Whether it’s Mayan ruins, enchanting cenotes, or coral reef snorkeling, these are the best things to do in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. This area of Mexico (also known as Riviera Maya) is sure to please any traveler with the natural wonders and exciting culture it offers.
10 Incredible Things To Do In Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula
There really is no other word to describe Rio Secreto other than “magical.” Only accessible by tour, this underground river with crystal clear waters is surrounded on all sides by crystals and stalactite formations. Hiking and swimming the Rio Secreto really is an unforgettable experience!
Just south of Cancun lies the ancient Mayan city of Tulum, where the archaeological site of the walled ruins sits towering above the ocean. These well-preserved ruins with a magnificent backdrop can be toured in as little as an hour or two, but you can easily spend a full day exploring the ruins, swimming in the ocean or walking up Tulum Beach Road.
There is an entrance fee as well as a parking fee and an additional cost to bring in cameras/video recorders, so come prepared with pesos on hand.
Another ancient Mayan city, but this one with ruins a bit more hands-on (literally)! While Coba is slightly more remote than other ruins and attractions, the trek out there is well worth it. Rent a bike, venture through the forest and climb the 120 stairs to the top of the giant pyramid Ixmoja. The climb is a challenge, but the view is unreal!
Yoga on the Beach
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi looking for a new setting or just a vacation-goer seeking a relaxing beach activity, yoga on the beaches of the Yucatán is the perfect way to fit a little fitness and fun into your getaway. The Royal Suites Yucatán by Palladium offers great yoga on the beach classes for guests — a new favorite and must-do activity.
Visit a Cenote
Cenotes are abundant in this region (there are literally thousands), so take the time to see at least one or two in your area. Some of our favorites? Grand Cenote in Tulum, Cenote X’Keken in Valladolid, Suytun Cenote outside Valladolid, and Ik Kil near the famous Chichen Itza; Ik Kil draws lots of tourists as early as 9-10am, so get there in the early morning to avoid crowds!
This small island, just 8 miles off the coast of Cancún, is easily explored by foot or bike, or even moped. The sea turtle reserve and picturesque lighthouses are the main draws of the island, but the Zocalo (town square), vibrant murals and laid-back locals make this a unique alternative to any typical stay in the Yucatán!
Xel-Há is basically the aquatic theme-park you never knew you needed to see. Snorkeling, cliff-diving, rope-swinging, inner-tube river floats — every best water activity, all in one place. This water Disneyland for adults (and kids) is worth a full day of your trip.
From Jeep excursions to sightseeing cruises to shipwreck exploration, there’s plenty of snorkel tours in the Yucatán to choose from.
There’s a wide variety a tours for every kind of traveler — ATV and ziplining for adventure-seekers, sailing for the easy-going — but they all provide the chance to snorkel and see Mexico’s amazing sea life up close.
The environmentally-conscious biosphere reserve Sian Ka’an offers unique tours like Mayan ruins, boat tours, and sunset birdwatching in the reserve’s lagoons. Ditch the masses of tourists for a while and experience the Yucatán’s natural beauty in a tranquil, virtually untouched environment.
A day trip to Isla Holbox is a quiet escape ideal for nature and wildlife-lovers, or anyone who just wants some quiet time on a stretch of white sand beach. Bring your camera equipment — the flamingos and whale sharks in turquoise blue waters make for stunning photos.
Where to Stay
Playa Del Carmen is one of the top spots to stay on the Yucatan Peninsula. I stayed at the The Royal Suites Yucatán by Palladium for 4 nights during my most recent stay to this area of Mexico.
This adults-only exclusive area of the The Grand Palladium Resort provides the best of both worlds: ultra-luxury with VIP service and the ability to enjoy all of the amenities at the neighboring 5-star Grand Palladium Resort. First-class restaurants, spa, and a private beach make this a uniquely exclusive and personal stay in one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico.