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Why You Need to Visit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

Despite what the tourist brochures tell you, there is more heart and culture on the Yucatan than you may have ever expected.

By: Alyssa + Hannah ODYSEA + Save to a List

The Yucatan Peninsula surprised us with its lively atmosphere and beautiful nature. Dive into the ocean with gentle giants, climb pyramids, admire ocean conscious art murals and make room in your tummies for tasty street tacos. 

1. Ocean murals to color your day

The streets of Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Isla Mujeres are dotted with beautiful murals that bring to life the local animals, put colour back into run-down buildings and shed light on local issues.

We particularly loved the murals of sea art painted by Pangea Seed on Isla Mujeres. These amazing creations bring attention to local environmental issues through a positive medium like art.

2. Swim with whale sharks in the best location in the world

Just off Isla Mujeres is the largest whale shark aggregation site in the world, sometimes there being over 200 of them in a single area! Even though we have spent much of lives in the ocean, we have never experienced a moment in the ocean so awe-inspiring that left us not only breathless from swimming, but through total amazement. To be graced in the presence of these huge gentle giants is a very unique experience and one you will never forget (annual migration is between June and September).

3.  Visit the remote and untouched oasis of Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy has been a protected area since 1961 and lies on the transition zone of the warm waters of the Caribbean and the cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Escape the crowds and enjoy the tranquility of empty beaches, nesting migratory birds, jungle walks and birds soaring high in the sky. Choose an eco-friendly tour company to enjoy it at it’s best.

While snorkeling, swim with the schools of barracuda. Hopefully you'll see the resident 2 meter long barracuda hovering over the sandy bottom waiting for its next meal. 

Owww barracuda!

4. Explore Tulum by bicycle

Ride to the ancient Mayan ruins get lost down backstreets or cruise along the foreshore for afternoon drinks at happy hour. Tulum is a sleepy little town where time disappears and your worries don’t matter.

5. Swim in the underwater paradise of Cenotes

Among one of the most beautiful swimming locations in the world, cenotes are naturally flooded sinkholes filled with fresh crystal clear water. These cenotes are hidden deep in the tropical jungle of Tulum and are sacred places where the ancient Mayan civilizations would communicate with their gods. The jungle trees and lusciously green ferns dangle around the high edges and the underwater caves slope down deep into mystery.

6. Climb the pyramids in Coba

Coba is an ancient Mayan city and has the only pyramid you can climb in Mexico. Coba gave us an insight into how these civilizations once lived. If you can brave the steep climb up the tallest pyramid, it is one that is surely not to disappoint.

7. Cool cafes and hangouts in Playa del Carmen

The streets are full of tourist restaurants and fancy bars, but if you meander down a few back streets, you will find an unexpected scene of trendy shops and cute organic cafes.

How about an iced coffee horchata frappe or almond milk iced chai?


None of the fancy Mexican restaurants live up to the variety, the freshness, the extreme tastes of the cheap tacos that are made right under your nose at the street carts. We ate endless tacos all with a smile on our faces and a take-away beer in hand.

9. Camp on the beach in Tulum

Pitch your tent on the sand or stay in a rustic wooden beach hut and enjoy the sweet sound of nothing but rustling leaves and soothing ocean.

10. And of course.. enjoy the beautiful beaches!

You can't go past the picture-perfect beaches with their white squeaky sand, swaying palm trees and the turquoise Caribbean colours.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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