the Ria Biosphere Reserve to see the ever-popular Las Coloradas pink salt lakes. These lakes are used for industrial salt production and as the water evaporates, overwhelming growth of red algae occurs. Plankton and brine shrimp also live in these bright pink waters.
3. Akumal Beach
If you’re infatuated with sea turtles, make your way to Akumal Beach to swim in the shallow waters where three different varieties of sea turtles live. A lifejacket is required and lifeguards are always on duty since the waters have recently turned into a preserved area to protect the turtles.
To fully experience the culture and history of the peninsula, go to Mérida, the capital of the Yucatan state. The rich culture and history will certainly make your trip memorable. Head to the city center to buy a brightly woven hammock. Hammock weaving has been a tradition on the peninsula for more than 700 years.
5. Isla Holbox
If sharks don’t scare you, go to Isla Holbox to see the lightly speckled whale sharks. Beware, these whale sharks are named appropriately, weighing up to 20,000lbs and reaching almost 30ft long!
If you love bright colors as much as the locals, head to the Yellow City in Izamal. The colonial buildings have been painted a bright yellow color, making it an amazingly photogenic city, especially on a sunny day. Prior to the Spanish Colonial era, Izamal was one of the largest Mayan cities in the region. You can visit some of the pyramids that have survived.
Valladolid is a Spanish Colonial city in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that was named after a city in Spain. It is an ideal place to explore the history and culture of the region. Be sure to go into the colonial city built atop ancient grounds to view the architecture including the San Servacio Church. Culinary travelers should also try some of the local gastronomy.
8. Dzitnup Cenote
Cenotes are natural sinkholes that expose groundwater. There are about 3,000 of them on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The ancient Mayans used them not only for their water supply, but also for ceremonial purposes. The Dzitnup cenote outside of Valladolid is one of the most beautiful. This cavernous pool of freshwater is majestic and perhaps the purest water you will ever see since the limestone helps filter it.
The island of Cozumel make a great day trip from the mainland. It is an amazing place to snorkel and scuba dive (that’s where I did my open water certification dives). Cozumel also has lush green jungle areas where you can hike.
Tulum is a popular tourist destination on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that is known for its Mayan pyramid with an oceanfront view. You’ll also find beautiful beaches and a colorful town with shops and restaurants.
11. Bacalar Lagoon
Grab your sunscreen and rent a kayak and head out on Bacalar Lagoon, a long, narrow lake on the southern end of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is known for its beautiful blue water.
12. Calakmul Mayan Ruins
Last but not least, hike the Calakmul Mayan Ruins in the jungle near the Guatemalan border. The two massive pyramids at Calakmul have been well preserved.
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a diverse and exciting place to travel. From the stunning landscape to the vibrant culture, the Yucatan Peninsula has a little something for everyone.
Do you love to travel to new and different places? Do you like to see not only the major attractions but also the lesser-known gems? Me too! On top of that, because travel planning is my profession, I have resources and contacts that you don’t have access to. If you would like some professional help with your travel planning, read about how my services work here and then email me to schedule a complimentary Zoom consultation.