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Two Weeks in the Yucatan Peninsula

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There is so much more to the Yucatán Peninsula than the Riviera Maya. If you have two weeks to explore, you're in for a treat: refreshing cenotes (sinkholes), scuba diving with whale sharks, white-sand beaches either deserted or full of life (take your pick), breathtaking Maya ruins, beautiful colonial towns, nightlife for every taste and whim, delicious cuisine, biospheres and reserves, and majestic haciendas all await you in the Yucatán Peninsula.
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Carretera Federal & Cancún - Chetumal Km 230 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
While not as large as other ancient Mayan cities in the region, Tulum draws in visitors for its stunning setting of centuries-old temples perched on a cliff by the Caribbean Sea. You’ll pass a large market with souvenirs, a casual Mexican...
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Latin America
If you are traveling in the area, don't miss out on all of the amazing cenotes that dot the region. I usually rent a car and drive down the highway towards Tulum and stop at small signs that says "cenote." Many are on privately owned property like...
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Cobá, Q.R., Mexico

Outside of Tulum, the ancient Mayan ruins of Coba go on for what seem like miles. This tower included 100-something steep steps, and after I got over my initial fear about tumbling down them, I climbed every single one—with a little help and...

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Calle Camaron 32, 77509 Cancun, Q.R., Mexico
I stepped on to this chalk-colored diminutive launch that was heading towards the historical Mayan Salt Canals, but we halted in order to admire the extravagant flamingos as they fed in their natural habitat. I was informed that the Sian Ka'an...
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Calle 58 520, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico
A trip to Merida would not be complete without making a stop at this legendary sorbet shop that has been open for over 100 years. Situated right across the zócalo (main square), you can sit by the sidewalk and people watch while cooling off over...
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Campeche, Mexico
Rent a car and get out on the highways and byways of the Yucatan Peninsula to discover the Maya Kingdom that still exists beyond Cancun's resorts and Chichen Itza's overrun ruins. Maya towns with charming colonial centers and empty ruins dot the...
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Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, Mexico
A brilliant work of architecture and astronomy, the Pyramid of Kukulkán at Chichén Itzá is so precisely engineered that on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the sun casts shadows that slither like snakes and seem to descend...
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Av Cto Baluartes, Zona Centro, 24000 Campeche, Camp., Mexico
Campeche is a small city located, in the southwestern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula, along the Gulf of Mexico. After Spanish occupation, pirates and marauders terrorized Campeche until 1686 when a wall was built around the city to protect it....
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Latin America
I did not see any red corn at the Maya site named Chacchoben as its translated named would imply. What I did see were many well restored temples and structures and what I did not see was another tourist. I find that smaller archaeological sites do...
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Ekbalam, Yuc., Mexico
Visitors to the Yucatán and the Riviera Maya never miss Chichen Itza, but there is another hidden and almost unknown archaeological Mayan ruin called Ek’ Balam. Set in jungle, the site is not well known because it was discovered much later than...
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Calle 57 y 62, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico
For a good meal in Merida, look no further than La Chaya in the Centro area. While the hostesses dressed in traditional costumes and tortilla making demonstration may seem a little kitschy, it's all part of the fun and buzz of this eatery that is...
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Champotón-Campeche, Campeche, Mexico
The days of Black Beard and Captain Morgan terrorizing the high seas have long since past, but the Fuerte de San Miguel still watches vigilantly over the city of Campeche. The fortress is located upon a rise just south of the city and attractive...
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Calakmul, Camp., Mexico
Rising high above the vast expanse of the Peten forest in southern Campeche are the towering pyramids of Calakmul. Calakmul was perhaps the most powerful state in the Classic Maya world, dominating the likes of Tikal for centuries and creating a...
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Carretera Merida-Campeche Km. 78, 97890 Uxmal, Yuc., Mexico
Overshadowed by its larger and more well-known cousins, Palenque and Chichén-Itzá, Uxmal ("Oosh-mahl") is the ruins of an ancient Maya city located near present-day Campeche. In its heyday, Uxmal was one of the largest cities of the Yucatan...
