6 Reasons to Visit Mexico’s Marvellous Yucatán State
By Rosalind Stefanac
A recent trip to Yucatán State proved that there’s so much more to Mexico than sandy beaches and ocean views. In fact, venturing inland on the southeastern Yucatán peninsula revealed so many historic gems, along with scenic retreats that offered a blissful escape from crowds and the hustle of everyday life.
In planning your next adventure down south with your tween, teen or solo, here are six reasons to put Yucatán on your radar:
Cenotes are so cool
These nature-made, deep-water wells (or sinkholes), surrounded by rock formations, date back thousands of years. They’re filled with fresh water fed by rain and underground currents. Most of Mexico’s more than 6,000 cenotes can be found in the Yucatán peninsula. At the Zazil Tunich in Valladolid, you descend 20 metres down into a cavern to reach the cenote where you can swim in the refreshing waters (average temperature 75-degrees Fahrenheit). Here you can opt for a guided tour that includes a traditional Mayan purification ceremony. It’s magical!
It’s Taco Tuesday every day!
All that swimming in cenotes is sure to spark your appetite. Luckily Yucatán is home to some of the best tacos on the planet — at least in my opinion. Be sure to try the cochinita pibil (shredded pork shoulder or loin), a popular taco filling in the region. They usually serve it with lettuce, pickled red onion, tomatoes, avocado and habanero chilli. At the Kinich in Isamal, you can even watch the staff hand-roll fresh tortillas before your very eyes. It doesn’t get fresher than this.
You can be one with nature (literally)
At the high-end Oriundo Luxury Nature Villas, which opened this June in Valladolid, every detail in the guest rooms has been designed to harmonize with the surrounding jungle. Not only are the materials all natural but you’ll find trees growing throughout the indoor space, and plenty of windows overlooking the lush green foliage. If you’re on a tighter budget, the area has plenty of haciendas with accommodations surrounded by lovely outdoor spaces ideal for nature exploring.
The architecture is awesome
In Merida, Yucatán’s pedestrian-friendly capital city, you’ll find colonial history evident in most of the colourful and lovingly restored mansions, many of which are open to tourists. I took a guided tour of the stunning El Minaret, which was built in 1908, and is also known as the watchtower of Merida’s centre. Aim to be there at dusk for an Instagram-worthy sunset view.
Mayan history is everywhere
As the first settlers to the region, the Mayan culture is still very much alive and well throughout the Yucatán state. In fact, ancient Mayan temples and ruins surround Merida. For a true plunge into history, be sure to visit at least one ancient city such as Uxmal or Chicken Itza, which houses a massive pyramid. The latter is one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.
You can still go to the beach—and see flamingos
For those days you’re still craving a little beach time, Yucatán has plenty of beaches with far fewer crowds than you’ll find in other parts of Mexico. Peurto Progresso Beach is a good one to consider and it’s only 40 minutes from Merida. Venture a little further (95 km outside of Merida) to Celestun Biosphere Reserve to catch sight of pink flamingos. Tour one the of world’s first ecotourism sites.
To find out more about the region visit Yucatan Travel.