Photo Credits Shutterstock
Spanning the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea, the Yucatan Peninsula covers three Mexican states (Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán) and borders parts of Belize and Guatemala. The expansive coastal region is teeming with ancient ruins, tropical beaches, stunning wildlife, and a plethora of thrilling activities.
From Ancient Mayan ruins, colonial-era structures to Mexico’s renowned Riviera Maya, the area is alive with color beneath the picturesque Caribbean blue skies. While the peninsula is celebrated as a popular vacation destination, thanks to the bustling spots of Cancun and Tulum, there is an abundance of things to discover and experience in the area. From historical sites to a dash of adventure to a rich culinary culture, here are some of the region’s highlights.
Uncover Chichen Itza
At the heart of the Mayan archaeological landscape in Mexico, this UNESCO World Heritage site was constructed by the Maya people during the Terminal Classic period. The city was one of the largest Maya cities and houses the Temple of Kukulcán (El Castillo), the most photographed archaeological site in the city.
Indulge in the Gastronomic Delights of Mérida
Discover the dual nature of a city where the modernism of a cosmopolitan destination meets the tradition and history of a colonial city. Mérida, also known as “The White City,” serves as the capital of the Yucatan state and the gateway to the Mayan culture. Yucatan cuisine is also the product of a fusion of influences. Its distinct amalgamation of influences results in a remarkable variety of flavors, aromas, and hues that offer an unforgettable culinary journey. Reserve a 5-Day Mexican culinary escapade featuring a walking tour of the city, savoring the delicacies along the way, and a 4-night stay at the Maria Jose Mérida hotel.
Photo credit: Adventures Mexico
Explore the colonial town of Valladolid
A portal to colonial Yucatan, this city (not to be confused with its Spanish namesake) presents a more authentic facet of Yucatan compared to the tourist-laden resorts in Cancun and Tulum. Wander through the streets to admire the local architecture and sample traditional local cuisine at the open market in the city’s main square.
Swim alongside whale sharks
A definite item for the bucket list, between June and mid-September, whale sharks migrate in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula, offering the daring the opportunity to swim with the largest fish in the ocean.
Visit Las Coloradas
Las Coloradas – Photo Shutterstock
About three hours from Cancun in a corner of the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, the sea water turns vivid pink which must be seen to be believed. The pink lakes of Las Coloradas are part of a larger reserve that spans some 150,000 acres and is home to creatures such as flamingos, sea turtles, and an array of seabirds. Due to the high salt concentration of the area, the red-colored algae flourish in the environment, transforming the waters into a sparkling pink hue.
Discover the Sian Kaan Lagoon
For a more tranquil yet equally fulfilling outdoor adventure, embark on a boat ride through the canals and drift along the leisurely rivers lined with mangroves. A sanctuary of natural beauty and the habitat of thousands of species of flora and fauna, it is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.
Swim in the Grand Cenote
The peninsula is home to numerous fresh water sinkholes and caves known as cenotes, and one of the finest near Tulum is the Grand Cenote. Visitors can swim in 1,500 square feet of turquoise-colored waters with bats flying overhead and turtles and fish gliding alongside.
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