Introducing Cancun, Cozumel & the Yucatan
The Yucatán Peninsula captivates visitors with its endless offerings of natural wonders and an ancient culture that's still very much alive today.
Life's a Beach
Without a doubt, this corner of Mexico has some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline you'll ever see – which explains in large part why beaches get top billing on the peninsula. On the east coast you have the famous coral-crushed white sands and turquoise-blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean, while up north you'll find sleepy fishing villages with sandy streets and wildlife-rich surroundings. For the ultimate beach-bumming experience you can always hit one of several low-key islands off the Caribbean coast.
Maya Ruins Galore
You can't help but feel awestruck when standing before the pyramids, temples and ball courts of one of the most brilliant pre-Hispanic civilizations of all time. Yes, those Maya certainly knew a thing or two about architecture and they were no slouchers when it came to astronomy, science and mathematics as well. Witnessing their remarkable achievements firsthand leaves a lasting impression on even the most jaded traveler – and the peninsula is chock-full of these mind-blowing Maya archaeological sites.
The Yucatán is the real deal for nature enthusiasts. With colorful underwater scenery like none other, it offers some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the world. Then you have the many biosphere reserves and national parks that are home to a remarkably diverse variety of animal and plant life. Just to give you an idea of what's in store: you can swim with whale sharks, spot crocodiles and flamingos, help liberate sea turtles and observe hundreds upon hundreds of bird species.
Culture & Fun
In case you need a little something more than pretty beaches, ancient ruins and outdoor adventures, you'll be glad to know that culture and fun-filled activities abound in the Yucatán. On any given day you may come across soulful dance performances, free concerts, interesting museums or art exhibits, and even more so in Mérida, the peninsula's cultural capital. For all-out fun, the Yucatán is one big splash fest after another with thousands of underground natural pools, theme parks with subterranean rivers, and all kinds of thrilling boat tours.
Why I Love the Yucatán Peninsula
By John Hecht, Author
Above all, I love the colors. Maybe I've been living in smog-choked Mexico City waaay too long now but every time I visit the peninsula I find myself asking: can an ocean really have that many shades of intense blue or can jungles and mangroves really be so chlorophyll green? I also love that there are so many things to do. Had your fill of Maya ruins? No problem, have a dip in a gorgeous cenote (limestone sinkhole) or explore amazing coral reefs. And don't even get me started about the Yucatán's wonderful regional cuisine.
Need to know
Yucatán State & the Maya Heartland
A wild undercurrent, writhing like a liquid goddess, resides beneath the scrub jungle, pyramids and rolling hills of Yucatán state. You feel her tides as you walk beneath the towering Maya pyramids of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, imagining the rich waves of history, slaughter, deceit, fame and famine that rolled through these mighty power centers.
Cancún & Around
Unlike many cities in the world, Cancún just isn’t afraid. It’s unabashed and unapologetic, and in that lies its high-gloss charm. So send in the Maya dancers, swashbuckling pirates and beer-chugging US Spring Breakers. Cancún can take it. But can you? Like Las Vegas, Ibiza or Dubai, Cancún is a party city that just won’t give up.