The Yucatan Peninsula - 4 Things You Need to See
By Gary Sargent
Most people know Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for the super-resort of Cancun and the white sand beaches of Playa del Carmen, but there is much more on offer. For visitors wanting to explore the varied delights of the Yucatan Peninsula, it's a good idea to have an itinerary planned out in advance as distances between attractions can lead to spending too much time travelling between the different things on offer. It's also worth timing your trip right, as the rainy season from May to October brings down temperatures that are normally quite high. Tourist season is also December to March, so for less crowds, plan your trip accordingly.
When considering your itinerary for Yucatan, here are four suggestions to make for an unforgettable trip.
1) Dive with whale sharks; The largest fish in the world, the whale shark is vast but harmless and notoriously hard to find. Countless scuba-diving stories crop up all over the world of trips to find whale sharks that ended in disappointment. However, between May 15th and September 15th Holbox Island off the coast of Yucatan is one of the few place in the world at which dive companies can confidently offer a guarantee of swimming with one of these gentle giants. Strap on your fins and gas tanks and get ready for the dive of a lifetime!
2) Visit a world-famous archaeological site; Thought to be one of the most important regions in Mesoamerica, Yucatan plays host to a huge number of temples and ruins, particularly from the Mayan period. Indiana Jones wannabees can watch a huge serpent of shadow climb the steep steps of the Castle Pyramid at Chichen Itza during the time of equinox, wander the coastal fortress city of Tulum next to the electric blue sea of the Caribbean or climb the Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal to marvel at the intricate stone carvings that adorn its walls.
3) See nature's finest in an ecological reserve; Fortunately, the natural treasures of the Yucatan Peninsula are well conserved in a huge number of parks and reserves. Wildlife on the Peninsula is diverse to say the least, and visitors can see over 450 species of birds if they have the patience to keep count. A couple of well known options are the Rio Celestun park, where you can see flamingos, and the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve which has mangroves, lagoons, savannas, coral reefs, rain forest and Mayan temples to explore.
4) Cool off in a Cenote; The Yucatan Peninsula is home to a huge variety of natural wonders, and cenotes (or sink holes) are one of them. Over 3000 exist on the Peninsula, composed of four different types; those that are completely underground, those that are semi-underground, those that are at land level like a lake or pond and those that are open wells. Some of them are accessible for swimming and cave diving, but this is something that should only be practiced with a professional guide. Visitors to sub-terrainan cenotes can expect to see impressive selections of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as magical lighting from the sunlight falling in columns from natural holes in the ceilings of the caves.
The Yucatan Peninsula has much more to offer than the suggestions above. This will make the greatest problem for your tour or vacation to Mexico not that you can't find anything to do, but how you are going to do and see everything!
Gary Sargent is the Managing Director of the tour companies Escaped to Peru and Escaped to Latin America and has lived in South America for over 10 years. Gary is passionate about life here, the people, customs and places. To learn more or to book your next adventure please visit escaped to latin america
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.