Ray Gudrups

Travelled to 28 countries / regions

Written 44 briefs
Lived in Mexico for 10 years



Americas > Mexico > Useful Info
Submitted on May 03, 2020 Useful Info

What to do in Yucatan Peninsula?

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is well-known for its gorgeous Caribbean beach, Mayan ruins, and cenotes.

Most of the Yucatan Peninsula’s tourism is concentrated in Quintana Roo state that is on a Caribbean sea coast and is known as Riviera Maya.

The most popular cities here

  • Cancun,
  • Playa del Carmen, and
  • Tulum are where you can set a base and book tours or get on a bus to go sightseeing, and go see places.

There are 111 designated ‘Pueblo Magico’ towns in Mexico and 6 of those are located in the Yucatan Peninsula.

A ‘Pueblo Magico’ town is one chosen by the government of Mexico. It has something unique to offer; legends, history, important events, symbolism, or maybe just a charming vibe.

The 6 Pueblo Magico Towns in Yucatan Peninsula -

  • Izamal – for its 3 cultures pre-Colombian, colonial and modern
  • Valladolid – for its rich culture
  • Palizada in Campeche for its wooded forests
  • Bacalar for its lagoon of 7 colors
  • Isla Mujeres – its stunning beaches
  • Tulum – for its Mayan Ruins and beaches

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Visit Cenotes

You can’t come to this part of Mexico and not visit a cenote as it’s one of the greatest things to do in the Yucatan and unique to this part of the world.

There are thousands of cenotes in Yucatan but of course, more closer you get to Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, the more popular and tourist-packed those cenotes become.

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Tulum is the alternative option for Cancun. It is boho and chilled town with lots of Instagramish hotels, hostels, bars, and restaurants.

Most of the accommodation at Tulum is eco-friendly.

It’s a cheaper and most alternative base to explore the ruins and cenotes from Mayan Riviera.

If you want to enjoy the ruins at Tulum, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to miss the tour buses.

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Punta Allen

Travel 50km south from Tulum to visit the small fishing village called Punta Allen. Located in the Si'an Ka'an Biosphere, there are plenty of walking trails and cenotes for you to explore.

Visit the Mayan ruins of Muyil, hire a boat to tour the mangroves, or go snorkeling on the reef.

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Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The empty jungle and vast wetlands of Sian Ka’an (Mayan for “where the sky is born”) is in high contrast with the all-inclusive resorts of the Mayan Riviera.

Stretching south from Tulum, the area contains wonderful lagoons, reefs, lakes, mangroves, and jungle paths. It is uninhabited and has an abundance of animal and plant life.

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Isla Holbox

There is no car at Holbox only old bikes or golf carts. The only roads you find there are sand, with simple restaurants that serve you fresh Mexican ceviches.

it is a colorful village with painted walls, virgin shores, and an abundance of wildlife. You could see the flamingo, whale sharks, turtles, octopus, and a whole bunch of fish. seabirds.

This place is magnificent. Peaceful and laidback.

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The name of the town translates as the ‘place of the turtles,’ so it is no surprise to see there are plenty of turtles in those turquoise transparent waters.

Bring your snorkeling gear and you can swim with the turtles and colorful fishes just off the beach. You can rent snorkeling gear and lockers and even book a boat to take you to deeper waters.

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Las Coloradas

On the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, you will find a natural wonder that’s remarkable in its beauty.

Next to the small village of Las Coloradas rests a large, glowing pink lake. The color comes from red algae and plankton that love the warm, salty environment.

It’s a sight worth seeing with a pack of flamingos feeding in shallow waters.

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Coba ruins

While Coba is somewhat more remote than other ruins and attractions, it's worth visiting. Especially if you are settling in Tulum.

Rent a bike, ride through the jungle, and climb the highest pyramid in the peninsula to the top.

The climb is a challenge, but the view is fabulous!

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Isla Mujeres Underwater Museum

Located in the waters around Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc, is an impressive underwater museum with over 500 life-sized monuments 8m deep in the ocean. You can visit by either a glass-bottom boat, scuba dive, or snorkel from a boat tour.

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Celstun or Rio lagartos for Flamingo watching

Another great thing to do in Yucatan for nature lovers is to see wild pink flamingos in Celestun Biosphere Reserve or Rio Lagartos along the Gulf of Mexico!

Both villages are quiet and a great place to spend a night after doing a wild flamingo boat tour.

Although if you are visiting Mexico from September till March then you need to visit Celestun and Rio Lagartos at another time as the birds migrate between those places in search of food.

Besides seeing wild flamingos you’ll have a chance to see crocodiles and other wild birds including kingfishers, cormorants, hummingbirds, and pelicans to name a few on our boat tour through the biosphere.

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Valladolid is a colonial time treasure in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s picturesque streets, charming churches, and pretty parks will make everyone fell in love with it. It is also located so perfectly that you would set it as a base in the inland of the peninsula for exploring the Mayan ruins, cenotes, and other sightseeing of the Yucatan Peninsula.

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One of 7 UNESCO World Wonders - Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza – one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations and UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. There are a lot of astronomical wonders at Chichen Itza, but one of the most exciting is the Descent of the Feathered Serpent on the main Pyramid of Kukulkan that happens twice a year on spring and autumn equinox - 21st of March and 21th of September.

A shadow created an illusion on an el Castillo pyramid terraces like a snake-god-monster is climbing down the temple stairs.

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The old city of Campeche is a remarkable live gallery piece of the colonial time. Cobbled streets of aged houses painted in vibrant blues, greens, yellow and red. The town has a great history and used to be a trading stronghold of the Spanish Empire and later even a Capital city of Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Calakmul biosphere and Mayan ruins

The Calakmul is located approx 3h drive south from Tulum. The archeological site even more. But if you have time, and want to explore nature, history, and cultural heritage without tourist crowds it is worth taking a ride.

It used to be one of the most powerful and ancient Mayan cities.

For more interesting visit hire a local guide to get you into the jungle, it can make you learn more about the fauna and flora, and their medicinal properties.

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