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Av de los Héroes, Centro, 77000 Chetumal, Q.R., Mexico
The capital of Quintana Roo, Chetumal is a great place to base yourself for a couple nights in order to explore some of the surrounding attractions, including several Maya archaeological sites and the Bacalar Lagoon, before jumping across the...
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Igualdad Manzana 1 Lote 1, 77310 Holbox Island, Q.R., Mexico
Ideal beachfront location, far from the madding crowd? Check. Charming palapa-style accommodations with daily housekeeping? Check. Dreamy, draped, hanging beach beds and hammocks, perfect for siestas and sunset-viewing? Check. I loved Mawimbi’s...
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Hochob is a small yet interesting Maya archaeological site situated about an hour's drive southwest of Campeche. The principle structure is fronted by a stylized mask, which has a doorway for the mouth, serrated teeth, swirly eyes and an array of...
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Take a stroll down one of the cobbled streets of Valladolid and you might come across a cart peddling "volcanos." The busy vender sells one item: a thick masa bun stuffed with chili marinated pulled pork and topped with red onion. For an extra...
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Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
Find your way to the lesser visited Merida, Mexico, and head in to one of the many open air and covered markets. You'll find yourself surrounded with sights and smells beyond what most have ever imagined in one place. Let your nose lead you to a...
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Cobá, Q.R., Mexico
Cobá holds the ruins of a large pre-Colombian Maya civilization located on the Riviera Maya. Lesser known than Tulum, the name Cobá means turbid (cloudy) waters - probably having to do with the five cenotes (underground rivers) in the region,...
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Yucatan, Mexico
Rather than post the typical picture of the Temple of Kukulkan I thought I would post this picture of El Caracol or the "observatory" at Chichen Itza. You will notice from the picture there are few people present...if you go to Chichen Itza try to...
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Barrio Bravo, 77098 Chetumal, Q.R., Mexico
Chetumal, Mexico initially wasn't my favorite place to stop just after sunset, but an overnight was necessary before a bus would take us across the border to Belize. It rained all night and I woke up to a spider bite on the back of my thigh,...
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Calle 41, Centro, Valladolid, Yuc., Mexico
We become so small when entering a place of worship, this local woman especially as she made her way to the entrance of the Cathedral of San Gervasio in Valladolid. It wasn't Sunday. I'm sure of it because Sundays in Mexican city centers are...
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Holbox, Q.R., Mexico
Holbox is a beautiful and tranquil fishing village. One of the best things to do is a long walk on the beautiful beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. A walk that can last 2 hours without seeing a tourist, but rather several Mexican for enjoying...
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Campeche, Mexico
Of the many ruins I've visited in Mexico, those of Calakmul have been by far the best. Why? Because this site is largely still covered in jungle. Not many tourists visit the ruins here either. Located only 22 miles from the Guatemalan border in...
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Ik Kil, Yucatan, Mexico
Are you kidding me? 150 feet deep AND the opening to miles of underground caverns? And you want me to jump in? If it isn't the 30 foot drop that gets you, its the inky blackness below or the who-knows-what that's living down there. You see, the...
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Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo, Mexico
This tiny island is north of Isla Mujeres and Cancun and is only 26 miles long and offers visitors in search of a "Robinson Crusoe" experience the perfect escape. Long, sweeping beaches beckon with water sports, snorkeling, sport fishing, and...
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Calle 60 496, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico
The roaring twenties came roaring back at me as I crossed the threshold of the Gran Hotel. Pasta tile floors, a grand split staircase, intricately carved wooden doors, lofty ceilings, crystal chandeliers, open airy spaces. I could hardly believe...
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Edzna, Campeche, Mexico
Edzna is a large Maya ruin located about an hour away from Campeche, Mexico. The features a five story ceremonial pyramid, which was constructed in the Classic Period (650-900 AD). The site has a long history that dates back to the Preclassic...
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Por la 54 y 56, Calle 47, #471, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico
Casa Lecanda, situated off the city centre of Merida, the capital of Yucatan; was easily the most stunning boutique hotels that I have stayed in. The hotel's owners and architects have managed to restore the ruined old hacienda and transform it...
