Two Weeks in the Yucatan Peninsula
Collected by Catherine Craddock-Carrillo , AFAR Local Expert
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.
Carretera Federal, Cancun - 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...
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....
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Carretera Puerto Juarez ~ Tulum Km. 104, Yodzonot, 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...
Isla Mujeres, Q.R., Mexico
If you're not a fan of huge resorts and big hotels, Isla Mujeres is the perfect getaway from Cancun. Just catch the ferry to the island located 13km to the northeast of Cancun. The ferry ride in itself is enjoyable, as you float over shallow reefs...
Isla Contoy, Quintana Roo, Mexico
The most remote and least visited of Cancun's outlying islands is Isla Contoy, a nature preserve where the number of visitors is strictly limited to no more than 200 per day. Typically, though, fewer than 100 people make the excursion to this...
Calle Camaron 32, 77509 Cancun, 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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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