Here’s my guide for two great weeks in Yucatán and Quintana Roo in Mexico.
To be honest, this trip to the Yucatán peninsula in December 2021 was not my first choice. This is the result of having to rebook a Costa Rica trip planned for April 2020 nicely cancelled by our dear COVID-19. But let me tell you, Mexico didn’t disappoint!
2 days in Puerto Morelos
I landed at Cancun airport early December 2021 and definitely wanted to avoid the resort crowds. So I decided that my first Mexican stop would to in Puerto Morelos, a more typical fishing Mexican town.
What to do in Puerto Morelos?
- Puerto Morelos is a perfect place to go snorkeling or diving on the Mesoamerican coral reef (the second largest in the world!)… if the weather is not bad.
- Go for a walk, a run, a yoga session or a relaxing massage, for instance at Akabal Spa (twice as cheap as in Tulum or Cancun!) on the very nice and quiet main beach.
- The city centre is very cute. Discover the leaning lighthouse, the zócalo, the big letters, the church and more.
More on where to eat, drink and sleep & useful tips in Puerto Morelos: 2 days in Puerto Morelos.
2 days in Bacalar
Bacalar was definitely one of my favourite spots in Yucatan. Not that many tourists and bus tours wander, probably too far away from the actual riviera maya … and I’m glad they don’t!
What to do in Bacalar?
- Enjoy the seven-colour lagoon: take a boat tour, rent a SUP or a kayak, or simply go to a public dock (muelle – my favourite one: the Muelle Ecologico)
- Visit Los Rapidos to lazily float down a canal with a life-jacket.
- Take a taxi to Los Cocalitos to discover stromatolites, these weird-looking formations are not rocks and are alive!
- Visit the eighteenth-century San Felipe Fortress built in 1733
- Discover the stunning murals around town
More on where to eat, drink and sleep & useful tips in Bacalar: 2 days in Bacalar.
2 days in Tulum
Tulum is divided in two parts: the city – very warm and busy, and the hotel zone – very trendy and expensive. To be honest, the main reasons I came here were to finally see the ruins by the Caribbean sea and visit the natural reserve. Otherwise, the vibe of the city and the Instagram restaurants is definitely not mind.
What to do in Tulum?
- Maya Ruins: A few Maya ruins on a large green space right by the sea. Nice if you haven’t visited any other ruins yet, otherwise they may disappoint you a bit.
- Entrance: MXN 80 – no card, and try to have the exact amount.
- After the visit, you can head to Playa Santa Fe, open to everyone.
- Sian Ka’an Biosphere: a major highlight of my trip – in less than two hours, I saw a crocodile, pretty birds, dolphins, and a turtle.
- Cenotes: several Cenotes (Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavera, Car Wash) can be accessed around Tulum by bicycle, scooter or car.
Where to eat, drink and sleep & useful tips in Tulum: 2 days in Tulum.
1 day in Chichén Itzá
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, no wonder (mmh) why I had to see it! Chichén Itzá is the largest archaeological Maya site in Yucatan and most probably the most visited place in the peninsula too.
Is Chichén Itzá worth it?
It’s beautiful, it’s impressive. I got out of there thinking that the Maya were much smarter than our current civilisation for sure. I have no regrets spending money (and arriving early!) to see these Maya masterpieces. Now, I would recommend seeing this one first because it can be slightly underwhelming if you’ve visited other Maya ruins in remote areas (like Palenque in Chiapas) or with less tourists and souvenir sellers (such as Uxmal or Ek Balam)
More on Chichén Itzá, how to get there and where to sleep on: One day in Chichén Itzá.
2 days in Mérida
Mérida is the largest city in the Yucatan Peninsula. And you can feel it when you arrive from the bus station! The city is buzzing, with tons of people queuing to enter shops with loud music all over the streets around the centre.
What to do in Mérida?
- Uxmal ruins: my main reason to come to Mérida. It was quite easy to go, beautiful to visit but quite tiring to come back.
- Entrance: MXN 461 – only cash!
- Just opposite Uxmal: you can visit Choco-story: Ecoparque & Museo del Chocolate. Worth the MEX 150!
- The Gran Museo del mondo Maya in Merida is apparently nice but you may be a bit disappointed if you are already familiar with the Maya civilisation.
- Explore Mérida’s main but also smaller cute squares (Parque de Santa Lucia, Parque de La Madre) and the Paseo de Montejo, with fancy colonial houses, trendy cafes and souvenir shops.
- You can also do a Free Walking tour organised by the Tourism Office every morning at 9.30AM
- Watch a free Vaqueria dance ‘show’ every Monday at 9PM outside the Palacio Municipal.
Where to eat, drink and sleep & useful tips in Mérida: 2 days in Mérida.
2 days in Valladolid
Valladolid is quite a small, but charming, town with plenty of excursion options all around it.
What to do in Valladolid?
- Ek Balam: Ek Balam is yet another set of Maya ruins, less touristy ones. The site is super nice, relaxing, in the middle of the jungle and the only pyramid I was able to climb in December 21.
- Price: MXN 413, only cash
- Cenote Xcan ché: at the entrance of Ek Balam, turn right to go to the cenote. A super nice experience, but the price was quite high (MXN 170)
- Visit of the historical centre: I recommend you the Free Tour organised by EstacionMexico.
- Cenotes: Right in the centre of the town, you can eat next to Cenote Zaci. Cenote Oxman and Cenote Dzitnup & Xkeken are also very close to the city.
More on where to eat, drink and sleep & useful tips in Valladolid: 2 days in Valladolid.
2 days in Holbox
Christmas in paradise – that was my objective! And it was a great success.
What to do in Holbox?
- Have a coco at Punta Coco’s: Punta Coco’s is a lovely wild beach.
- Walk 5 kms on a sandbank to reach Punta Mosquito – Once you’ve arrived, you simply feel like you’re in a fashion magazine.
- Enjoy a sea excursion: do a snorkeling, chilling and fishing trip to Cabo Catoche with Holbox Guide, paddle at night to experience bioluminescence or go on the classic tour of the island includes a stop in a freshwater pool, some birdwatching and a tour of Isla de la Pasión.
- Admire the sunset from the main dock
More info on where to eat, drink and sleep & useful tips on Holbox island and my last night in Cancún: 2 days in Isla Holbox.
All recommendations are mine, no ads. Prices from December 2021.