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Yucatán

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Why would Yucatán suit you?

Diving

The Riviera Maya has a stunning underwater world which is worth to discover. Make not just a dive into the ocean, but try also cave diving in the typical underground hollow spaces. Cozumel, located east of Playa del Carmen, is a Caribbean island with crystal clear water and a cruise port. The island is also known as dive paradise due to the presence of the second largest coral reef of the world. Here, you can find around 25 reefs with a lot of coral, big sponges, stingrays and turtles. Bahia Mujeres is more calm and therefore a good place to go snorkelling.

Beaches

In Yucatán you will find a lot of beautiful beaches. The long, white, sandy beaches of beach resorts Cancún and Playa del Carmen are the most popular. Cancún with its broad hotel zone with hotels of all well known hotel chains, is mainly oriented on Americans. The ocean here is clear but sometimes a little bit rough. The coastal zone between Puerto Morelos and bio reserve Sian Ka’an is called the Riviera Maya. Virgin white sand with palm trees and a azure sea completes the Caribean picture. Playa del Carmen, the major beach resort here, is famous for its trendy beach clubs and is more European oriented. Nice white beaches you also find in Cozumel. Do you want to avoid the mass, you have to go to the tropical island Holbox.

Historical

Between 300 and 900 the Mayas lived in Yucatán. In the interior you can find many impressive and partly restored remains of ancient centres. For centuries, these remains were hidden in the jungle and only much later discovered again. One of the most famous remains is Wonder of the World Chichén Itzá, once the most important city of the Mayas. The Pyramid of Kukulcán, also known as El Castillo, was built around 800 and used as a calendar. The pyramid consists of 18 layers which represent the 18 months of a Mayan year. Also Tulum in the northeast was an important Maya city. It was the only Maya city located at the sea and an important fortress city. Today, Tulum is the only archaeological site in Mexico.

More Yucatán highlights ↓

Yucatán is a peninsula in the southeast of Mexico, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, with beaches full of tropical palm trees. The region is very diverse. Yucatán is a paradise for beach lovers, sports enthusiasts and fans of culture. It even houses one of the Wonders of the World, Chichén Itzá!

Cancun by night Image gallery
Time zone
-7
Visa
Not required
Vaccinations
Recommended
High season
July – August and December – January
Currency
Mexican peso (MXP)

Where to stay?

Where to stay?

Yucatán is well-known for:

  • Beautiful white, sandy beaches
  • Impressive remains of the Maya culture
  • A lot water sport facilities
  • Vibrant beach resorts with many shops and good nightlife

Keep in mind:

  • Chance of hurricanes from September until December
  • Partying American students during Spring Break

Yucatán highlights Book now

The underwater world at Cozumel
Diving

The Riviera Maya has a stunning underwater world which is worth to discover. Make not just a dive into the ocean, but try also cave diving in the typical underground hollow spaces. Cozumel, located east of Playa del Carmen, is a Caribbean island with crystal clear water and a cruise port. The island is also known as dive paradise due to the presence of the second largest coral reef of the world. Here, you can find around 25 reefs with a lot of coral, big sponges, stingrays and turtles. Bahia Mujeres is more calm and therefore a good place to go snorkelling.

One of the beaches of Playa del Carmen
Beaches

In Yucatán you will find a lot of beautiful beaches. The long, white, sandy beaches of beach resorts Cancún and Playa del Carmen are the most popular. Cancún with its broad hotel zone with hotels of all well known hotel chains, is mainly oriented on Americans. The ocean here is clear but sometimes a little bit rough. The coastal zone between Puerto Morelos and bio reserve Sian Ka’an is called the Riviera Maya. Virgin white sand with palm trees and a azure sea completes the Caribean picture. Playa del Carmen, the major beach resort here, is famous for its trendy beach clubs and is more European oriented. Nice white beaches you also find in Cozumel. Do you want to avoid the mass, you have to go to the tropical island Holbox.

Temple of the Warriors in Chichén Itzá
Historical

Between 300 and 900 the Mayas lived in Yucatán. In the interior you can find many impressive and partly restored remains of ancient centres. For centuries, these remains were hidden in the jungle and only much later discovered again. One of the most famous remains is Wonder of the World Chichén Itzá, once the most important city of the Mayas. The Pyramid of Kukulcán, also known as El Castillo, was built around 800 and used as a calendar. The pyramid consists of 18 layers which represent the 18 months of a Mayan year. Also Tulum in the northeast was an important Maya city. It was the only Maya city located at the sea and an important fortress city. Today, Tulum is the only archaeological site in Mexico.

Cancún by night
Bars & Clubs

Situated in the heart of the Riviera Maya is Playa del Carmen, where you have delicious food and can party all night long. After a relax day at the beach it’s see and be seen at the Fifth Avenue of Playa del Carmen, Quinta Avenida. In the evening, the restaurants are crowded and everywhere you hear musicians playing. The bars and clubs are open until early in the morning. Also in Cancún it’s not hard to find the bustling nightlife. Many tourists start their night out with a cocktail in one of the hotel lobbies. After that, they continuing the night in an American disco, bar with live music or the biggest nightclub of Latin-America, The City.

Mexican food
Dining

The Mexican kitchen is famous all over the world. That’s why you can find crispy tacos and creamy guacamole everywhere in Mexico. But Yucatán has also its own specialties. Try for example the classic Pibil Pork. This is a tasteful dish with pork, orange, red union and a traditional sauce. Everything together has to cooked slowly in the oven. The Yucatán kitchen uses a lot of ingredients the Mayas used too. These are mainly corn, chocolate, turkey, chili peppers and tomatoes. Nice to know is the fact that they also make use of European ingredients, like dutch Edammer cheese.

The typical symbol of the Riviera Maya, Tulum's El Castillo
Local culture

Yucatán is the region of the famous Mayan culture. One of the most recognized remains is Wonder of the World Chichén Itzá, once the most important city of the Mayas. Also Tulum and Coba in the northeast were important Maya cities. Tulum was the only Maya city that’s located at the sea and was an important fortress city. The view of Tulum’s El Castillo on the top of a cliff is the typical symbol of the Riviera Maya. Do you want to see more of the Mayan culture? Visit Uxmal, Palenque, Copán and Calakmul. Yucatán is, in terms of culture, still pretty attached to the Mayas. A part of the citizens of Yucatán still speaks Yucatec Maya and sometimes markings and signposts are bilingual.

Shop a souvenir in one of the stalls
Shopping

Playa del Carmen, in the heart of Riviera Maya, has a lot of lovely shops. When you are looking for a nice souvenir, go to one of the many boutiques in the centre. Also in Cancún it’s not hard to find some shops. Compared with Playa del Carmen, in Cancún the shops are a bit more luxurious and there are more shopping malls. La Isla Shopping Village for example. It’s the newest shopping and entertainment centre of Cancún. It looks like a small Caribbean village with canals, bridges and it even has an aquarium!

A golf course at the Riviera Maya
Golf

Twelve months a year, you can play golf on one of the most beautiful courses in Yucatán. Beginners or experienced professionals, for everyone there’s a challenge on one of the more than 160 golf courses. The most you can find in Cancún, the Riviera Maya and on Cozumel Island. The most beautiful and challenging golf courses you can find along the Riviera Maya. ‘El Camaleón’ in the Mayakobo Resort is one of the most fantastic courses and developed by top designers. This is also the only golf course in the PGA World Tour outside the United States of America. On Cozumel the most famous golf course is at the Cozumel Country Club. This course is located in beautiful natural surroundings.

Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal
UNESCO

Yucatán is the region of the famous Mayan culture. One of the most recognized remains is Wonder of the World Chichén Itzá, once the most important city of the Mayas. The Pyramid of Kukulcán, also known as El Castillo, was built around 800 and was used as a calendar. The pyramid consists of 18 layers which represents the 18 months of a Mayan year. The 365 steps represents the amount of days in one year. Do you want to discover more UNESCO heritage sites? Also in the pre-Hispanic Mayan city Uxmal are remains with symbolic motives and sculptures from the Mayan culture.

Map of Yucatán Book now

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Sources used on this page: Toeristiek | Mexico Tourism Board | Shutterstock
Header image: Tulum by Shutterstock