Things to Do in Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

If you have just 2 weeks in Mexico, like most visitors, you need to think about your Mexico itinerary carefully.

You can swim in cenotes, scuba dive with whale sharks, enjoy the white sand beaches, visit the ancient Mayan ruins, visit colonial towns and still have time to taste the nightlife.

What to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico


Hidden Gems Of Mexico

The best and the most convenient way to explore the area is renting a car. A car will give you the freedom to explore more and beat the crowds. You will appreciate having the ability to go places a bit off the beaten path and possibly save money over using taxis and shuttles.

You can pick up a car right after you land in Cancun and begin your adventure by driving directly to Playa del Carmen. If you’re not up for a solo adventure for whatever reason, check out some group tours with G Adventures.

Is Mexico Still Safe?

Yes, absolutely. While the US government constantly issues travel warnings against going to certain areas of Riviera Maya (they also issued many for countries I had an amazing experience in, like Iran), life there goes on normally, as usual.

I used to live in Playa del Carmen for a long time during another travel warning and I was going places just fine. Plenty of tourists, locals and expats are enjoying Yucatan Peninsula these days.


Things to Do in Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Enjoy Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is much more than just a tourist spot with great nightlife. Even after a year of living here I still keep finding those hidden gems in and around town. Playa del Carmen is a great place to eat delicious Mexican food, shop till you drop and relax on the beach.

There are also plenty of activities like jet-skiing, paragliding, snorkeling and much more if you’re looking for some adventures without leaving town. It’s a great place to start your adventures around the Yucatan Peninsula.

You can base yourself in Playa for at least a few days while doing day trips. Since Playa is still quite touristy you can get more local experience by staying at a vacation rental rather than staying at the hotel.


READ MORE: Best Guide to Playa del Carmen


Best Apartments in Playa del Carmen (I used to live in both)

The Elements   –   Check Prices On: Booking

Sabbia   –   Check Prices On: Booking.comAgoda

Best Mid-Range Hotels in Playa del Carmen

Reina Roja   –   Check Prices On: Booking.comAgoda

Acanto Boutique  –  Check Prices On: Booking.comAgoda

Best Luxury Hotels in Playa del Carmen

The Royal   –   Check Prices On: Booking.comAgoda

Grand Hyatt   –   Check Prices On: Booking.comAgoda

DON’T FORGET ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE!

Don’t forget to arrange health insure before heading to Mexico. The easiest and the most reliable travel insurance is Safety Wing. Get it before your trip to skip unnecessary troubles that might ruin your holidays!

Elements
The Elements condo


Explore Cenotes

Cenotes are a must-do in the Yucatan. What exactly are cenotes? There are cave formations and sinkholes, either open-air or completely underground.

Use your own car or take a collectivo from Playa del Carmen and visit as many cenotes you can. Trust me, there are many cenotes to choose from!

Each cenote is different: some have great diving, others are full of fish and great cliffs to jump from and sometimes you can even find a zipline or a swing!

Read the Ultimate Guide to Cenotes

cenote zaci

Take a Day Trip to Cozumel

Catch the early morning ferry to the island of Cozumel. As the island is quite big, you should consider renting a car, buggy or scooter. You can snorkel on a gorgeous reef near The Money Bar.

Then continue onto the Punta Sur reserve to enjoy the beach, play with some pygmy raccoons and maybe spotting a crocodile! Cozumel is also a great spot for diving, so make sure you save some time for this purpose.

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Swim with Turtles at Akumal Beach

Akumal is a small village on the way to Tulum. Do yourself a favor and stop at Akumal where you can swim with sea turtles for free. It’s one of the best things to do in the area! From Akumal, you can continue directly to Tulum and spend the night there.

Read How to Visit Turtles in Akumal

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Visit Tulum Ruins & Sian Ka’an Reserve

While there are many impressive Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum’s beachfront location, perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, is hard to beat. Aim to arrive as early (or late) as possible to beat the crowds as the site gets pack around 10 am.

Yucatan peninsula

In the afternoon you can visit the Sian Ka’an Reserve where you can kayak among mangroves and spot some cute crocodiles.

Sian Ka'an

Climb the Pyramid of Coba + Swim in more cenotes

The ruins of Coba might not be as known as Chichen Itza, but the site is less touristy and you can still climb the main pyramid called Ixmoja.

There are 120 stone steps up to the top, but it’s well worth the climb.

Coba is way bigger than you might think at first so allow yourself to spend a few hours out there, but don’t worry – you can rent a bike to get around.

coba ruins

A trip to Coba wouldn’t be complete without taking a dip in the refreshing cenotes nearby. For a small fee you get to see three amazing underground cenotes, in my opinion, the best in the Yucatan.

Cenote Choo-Ha is my favorite, but if you’re an adventure seeker try to jump from a 45 feet platform at Tamcach-Ha cenote.

cenote choo-ha

Go to Chichen Itza & Valladolid

Leave Tulum early in the morning and head to Chichen Itza – one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations and UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

There are a lot of astronomical marvels at Chichen Itza, but one of the most exciting is the Descent of the Feathered Serpent on the main Pyramid of Kukulkan that happens once a year.

A shadow play is created where a serpent head statue transforms into a full creature through the shadows of the pyramid’s terraces.

chichen itza

Valladolid is a friendly colonial town on the way to Chichen Itza offering stunning architecture, including a 16th-century cathedral of San Gervasio.

While some tourists still pass through Valladolid the city is often an overlooked destination, while there are plenty of things to do there.

Local cenotes such as Cenote Zaci is a great alternative to overcrowded Ik Kil Cenote. It’s a good spot to spend a night in as well.


Take a Mud Bath in a Pink Lake

Located approximately two hours from Playa del Carmen and even closer from Valladolid, Rio Lagartos is famous for bird watching and the densest concentration of flamingos in Mexico.

You can admire the beauty of naturally pink lakes of Las Coloradas and cover yourself in mud as it’s a perfect skin treatment and moreover totally free!


Relax on Isla Holbox

To get to Holbox take a ferry from Chiquila which leaves every hour. Isla Holbox is all about relaxing and beautiful beaches, but if you’re up for some adventure activities you won’t end up disappointed either.

You can go horseback riding on the beach, rent a golf cart (as it’s the only vehicle allowed on the island) and rent a bike.

Snorkeling and diving with whale sharks (from June to September) are also an option, but still, the best thing on the island are the hammock located right on the water and delicious lobster pizza.

Check out my full guide to Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox

I suggest checking my Travel & Live in Mexico section to see what else you can do in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula!

For more activities and organized tours check Viator here.

get floaty


Suggested more extensive guides for Mexico:

Lonely Planet Yucatan Guide
The Rough Guide to Mexico
Mexican Spanish Phrasebook

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