22 BEST things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

When it comes to exploring Mexico, you’ll find there are some seriously cool things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula. I’ve put together this ultimate guide to visiting Yucatan and the Mexican Riviera with everything you need to know.

Plan your trip to the Yucatán Peninsula

👩🏻 Best guided tours in the Yucatan Peninsula

🏡 Where to stay in the Yucatan Peninsula

Yucatan Peninsula is amazing and it seems to have it all.

Mayan ruins, tropical white sand beaches, and thousands of cenotes.

Not to mention the incredible wildlife like whale sharks, sea turtles, and wild iguanas. Yucatan is naturally more touristy than more remote places like San Cristobal de las Casas or Palenque, but I honestly didn’t mind.

The Yucatan peninsula is one of the safest places in Mexico and we found things here that you won’t see anywhere else, like a pink lake and the dreamy sinkholes.

Now, let’s get to the fun part – here are my absolute favorite things to do in Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico that you can’t miss!

This post contains referral links for products I love. Adventurous Miriam earns a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through my links. I appreciate your support ♡ Learn more

Best things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

1. Explore Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also the most famous landmark in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, attracting around two million visitors per year.

It thrived for over a thousand years, thanks to nearby cenotes providing fresh water. Covering 5 square kilometers, it’s packed with well-preserved stone structures in a thick forest.

I highly recommend taking a tour of Chichen Itza to understand its history and purpose.

Book here – Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour

Chiapas tours - Chichen Itza

2. Visit Las Coloradas

About 3 hours from Cancun, in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, lies Las Coloradas, where seawater turns bright pink.

This happens due to salt production.

As the water evaporates, salinity increases, which makes red algae and plankton flourish and color the water. You can’t swim here anymore, but it’s perfect for surreal pink water photos.

Plus, you might spot some pink flamingos around!

Book a day tour to Las Colorados from:

Chiapas tours - Las Coloradas

3. Snorkel with sea turtles in Akumal

Akumal is a lovely little beach town halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. We spent a day there, swimming with sea turtles, but you could easily spend several days.

It’s the best place for snorkeling with loggerhead and green sea turtles.

Book here – Half-Day Sea Turtle and Cenote Snorkeling Tour

Chiapas tours - Sea Turtles

4. Try an invisible boat adventure

Fancy a trip in a transparent boat?

You can board a transparent boat from Carlota Beach Club in Cozumel to view tropical fish and stingrays below you. Think of it as an upgrade of the traditional glass-bottom boat.

You can also snorkel if you want, but it’s not a must to enjoy life beneath the sea.

Book here – Invisible Boat Adventure in Cozumel

5. Swim with whale sharks at Isla Holbox

Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea, and they can grow up to 40 feet and weigh 20,000 pounds. Yet, they’re gentle and only eat plankton.

Snorkeling with them is one of the best and most intense experiences I’ve had because they’re massive.

You can swim with whale sharks from several places in the Yucatan Peninsula and Isla Mujeres. But I recommend taking the trip from Isla Holbox, a laid-back island off the Yucatan, rather than the busier Cancun.

Book here – Whale Shark Tour from Holbox Island

Chiapas tours - Whale Sharks At Isla Holbox

6. Izamal The Yellow Town

Izamal is known as La Ciudad Amarilla or the Yellow City for its unique golden-yellow buildings.

This charming small town is easy to walk around, and you can catch a horse-drawn carriage for a bit of extra charm.

It’s one of Mexico’s prettiest magic towns.

Book here – Izamal Private Tour plus jewelry Mayan Handcraft Workshop

Chiapas tours - Izamal

7. ATV in the jungle

If you like a bit of adventure, you’ll love an ATV, zipline, and cenote swim tour through the Mayan jungle.

You’ll start with an ATV ride, either driving or as a passenger, to a natural cenote for a swim.

Next, you’ll zip through the treetops before wrapping up with a tequila tasting, a Mayan history walk, and a taco snack.

Book here – ATV, Ziplines, and Cenote Swim with Lunch

Chiapas tours - Los Colorados

8. Visit Mr. Sanchos Beach Club

Mr. Sanchos Beach Club in Cozumel is an upscale, tropical resort where you can get VIP access for up to nine hours. They’ve got a beach area, hammocks, swimming, and kayaks.

All-you-can-eat buffet and unlimited drinks at the pool bars are included. Just show up after 8 am and make the most of it.

Book here – Mr. Sanchos Beach Club All-Inclusive Day Pass

9. Luxury cataman to Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is one of my favorite places in Mexico, and this sailing trip from Cancun makes the trip even better!

You’ll sail along Cancun’s coast, snorkel with tropical fish, and enjoy a gourmet lunch on board. At Isla Mujeres, you can either take a guided tour or explore the island yourself, checking out beaches and shops.

Afterward, you sail back and get dropped off at your hotel.

Book here – Luxury Catamaran, Snorkel, Open Bar and Visit to Isla Mujeres

10. Walk La Quinta Avenida

Playa del Carmen is laid back and has a more relaxed nightlife than e.g. Cancun. It’s easy to walk around thanks to its grid layout.

Go for a walk at La Quinta Avenida, a pedestrian street full of shops, beach bars, and local restaurants. It’s perfect for a laid-back stroll.

Chiapas tours - La Quinta Avenida

11. Scuba diving around Cozumel

Cozumel is just off Playa del Carmen by ferry, and it’s a scuba diving haven!

While Cozumel has the usual cruise ship crowd and gift shops, it’s still worth going for the underwater world. Divers of all skills come here for the amazing marine life.

Book here – Cozumel Snorkeling: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs

Chiapas tours - Scuba Diving

12. Mexico’s best beaches in Tulum

Tulum was the first place we visited in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the beaches blew us away!

