INTRODUCING THE YUCATÁN
Full-blown adventure or laid-back getaway, high-end beach retreat or low-key hideaway – whatever your perfect getaway, the Yucatán fits the bill. You can see world-renowned mystical sites like Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, or seek out lesser-trodden Mayan paths. Spend quiet days discovering the silver sands and vibrant reefs that flank the Riviera Maya. Then swim in a shimmering, stalactite-dripping cave pool. With fascinating history, incredible food, and jungle brimming with wildlife, it has all the ingredients for an unforgettable escape.
Ochre temples, turquoise pools and marble-white sand make up the colourful calling card of Mexico’s southeast corner.
Things to do
Pink flamingos and green parrots, red-eyed tree frogs and jet-black jaguars – the Yucatán plays host to kaleidoscopic wildlife. Spot flocks of pink feathers at Reserva de la Biosfera Ría Celestún, not far from Mérida. Mix untamed rainforest with unbelievable archaeology on a trek through temple-dotted Calakmul. Or if you can’t bear to leave the beach, world-renowned snorkelling and diving sites could introduce you to turtles and even whale sharks. After all, you’ll have one of the globe’s biggest coral reefs beneath your flippers.
BEACHES & WATER
Whether it’s under a parasol or underwater, days spent on the Yucatán’s coastline are sheer bliss. But beyond the tiny coves and vast, white-sand wonders, there’s something extra special. Cenotes are freshwater swimming holes where you can dip into sun-dappled water or underground caves as the light dances around the walls. Fringed by jungle vines and rainforest roots, it’s easy to see why the Mayans revered these spellbinding spaces.
In the Yucatán, you’ll have your pick of ancient wonders. Chichén Itzá, a soaring pyramid topped with a snake, is the biggest draw. At the twice-yearly equinox, shadows make the serpent appear to slither down the stones. Dzibilchaltún, north of Mérida, may be small but its equinox ‘show’ is just as spectacular – and it has an atmospheric cenote. At Uxmal you can see stone carvings said to depict the Mayan rain god. He’s also celebrated at El Palacio de los Mascarones in Kabah, where hundreds of Chaac masks cover the building’s front.
Looking for a dash of city break style to go with your Mayan ruins and blissful beaches? Visit Mérida, the ‘White City’, for a culture fix in its museums and flourishing arts scene.
Top tip from SLH