Yucatan Peninsula: rich of ingredients for a gorgeous holiday
Ancient Mayan ruins, white sand beaches and frozen margaritas, you’ll find all this on the Yucatan Peninsula, the most famous tourist destination of Mexico. Home to spectacular biosphere reserves and breathtaking underwater caves, this region of Mexico is a haven for nature lovers, while crowded markets and colorful colonial cities make it a fascinating destination for culture devotees. Add to all this some of the best diving in the world, delicious ceviche and a background of bright blue seas, and you’ll have all the ingredients for an unforgettable holiday.
Plan your trip
When planning a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, timing is crucial. Although this corner of Mexico is wonderful all year round, every season has its challenges and its advantages. The rainy season runs from June to October, while from December to April it is the busiest. Prices are at their best during the winter holidays and spring break, but start to drop significantly after Easter. Although rich in tourists, from mid-June to the end of August it coincides with the whale shark season, so if swimming with these incredible sea creatures is on your travel wish list, here you can do this extraordinary experience. Probably, the best time to visit the Yucatan is November, when the crowds are lower and the weather is pleasantly dry and cool.
Discover a Cenote
The Yucatan Peninsula offers a myriad of adventures, but none of it is comparable to swimming or diving in a cenote. The region is famous for these suggestive underground natural pools, considered by the Maya as spiritual wells or portals for other worlds, and there are thousands scattered throughout the peninsula. Among the most popular are Ik-Kil near Chichén Itzá, Dos Ojos near Tulum, as well as Xkeken and the very Instagram-photogenic Cenote Samulá, both in the small town of Dzitnup. Valladolid and Cuzamá are also home to some spectacular sinkholes, and each offers to visitors, a unique experience.
Mayan Sites Off the Beaten Tracks
Some say that no holiday on the Yucatan Peninsula is complete without a visit to Chichén Itzá, Mexico’s most spectacular archaeological site and one of the new seven wonders of the world. In any case, I would suggest that you spend some time exploring some lesser known Mayan ruins along the way. In fact, for a more authentic and less touristy experience, go to Uxmal, an incredible ceremonial center 62 kilometers south of Merida, or visit the equally impressive archaeological site of Ek Balam, near the colonial city of Valladolid.
Hidden in the jungle around Tulum, the Coba ruins are home to Mexico’s highest Mayan pyramid, while the remote ancient Mayan city of Calakmul, Campeche is distinguished by its splendid examples of Mayan monumental architecture and UNESCO protected tropical forest, whose beauty is surpassed only by the Amazon jungle.
However crowded, Chichén Itzá still deserves a visit; make sure you arrive early in the morning because the site fills up tremendously in the afternoon. Another good tip would be to capture the wonderful light and the sound show, which is held every evening.
Shopping Time at La Quinta
The main street of Playa del Carmen is La Quinta (5th Street), a lively pedestrian street that runs well over a kilometer parallel to the beach. La Quinta is flanked by hundreds of shops and sellers offering everything from designer bags to original costume jewelery and unique works of art. Ok, it could be a bit touristy but a visit to La Quinta should be on every bucket list of things to do in Playa del Carmen.
Swimming with Sea Turtles
Not far from Playa del Carmen there’s a peaceful outpost on Akumal beach, one of the best places on the planet for bathing with sea turtles. You can get to Akumal as part of the many guided tours that offer snorkeling, or you can take a colectivo from Playa del Carmen, go walking to the beach and rent your equipment. You do not even need a boat to swim with the turtles, you can usually find several boats just a short distance from the shore.
Where to stay
Hotel Morgana is a unique and captivating boutique hotel, just steps from the famous 5th Avenue of Playa del Carmen and just steps from fabulous Mexican Caribbean beaches. At the Hotel Morgana, every detail has been carefully studied and nothing has been left to chance, from the personalized fragrance in the hall, to the works of Galería Altar, don’t forgetting the straws that you will use to sip your cocktails at the Purifica Pool & Bar or the brand new Consuela restaurant. Each of the 20 rooms is individually decorated, each inspired by a unique aspect of nature or regional culture, such as Frida Kahlo or a Mexican wheat field, just to name a few. In addition to the rooms, Hotel Morgana also offers a rooftop pool, bar, solarium, gallery with original artwork by local artists and a panoramic restaurant called Consuela offering Mexican cuisine with a special touch of local chef Jaime Bazan, all combined with magnificent ocean views. This retreat is definitely a boutique and charming jewel in every way.