You can dive, go snorkeling, or check out other great spots nearby, but the beaches are the main draw.

In Tulum, you’ll also find health-conscious eateries and yoga spots right next to the ocean. It’s a wonderful town, really!

Book here – Tulum Ruins, Tequila Tasting + Swim in 3 Cenotes in Small Group

13. Visit Bacalar Lagoon

Lake Bacalar is home to Bacalar Lagoon – also known as the “Lagoon of Seven Colors” for its stunning blue and turquoise waters.

It’s actually a long, narrow lake, 26 miles but only about a mile wide at its broadest.

Formed by merging cenotes, you’ll be best off exploring it by boat to really see the crystal clear water and those colors. It’s a unique experience, especially for nature lovers.

Book now – Bacalar Lagoon Boat Tour with Open Bar and Snacks

Chiapas tours - Bacalar Lagoon

14. Head to Mexico’s adventure theme parks

In the Yucatan Peninsula, especially along the Riviera Maya, there’s a bunch of outdoor adventure parks like Xcaret, Xel Ha, Xplor, and Rio Secreto.

These places offer fun activities like zip-lining, cave swimming, ATV rides, and snorkeling.

They’re perfect for a family day out, but adults will love them, too.

Book here – Priority Access: Xcaret Day Trip+ Night Show+ Transportation

Chiapas tours - Xcaret

15. Calakmul Mayan Ruins

Calakmul, close to the Guatemala border, is a standout Mayan site surrounded by dense jungle.

These ancient Mayan ruins have no less than 117 stelae and a main pyramid towering at 148 feet.

The views from the top are spectacular.

Book here – Calakmul Excursion from Xpujil

Chiapas tours - Calakmul

16. Valladolid

Valladolid is a quiet colonial town sitting on an old Mayan site.

Its central plaza has classic Spanish-style buildings, museums, and loads of excellent restaurants.

Located just 45 minutes from Chichén Itzá, it’s the perfect base for exploring the peninsula.

Chiapas tours - Valladolid

17. Explore the Archaeological Zone Tulum

A must-do in Yucatan is visiting the Tulum Archaeological Site, which is just a bike ride from Tulum town.

It’s arguably the most dramatically located Mayan ruin, perched above the Caribbean coast with stunning blue water views.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Tulum was a major power player. But once the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, the ancient Mayans left this breathtaking spot.

Book here – Tulum Guided Tour, Cenote, Lagoon Snorkeling and Beachside Lunch

Chiapas tours - Tulum

18. Submarine experience in Cozumel

If you’ve ever wanted to board a submarine, this is your chance.

You’ll start in Cozumel with a short ferry ride to a dive site. There, you board a US Coast Guard Certified submarine to explore the Chankanaab Marine Park, which is popular for diving.

You’ll see diverse marine life and large coral formations from the submarine’s windows, while your guide explains.

Book here – Cozumel Submarine Experience

19. Swim in a cenote

Cenotes were formed 66 million years ago when an asteroid hit near Yucatan and created over 6,000 sinkholes (cenotes) leading to underground water caves.

The Mayans used these clear water pools for sacred rituals, and now, they’re open for swimming and diving.

There are thousands of cenotes in Yucatan, and you can join a tour of some of the best ones. My top picks are:

Chiapas tours - ik-kil Cenote (2)

20. Take a food tour

A food tour in the Yucatan Peninsula is an amazing way to spend your time here.

I mean, Mexican food is the best!

On a food tour, like this one in Cancun, you’ll eat traditional dishes like cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork), learn about their history, and see how they’re made.

Book here – 3-in-1 Street Food Tour with Transportation

Chiapas tours - mexico food tour

21. Explore the Coba Ruins

Just a short drive from Tulum, you’ll find Coba, a hidden gem among Yucatan’s Mayan ruins.

Less crowded than Chichen Itza, it’s still mostly unexcavated in the jungle, giving it a wild, untamed vibe.

Remember, it’s a bit of a climb – 120 steep steps to the top of the main pyramid – so you’ll need good shoes!

Book here – Coba Maya city from Cancun

Chiapas tours - Coba Ruins (2)

22. Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, known as ‘Origin of the Sky’ in Mayan, is a diverse jungle ecosystem you can explore by boat.

This UNESCO site has everything from tropical forests to mangroves and reefs, plus over 300 bird species.

The best way in is a boat tour from Muyil Ruins, cruising the ancient Mayan canals.

Book here – Private Sian Kaan Muyil Lazy River Tour

Chiapas tours - Sian Ka’an

FAQ – Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Is the Yucatan Peninsula safe?

Yes. Yucatan is serious about being the safest state in Mexico and has put in a lot of effort to maintain that. Violent crime, especially against tourists, is rare.

You’ll see police checkpoints when you enter the state and also when you go into Merida. They’re pretty vigilant about security.

What is the Yucatan Peninsula best known for?

The Yucatan Peninsula is best known for its stunning Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum, beautiful beaches, unique cenotes (natural sinkholes), and rich cultural history.

How many days do you need in the Yucatan Peninsula?

You’ll need about 10 days to see the key spots in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Is Yucatan very touristy?

Yes, parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, especially areas like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, are quite touristy.

These places are popular for their beaches and Mayan ruins, attracting many visitors each year.

What kind of tourism is in Yucatan Mexico?

Yucatan, Mexico, is big on cultural and historical tourism with famous Mayan ruins.

It’s also known for natural attractions like its 6,000+ cenotes, the popular Riviera Maya, wildlife, and local food experiences.

Chiapas tours - cooking class

More posts about the Yucatan Peninsula you might like

Save it!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *