I have been to Mexico 3 times already, and it is only fair that I finally write a post about the best beaches in Mexico. If you know me, you should also know that I love hanging by the beach, and that is why I have put together a post on the best beaches in Sardinia. So I thought about doing the same for this country, which is a wonderful country to visit, with a rich culture, welcoming people, fantastic food, and spectacular landscapes.
I obviously have my favorite beaches and most of them are in the Yucatan Peninsula – some to which I have a special emotional attachment for I have visited them with my sister, or with my ex boyfriend. Besides, I am massive fan for bright, white sand, so I will look for that any time I am planning a beach hangout.
So, the following is a selection of the best beaches in Mexico, with some additional tips on where to stay in the area.
Tulum is without a doubt one of the best beaches in Mexico
The Best Beaches In Mexico
Quintana Roo has a very high number of beautiful beaches and it is undeniable that this is one of the best beaches in Mexico, facing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. It is also known as Playa Paraiso, and for a good reason! Imagine a gorgeous white sand beach, palm fringed, that is so long and wide that rarely gets busy. It is the perfect place to stop over after having visited the archeological site (which is only 500 meters away).
As with most the beaches in this country, there are nice beach clubs, where it is possible to hire a table, chairs and an umbrella. On site restaurants are usually nice, and there are showers and toilets too. Good beach clubs offer guided expeditions in the clear turquoise waters.
For more activities, check out these options:
Close the archaeological site, this one of the top places to visit in Mexico
Where to stay in Tulum
This is one of the top places to visit in the country and has a great selection of accommodation options for all budgets, and of good restaurants. You will find several all-inclusive resorts, and some cheaper accommodation.
A good hostels is El Jardin De Frida, which also has lovely private rooms and even an entire apartment that can be rented. It has a gorgeous garden, an equipped kitchen, a bar and cozy common areas. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Tulum Naa is a more modest option, but it has good beds, clean bathrooms and it is located near the main intersection, from where it is easy to get on a bus to reach other tourist attractions such as cenotes, Coba archeological sites, and even some other beaches. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Azucar hotel is located right on the beach, near Sian Kaan reserve (one of my favorite places to visit in the country, not to mention a UNESCO site). The area is a bit harder to reach – you need a car to get there. It is beautifully isolated, and bungalows are right on the beach (imagine waking up to the sound of waves and being able to directly step onto one of the best beaches in Mexico). Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Playa Canibal Royal – Playa Del Carmen
This nice, laid-back beach town is home to some of the best beaches located in Quintana Roo. It really does not matter what kind of beach experience you may be looking for – you will find it here. The city has five beaches, all offering something a little different.
Canibal Royal is the quietest of the city’s beaches. It is not as easy to get to as the others are. As a result, it is practically unspoiled. There is not even a bar or restaurant, so it is a great place to enjoy a picnic. Easy to see why this is one of the best beaches in Mexico.
The two main beaches in town, on the other hand, have chic beachside lounges where you can sip a sunset cocktail or get busy with a game of volleyball or football. It’s a great place for a sunset drink.
Should you be interested in more activities, these are some good options:
Where to stay in Playa del Carmen
There is a huge offer of accommodation options for any budget in Playa del Carmen. From luxury high-end resorts right by the beach such as Playa Riviera Tendenza, to apartments such as Suites Quinto Sol, to hostels such as Izsla, there’s really something for everyone.
If you want to experience one of the best resorts in the country, go to Secret Maroma Beach Riviera. It’s right on Playa Maroma, one of the most pristine beaches in the area, immersed in the rain forest and striving to protect the local environment while at the same time providing a fantastic experience to its guests.
Playa Norte is one of the best beaches in Mexico
Playa Norte – Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is definitely one of the top places to visit in Mexico. It can be reached on a short ferry ride from Cancun. Any post on the best beaches in Mexico is bound to mention the gorgeous Playa Norte.
Picture white sand, palm trees shallow water and with little to no current. Yes, it is one of the nicest beaches.
On very hot days, this beach gets a bit busier. This is because there is usually a light breeze, which makes it a more comfortable place to be than the other beaches in the area – one more reason to name it among the best beaches in Mexico.
If a day at the beach is not your idea of fun, check out these options:
Where to stay in Isla Mujeres
There’s a great selection of places to stay here. Casa Sirena is an exceptional small hotel with gorgeous stylish room and a terrace overlooking the ocean. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Posada Paso del Sol is more modest, but it is conveniently located in the city centre, right where all the things happen. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Playa Delfines – Quintana Roo
This is one of the most popular beaches in the area. It doesn’t have the incredibly fine and white sand that is so typical of this coast, but you will find that the views are gorgeous and the vicinity of some Mayan archeological sites makes it all the more charming. Significantly less crowded than other beaches in the area, keep in mind the current in this part of the ocean can be quite strong so approach it with caution.
For more activities in the area, you may want to consider a day trip to Chichén Itzá, Ik Kil Cenote & Valladolid such as this one.
Where to stay in Cancun
Make sure to look for hotels in the Zona Hotelera for easier access to the beach. Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina is an excellent hotel with very large, modern and comfortable rooms, and all amenities for a perfect stay. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Mayan Monkey Hostel is the best place to stay for backpackers on a budget. You have the option of staying in dorms, but there also are nice private rooms. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Holbox beach is one of the best beaches in Mexico
Holbox Beach – Isla Holbox
This is beach perfection – needless to say, one of the best beaches in Mexico. It is a natural, relatively unspoiled spot, that you are bound to love. It is within easy walking distance of nearly everywhere in the town.
This small island is a favorite of tourists as it puts together amazing beaches which are fully equipped, with the convenience of a small town with restaurants, a fishing pier and dock.
For more activities, you may want to consider a kayaking tour through the mangroves.
Where to stay in Isla Holbox
The selection of places to stay here is fantastic. Casa Punta Coco is a very stylish place, at literally one minute from the beach. However, it is an adults-only place. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Casa Las Tortugas is family friendly and just as beautiful. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Xpu-Ha Beach – Riviera Maya
This is a perfect white sand beach. It isn’t very well known yet, so it is quite quiet. To me, it has to be one of the top beaches. It offers old school charm, and is a real tropical paradise. It is the kind of place where you can play football, volleyball or just chill out in one of the local beachside restaurants.
Where to stay in Xpu-Ha
One of the coolest things to do in this part of the country is staying in eco-lodges. Serenity Eco-Luxury Tented Camp is a great option. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
There’s also a glamping site (I tried glamping in Slovenia and loved it!), and several all-inclusive resorts, such as Barcelo Maya Colonial.
I believe Akumal is one of the best beaches in Mexico
Akumal Beach – Riviera Maya
Yucatan Peninsula is packed with good beaches and there is no doubt that this is one of the best beaches in Mexico for snorkeling. Easily accessible from either Playa del Carmen or Tulum, it is a long, fine white sand beach famous for the fact that beautiful marine turtles live in the area and they are easily to spot when swimming. I wholeheartedly recommend to follow a guide though, because these animals should never be disturbed.
Where to stay in Akumal
This beach is located close to some of the most famous tourist attractions, so there’s an excellent choice of places to stay. Unico is a fantastic place to stay if you have a budget to splurge. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
If you have a more limited budget can opt for Maya Eco Village. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
La Entrega is one of the best beaches in Mexico – photo courtesy of Molly (flickr)
La Entrega – Huatulco
La Entrega is a beautiful white-sand beach, with plenty of trees for shade and it can definitely be considered one of the best beaches in Mexico. It is popular with both locals and tourists. It is a good place to get back to the old way of enjoying a beach.
There are numerous “palapas” (thatched-roof huts) that serve mainly simple seafood. If you are looking to eat something strictly local search for tlayudas!
For more activities, check out these options:
Where to stay in Huatulco
Huatulco has some incredible accommodation options, and they are actually cheaper than what you may think. Agua Azul la Villa is the place to stay for a fabulous room. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Hotel Playa del Sol is a good budget option. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
This is one of the best beaches – photo courtesy of laura ivette de la torre martinez (flickr)
De Balandra Beach – La Paz
De Balandra beach, in La Paz (Baja California Sur), is one of the most beautiful beaches. This is a great place to go when are looking for a nice walk that offers stunning beach scenery. It is a series of shall bays, so the sea is quite unlike anything one may have seen before.
The water here looks almost white, something that makes it on of the best places for snorkeling.
Where to stay in La Paz
The selection of places to stay in La Paz is excellent. Casa Juarez is a superb choice, with incredibly large and cozy rooms. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews.
Peace Hostel is a great option for backpackers and budget travelers. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
Playa del Amor – Cabo San Lucas
The beach town of Cabo San Lucas is home to some of the best beaches in Mexico and Playa del Amor certainly is one of them. This is a remote Pacific beach which is wide, with white sand and with unique rock formations – the only issue is that you can only access it by boat! But other than that, it is a fantastic place to spend a day – but keep in mind the beach is not equipped.
This part of the country is an excellent place for whale-watching, so definitely don’t miss the opportunity to do that. You can book a tour here.
Where to stay in Cabo San Lucas
You will find no shortage of good accommodation options in Los Cabos. Nobu Hotel Los Cabos is an excellent option with stylish, comfortable rooms with ocean views. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
If you are traveling on a smaller budget, Mayan Monkey Hostel Cabo is definitely an excellent option. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Ensenada – Baja California
If you enjoy surfing you will definitely agree that Ensenada, in Baja California, is one of the best beaches in Mexico. It is located near the border with the USA, so it gets busy at the weekends. The best waves are in the winter months, though as with this part of the Pacific Coast the water gets cold and you may need a wetsuit.
For more activities in the area, you may want to check out these options:
Where to stay in Ensenada
Ensenada has a good range of accommodation options. Most people there stay in holiday homes (which are convenient because you also have a kitchen) such as Ochoa’s House; or for places that have spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean such as La Mansion Residency Suites.
Surfing is one of the best things to do in Mexico and Punta de Mita is perfect for that – photo courtesy of netOrX (flickr)
Punta de Mita – Riviera Nayarit
On the Pacific Coast and not far from Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita is a coral sand beach that is wide enough not to get too crowded. It’s also a fantastic place to go surfing, since there are plenty of long wave breaks, and in most places the water is shallow. It’s easy to see why it is one of the best beaches in Mexico.
There are various restaurants on the beach. They are generally linked to the hotels and resorts along the beach, and they are known for serving good food.
Where to stay in the area
There are some amazing hotels and resorts in the area. Casa de Mita has incredible rooms overlooking the ocean – though it is on the expensive side. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Casa Virgilio, in Nuevo Vallarta, is a more budget friendly option (though it is really gorgeous): there’s even a kitchenette to cook some simple food. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Sayulita – Nayarit
Sayulita, in Nayarit and close to Puerto Vallarta, has a reputation for being a quiet, beautiful beach during the day, to then become quite a lively place after nightfall. Big parties and raves are frequently held here. It definitely is one of the best beaches in Mexico if you are keen to party.
However, it is very popular with surfers in the winter months when the waves are a bit bigger. It is easy to hire boards, and book surfing lessons. So whether looking for some quiet time to surf and relax, or for some fun at night, this is one of the top beaches.
Should you be looking for more activities, here are just a few:
Where to stay in Sayulita
You will find some great accommodation options. If you have a chance, stay in bungalows like Aurinko. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Otherwise, opt for a boutique hotel such as Hotel Boutique Oz Sayulita. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Conchas Chinas – Jalisco
This is one of the most romantic Mexico beaches – so much so that weddings often take place there. It’s in Puerto Vallarta and close to Garza Blanca Reserve and characterized by golden sand, beautiful rock formations within which you will find lovely natural pools. It’s a fantastic place for walks, for sunbathing, and to relax.
Make sure to also check out Playa Gemelas, which is located at about 9 km south of town.
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta
You won’t find a shortage of good accommodation options in Puerto Vallarta, whatever your budget is.
Hacienda Escondida is a beautiful bed and breakfast with cozy, well equipped rooms and a nice pool perfect for relaxing. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Hotel Boutique Rivera del Rio has plus rooms in a beautiful setting and surrounded by a lush garden. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Playa Las Gatas – Zihuatanejo
If you love snorkeling, Las Gatas as one of the best beaches in Mexico. It is a safe place to learn but it still offers plenty for experienced snorkelers to enjoy. Getting there requires hopping on a water taxi from the Municipal Pier in Zihuatanejo. You could also get there with this tour from Ixtapa-Zihuantanejo. As a result, it rarely gets overcrowded.
Las Gatas has yet to get over commercialized – one more reason it is one of the must see beaches in the country. However, there are still several very good seafood restaurants that offer nice food and spectacular views. One of the best activities in the area is deep-sea fishing.
