Off The Beaten Attractions From Cancun
Mexico is big so that means there is plenty to see. After the two weeks my sister and I spent in Mexico, we realised we barely scratched the surface of all that there was to do, so I started reading around on what to do in the Yucatan Peninsula.
There are 3 states in the Yucatan peninsula (excluding the country of Belize). These states are Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan. Within these 3 states are islands, Mayan ruins, cenotes, national parks – on and off the main tourist trail. Mexico is popular with a lot of people but even with Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen in the area, there are off the beaten path gems waiting to be explored.
So with that, I compiled a wishlist of these gems that I wanted to see. A lot of the attractions are water oriented, but I’ve already expressed that I am a water baby so you knew this already 😉
1. Banco Chinchorro
The only atoll reef in the Atlantic, Banco Chinchorro is a stunning scuba diving destination. To visit this atoll would mean going down very close to the border of Belize to the towns of Xcalak or Mahahual on the Costa Maya. It is also possible to scuba dive with American crocodiles and manatees too, for the wealthy adventurous.
2. Scorpion reef
Arrecife Alacranes, or Scorpion Reef in English, is another scuba diving destination that I want to get to. This reef is actually in the Gulf of Mexico but it is just of the coast of the Yucatan state. This is definitely one of Mexico’s hardest national park to get to if you don’t have your own boat, but it’s not impossible as there are tours that go to the reef.
I’ve been to Chichen Itza and wasn’t impressed with the tourist crowds. I’ve been to Ek Balam and loved being able to climb up the ruins. Being in the Yucatan, there are plenty of ruins to explore but I got my eye on the Ruta Puuc and exploring Uxmal the most.
2.- Uxmal, Yucatán. Mayas. Ruta Puuc. Pirámide del Adivino vista desde el edificio del cuadrángulo de los pájaros. Se observan las 5 etapas constructivas. #maya #rutapuuc #uxmal #yucatan #mexico #patrimonioarquitectonico #patrimoniohistorico #arquitectura #arquitecturaprehispanica #arquitecturamaya #visitmexico
4. Hacienda Uayamon
I love Mexican haciendas and after visiting one I really would love to stay the night at one. Although I am not a hotel or resort sort of girl, Hacienda Uayamon in Campeche has had my eye from 2012. The grounds are beautifu and it has a spa too so this would definitely be a treat to myself…or if I go with a lover.
5. Laguna bacalar
Wow…this is called the lake of 7 colours and what a beauty it is! Friends have told me that it’s possible to come here as a day trip from Tulum but there is also a cenote close, and Fuerte San Felipe which explains the interesting history of Bacalar and the Caribbean. Think about it, why is there a fort built in the middle of the land to protect from pirates? You gotta go to Bacalar and Fuerte San Felipe to find out.
6. Isla Holbox
Snorkelling with whale sharks is on my bucket list and Isla Holbox is one of the places where it is possible to do it. Not only that, it’s a beautiful island that has a laidback vibe, and that’s my kind of place.
Mexico, in general, is a scuba diver’s dream and of all the destinations to dive, Cozumel has really caught my attention. Numerous dive sites on this little island as well as a bonus – there’s a shore dive site too – Las Brisas! Can we go now?
A cenote and a beach on one site…yes please! So the beauty of this place is that it is less developed, no restaurants and you need to leave with your trash. There’s an entrance fee but it isn’t official. Confirm with your accommodation and don’t fight too much – the most I’ve heard is $20 MXD which is $1 USD.
9. Cenote-hopping in Tulum
The cenotes that I visited my last trip to Mexico just made me want to see more. They are ridiculously beautiful! Tulum in particular has enough close by for me to spend a couple of days hopping between them. Some of the cenotes that have caught my eye:
- Cenote Nicte-Ha
- Cenote Car Wash (great for diving)
- Cenote Dos Ojos
- Cenote Choo-Ha and Multum Ha
- Cenote Jardin del Eden
- Cenote La Noria
10. Río Lagartos
The reason to come to this small fishing village is the large amounts of flamingos that are in the Rio Lagartos Bio Reserve, Las Coloradas – a pink salt lake and the chance to have a mud bath. Basically, you get the same experience as going to the Dead Sea in Jordan/Israel but you have the flamingoes and Mexican food. I’m also a fan of small villages so I want to stay over rather than just go on a day trip.
11. Xcalak and Mahajual
Two small beach towns that also warrant their own exploration but are so off the main tourist trail that only serious beach lovers and scuba divers come here… So I fit the job description! I’m so down for chilling on the beach reading a book. Seriously, can we go now?!
12. Sian Ka’an Reserve
The other national park high up on my Mexican wishlist is the Sian Ka’an Bio Reserve. Just watch this short video and you will see why I want to
13. Punta Allen
I first heard of Punta Allen from Adventure Junkies (their website is amazing and very inspiring). Knowing that you can camp right on the beach in Mexico makes me want to make my next Mexico trip an adventure tour… you know, cycling rather than taking the bus or taxis. We will see 😉
14. Scuba dive the sculpture park
If I’m going to scuba dive in Mexico, I feel like I can’t possible miss the sculpture park so it’s on my list. I definitely want to see how the coral has grown on the statues now.
And there you have it – my Yucatan bucket list. To be honest, there is a lot more that I want to do in the area, like visit Campeche, explore more of Merida (and get better photos), but my list would just keep growing and I prefer to tick them off rather than just have a growing wishlist. So let’s hope there is more of Mexico in 2017 and beyond!