Yucatán Peninsula Travel Guide

Playa Del Carmen Beach

The beach at Playa Del Carmen

Why The Yucatán Peninsula?

The Yucatán Peninsula is home to some truly beautiful beaches and a well-developed tourist scene, with plenty of restaurants, bars and night-life. Underwater you can swim up close with turtles, snorkel whale sharks or visit some world-class SCUBA diving sites.

Places To Visit

  • Tulum: Most tourists come to visit the Mayan ruins of Tulum, which occupy an enviable spot overlooking a beautiful little beach. The real gem of Tulum though is it’s proximity to the Cenotes (thousands of caves and caverns filled with fresh-water) – which are amazing to dive, snorkel or swim in (read more about Cenotes here).
  • Cancun: Does Cancun need an introduction? It is the home of all-inclusive style resorts which crowd the beach front. Your average backpacker is going to find the resort area too expensive and not their thing. You can stay in downtown Cancun pretty cheaply (quick and easy bus ride from the beaches/resorts). Not a lot of things to do downtown, you are better off leaving Cancun quickly and heading to one of the towns south.

Making the most of Cancun

  • Cozumel: Cozumel is an island just off the coast from Playa Del Carmen (from where you can catch ferries across). The island has great beaches as is regarded as one of the top SCUBA diving locations in the Western Hemisphere. There are also plenty of other activities to do on the water (fishing and sailing charters, snorkeling etc). Said to be something worth seeing in the see all year round – whalesharks, sharks, rays etc.
  • SCUBA Dive in a Cenote (via Tulum): Tucked away along the Yucatán Peninsula of south-eastern Mexico is an absolute gem for scuba-divers – thousands of caves and caverns filled with fresh-water, known locally as cenotes. An amazing new experience for divers who are used to open water salt water diving. Read More Here.

Beach town near Tulum

  • Playa Del Carmen: Uber touristy, but does that matter when the beach is amazing? White sand, turquoise waters. Rather expensive directly on the beach but gets more reasonably priced the more you head inland. Said to be a popular place for ‘digital nomads’.
  • Swim Up Close With Green Sea Turtles (via Akumal or Tulum): Just north of Tulum in Mexico is the beach of Akumal. Here it is an almost certainly you will get some swimming time up close with Green Sea Turtles. The turtles don’t seem to be bothered at all, as long as you give them some distance. Go in the afternoon to avoid the larger crowds. A tour guide will take you there from Tulum for US$50, you will swim in a pack and be restricted by time. For 60 pesos return you can catch a collectivo from outside the ADO terminal in Tulum and hire some snorkel gear off the beach for US$5 snorkel hire.
  • Chetumal: Chetumal is used as a transit spot for travellers moving on to Belize. From the border there are water taxis that transit to the main Cayes of Belize or a bus that can be caught to Belize City. There are few other reasons for visiting Chetumal. Taxi drivers and border officials are pretty keen on scamming or overcharging tourists in this area – so be on the lookout for this.


Map of Yucatán Peninsula Travel Destinations

Here is a map to show where some of the more common travel destinations in Yucatán Peninsula are located.

The backpacker route highlighted on the map includes flying into Cancun, and then catching buses down the coastline. If you are heading down to Belize, you can catch water taxis from the border town of Chetumal out the cayes of Belize (route not show on the map).

The Yucatán Peninsula is a convenient and cheap option for starting trips to Belize, Cuba and/or Guatemala.

Map Of Yucatán Peninsula Travel Destinations

Map Of Yucatán Peninsula Travel Destinations


Although Mexico has a dangerous reputation,  the areas that deserve this reputation are a long distance away from the Yucatán Peninsula – tourism is big business in this part of Mexico and the government keeps security tight in this region.

If you are still concerned however, you can read up on the latest safety advice at these websites, for United States Citizens, Australians, Canadians and UK Citizens.


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2 Responses

  1. December 9, 2014

    […] And finally Mexico, not technically apart of Central America but included here because it is often included in any trip to the region. The Yucatán Peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful beaches you might ever see  and plenty of great water-sports (on, under and above the water). Everyone that visits Mexico seems to have good things to say about it, so odds are – you will too. The food is tasty, beaches beautiful, there is a strong culture and diverse landscapes – essentially there is plenty to see and do. Read more about travel tips or things to do on the Yucatán Peninsula in our post. […]

  2. January 15, 2015

    […] Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico) – We know, not technically part of Central America but often included as part of a trip to the region. The Yucatán Peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful beaches you might ever see  and plenty of great water-sports (on, under and above the water).  Read More Here. […]

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