EER146: Best Road Trips in Mexico - Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula

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Many of the best road trips in Mexico can be found in the Yucatan Peninsula. With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Caribbean sea on the other, Mexico's Peninsula is an incredible place to travel alone, with friends or with the entire family. There are so many things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula — including some of the best road trips in Mexico.

Today we discuss hitting the road for a Yucatan vacation. Why is driving the Yucatan Peninsula one of the best road trips in Mexico? Listen in as we talk about jumping in Yucatan cenotes, exploring Mayan ruins, swimming with turtles in Akumal and other things to do in Akumal, as well as many other places to explore on your Yucatan vacation.

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Best Road Trips in Mexico: A Yucatan Vacation

With well-maintained roads, abundant nature, and fascinating cultural opportunities, driving the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the best road trips in Mexico. There are so many things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula, with kids or without. Beautiful beaches, exotic Yucatan cenotes, jungles, wildlife like the turtles in Akumal, and ancient jungle pyramids like the Coba Ruins. It's all here in the Yucatan Peninsula, and that's the focus of today's episode: one of the best road trips in Mexico. On the show this week is returning guest Rob Taylor of 2TravelDads. Rob has found plenty of fun things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula — both solo and with his family.

IN THIS EPISODE

  • 02:44 Intro
  • 04:29 Why the Yucatan is the best road trip in Mexico
  • 07:13 Yucatan vacation itinerary, starting in Cancun
  • 09:14 Iguanas in the Yucatan
  • 10:36 Leaving Cancun and driving south
  • 13:09 Things to do in Akumal: Turtles in Akumal
  • 16:35 Things to do in Akumal: Yal-Ku Cenote
  • 22:41 Driving in the Yucatan
  • 27:19 Mayan ruins in Tulum
  • 32:44 Coba ruins in Mexico
  • 36:35 Valladolid (Rob's favorite city in Mexico)
  • 41:47 Isla Holbox
  • 46:39 Hotels in the Yucatan

ABOUT

  • Names: Rob Taylor, his husband, and their two boys
  • Hold passports from: US
  • Type of travel: Short-term travel, camping, road trips
  • A few places they've been: Mexico, the Caribbean, China, the UK and all over the US

LINKS & RESOURCES

FIND THEM ON

2 Travel Dads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Today Rob and I construct a Yucatan vacation itinerary for anyone considering a visit. This is constructed road-trip style, since driving in the Yucatan is safe and easy. Even so, this same trip could happen via buses, taxis, or personal drivers. We visit the Coba Ruins. We explore Yucatan cenotes, and we swim with turtles in Akumal. And of course, we do what everyone should do on a Yucatan vacation: swim, eat well and relax. What else would you expect from one of the best road trips in Mexico?

Why Yucatan Vacation? Why is it the Best Road Trip in Mexico?

Rob and I both think that a Yucatan Vacation is home to some of the best road trips in Mexico. Why? For one, the Yucatan's roads are flat with good signage and infrastructure. Secondly, it's easy to pick up a car rental at Cancun's International airport. In addition, Rob explains the benefits of traveling in the Yucatan with kids. He describes it as an ideal marriage between history, culture, and nature.

The Yucatan Peninsula is part of Mexico, but it has its own unique culture, that is infused with its Mayan past. Sure, there are great restaurants, beautiful beaches, and abundant wildlife. But you also have the Mayan culture, seen both in the dozens of archaeological sites but also living within the locals.

The Yucatan also has unique flora and fauna. Especially fauna. There are dolphins off the coast and flamingos in Rio Logartos and Celestun. There are the turtles in Akumal, as well as tropical fish when snorkeling. Then there are monkeys, crocodiles, deer and more. And did we mention the turtles in Akumal?

Yucatan Road Trip: Start in Cancun

For our Yucatan road trip itinerary, we start in Cancun. This is a major tourist hub, with massive hotels and entertainment complexes. Cancun is also where the Peninsula's largest international airport is. For most people, this is the best place to fly into.

For Rob and his family, the Yucatan vacation starts soon after landing. They leave the airport and, after picking up a rental car, go straight to the beach. Before they leave Cancun, they visit a few of the Mayan ruins in or near the city. That's right: there are Mayan ruins in Cancun! Visiting Mayan ruins are certainly one of the best things to do in the Yucatan peninsula, and even Cancun has them. The most famous Mayan ruins in Cancun are places like San Miguel and El Rey. They are probably not far from your Cancun hotel.

Things to Do in Akumal - Turtles in Akumal

After some beach time and the Mayan ruins in Cancun, Rob suggests heading south. One of his favorite destinations is Akumal. One of the most famous things to do here is swim with the turtle in Akumal, and that's what Rob recommends here. He has been several times and has always seen turtles in Akumal. In fact, he talked about the last time he was there he "only" saw eight turtles in Akumal. At other times, he saw nearly twice that many. Akumal is his favorite place for snorkeling in Mexico.

Swimming with turtles in Akumal is awesome, but another of the best things to do in Akumal is to visit Cenote Yal Ku. Only a short drive from Akumal, Cenote Yal Ku is both freshwater and saltwater, as the cenote opens up into a lagoon. That means you get sea life like parrot fish and angelfish in what is usually a freshwater swimming spot.

Yucatan Cenotes

Rob said that Cenote Yal Ku was one of his favorite cenotes in the Yucatan, but what are Yucatan cenotes? I certainly didn't know about Yucatan cenotes before we visited Mexico.

A cenote is a freshwater sinkhole, part of a vast underground water system that is unique to the Yucatan Peninsula. The water is fresh, clean and mostly underground. Some Yucatan cenotes are open to the sun, while others are in caves with little light from above. Rob talks about some of his favorite Yucatan cenotes — a crucial part of our road trip in Mexico That said, keep in mind that these Yucatan cenotes aren't free.

Some of the most famous large Yucatan cenotes on the east coast of the peninsula cost USD $10 or more, per person. On the other hand, many Yucatan cenotes in the interior or west coast cost as little as a dollar. It's also worth remembering that no sunscreen or mosquito repellant is allowed in Yucatan cenotes. The chemicals can damage the fragile ecosystems there, so if you're prone to burns or bites, cover up.

Mayan Ruins in Mexico

If you want to see Mayan Ruins in Mexico, then you're headed to the Yucatan. It's a huge part of what makes the peninsula one of the best road trips in Mexico. In fact, one of the best things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula — with or without kids — is visiting the Mayan ruins.

Rob started with the Mayan ruins in Cancun, surrounded by hotels and high-rises. But he didn't stop there. We talked about many others, including the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum. Rob's favorite, however, is the Coba Ruins, which are inland. Deep in the Yucatan jungle, the Coba Ruins in Mexico are massive and largely intact. And as Rob explains, travelers can still climb the pyramids here. Places like Chichen Itza no longer allow climbers, but places like Uxmal and the Coba Ruins in Mexico still allow you to reach the top. Rob talks about his experience in the podcast.

More of the Best Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula

These are only a few things we discuss in our hour-long conversation about things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula. Listen in and hear Rob talk about flamingos in Rio Logartos, Cathedrals in Valladolid, restaurants in Holbox and much, much more. Listen in and you'll understand why we think that one of the best road trips in Mexico starts at the Mayan ruins in Cancun and covers the Yucatan Peninsula.

Have You Had a Yucatan Vacation? Recommend Other Road Trips in Mexico!

This episode is all about the best things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula and the best road trips in Mexico. What would you add? Where did you go? What did you do? Where did you stay? What (and where) did you eat? Did you climb the Coba ruins in Mexico? Did you swim with the turtles in Akumal? Any swimming in Yucatan cenotes? We love the Yucatan and want to keep our posts on things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula updated. So tell us about your Yucatan vacation in the comments!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find all the best things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula and have one of the best road trips in Mexico Do you want to swim with turtles in Akumal? Do you want to climb the Mayan Coba ruins in Mexico? Then we hope you find our Yucatan vacation tips useful!

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