8 Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Yucatán and Riviera Maya region
For gorgeous white-sand beaches and a perfect tan, you could go to Cancun, but if you really want to know the Yucatán Peninsula, you must also discover Tulum for the Mayan pyramids, Mérida for the colonial heritage, and Chichén Itzá for the Maya-Toltec archeological site.
How to get to Mexico: At the Cancun airport, you can rent a car or a jeep, because the taxis are not very cheap. Another option is to use the public transportation: ADO buses, which cover all the routes: Cancun, Chichén Itzá, Mérida, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.
Here are the best places for your visit in Mexico:
Over 10 million tourists com each year in Cancun to enjoy this amazing city by the Caribbean Sea, and stay at one of the many skyscraper hotels and luxurious resorts on a stretch of beach, that have both view of Laguna Nichupte and the sea.
In 1960, when the Mexican govern decided to make this place a tourist attraction and in only 10 years, this place became a high density entertainment area full of beach umbrellas, bars, clubs and villas with pools. You will be surprised to hear around people speaking more English than Spanish, hamburgers at every corner, shopping centers built according to the "gringos" model.
Musa-Museo de Arte Subacuático
But Cancun is not just white-sand beaches. It's mandatory after a long intercontinental flight to spend a night in the city. Here you can find a small masterpiece, an underwater museum at MUSA, with amazing sunk sculptures and special routes so you can admire them.
Once a pirate destination, Isla Mujeres, translated as Island of Women, today is an exclusive cliff wedding venue or an amazing day trip choice. The island is recommended for barrier reef snorkelling; for beaches - Playa Norte in the north part and Playa Luncheros in the south; for Tortugranja - a place committed to the conservation of the sea turtle and give hatchlings a better change of survival; Dolphin Discovery - for the excitement of swimming with the dolphins; for Parque Natural Garrafon protected by spectacular reef, with natural beach pool and lots of outdoor activities: temazcal, snorkel, kayak, zip-line, challenge tower.
This 100 km long coastline between Puerto Morelos and Tulum is the paradise for your seaside holiday. Thanks to the perfect temperature of 25°C and to the mesmerising colour of sky and the Caribbean beaches, having also the attractiveness of archeological sites, all this really make every corner unique. Puerto Morelos located just 40 km south of Cancun is the main entry in Riviera Maya, but the place where everybody stops is:
Playa del Carmen
Former fishing village, this city experienced an inferior tourist boom compared to Cancun. That is why here you can still find the authentic sea life. In the evening, you can walk on the Avenida Quinta, the main commercial street, full of restaurants, bars and shops.
From Playa del Carmen you can embark to a 1 hour journey on a hydroplane to Isla Cozumel, 47x15 km length of tropical heaven, which is included in UNESCO protected area and is a biosphere reserve. The only place here that is inhabited is S. Miguel and you can visit a small museum about the local history and nature.
After this, go just 8 km south away, and you can discover Parque Chankannab, a lagoon that belongs to National Reef Marine Park, where you can practice snorkeling, diving, swimming with dolphins and also visit S.Gervasio Mayan ruins. Divers can find amazing abysses inside Parque National Arrecifes de Cozumel, founded in 1996 to protect the fish and reef of the biggest Mexican island: it belong to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, it is the second biggest in the world and is visited daily by 1500 scuba divers.
Situated 7 km south of Playa del Carmen, this themed amusement park invites you to entertainment of all kinds, from swimming with sharks, dolphins to enjoying a massage inside a grot. In the evening, various performance events take place that introduces you in the fascinating world of mayan history.
The park is open throughout the year between 8 am and 10.30 pm and the price of admission varies depending on the package option, starting from $89.99 for adults and $44.99 for children. The price can be expensive, but totally worth it, so in order to save some money it is recommended to purchase the ticket online and keep in mind that in the admission price not all the activities are included.
The big star of the Mayan Imperium, build in the 5th century, the city has preserved the Templo de los Guerreros, a four level pyramid with people and animals bas-reliefs that devours human hearts. Another temples, Templo de los Jaguares has jaguars and snakes covered in feather motifs carved in rock and Tzompantli is the temple of turtles. The human sacrifices took place in Cenote Sagrado, the most famous well in all Yukatan because of its 60 m diameter and the rituals and offerings to Chac god.
The most important structure of the site is Castillo or the Kukulkan pyramid, where on the north side of the staircase at each equinox you can witness the same phenomenon: a lights and shadows game that draws the body of a reptile, a symbol of the Kukultan god, that descending to earth shows the sowing time.