Have you thought about what you would like to do during your next vacation to the Mexican Caribbean? How about a spot of sightseeing and visits to places you have never seen before? The Yucatan Peninsula has countless natural wonders and historical sites awaiting discovery. Here are some ideas.
December 21, 2012 marks the end of one cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new era. Understandably, this event has generated enormous interest and the Maya World is expecting an influx of visitors this year. On your next visit to Cancun or the Riviera Maya, why not take this to visit some of the ancient cities that dot the Yucatan Peninsula and journey into the past to learn more about the Maya and their art, architecture and scientific achievements.
Even if you have toured Chichen Itza before, excavation and restoration work is ongoing and amazing discoveries await you. How about a trip to Ek Balam, Coba or Chichen Itza’s fellow World Heritage Site, Uxmal, the most important archaeological site on the Puuc Route south of Merida? If your Mayan discoveries look set to take you further afield, other major sites include Kohunlich and Dzibanche in southern Quintana Roo, Calakmul in southern Campeche, Palenque in Chiapas, Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras.
Walk on the Wild Side
Look around you. Whether you venture into the coastal wetlands in search of flamingos and herons, swim with the whale sharks in the summer or follow a guide though the jungle on the trail of spider monkeys and toucans, the Yucatan Peninsula is teeming with wildlife. Catching a glimpse of the elusive jaguar is something nature buffs dream of and sightings are extremely rare, but what you are more likely to see are huge blue morph butterflies, a variety of birds including parrots, turquoise-browed motmots and trogons, coatimundis, and agoutis. Your guide will tell you about the plants the Maya still use for their medicinal properties and the forest giants such as the chicozapote, the sap of which is the natural raw material for chewing gum (chicle), mahogany and the ceiba, sacred tree of the Maya.
Plan a visit to Sian Ka’an, Rio Lagartos, Yum Balam (Holbox) or Celestun Biosphere Reserves, the island bird sanctuary of Contoy or visit the community-administered nature reserve at Punta Laguna near Coba. Further afield, the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in southern Campeche is a World Heritage Site for the ancient Mayan metropolis of Calakmul and for being the largest jungle reserve in Mexico.
Explore the Underwater World
There’s a whole new world below the surface. Take the plunge and discover our Caribbean corals and the colorful creatures that inhabit the reefs. Learn how to dive during your vacation and you’ll soon be ready to explore the Mesoamerican Reef, the second longest reef system in the world.
Yucatan’s Colonial History
Discover another facet of Yucatan’s history by visiting its colonial towns: Valladolid, Izamal and the largest of them all, vibrant Merida. All boast impressive churches, convents, mansions and tree-lined squares where one can sit for hours and watch the world go by.
A Family Outing
When was the last time you enjoyed a fun day out with the whole family? On your next vacation, be sure to spend some time exploring the area with your family. Your options include the famous parks of Xcaret , Xel-Ha or Xplor in the Riviera Maya, spending the day on the beach or snorkeling in Akumal, embarking on a fun cruise to Isla Mujeres and dolphin swims.