Where to stay in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
If having a room with a view is a must-do, La Casa Que Canta is the place to stay. It is pricey, but worth it. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Bungalows Arena Dorada are more budget friendly, but still have all the amenities for a proper beach vacation. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Troncones – Guerrero
Troncones is a three-mile long beach that is at the same time a surfer’s paradise and very popular with eco-tourists. It easily is one of the best beaches in Mexico. The good thing about it is that it is perfect for relaxing but also for great activities.
I generally prefer active holidays with the chance to spend a bit of time on the beach too, and Troncones is a great destination for that. For example, you can enjoy a ride across the sand or a hike in the mountains behind the beach. After an active day, being able to relax in one of the tidal pools is heaven.
Where to stay in Troncones
The choice of places to stay in Troncones is a bit more limited. This shows that it isn’t as touristy as the rest of the country. There is a good hostel (Troncones Point Hostel). Check here to book now and here to read reviews
For something a bit more expensive, try Lo Sereno. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
Zipolite – Oaxaca
This lovely beach near Puerto Escondido, on the Pacific Coast is one of the best beaches in Mexico, and its only nudist beach. You will find a long stretch of sand with a strong surf, surrounded by rock formations. Along the beach there are restaurants and bars where you will be able to get a bite and enjoy a sunset drink. It’s not far from Huatulco National Park, which has a beautiful coral reef.
If you want to take a break from the beach, you may want to go fishing, birdwatching or enjoy horse riding or a boat trip along the coast.
Where to stay in Zipolite
One of the best places to stay in the area is Hotel Descalzo, where you will find beautiful rooms around a well kept garden, a nice pool and easy access to the beach. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
El Alquimista Yoga Spa offers plain but comfortable rooms and bungalows right on the beach, so you can forget about using cars. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
Mazunte – Oaxaca
Mazunte is actually one of the country’s Pueblos Magicos – and that should be enough to make you want to visit. Other than that, here you will find some of the best beaches in Mexico, with soft golden sand and the backdrop of mountains. The main beach is divided into two main areas – one with bars, restaurants and bungalows; the other a quieter, smaller cove.
Another beach nearby is Mermejita Beach.
Keep in mind that the currents on this part of the coast can be very strong, so even if lifeguards are present along the beach, approach the water with caution.
If you are looking for more things to do in the area, you will be happy to find the Mexican Turtle Center, which strives to preserve sea turtles. Boat cruises for dolphin watching are also popular.
Where to stay in Mazunte
Hotel Casa Pan de Miel is an adults only resort right on the beach. Rooms are somewhat plain but they have a stunning view. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
Casa Lu has plain rooms directly on the beach. All rooms have a great balcony, perfect for relaxing in the evening. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
Zicatela – Oaxaca
This 3.5 km beach in Puerto Escondido is one of the best beaches in Mexico for surfers, who come here from around the world to enjoy the excellent waves. If you are in search of an easy-going place, head to Punta Zicatela, on the southern end, where waves aren’t as fierce – so it’s good for beginner surfers. This is also a popular yoga retreat.
Where to stay in the area
Despite the name, Bungalows Zicatela only has rooms, all of them offering easy access to the beach. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
La Playita Beach House is a small, family run place with nice rooms facing a pool and with easy access to the beach. Check here to book now and here to read more reviews
Further information about Mexico
The fact that the country has 6,000 miles of coast means that the above is just a taste of the type of beaches you can find in this beautiful country. However, there are many stunning and beautiful places to visitthat are not just beaches. Some of these hidden gems are mentioned here.
This is also a country with great food – check it out in my post “The Most Delicious Food In Mexico: All The Dishes You Should Try.”
Personally, I find it is always nice to mix things up a bit and visit some beautiful archeological and natural sites as well as spending time on the beach – so I wholeheartedly recommend you do the same, and make sure to start in Mexico City!
Finally, keep in mind that as an Italian, I don’t need a visa but can just get my passport stamped on arrival Other nationalities may need it – it that’s the case, you can get a visa online thanks to iVisa.
Make sure to read my post “13 Unmissable Things To Do In Belize” if you are planning to get across the border.
Pin It For Later!
With all the incredible things to do in Mexico, and the many things to do in Yucatan, I think I will never tire of it. I have been there 3 times already, and each time I visit I discover a little bit more. I am absolutely in love with its people, its culture, and the overall atmosphere and vibe I get when I am there.
