Yucatán Peninsula Adventures
The Yucatán Peninsula is the pride and joy of Mexico 🇲🇽
An adventures seekers paradise, separating the gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea, the Yucatán Peninsula was the central location of the Mayan Civilization and home to North America's largest indigenous population of the Mayans.
Fun Fact: There are over 10,000 natural cenotes or "sink holes" stretching across all of Mexico, with 57 just in the region of Quintana Roo and over 6,000 in the Yucatán. Most of which are explorable and well worth the time.
So if you find yourself looking for adventure and ancient history, here's a quick guide based on our experiences over the last few years in the Yucatán.
Chichen Itza is one of the 7 wonders of the world and one of the most iconic ruins of the Yucatán dating back to pre Colombian times as one the largest Mayan cities ever built, from 250 AD - 900 AD long before the aztec period.
With over 365 steps (the same as days in the calendar year) there's a ton of symbolism rich in history surrounding this magnificent structure and its incredibly special architecture.
Tips: This is one of the most popular and visited archeological sites in Mexico, so plan ahead for crowds and heat with plenty of water.
Ek Balam is the one of the only climbable mayan structures left in all of Mexico located just 35 miles from Chichen Itza, so it's possible to do both in one day.
Ek Balam is considered "the seat" of the mayan kingdom as this site is noted for the preservation of the plaster on the tomb of Ukit Kan Lek Tokʼ, a king buried in the side of the largest pyramid, the acropolis. It was absolutely incredible to see.
"The Twin Towers" situated just to the east of the main pyramid are also climbable with stunning views of the jungle and acropolis.
Tips: Not nearly as crowded as Chichen Itza, however notably popular for its astounding views and climbable adventure feel.
Valladolid is a very small city within the Yucatán rich in history and beautiful architecture conveniently located in the heart of everything.
Its buildings include 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena, with an ornate wooden altarpiece, and baroque-style San Gervasio Cathedral.
This is well worth a stop for photos, snacks, lunch and to marvel at all the of the Mayan art.
Its worth repeating that there are over 6,000 incredible cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula, but here's a short list of the ones we've experienced and highly recommend.
SuyTun - A shallow, subterranean swimming hole accessible by tunnel with stalactites & stalagmites.
Oxman - Adobe-style restaurant & gardens near a natural swimming hole in a collapsed cave hung with vines.
Ik Kil - An underground sinkhole with vines considered sacred by the Maya who used the site as a location for human sacrifice to their rain god, Chaac. (life vest required) 200ft in diameter and 157 feet deep.
Xcanche - a natural sinkhole near Ek Balam ruins with cool, turquoise water for swimming & a zipline overhead.
Dzalbay - Off the beaten path in a protected Mayan community. Known for its astounding stalactites, stalagmites and crystal clear blue water.
X'ux Ha - a spectacular cave cenote with crystal clear blue water below a huge limestone dome
- Arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds
- Wear waterproof shoes
- Consider bringing a waterproof phone case
- Pack extra dry clothes
We highly recommend packing your day with at least one cenote and a visit to the Mayan Ruins for a well rounded trip to the Yucatán Peninsula.
You can rent a car which is affordable and provides unlimited time and leisure during your visit.
You can also find many affordable multi stop tours via Viator which will most likely get you there by tour bus.
However, if you're looking for a more personalized and intimate experience, we highly recommend a private tour.
Lalo Black Market / @laloblackmarket on Instagram ~ Eduardo was such a great match for us as he was passionate, knowledgeable, easy to understand and super friendly. He came highly recommended by a past tour guide and now we know why.
We wound up having a ton in common and even made a great friend. He even brought his camera as a bonus and snapped some precious memories for us as well.
Travel in 2024:
In February of 2024, Mexico plans to open its first stretch of controversial transportation system in the Yucatán.
The $20 billion, 950-mile line, called the Maya Train, is meant to connect beach resorts and archaeological sites making this absolutely huge for tourism as you'll be able to travel by train from place to place in an upscale vessel around the Yucatán Peninsula.
We hope you enjoyed our review and advice, please leave us a comment if you have anything else you wish to add.