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The sleepy seaside village of Rio Largartos on the northern coast of the Yucatan, plays host to the Ría Lagartos nature park where herds of wild flamingoes congregate. I was fortunate enough to witness this beautiful, surreal tableau against the...
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Chicanná, Campeche, Mexico
Chicanna was a small Classic Maya (250-900 AD) town located in southern Campeche, Mexico that thrived despite its close proximity to larger regional powers. The site is composed of palaces, plazas and relatively small temples and contains no large...
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Carretera Puerto Juarez ~ Tulum Km. 104, 77776 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
This pair of baby loggerhead turtles was less than 12 hours old when we saw and briefly held them. What was amazing was that no matter which direction we faced them, they instinctively knew to turn towards the ocean! There are seven species of sea...
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Isla Mujeres, Q.R., Mexico
We love this little island... It's only the 12th time we visit and it does not get old. It's laid-back, friendly, authentic, relaxing, and yummie. Just a boat ride from Cancun, but don't come just for the day trip and buffet on the beach. Come to...
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Relaxing and beautiful walk along the water front
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Isla Contoy, Quintana Roo, Mexico
An easy day trip from Cancun, Isla Contoy is a small island nature reserve with beautiful beaches and more than 100 species of birds. Bird watching tours can be arranged through travel agencies and hotels, as the island is uninhabited, and...
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Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Wonderful catamarans that you can rent right off the beach.
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Sagitario, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Located near the Maya ruins of Tulum, Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an (CESiaK) is a nature lover's paradise. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and established in 1986 as part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program, it is the largest protected...
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Calle 60 476A, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico
Mérida’s many historic plazas are jam packed with open air event throughout the year. Popular with tourists and locals alike is Yucatecan “Jarana”, a traditional form of dance accompanied by live music. One of the best places to see the show is at...
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Calle 72 63, Barrio de Santiago, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico
Each Tuesday around 7:30pm, locals from in around central Mérida descend on the square in Parque Santiago to dance “danzon” under the stars at the weekly event called “Remembranzas Musicales”. A form of dance and music, “danzón” was introduced...
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From May to September, one of the most exciting activities throughout the area, is swimming with whale sharks. Measuring up to 40 ft. and weighing up to 15 tons, they are drawn to these waters to feed on plankton, providing an opportunity for...
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Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Just when it seemed like the Riviera Maya Riviera had become nothing but a sea of all-inclusive beach resorts, you stumble upon the quaint little Mexican village of Puerto Morelos. There are almost no huge developments, no shopping outlets, and no...
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Carretera Tulum, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
After our first sighting it just got better, and it was common to see several turtles at a time. We swam further, discovering another of the larger green turtles inhabiting the bay. We carefully positioned ourselves – watching, waiting patiently....
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Decima Avenida Esquina Con Avenida Juárez S/n, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico
A short ferry-ride from Playa del Carmen, Isla Cozumel is a diver's paradise. And while diving and snorkeling might be the main attraction here, the island and its town San Miguel de Cozumel offer a lot of land- and sand-based activities for the...
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The Maya name for Laguna Bacalar means the Lake of Seven Colors, and spending a little time here will show you why it's such an apt moniker: from turquoise to cobalt blue to jade green and everything in between, the colors of this fresh-water lake...
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Quintana Roo, Mexico
A stunning bay with little development, Soliman Bay is great if you want to get away from it all. Head to Chamico's for a delicious whole fried fish and a strech of sand all to yourself.
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Sian Ka'an, Q.R., Mexico
Head past Tulum on the beach road and stop when you find a deserted stretch of sand in the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve. There won't be anybody in sight and you'll have your own slice of paradise all to yourself.
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Hormiguero is the name of this Classic Maya archaeological site in southern Campeche. Hormiguero is a seldom visited and relatively small ancient Maya city located south of the trans peninsular highway that cuts across the southern Yucatan through...
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Av. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla S/N, centro, 77490 Xcalak, Q.R., Mexico
It's fun to imagine that Xcalak, a sleepy coastal village south of Mahahual on Mexico's Costa Maya, is what the entire Caribbean coast of Mexico looked like before the creation of the Cancún megaresort in the 70s. No Spring breakers, no cruise...