Yucatan must see are many. Yucatan has a glorious history, of which the unique archaeological sites are just one inheritance. The colonial past also left its mark on the cities. The nature is lush and the beaches as beautiful as one can imagine.
To find out more about Mexico’s marvelous beaches, read my post “The 13 Best Beaches in Mexico.”
Visiting Tulum is one of the greatest things to do in Yucatan
And let’s not forget about the food! Those who visit Mexico are rightly drawn to the variety of its cuisine, with all its ingredients and flavors. I confess that I have quite an addiction for tacos – and I won’t settle for anything less than the ones I used to have on Avenida Satelite Norte in Tulum. For sure, eating is among the things to do in Mexico and Yucatan things to do.
Speaking of Tulum, visiting the Yucatan Peninsula is one of my favorite things to do in Yucatan Mexico. It has everything I need for a perfect trip – the right mixture of culture, sights, cities and nature that I always look for when I travel.
In fact, I generally recommend those who visit Mexico for the first time and have a limited time in the country to just concentrate their travels in the Yucatan peninsula: Mexico is huge and it is pointless to try and see it all in 10 days. This is a country that calls for slow travel.
So, for those who are planning to travel to that part of the world, here’s a selection of the most recommended things to do in Yucatan.
Visiting Chichen Itza is definitely one of Yucatan things to do
12 Unmissable Things To Do In Yucatan
Visit the most famous archeological sites…
If there’s one thing Mexico is famous for, it’s the Maya sites. Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum and Coba are only some of the archaeological sites of Yucatan, but for sure visiting them is one of the things to do in Yucatan. In fact, visiting the Maya sites is one of the things to do in Mexico.
Chichen Itza, considered one of the Wonders of the World, and listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites, easily qualifies as one of the most amazing Yucatan must see. Yet I prefer Uxmal, which though quite popular is not as crowded.
Tulum is smaller than Chichen Itza and Uxmal, but its location, right in front of the Caribbean Sea, the views, the access to a gorgeous beach right below it make it one of the top Yucatan must see.
Visiting Coba, at about one hour from Tulum Pueblo, is certainly one of the coolest things to do in Yucatan peninsula. This is the most widespread site of Yucatan, so visitors generally rent a bike or a bici-taxi. Furthermore, it’s one of the few sites where it is possible to climb a pyramid.
The best way to get to Coba is via a colectivo (a shared minibus), though for some unknown reason these don’t leave from the site so it is necessary to get a bus or a taxi. A good alternative and one of the top things to do in Yucatan may be to book a guided tour of Tulum and Coba together.
Pro tip: I always recommend getting a guide when visiting archaeological sites, as it helps understand their significance. I know that it may be costly, but there are ways to save some $$$. One of the things to do in Yucatan (in fact, one of the things to do in Mexico) when visiting a site and looking for a guide is waiting around (it hardly takes more than a few minutes) and keep an eye out for other visitors who may be interested in sharing the guide and the costs. Alternatively, it is possible to book guided tours of Chichen Itza online.
These are some of the top tours of the sites of Yucatan that can be bought online:
Among the things to do in Yucatan, there’s visiting the lesser known archaeological sites
… then look for the lesser known ones
Among the things to do in Mexico, and sure enough among the things to do in Yucatan there’s visiting a handful of smaller archaeological sites that well deserve a visit. Kabah, not far from Uxmal, used to be the second most important city of the region. It is spread across two sides of Road 261. It’s a lovely site that doesn’t get nearly as many visitors as the others in Yucatan, thus the atmosphere is incredibly peaceful.
If one of the Yucatan things to do is searching for lesser known sites, then Ek’ Balam is a good place to go. It is located near Valladolid. Though it is mostly covered by vegetation, excavations are ongoing. The pyramid is 32 meters tall. Tours of Ek’ Balam depart from Cancun.
Not far from Campeche, there are Edzna and Calakmul, two beautiful sites that receive less visitors in a year than Chichen Itza does in a day. They are among the best places to visit in Mexico if looking for archaeological sites that have all the beauty but none of the crowds.
These are the best tours of the lesser known sites in Yucatan:
Things to do in Yucatan: swim in a cenote
Swim in the cenotes…
Perhaps the most unique among the many things to do in Yucatan is visiting the cenotes. Cenotes are underground lakes. They are unique to this part of the world, and scattered around the peninsula.
