Visiting the Yucatán Peninsula

The Yucatán Peninsula is a large are of coastline set over three Mexican states. It is not only a gorgeous place to visit, but offers a spectacular variation of natural sights such as beaches and wildlife (including Sea turtles and whale sharks). We’ve put some research together below and it certainly has us wanting to visit after the pandemic.

Long before the Spanish conquered Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula was the centre of Mayan culture. Numerous, mostly still very well preserved monuments of the indigenous people of Mexico remind the world of that time to this day. The old masters of architecture, mathematics and astronomy created countless pyramids, fortresses and temples here, which are often visited by travellers to Mexico.

Probably the most famous monument of the Maya is Chichen Itza, which is now illuminated for tourists at night and enjoys a huge number of visitors. But also apart from the large and well-known tourist centers there are numerous buildings from this time, which you can often visit almost alone and undisturbed. Sometimes there is even the opportunity to climb the ruins and enjoy a great view of the surrounding jungle from above, which has not yet been fully released to this day.

The Maya were not the first known inhabitants of Mexico, another, even earlier culture was created by the Olmecs. In the middle of the jungle, inhabited by monkeys, coatis and other animals, lies the La Venta archeology park. Here you can find the huge Olmec heads, stone sculptures that the predecessors of the Maya created about 3000 years ago. Altars, which were probably used for religious ceremonies at the time, and other ruins from the Olmec period can be found here.

Ruins on the Peninsula

There is also plenty of evidence of the decline of the indigenous civilizations and the conquest of the Yucatan by the Spanish conquistadors. Notable examples are the oldest cathedral in Mexico and the governor’s palace in the city of Merida.

In addition to the insight into bygone times, Yucatan also offers many other possibilities that can enrich a vacation.

A few kilometres south of Tulum, the only Mayan city directly on the sea, and the beautiful neighbouring beaches of Akumal and Chetumal, is the Sinan Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. The name translated means “place where heaven was born.” Many wild animals live here, jaguars, tapirs and anteaters can often be seen. There are many species of birds here in the reserve and the Mexican sea turtle often shows up, especially at night.

Other recommended and unique excursions include diving through the underwater caves, exploring bays, lagoons and coral reefs by boat, cycling through the ruins and visiting indigenous villages. You can also do guided jungle treks and visits to colonial haciendas and small towns from the time of the Spanish conquerors.

When traveling from Mexico to Belize or Guatemala, the Yucatan Peninsula is worth a break. In any case, it is worthwhile to allow enough tie to visit at least some of the many cultural monuments and to be able to thoroughly enjoy the beauties of the landscape.