9 Best Things To Do In Yucatan, Mexico

things to do in yucatan

Yucatan, in southeastern Mexico, hides the hidden history of the ancient Mayans behind its towering trees and flourishing greenery. The impressive historical sites of the Mayans and the appealing beaches are the best things to explore here.

To get the full cultural experience, explore the city of Merida, the vibrant live performances, and “pok-tapok” (a local traditional game). Although Riviera Maya is often crowded with tourists, it’s still worth a trip down to visit the various historical sites. Check out these leading attractions in Yucatan to plan for your next trip:

1. Discover the ancient Mayans at Kulkucan Pyramid, Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza El Castillo
Source: Photo by user Elelicht used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The biggest Mexican archeological site, Chichen Itza, should be your main destination when visiting Yucatan. You can explore lofty pyramids, spectacular Mayan temples, and incredible ancient ruins. However, the main highlight is the soaring Kukulkan Pyramid (known as El Castillo). It’s the best site to understand how resourceful the ancient Mayans were when they created the building. A fascinating pyramid is accessible at the top. Make sure you’re fit enough to manoeuvre up through the narrow stairs, as they can prove to be quite the climb!

Chichen Itza

Address: Yucatan, Mexico

Opening Hours: 8 am to 4.30pm

Contact: +52 985 851 0137

Website: Chichen Itza

2. Go island hopping in Holbox

Fahrrad am Strand auf der Insel Holbox, Mexiko
Source: Photo by user dronepicr used under CC BY 2.0

Holbox Island, just off the northwest of Cancun, is the right getaway for those who want to escape from the humid summer heat. The less densely populated island offers a rugged Caribbean vibe for a relaxing vacation. Stroll down the pearly-white sand beaches and delight in the crystal waters — the tiny island is quite literally, an island adventure! Sights of fishermen catching their fish and the beautiful silhouette of flamingos showing off their stunning form is a sight you cannot miss!

Holbox Island

Address: Holbox island, Quintana Roo

Contact: 52+ 998- 865 42 25

Website: Holbox Island

3. Snorkel with tons of fishes in Xel-Ha

Source: Photo by user Angelique800326 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Xel-Ha, one of the best natural wonders on Earth, is home to wide array of marine species. Snorkeling underwater and greeting the colorful fishes are must-do activities. Located in the famous tourist area called Riviera Maya, this tropical paradise offers a lush view of the turquoise waters. Besides the various underwater activities, you can explore the jungle trails either by bike or on foot — keep a lookout for the curious white-nosed coatis that resemble big raccoons scurrying around!

Xel-Ha Park

Address: Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juárez

Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 6 pm

Website: Xel-Ha

4. Climb up the ruins at Coba

Mayan ruins in Coba (42691044175)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user dronepicr used under CC BY 2.0

Challenge yourself by taking the climb up the white path, leading to the peak of the ancient pyramid — the Coba. The rugged area is regarded as the most vital historical site on Earth by archeologists. There are three main highlights for your ruin discovery: the Nohoch Mul structure (the main body of pyramid), Conjunto Pinturas (praying spot), and the Macanxox structure.

Coba Ruins

Address: Carretera Federal 307 Cancún-Chetumal

Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm

Contact: +52 1 55 3033 5552

5. Swim with turtles in Akumal

Akumal Scuba Diving (4317781062)
Source: Photo by user Serge Melki used under CC BY 2.0

Akumal, an area flanked by Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is an amazing escape for those who are hungry for water adventures in the Caribbean Sea. Akumal, which literally means “Land of Turtles,” is home to numerous reefs and sea turtles. Scuba diving, cave diving (cenote), and swimming side by side with the turtles are the top things to do underwater. Sunbathing on the pure white sand beach is another great way to spend your day in Akumal.


Address: Quintana Roo, Mexico

Price: free

Website: Akumal

6. Explore Multum Ha Cenote

Cenote Multum Ha Coba-Tulum, Mexico
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ashley Frill used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are mad about cave explorations, you should definitely go to the Multum Ha Cenote. This limestone sinkhole is actually the ruins of a structure built by ancient Mayan people. To enjoy this fascinating cave, you need to walk down the wooden stairs through a narrow tunnel. When you reach the bottom, the clear spring is a refreshing contrast to the rugged walls, and you can dive in deep!

Multum Ha Cenote

Address: Coba, Quintana Roo

Access: 10 minute drive from Coba

7. Go diving in Cozumel

The Island of the Swallows is just 6 miles (~10 km) off Yucatan’s main land, and is popular for its awesome diving spots. The underwater scenes with the colorful coral reefs and unusual endemic toad fishes are reasons why you should visit it at least once in your life. The clear waters have high visibility, giving you a stunning view of the beautiful wildlife underwater! Meanwhile, the island is also home to friendly locals and delectable foods you should enjoy.

Cozumel Island

Address: Quintana Roo, Mexico

Website: Grand Cozumel Diving

8. Go shopping on Quinta Avenida

If you are a shopping enthusiast, don’t miss out on your chance to get the most fashionable outfits on fifth avenue or Quinta Avenida in the area of Playa del Carmen. The lovely street vendors also provide romantic meals with a local twist and various gifts for both family and friends. Chilling out at the nearby bars and restaurants is definitely recommended for all weary wanderers.

Quinta Avenida

Address: Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

Contact: +52-984-803-2159

9. Discover the Mayan Jungle at Xcaret Eco Theme Park

Xcaret parque temático
Source: Photo by user Karla Quiñonez used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Xcaret offers more than 50 captivating attractions where you can experience almost anything. It’s the best park to explore Mayan jungles and Mexican culture. For party lovers, you should participate in a unique traditional Mexican party called Fiesta Charra. Jaguar Island and Butterfly Pavilion is provided for nature enthusiasts. Other highlights you can try are swimming with dolphins and snorkeling in the underwater river.

Xcaret Eco Theme Park

Address: Carretera Chetúmal-Puerto Juárez Kilómetro 282, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen

Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 9 pm

Contact: +52 800 292 2738

Website: Xcaret

Yucatan is a real heaven for all wanderers

Yucatan is the hub of modern civilization and ancient history — the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itzen and Coba have magnetized art and history lovers across the globe to make their visit to Yucatan. For those who are fans of outdoor activities, the amazing beaches on the islands of Holbox and Cozumel will satisfy your thirst for adventure. There’s something for everyone here!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am Rofiq from East Java, Indonesia. I am passionate about exploring new places, meeting new people, learning new languages and cultures. I always do solo traveling and backpacking since they are...Read more

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