The Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
The Yucatan Peninsula is the location two of Mexico's most famous resort towns (Cancun and Playa Del Carmen) and some of it's most famous archaeology.
Located on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is a fairly new city that has rapidly developed into one of Mexico’s most important tourist destinations. The city is laid out along a thin stretch of land with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Nichupte Lagoon on the other. The city itself was built in the late 1970s and has little to offer. Beachside hotels offer great all-inclusive deals, while the sea is perfect for all sorts of water sports. There are many great tours and cruises to choose from, either on the sea or the lagoon. Cancun also features a small archeological site, a Maya museum and even an underwater museum.
The Yucatan Peninsula is home to two of Mexico’s most famous archeological sites. The ruins of Chichen Itza feature the standing impressive temples and pyramids of the Mayan Capital, while the ruins of Tulum, located atop a cliff near a spectacular beach, are the remains of an important Mayan trading port. South of Tulum is Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an, a great destination for nature lovers. This large ecosystem of mangroves and marshes is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, which remains untouched by man.
The greatest natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula are its many cenotes, groundwater-filled sinkholes caused by the collapse of the limestone bedrock. The cenotes were widely used by the Maya as a source of freshwater. Cenotes have attracted many curious visitors, especially divers seeking to explore and map the underground cave systems. The city of Valladolid is a great starting point to visit many cenotes and Chichen Itza is also close by.
On the inner bay area of Yucatan stands the city of Campeche, regional capital of the state bearing the same name. The city retains its 17th century elegance with colorful colonial buildings that make it feel like a living museum. A number a good museums and churches decorate the city, while two imposing forts, that have protected it against pirate attacks, stand firmly at Campeche’s two extremities. Mayan ruins riddle the surrounding areas, while two Biosphere Reserves can be visited at opposing ends of the state of Campeche.
Central Gulf of Mexico
Towards the western end of the Peninsula, the land curves up north, forming the central coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. The region is teeming with history, since this is where the Spanish Conquest first landed and settled in Mexico. Veracruz, the first European settled city offers several nice museums an old fortress and a vibrant musical night scene, while the hot, modern and humid Villahermosa has a good anthropological museum and is surrounded by a few great lakes.