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Yucatan Peninsula

Where to Go in the Yucatan Peninsula

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Cancun Overview

Bird's eye view of Cancun.

(c) Cancun Tourism.
The Yucatan Peninsula is located at the eastern tip of Mexico. Surrounded by water on three sides, the Yucatan Peninsula juts into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the north and west and is lapped by the Caribbean Sea to the east. Guatemala and Belize are neighbors to the south of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Why Visit the Yucatan Peninsula?

The Yucatan Peninsula is Mexico's most popular travel destination. Year-round weather that averages 80 degrees, a huge variety of resorts, and thousands of years of fascinating history draw visitors to the Yucatan Peninsula, especially in December through April.

Sunny Resort Destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula

Cancun A favorite destination for young and unsophisticated tourists, Cancun offers nonstop vacation action. Beyond the Yucatan Peninsula's sand, sun, and sea and the activities they inspire, are malls, many different kinds of restaurants, and lively discos. Countless hotels, at every level, crowd the Hotel Zone.

Cozumel The largest island in the Mexican Caribbean, Cozumel is located near the eastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. A haven for nature lovers, snorkelers, scuba divers, and romantics, Cozumel was considered by ancient Mayans to be the home of Ixchel, the goddess of love and fertility. This Yucatan Peninsula island is also seductive to Mexico travelers on a budget: Cozumel was recognized by a U.S. News & World Report Travel Agent Survey as the North American and Caribbean destination offering the best vacation value.

Riviera Maya This prime stretch of beach hugs the eastern coastline of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and fronts the Caribbean Sea, under which lies the second largest coral reef barrier in the world. Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula boasts a large number of boutique and adults-only resorts.

Tulum South of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula, the seaside city of Tulum overlooks the Caribbean and contains a foreboding-looking, walled Mayan fortress that deterred unwanted visitors circa 900 AD. Today, with its lovely white sand beaches, this Yucatan Peninsula city is far more welcoming.

Playa del Carmen Once a small and sleepy coastal town with fabulous beach frontage, the charms of Playa keep getting discovered. Over time, this Yucatan Peninsula village has become less and less of a hidden treasure - and more a go-to place for a great beach vacation. Unlike most Mexican beaches, discreet topless sunbathing is accepted in this part of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Yucatan Peninsula Highlights

Merida The capital of the Yucatan Peninsula and located on its northern end, Merida is a tropical city with an historic center at its core. Here visitors can see the oldest cathedral on the continent, built between 1561-98. Merida is also a fine place to buy Yucatan Peninsula folk art and handicrafts such as hammocks, pottery, Panama hats, gold-filigree jewelry, and guayabera shirts. Every day of the week there are public events, where the festival spirit is infectious. And if you don't want the fun to end, Merida's sophisticated cuisine and active nightlife await you.

Uxmal Inland on the Yucatan Peninsula, 50 minutes south of Merida, the ruins at Uxmal are considered some of the most beautiful to behold. Dating from the 7th to 9th centuries, Uxmal remains include the 125-foot tall Pyramid of the Magician with its unique rounded corners; the Nunnery, with its elaborately decorated upper façades; a ball court; and the elegant Palace of the Governor, which covers five acres. There is a visitor center at the entrance to this Yucatan Peninsula archeological site, and guides are available to take you on a custom tour for a fee.

Chichen Itza Midway between Merida and Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is world-renowned for the grandeur of its Mayan ruins. El Castillo pyramid, in the center of the site, is topped by the remains of an ancient temple. The best time to see Chichen Itza is in the morning, when it's still relatively cool and not overrun by tourists. Visitors are allowed to climb to the top of the pyramid, where wondrous views await, and also enter the pyramid.

Ecotours in the Yucatan Peninsula

Yucatan Peninsula ecotours that focus on birdwatching, kayaking, archeology, and other special interests can be arranged with the help of your hotel tour desk. The Yucatan Peninsula also boasts nature reserves at Celestun, Rio Lagartios and Sian Ka'an.

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