Yucatan Holidays: An Overview

The Yucatan Peninsula is a superb destination, simply made for relaxing on the beach interspersed with some culture.

Saskia and Will are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • The Yucatán Peninsula is perfect for those who feel beach holiday guilt: there's plenty of culture along the Riviera Maya, and it's so near it only requires you to take a couple of hours off from your sun lounger
  • There is plenty to do in the Riviera Maya from sailing, snorkelling, fishing and boat trips to cultural activities like visiting the Mayan Ruins , shopping in Mexican markets.
  • A few days on the beach combines really well with a few days inland at a typical Mexican Hacienda.
  • Take a dip in clear water cenotes.

Luxury Yucatan Holidays: The Detail

Although popular resorts such as Playa del Carmen and Cancun are one image of the Yucatán Peninsula, there is another - far more charming - world available in this south-eastern tip of Mexico.

The Yucatán has plenty to offer the discerning culture vulture, lovers of jungle and wildlife, diving fans, and holidaymakers looking for romantic, exclusive and just plain beautiful beach hotels.

The peninsula separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. On the Caribbean side, the stretch of coastline known as the Riviera Maya offers pure white-sand beaches and calm blue waters, Tulum's ancient Mayan ruins, as well as a vast selection of hotels to suit pretty much all tastes from luxury family resorts to intimate jungle hideaways and laid back island retreats.

For a more low-key beach retreat, the idyllic Isla Holbox lies off the northern coast. This droplet of sand offers stunning white beaches and turquoise lagoons, and visitors will share the sandy roads (bikes and horse carts are the transport du jour here), with local fisherman, returning home with their morning catch. It's not all about the beach though. The northern part of the peninsula is home to the pretty colonial towns of Merida and Campeche as well as Original Travel's favourite inland haciendas which make the perfect bases to discover yet more beautiful Mayan ruins in the region.

No trip to the Yucatan is complete without visiting the outstanding Mayan site of Chichen Itza. Right in the middle of the peninsula, there is no excuse for not stopping off here when en route between your hacienda and beach hotel.

Cancun, with its international airport and direct flights from London, is the jumping-off point for the peninsula, but if you don't fancy putting your party sombrero on you can be in and out of the town in no time.

For a variation of a coastal holiday we recommend a few days on the beach combined with a few days inland at a typical Mexican Hacienda. Here you can explore the countryside, visit typical Mexican villages and Mayan Ruins, spend a morning at the underground cenotes (tunnels where you can go snorkelling or diving in crystalline water) and generally soaking up the local culture.


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A note on price

A cheeky week on the beach can cost from around £2000 per person including flights, whereas an adventurous (and luxurious!) journey around the best bits of Mexico might cost more like £6000 or upwards. In the Yucatán, prices are comparatively low out of season. Learn more about our pricing

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Top picks for Yucatan Peninsula

Hotel Esencia

Hotel Esencia

Yucatan Peninsula

Hotel Esencia is a chic beach retreat set on a two-mile stretch of white-sand beach along the ‘Riviera Maya’ of Mexico’s Yucatán coast.

Where to stay

Cenote, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Day at a Cenote

Yucatan Peninsula

Cenotes (natural limestone sinkholes) come in different forms from the ‘open’ cenotes that can be found at ground level to the ‘semi-abierto’ cenotes that are half open and half in caves, accessible through small openings leading to chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites.

What to do

Snorkel Whale Shark, Mexico

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Yucatan Peninsula

Ever swum with Whale Sharks? No? Well now is your chance...

What to do

Tulum Ruins

Tulum

Yucatan Peninsula

Tulum was a site of huge importance between 1000 and 1600 AD, and something of a haven for the elite of the Mayan world.

What to do

Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Chichén Itzá

Yucatan Peninsula

The ruins of Chichén Itzá are on the UNESCO World Heritage list and the site was crowned one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

What to do

Uxmal Ruins, Mexico

Mayan Ruins in Yucatan

Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatan area has numerous sites with Mayan ruins. While some sites cover vast areas and have been well preserved or restored others are much smaller and have suffered over the years. Many of the sites still have vast areas that are yet to be excavated and explored.

What to do

Rosewood Mayakoba, luxury hotel  in Mexico

Rosewood Mayakoba

Yucatan Peninsula

The Rosewood Mayakoba is set in the heart of the 1,600 acre Rosewood resort, just 30 minutes south of Cancun and north of Playa del Carmen. With a mile of white sand beach, it stretches back into lush jungle interspersed with a meandering lagoon.

Where to stay

The Lodge at Chichen Itza

The Lodge at Chichen Itza

Yucatan Peninsula

The Lodge at Chichen Itza sits within 100 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, filled with tropical trees which are home to many species of bird and butterfly. Boasting a superb location in the heart of the archaeological park, the lodge has its very own entrance to the Mayan temples at Chichen Itza.

Where to stay

Casa Lecanda

Casa Lecanda

Yucatan Peninsula

Luxury boutique hotel Casa Lecanda is a wonderfully restored traditional Yucatecan home, located within the historical centre of Merida, Yucatan Peninsula.

Where to stay

Sian Ka'an, Mexico

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Yucatan Peninsula

Covering around 1.3million acres the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.

What to do

The pool at Viceroy Riviera Maya, luxury hotel in Mexico

Viceroy Riviera Maya

Yucatan Peninsula

The Viceroy is a boutique beach front resort located just outside Playa del Carmen on Mexico's Yucatán peninsula.

Where to stay

Private dining at Hacienda Temozon, luxury hotel in Mexico

Hacienda Temozon

Yucatan Peninsula

Hacienda Temozon is located approximately 25 miles from the city of Mérida, in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

Where to stay

An excellent start - Everything has gone perfectly.

Thank you for your letter and for all the arrangements. As always everything has gone perfectly since we arrived and we have thoroughly enjoyed our first day with our guide who is absolutely delightful.

Mandy

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