The Mayan ruins in Tulum are not to be missed. If you do decide to make an overnight stay in Tulum, it is well worth beating the crowds and getting up for sunrise. The park opens at 6:30am. We had the special experience of being the only people onsite for the entire time we were there. Watching the sun come up over the ancient site in such tranquility is a once in a lifetime experience.
The Yucatan region is also famous for its Cenotes. Cenotes are pools of water found sometimes in caves, and are often the result of a sinkhole. In fact, all of the Cenotes in the region are connected by an underwater system. They are formed when water erodes limestone, leading to collapse and thus exposing the water beneath. Many Cenotes were deemed to be sacred by the Mayans and were places of religious sacrifice.
Today, their clear, fresh water and tropical fish make them a huge attraction for tourists visiting the region. We visited Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote). This is located about 90 minutes from Cancun. Upon arrival you can rent snorkel masks, but the water is so clear that you don’t necessarily need them.
A pathway through the bushes takes you past some darker Cenotes with black fish to match. I was a little concerned initially that this was where we were expected to swim, but when you reach the end of the path and see the beautiful tropical vista of the main event, you can hardly wait to enjoy jumping into the glistening water. Surrounded by tropical vegetation and with colourful fish swimming at your side, this is really a bountiful paradise.
For the more adventurous, there is the opportunity to jump from a cliff into the water. As is always the way, children jump fearlessly from the edge while the adults stall several times before teetering uncertainly into the water. I made the jump, despite my legs turning to jelly and what felt like a minor heart-attack upon entering the water. It is certainly an exhilarating experience and makes the evening Margarita all that more enjoyable.
The Yucatan Peninsula has a huge amount to offer. Resorts in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen are self-contained and suitable for those with families or for those looking for total relaxation. Luxury is on a par with what’s on offer in Dubai.
Outside of these resorts can be a lot busier and can resemble some of the more touristy strips in Europe, but the varied options that are on offer in these resorts really mean that these areas can be absolutely avoided.
Tulum is the place currently having a moment. There is definitely luxury to be found, although not just yet on a par with what is available in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a perfect destination for those looking for sun, luxury and some culture. Jetairfly are currently running direct flights from Brussels to Cancun, making this a much more doable option for those looking for an easy break.