Some cenotes, such as Ik kil, are considered Yucatan must see, and they are so popular that a whole resort has been developed around it. Others, such as Los Tres Cenotes de Cuzama, are much smaller but equally beautiful. Diving in cenotes is what to do in Yucatan to have a unique experience.
Here’s a list of the best cenotes in Mexico.
And these are some tours that go to the best cenotes:
Laguna Bacalar is one of Yucatan must see
… then in a lagoon
The gorgeous Bacalar Lagoon is perhaps the most spectacular of the natural places to visit in Yucatan. Not far from Chetumal, Bacalar is a large lake, completely immersed in the vegetation of Yucatan. It boasts incredibly white sand, and the water is of a paradisiac aquamarine color. It deserves a visit (and a swim). Needless to say, visiting is one of the unmissable things to do in Yucatan.
Visiting Campeche is one of the things to do in Yucatan
Pay a visit to the most famous cities…
One of the nicest things to do in Mexico, and among the things to do in Yucatan is visiting the beautiful cities. Merida is the largest city in the peninsula. It is often used as the starting point to visit Chichen Itza and some of the nicest cenotes in Yucatan, but it is worth visiting regardless of its vicinity to other sites.
What makes Merida one of Yucatan must see is the gorgeous colonial style architecture. Picture colorful buildings, cobbled alleys, a gorgeous cathedral, a beautiful square and an incredibly busy market, and it’s easy to see why so many people who visit Mexico make it a point to go.
Campeche is another lovely colonial town, visiting is one of the things to do in Mexico. Its small centre, with the colorful, restored colonial buildings is aligned by the defense walls, which are beautiful to walk along. What differentiates it from other cities in Mexico is the Malecon – that is, a beautiful, new waterfront where people go for walks or to run and exercise. Just that makes me say that visiting is one of Yucatan things to do.
Last but not least, I have to mention Valladolid as one of Yucatan must see. I didn’t spend long enough when I went, and I regret it because compared to other cities in the peninsula, it is much quieter and absolutely charming, with a beautiful main square and a great easygoing atmosphere.
Visiting Izamal is one of the things to do in Yucatan, especially if looking for a quieter city
… then head to the lesser known ones
Each time I visit Mexico I discover new places and hidden gems. That’s how I realized that one of the nicest things to do in Yucatan is visiting the lesser known cities. What I love about them is that they are still relatively undiscovered – though through internet they are slowly becoming more popular.
The good news is that there still are some Yucatan must see that are not crowded with tourists. One of them is Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo, located right on the Caribbean coast and a travel hub between Mexico and Belize. Let alone the fact that the city is beautiful – there’s a lovely coastal walk (Boulevard Bahía) and good museums – Chetumal provides easy access to some lesser known Mayan ruins such as Oxtankah.
Visiting Izamal is bound to become one of the top things to do in Yucatan, if not among the things to do in Mexico altogether. Known as Ciudad Amarilla (yellow city), Izamal is mostly Mayan and yes, it really is completely yellow. There are remains of pyramids scattered across town, and from the top of the site there’s a beautiful view of the city. The Spanish conquerors here didn’t demolish the Mayan sites but built on top of them. So for example the church and convent are laid on the rest of a site.
Go to the beach
The perfect trip to me is one that puts together culture, nature and some well deserved relax time, preferably at a beautiful beach – I am from Sardinia, after all! With all the amazing beaches of the Riviera Maya, it is easy to see why Yucatan is a perfect destination. Indeed, one of the top things to do in Yucatan is going to the beach.
Playa del Carmen has some of the nicest beaches (at least in terms of services – it’s one of the most popular destinations in the area. But they can get very crowded. Akumal is one of the best beaches in the area – you can even snorkel with turtles there.
Tulum is a very long stretch of incredibly fine white sand and you can find spots that aren’t crowded. However, the last time I visited there was a terrible seaweed issue that didn’t make it very pleasant to stay.
If going to the beach is one of the best things to do in Yucatan but you want to stay away from the crowds, Mahahual is the perfect place. This is a tiny coastal town of no more than 1000 inhabitants with a large public beach that is free to access and where you can definitely relax.
Visiting Isla Mujeres is one of the things to do in Yucatan
Visit the islands
The Caribbean coast of Yucatan is scattered with some beautiful islands, and one of the nicest things to do in Yucatan is visiting at least a couple.
