Mexico is an exciting country full of gorgeous tropical vistas and an intriguing history. In recent years, the entire country has seen an increase in air traffic with some airports reporting almost 20% growth. Like the Caribbean and Florida, Mexico sees peak private air traffic during winter months when people living in colder climates come for a winter retreat. Since Mexico is such a large and diverse country, this article will focus on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Yucatan Peninsula is located in Southeast Mexico on the west side of the Gulf of Mexico and boasts crystal-clear beaches, ancient ruins, and distinctly flavorful cuisine. The peninsula is comprised of three states: Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche. Airports serving the region are Merida International Airport (MMMD), Cancun International Airport (MMUN), Chichen-Itza International Airport (MMCT), Cozumel International Airport (MMCZ), Ing. Alberto Acuna Ongay Airport (MMCP), Ciudad del Carmen International Airport (MMCE), Tulum Airport (MMTU), Chetumal Airport (MMCM). Allow at least 48 hours notice for in-flight catering in the Yucatan Peninsula during winter in the Northern Hemisphere as this is the peak season for the area.
Mayan culture helped shape the peninsula, and many sites of ruins are available to explore. If you are in the area on the Spring Equinox or Fall Equinox, you are in for an extra treat since these are the days the main temple at Chichen Itza aligns with the sun and a “plumed serpent” appears as a shadow that looks like it is descending the stairs. In addition to Chichen Itza, some of the most popular Mayan Ruins in the area are Uxmal, Tulum, and Calakmul; but there are a few dozen open to visitors in the region and more which have not been excavated yet. Since some sites may require several hours of driving into the jungle, you may want to join a tour bus. This will not only allow you to avoid concerns of getting lost, but your tour guide will also help the time pass by narrating interesting historical facts during the drive. Upon arrival, the tour guide will lead you through the site with extra insight into details on daily life as a Mayan, as well as information on each of the temples, ball courts, cenotes (sink holes) and other ancient formations at the ruins site. Interestingly, when I visited Tulum, which is operated by the Mexican Government, Mexican Pesos were not accepted as a form of payment. Instead, admission had to be paid in U.S. Dollars, so this is something to keep in mind as it may be true for other sites. If you want a glimpse even further back into our planet’s history, a visit to the Ring of Cenotes formed by the Chicxulub Impact Crater will bring you back 65 million years. This is the impact that is believed to have caused the dinosaur extinction.
If you plan to stick closer to town, local annual events to be on the lookout for include Carnaval, Cancun Music Festival, Mexican Independence day, and Dia de Los Muertos. As always, if you are visiting a coastal area a variety of water sports and activities are available. Other outdoor activities to consider include the Tulum Monkey Sanctuary, Croco Cun Zoo, El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Club, and Xcaret.
Merida is home to a historical area called Paseo de Montejo which has been converted into a modern center of shopping, dining and entertainment. Quinta Avenida is a popular street for shopping in Playa del Carmen, but prices are notably higher since it is a tourist area. While it may be hard to want to visit a museum in the Yucatan since there are so many stunning archeological sites, perhaps if you are facing a rainy day a trip to Museo Maya de Cancun, or Museo Regional de Antropología Yucatan will whet your appetite until you can get back out to explore.
The Yucatan Peninsula has almost 3000 restaurants to choose from. With that much choice, you are bound to find several memorable dining spots. La Coqueta in Tulum, Mango Cafe in Isla Mujeres, and Ki’hanah in Merida are just a sample of top-rated restaurants in the area serving Mexican fare.
Since this area of Mexico gets a lot of tourist traffic, there are a variety of accommodations available to fit any budget. Highly-rated and economical boutique hotels like Luz En Yucatan in Merida, and Casita de Maya in Cozumel can be found throughout the peninsula. For luxury in the Riviera Maya, resorts like the Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen and Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun come with a price tag to match the detailed level of service and amenities offered to guests.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a terrific location full of exciting culture and history. With a large variety of historic sites, beaches, restaurants and accommodations you are sure not to have plenty of options to keep busy during any downtime while on the ground.
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