6 months ago, Gus and me got married. After celebrating a beautiful wedding with both our families and a lot of friends there, we went on our honeymoon. At first we had planned to go abroad for this trip but decided then to take advantage of the fact that Mexico has beautiful destinations to offer and we wouldn’t need to get a visa or pay an expensive flight. So we decided to do our honeymoon on the Yucatan peninsula.
The Yucatan peninsula is a place full of history and culture due to Mayas living there for over 1000 years now. Also, the peninsula possesses fascinating flora and fauna such as cenotes and jaguars. Most people only know Cancún as a point of reference on the peninsula. Cancún is the biggest city in the area and home of the most frequented airport in Mexico. Everyday, more passengers pass through Cancún Airport than the airport in Mexico City. Cancún is home to sandy white beaches, a turquoise sea and hundreds of resort hotels. In Cancún you can pay with US-Dollars, expect people to speak English (which is not the case in the rest of Mexico) and see the typical visitor from around the world on an all-inclusive vacation. I hate that place. Everything is so fake. A lot of people never leave the hotel complex and say that they went to Mexico. Mexican restaurants sell westernized food, the main streets of Cancún and close by Playa del Carmen are filled with international chains and you can buy souvenirs from all over Mexico in the stores as if you really had visited the whole country. Also, Cancún is really expensive because people take advantage of the fact, that foreign tourists will pay a rather high price for Mexican standards because it’s still a lot cheaper than in their home country.
As you can see, I am not a big fan of Cancún and neither is Gus. That´s why when we arrived to Cancún airport, we immediately picked up our rental car and got moving to the south of the peninsula. Here, a few hours south of the tourist madness lies a blue paradise: The lagoon of Bacalar or the lagoon of seven colours. The village of Bacalar which is spread out on the lagoon is tiny and there are only small hotels, no chains. The lagoon is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life! It actually is made up of 7 colours because of different depths and plants in the water. The water is sweet (which makes the swim even more enjoyable as I think) but because of the size of the lagoon and the tropical climate you feel as if you were on the Caribbean Sea. There are several cenotes in the lagoon, deep wholes and sources of fresh water, that have there own ecological system and are a paradise for divers.
My top 5 of the Yucatan penisula:
Bacalar is definitely my number 1 destination on the Yucatan peninsula and probably in the whole country that is Mexico. In Bacalar you will get a real Mexican experience – the place, the people, the food etc. The next place I would highly recommend to visit is Tulum. The archaeological area on the lime stone cliff is breathtaking! The town is full of young travelers and the beach is absolutely beautiful. Also, there are several cenotes (fresh water pools) in the area where you can enjoy a swim.
From Bacalar we went to the archaeological area of Calakmul for a day trip. When you have a rented car that’s no problem to do so, if you don’t, the transportation there can be complicated. However, it’s definitely worth to go because Calakmul is an astonishing archaeological site and old Maya city that was a rival of Tikal in Guatemala. Everyday, thousands of tourists visit Chichén Itzá. When we went to the even bigger site of Calakmul, there where about 20 other tourists on the site. And we went on a Sunday, when the entrance to most archaeological sites in Mexico is free. The pyramids that lie in the jungle here are worth a visit and also the view from the top of the pyramids is amazing – you see nothing but green, no sign of civilization what so ever!
Close to Playa del Carmen there are several parks that are supposed to be really good. I have visited Xel-Ha and Xcaret and have to say that they are both expensive but really cool! I especially liked Xel-Ha with it’s mixture of water fun park and actual marine beauty (there is a bay with fishes, corals etc., a cenote and just beautiful beaches).
Holbox is an island on the north coast of the Yucatan peninsula. Due to the position between the Caribbean Sea and the Golf of Mexico, the island is surrounded by very smooth and shallow waters. When we got into the water, we walked and walked and walked before it ever got any deeper. We never walked as far as we couldn’t reach the ground anymore because that would have been to exhausting. When swimming in the sea here, you are almost alone (depending on the beach) and there are fishes and animals here and there. When we were swimming in the sea, 3 young rays passed by and during some months of the year, whale sharks come to the waters of Holbox. The island is rather small and there are no cars, so you get around best by bike or walking. And make sure to plan a lot of time at the beach – you will feel like in paradise!
These 5 are my favorite places on the Yucatan peninsula – of course the list can go on and on – Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Mérida, Celestún, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres…. What’s important, is that the area is incredibly diverse and paradise like anywhere you go. So just maybe consider going here on a vacation because it’s definitely worth a visit!