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Yucatán Peninsula

Beaches, nightlife, Mayan sites, diving, nature... the Yucatán Peninsula has it all. A vacationer’s paradise, Yucatán has something for everyone. The heart of the Mayan empire, Yucatán was flourishing during the dark ages in Europe. Today, it is a land of beaches and surf, fun and adventure for all tastes and budgets.

The Yucatán Peninsula juts out into the Gulf of Mexico on Mexico’s eastern coast. It is comprised of only three states: Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. Each of these states has its own history, treasures, and reasons to visit.

Popular with spring breakers as well as families, Cancún, with its perfect year-round climate and white sand beaches has invented itself as one of the premier sun-and-fun destinations in the Caribbean. Located on a bay, Cancún offers numerous water sports including diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, parasailing and more. There are also golf courses and crafts markets. The city is home to some of the most important hotel chains in the world as well as budget accommodation. The Cancún nightlife is legendary: there are bars and clubs all over town and visitors like to party until the sun rises over the ocean. Not far off the coast from Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a well-known resort destination.

Mexico’s largest inhabited island is Cozumel. The island, off the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, is 16 miles wide and 48 miles long. It attracts divers from around the world: there are more than twenty different reef formations off the coast. There is more to Cozumel than diving, however: it boasts a prestigious golf course (designed by the Nicklaus Design group) as well as numerous spas and resorts. In the capital, San Miguel, the traveler will find accommodations from budget to deluxe.

Playa Del Carmen is a less expensive alternative to Cancún and Cozumel. A rapidly growing beach destination, it offers a toned-down version of Cancún. Forty-five minutes away from Playa del Carmen is Xel-Ha park, known as a premier snorkeling spot where underwater rivers reach the ocean.

The main archaeological attraction in the state of Yucatán is Chichén Itzá, the Mayan "city of the water wizards". This great Mayan city peaked between 700 and 1200 A.D. when it was the political, economic and military capital of the region. One highlight is the observatory, which was built to observe Venus, revered by the Maya as Kukulkán, one of their most important deities. Every year on the spring and fall equinoxes, thousands of visitors descend upon Chichén Itzá to watch the illusion created by the setting sun of a giant snake slithering up the temple.

The westernmost state on the Yucatán peninsula, Campeche has a long history. The state itself has beautiful rivers and beaches, and is dotted with traditional haciendas, or Spanish-style country homes. The state is proud of its Maya legacy: the archaeological sites of Edzná, Becán, Xpuhil, and Calakmul are all within range of the capital city, Campeche. Other activities in Campeche include fine beaches, golf, museums, diving/snorkeling and other water sports.

The easternmost state of Yucatán, Quintana Roo, is a lively mix of cultures: Caribbean, Mexican, and Mayan all converge in one state, possibly Mexico’s most popular tourist destination. Like the other Yucatán states, Quintana Roo is proud of its ancient Mayan heritage: the archaeological sites of Tulum, Cobá, and Kohunlich are found in this state. Tulum is particularly popular: situated on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean, the site is small compared to Tikal (in Guatemala) or Palenque (in southern Mexico), but it is probably the most breathtaking of all the Mayan sites. The capital of Quintana Roo, Chetumal, is a small city that is growing in popularity with visitors.









By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
09 Oct 2007

Adventure Mexico Tours
Today, Yucatan Tours display a land of beaches and surf, fun and adventure for all tastes and budgets.
www.adventure-life.com/tours/mexico-tours/

Nightlife Hotspots of the Yucatán

Tequila Barrel

107032One of the best timed happy hours in town - which takes place only out the back and not on the streetside tables - attracts you to this happening place. The fan-filled back room ramps up the tunes ...
Bar
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Pirate Bar

107033This is a good spot to sit after a day on the beach although there is no sunset over the water because Playa is in the wrong place! Drop in for happy hour on the bench chairs on the beach then return ...
Bar
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The Blue Parrot beach bar

107034 This, the hotel claims, is one of the best beach clubs in the world. Not so sure about that, but it is certainly a popular place for people eater to strut their stuff. Music is loud and drinks are ...
Bar
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

El Paraiso Bar

107072This is a beach-meets-Soho spot. The atmosphere is created through the pastel-colored, faux-leather rectangular and circular beds spread out on the beach in front of a fully-stocked bar. It is a ...
Bar, Beach
Tulum, Mexico

Habana Cafe

If you're craving a taste of Latin life with a touch of Cuban spice, the atmosphere at Habana Café in Tulum Pueblo will satisfy. Habana’s Cuban inspired design is permeated with beats from ...
Bar
Tulum, Mexico

Terrace Bar

Terrace Bar situated on the main street of Tulum is the best place in Tulum for night events. Come and taste the Best Mojito and Piña Colada in ...
Bar
Tulum, Mexico

Xalaquia Lounge Bar

Xalaquia attracts a young crowd (ages 18 – 25). The music is a fusion of electronic, pop and regaeton, and a sophisticated lighting system sets the mood. The club is hot, crowded, and definitely ...
Bar
Valladolid, Mexico

Santos y Pecadores (Saints and Sinners)

Santos y Pecadores is a big place, where you may find yourself packed onto the dance floor with 500 other gyrating, grinding dancers. The equal of Xalaquia in atmosphere and excitement, visit one ...
Bar
Valladolid, Mexico

Bodeguita

142848Sports Bar La Bodeguita is located in the center of Mahahual, just one street behind the Boardwalk. La Bodeguita, a meeting place for locals, collegues and tourists, opened its ...
Bar
Mahahual, Mexico