Isla Mujeres is one of the best known islands, a Yucatan must see, and it can be easily reached via a short ferry ride from Cancun. The island is so small that it can be visited in a day – it is possible to rent bikes, scooters or even golf carts. There are some good beaches (though some can get very crowded at weekends or festivities). It is rather touristy, but nice.
Going to Isla Cozumel is what to do in Yucatan for diving and snorkeling: indeed, there’s a gorgeous coral reef. There even are some Mayan ruins. The wildest part of the island is the east coast, that offers some beautiful marine landscapes.
Make sure to read this complete Cozumel guide for more information on what to see and do there.
Isla Holbox is located on the north of Yucatan peninsula. It has clear waters and gorgeous beaches and as such visiting is one of Yucatan things to do.
Eating tacos is one of the things to do in Yucatan
Enjoy the nightlife
There’s no other place in Mexico like Yucatan in terms of nightlife. Cancun has a great selection of bars and clubs to party all night long, and the same can be said about Playa del Carmen. It is a fact that among the top things to do in Yucatan there’s enjoying the nightlife.
Eat (and drink) like a king
Even though I am hardly a foodie, I must admit that one of the top things to do in Yucatan peninsula is eating. Mexican cuisine is so good and so varied that it is even protected by UNESCO.
Eating tacos is one of the things to do in Mexico, and among Yucatan things to do. The best places are the small carts that are scattered in the streets – wherever there is a small crowd eating, that’s where the good food is. I have a thing for tacos al pastor, which I enjoy with plenty of ensalada de nopales (cactus leaves salad). Other things to try are the quesadillas, which are tortillas filled with cheese and other things, such as flor de calabaza (zucchini flowers) or mushrooms.
Mexico is the country of Tequila and Mezcal, so it goes without saying that one of the things to do in Yucatan is to try a good tequila and, even better, a proper margarita.
Make sure to read my post “The Most Delicious Food In Mexico: All The Dishes You Should Try.”
As of late, I have developed a taste for yoga – especially for the Pranayama, which allows me to relax completely. One of the top things to do in Yucatan is practicing yoga in Tulum. Resorts and boutique hotels often offer this activity for free. If not, the classes are pretty cheap to join, and the benefits enormous.
One of the nicest things to do in Yucatan is staying in a resort
Stay in a gorgeous resort
I have always thought I am not the kind of person who’d enjoy an all inclusive resort. Then I went to one in the the Maldives after a tiring trip across Sri Lanka (read more about my adventures in the Maldives here), and I had such a good time, I relaxed so much, that I am actually convinced that there’s no better way to end a trip. Among the nicest things to do in Yucatan peninsula, is staying at an amazing resort.
All inclusive resorts have the benefit of perfectly catering to tourists who don’t have too much time to organize their trip independently. They can schedule day trips to the nearby Yucatan must see; they have a great selection of restaurants to enjoy local food; they offer access to the most gorgeous beaches.
And if relaxing and pampering oneself is one of the top things to do in Yucatan peninsula, resorts offer all the best treatments one may wish for.
Here’s a selection of fantastic places to stay in Yucatan:
Practical Tips To Plan Your Trip To Yucatan
When to visit Yucatan
I have been to Yucatan many times, and each time the weather was incredible. Summer can be rainy though. So I would say that among the top things to do in Yucatan there is visiting during the winter months, between November and March.
How to get to Yucatan
Yucatan is very well connected to the rest of the world via Cancun airport. There is an airport also in Merida. It is possible to also reach by land if coming from Belize.
How to travel around Yucatan
Yucatan is fairly easy to travel around. ADO buses connect the main cities and places of interest, and colectivos are cheap and easy ways to get to the smaller ones. However, one of the things to do in Yucatan that I recommend, in order to be completely independent, is renting a car. Click here for a good and reliable car rental service. Remember to always get a good travel insurance for your trips. You can find a good one here.
Safety In Yucatan
I have never had any issue in Yucatan, and Yucatan is safe to visit for tourists. Having said so, I recommend as one of the things to do in Yucatan keeping your eyes open for scams, as these on the other hand are common, as they are in any touristic places!
With all these things to do in Yucatan peninsula, it’s easy to see why it is a favorite of travelers. Have you ever been there? What did you like the most about it and what would you add to my short selection?
Make sure to read my post “13 Unmissable Things To Do In Belize” if you are planning to get across the border.
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