Your Yucatan Travel Guide!
The Yucatan region in Mexico is one of the most geographically blessed regions I’ve seen anywhere in the world ~ it’s almost unfair. From the towering beach resorts of Cancun with their insanely turquoise waters, to the party town of Playa del Carmen, to riding in golf carts on Isla Mujeres and chilling on Isla Holbox, to climbing ancient Mayan ruins and swimming in secret cenotes, to diving in the world-famous waters off of Cozumel, to everyone’s new favorite bohemian beach retreat, Tulum ~ there is truly something for everyone in the Yucatan.
The Yucatan Peninsula is perfect for just about every kind of traveler: solo travelers, families, families with kids, adventure-lovers, explorers, couples, people who want to party, people who want to relax, the young, the old ~ and just about everybody in between. My goal here in this Yucatan Travel Guide is to give you an overview of the entire region, so that you can easily decide which places and activities are MUSTS for you. So let’s go! We’re off to the Yucatan!
Map of the Yucatan!
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Rio Lagartos, Mexico
Highlights of the Yucatan!
Swim Turquoise Waters
Party in Playa del Carmen
Yucatan Travel Overview!
- Cancun = Big Hotels 95%
- Playa del Carmen = Party Town + Touristy 100%
- Tulum = Bohemian + Relaxed 95%
- Cozumel = Diver’s Paradise 100%
- Merida = Authentic Mexican Culture 100%
Yucatan Travel ~ City Guides
Cancun: Big hotels & beautiful turquoise water are what Cancun is all about. And partying. This is where it all starts ~ pretty much everyone flies into Cancun International Airport. Cancun features a “Hotel Zone” that is literally one, long, strip of sand with virtually every major hotel chain represented: Marriott, Westin, Hilton…all the big guys. The water is beautiful & there are plenty of activities for kids with the big pools & slides here ~ so if you don’t want to travel far from the airport & just want to chill on the beach with a margarita: Cancun is perfect.
- Isla Mujeres: Tropical island vibes & golf cart transportation signify that you’re in Isla Mujeres. A short 13-km ferry ride off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is more relaxed than Cancun, less expensive, & has plenty of snorkeling & scuba diving options ~ plus a sea turtle farm. If you want a slower-paced, less touristy vibe than Cancun ~ Isla Mujeres is your closest option.
- Playa del Carmen: Playa is a party town & pretty touristy (5th Ave is where it’s all happening) ~ but it’s also a ton of fun, & has the widest range of nightlife options in the Yucatan. Accommodations are also wide-ranging: you can stay in ritzy, all-inclusives right on the water, party hostels, or cute B&B’s ~ Playa’s got it all. It’s also a great place to shop! Stock up on cute beach cover-ups here. The one major detractor: the beach in Playa del Carmen is not as stunning as the beaches of Cancun or Tulum. It’s not as wide & is typically packed; in the afternoons, watch for birds dive-bombing for food. But if you like to drink, party, & be merry ~ then Playa is your place.
- Tulum: Tulum is THE new “it” place in the Yucatan Peninsula. The beach here is exquisite ~ though when you first arrive in town (right on the main highway), you’re going to wonder if this is really Tulum?! Then you take the road that leads down to the beach (to the right), and the famous Tulum Ruins (to the left) ~ & then you’ll start to realize what all the fuss is about. If you like bohemian & beachy, with plenty of nightlife options in a more relaxed, upscale setting ~ than Tulum is what you’re looking for.
- Merida: About a 3-4 hour drive from Cancun, directly west via a fast toll road, lies the city of Merida. If you’re looking for authentic Mexican culture & architecture, than Merida is where you want to go. It’s also close to the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal, Chichen Itza, & Ek Balaam ~ & there are hundreds of cenotes between Cancun & Merida, so the sky is the limit in terms of exploration & adventure. If you’re sick of tourists ~ go to Merida.
- Cozumel: There are two Cozumels ~ the Cozumel when the cruise ships hit, vs. the Cozumel when the cruise ships depart. And when the cruise ship leaves, believe me: Cozumel is a little slice of heaven. It’s my personal favorite place in the entire Yucatan; I meant to stay two days & ended up staying a month. Great food, some of the best sunsets on the planet, & then of course, its world-famous snorkeling & diving make Cozumel a must if you love adventure & the water. The beaches aren’t great in Cozumel ~ but it’s all about the diving. If you love a charming, colorful town, being able to bike everywhere, great eats & getting underwater ~ then Cozumel is what you’re looking for.
Read Mexico Blogs!
Plan Your Yucatan Adventure!
Yucatan Travel ~ What to Pack!
Yucatan Travel Resources