Things to See and Do in the Yucatán Peninsula

Chichen Itza trip

107040This is a must-do if you are in this area and trips are offered not only from Playa but also Ancun and Tulum. Organised tours usually put small groups into minibuses but do not befooled by the ...
Cultural Tour, Ruin, Adventure Tour
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tulum Ruins

107068This is one of the prettiest Mayan sites you can visit, neatly cared for with trimmed grass and palms surrounding well-restored ruins. The buildings themselves may not be as impressive as somewhere ...
Ruin, Cultural Tour
Tulum, Mexico

Uxmal

Maya legend tells of a dwarf in the ancient city of Uxmal, who claimed to have magical powers. Uxmal’s ruler, confident that the dwarf was a fraud, made a foolish wager that if the dwarf could ...
Ruin
Merida, Mexico

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

If Cancún is a place for the hedonist with its loud, late-night bars, American fast food, and over-developed coastline, then the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, two hours to the south, is the antidote. It ...
National Park
Tulum, Mexico

Casa de Montejo (House of Montejo)

138006Highlighting the Calle 63 side of the Main Square, the Casa de Montejo was built in 1569 by Mérida’s founder, Francisco de Montejo and remained the family home until 1831. The house is a ...
Historical Building
Merida, Mexico

Catedral de San Ildefonso

138004The Door of Forgiveness leads into the first cathedral completed in the Americas, which is dedicated to San Ildefonso of Toledo. Construction began in 1562 on this sober, Renaissance-style house of ...
Historical Building
Merida, Mexico

Plaza Grande/Zócalo (Independence or Main Square)

138003For more than 450 years the Plaza Grande, or Independence Square as it is officially known, has drawn Méridanos to this shady and spacious park, which is surrounded by the city’s most important ...
City Plaza
Merida, Mexico

Uxmal Ruins - Other sites of interest

137994At the Uxmal Ruin complex, the big draws are the Magician's Pyramid, the Governor's Palace and the Nunnery Quadrangle. But there are other areas of interest for ruins buffs and historians to check ...
Ruin
Mexico

Uxmal Ruins - Nunnery Quadrangle (Cuadrángulo de las Monjas)

137993To the Spanish this perfectly proportioned complex resembled a convent and so they called it a nunnery. Warriors might have studied here, or perhaps astronomers and astrologers. John Stephens ...
Ruin
Mexico

Uxmal - Governor’s Palace (Palacio del Gobernador)

137992The Governor’s Palace is majestic, a dwelling truly fit for kings. Completed in 987 AD it is the architectural opposite of the Pyramid of the Magician: rectangular rather than oval, a residence ...
Ruin
Mexico

Merida Palacio de Gobierno (State Capitol Building)

138008Yucatán’s 19th century state capitol building, the neoclassical Palacio de Gobierno, is a required stop on any visit to Mérida for two reasons: the excellent tourism office on the first floor ...
Historical Building
Merida, Mexico

The Nicest Places to Rest Your Head in the Yucatán Peninsula

Hotel Medio Mundo

138211Situated two blocks west of Santa Lucia Park and four blocks from the Main Square, Hotel Medio Mundo offers spacious rooms lining a wide arcade, which surrounds a jungle-like courtyard. The friendly ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Hacienda Uxmal

137996The Hacienda Uxmal retains the colonial elegance that has attracted illustrious visitors such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Princess Grace and Queen Elizabeth. Want to stay in Jackie’s room? Write ahead ...
Hotel
Mexico

Casa Santiago

138214Staying at Casa Santiago is like being invited into the home of a treasured friend – one who has impeccable taste and has decorated his home with art gathered during world travels. Tucked into ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Gran Hotel

138213The Gran Hotel is an aging beauty of the Belle Epoque era, and as one guest said, is “a gorgeous, retro relic.” Opened in 1901 and recently restored, the Gran was for decades Merida’s finest ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Hotel del Parque

138189For convenience and location it is hard to beat Hotel del Parque but there’s a tradeoff: rooms with pretty views of Iglesia de Jesus also face noisy Calle 60. Rooms in the back are quieter but look ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Hotel Medio Mundo

138211Situated two blocks west of Santa Lucia Park and four blocks from the Main Square, Hotel Medio Mundo offers spacious rooms lining a wide arcade, which surrounds a jungle-like courtyard. The friendly ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Hotel Colonial

138210Hotel Colonial is best known for its extremely popular daily breakfast buffet, but it is also a good value, mid-range Merida hotel. And that breakfast is a great one complete with omelets made to ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Hotel San Juan

138194Located one half block away from the activities of Calle 60’s Santa Lucia Park, Hotel San Juan is a quiet, lower-priced courtyard hotel. It has clean rooms and public areas and is positioned three ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Luz en Yucatan

138208The winner of the 2010 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Award, Luz en Yucatan is almost always that website’s #1 rated accommodation in Merida. And, it deserves it! Owners Tom Williams and Donard ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Luz en Yucatan

138208The winner of the 2010 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Award, Luz en Yucatan is almost always that website’s #1 rated accommodation in Merida. And, it deserves it! Owners Tom Williams and Donard ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico

Hostal Zocalo

138207Hostelers could not ask for a more convenient accommodation in Merida: Hostal Zocalo sits right on the Main Square, next to the Casa de Montejo. The hostel occupies an historic building and features ...
Hotel
Merida, Mexico
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