Top Ten Things to do in the Yucatan
Updated: Nov 21, 2020
After exploring the Yucatan Peninsula for nine days, here is my list of the Top Ten Things to experience/do during your stay in paradise. Enjoy and soak the sun in!
1. Rent a Car --
We decided to rent a car for our nine days exploring The Yucatan, and it was the best decision we made! While transportation is easy via Collectivos ( local busses), ADO ( main bus line that travels between towns ), taxis, and bikes, having a rental car provides the luxury of moving at your own pace. Therefore, beating the tour busses (if you arrive early) and have the whole place to yourself. We could pack each day with things we wanted to do and found that driving/ navigating the roads was comfortable and safe. We landed in Cancun and rented our Car from Enterprise just outside the airport. They have a shuttle that picks/ drops you off from the airport, making it very convenient. When searching for car rentals, you'll find really low daily rates. Keep in mind that Mexico requires a third party liability insurance and a Collision Insurance ( covered by most traveling credit cards, such as Chase Sapphire & Capital One), so the total cost will slightly higher with the add on. Renting an Economy car, we ended up paying around $225 for nine days. Worth it! If you decide to rent a car like us, I recommend bringing some car accessories such as a car charger ( for your phone) and a car mount for navigation. They also have cars with a GPS available for an extra charge.
2. Visit Las Coloradas--
Pink water is real! Yes, this is not photoshopped- this water is a vivid shade of pink and one of the most stunning sights you'll find in the Yucatan. Las Coloradas is a privately own salt factory that's open to the public as long as you don't bathe inside the water (there's a beach nearby for bathing). The pink color in the water comes from tiny marine microorganisms that contain beta carotene -- a reddish-orange pigment. The best time to visit is when the sun is at its highest. The direct sunlight will give the water its deep colorful shade of pink. Around the area, you'll also find Orange Water, just as stunning! If planning a visit, I recommend making it a day trip as it's a long drive (2hrs from Valladolid) and there are plenty of activities you can do nearby. You do not need a guide to visit Las Coloradas; it's free and open to the public. At the entrance, you'll find "guides" offering tours and saying that guides are mandatory to visit-- this is not true. You can drive past them ( as long as they're not officials with the Salt Company ), head to the end of the road for white sands and pink waters.
3. Sleep in a Hammock--
Nothing more is needed than drinks by the beach, some sunshine, and a build-in hammock, on an eco-friendly luxury hotel for the perfect mid-day siesta. Allow yourself to relax by the water and soak in the sun. Whether by the pool at a nice resort/hotel or embracing nature at its finest.
4. Dive in a Cenote --
Mexico is not just about the beaches; the best part is diving in an underground sinkhole, "cenote" and swimming in cold water after a hot day exploring ruins and hiking pyramids. Visiting cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula became our favorite go-to activity. These nature-made sinkholes are great for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and relaxing. You can find these all over the Yucatan! for a complete list of my favs, check out my previous post, "Cenotes in the Yucatan 101."
5. Explore the Mayan Ruins --
There are so many in the Yucatan; Chichen Itza (one of the seven wonders of the world ), Coba's ruins, ruins in Uxmal, The ruins in Tulum. Pick your fav. and go!
6. Romp through an adventure park--
We love theme parks! From Disney to Six Flags, you name it; we're adrenaline junkies! We've been to a handful of parks all across the U.S.A and found Mexico to have some unique and cool ones that are worth a visit. Whether looking for something the entire family and your inner kid can enjoy or zip linning through the jungle while diving in underground caves, the Yucatan has you covered! We decided to visit two parks: Xelha and Xenses and had a blast!! *Tip: buying your ticket online can save you up to 30%; also, if visiting multiple parks, try combining them into one (you can see each on different days) to save even more! Also, most of these parks are all-inclusive. Yassss 🙌🏽 to hourly beers, margaritas, and tacos!! Do a little research and go to the park that's best for YOU. There are so many to choose from!
7. Watch the moon rise in Tulum--
Tulum Beach has the perfect setting to watch the sunset and the moon rise while enjoying fine dining and handcrafted cocktails in a beach setting.
8. Snorkle in Akumal--
Akumal is a beach town between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. This beach is known for its sea turtles and clear waters for snorkeling. It was a fantastic experience snorkeling there; we got to see some fascinating sea life and coral reefs. If you don't have snorkeling gear, you can rent equipment there. Be sure to arrive early, wear biodegradable sunblock, and have your GoPro in handy! We recommend arriving early because more people = fewer sea turtles as they hide from crowds. Something vital is NOT to touch them! They're wild and endangered. The sea turtles here won't harm you, so please respect their privacy. The beach is starting to close on some days to preserve the wildlife since tourists continue to pet and hold the turtles for that perfect shot--Not worth it! Please avoid contact for us all to continue enjoying swimming with them. Another critical topic to bring up is that this is a FREE beach and open to the public. Big resorts in this area are trying to charge the public a cover fee to get in, even Mexican residents-- Ridiculous! This beach is and should always be free to the public, and mostly to its residents.
🚩 To find the turtles find the red flag on the beach; that's the area with the most turtles. It's near a scuba rental shop.
9. Indulge in some fresh ceviche--
When in the Yucatan, I recommend eating Ceviche whenever the possibility arises. After traveling between the Yucatan and Central Mexico and trying out everything from local street taco stands to world-renowned fine dining restaurants, we found the Yucatan to have the best Ceviche! Our favorite ceviche was actually in the small town of Rio Lagartos at a balcony restaurant "Ria May" if visiting Las Coloradas, definitely add this spot for lunch to your itinerary.
10. Take in the nightlife--
The Yucatan's night scene is lively, from moon parties in Tulum to clubs in Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Despite not being party animals, we had a blast hanging out by the beach, sipping on cocktails while listening to live music. The amount of partying you do is up to you. We highly recommend "letting loose" for at least a night or two.
Thanks for reading!