Mexico

Best of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatan Peninsula offers absolutely everything you could want from a family holiday. There are glorious sandy beaches, incredible Mayan ruins and enchanting colonial cities. Hear gory tales of human sacrifice and learn how to tell a taco from an enchilada from a tortilla. This two week tour encapsulates all of our favourite highlights. Viva la Vida!

Highlights

  Chichen Itza, Chacchoben & Uxmal
  Kayak & zipline at Punta Laguna
  Swim in underground cenotes
  Visit artisan shops & lively markets
  Float in the lagoon at Bacalar
  Spot rainforest wildlife & birds
  Relax on idyllic Caribbean beach

15 days from £1,500 pp

Plus international flights from £750

A two-week self-drive holiday in Mexico for a family of four usually costs from £6,000 plus flights, depending on type of accommodation. A similar guided holiday would cost from £7,500 plus flights, with entrance fees payable locally.

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Best of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula day-to-day-itinerary

Day 1 Cancun
Bienvenido a Mexico! Alight from your flight straight into the colour, buzz and sun of Mexico’s most famous beach resort. Here you can kickstart your family holiday to Mexico with a dip in the Caribbean Sea (the perfect antidote to jetlag).


Day 2 Cancun
Today is a full day at leisure to relax or perhaps try one of the many activities on offer in the area, most of which can be booked locally.


Day 3 Punta Laguna – Valladolid
Leave the coast behind you and head inland to the lush landscape of the Punta Laguna nature reserve. Accompanied by a guide, you will hike into the jungle in search of spider monkeys, before crossing a beautiful turquoise lake by zip-line and kayak. The visit ends with an exciting abseil into a cenote, an underground cavern filled with crystal clear water, before climbing out on a 30m rope ladder!

Afterwards, you will continue on to the picturesque colonial city of Valladolid. The town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with attractive streets lined with one-storey houses painted in pastel hues, and a pretty square overlooked by an imposing church, where you can find a nice cafe, browse the enticing shops and watch the world go by from the main square.


Day 4 Valladolid
A full day to explore the picturesque colonial city of Valladolid. Enjoy a relaxed city walk around the various sites including the lovely Zaci cenote (a unique urban grotto) and the Convento del Sisal which contains a cenote with a vaulted dome. Families with older children may enjoy a cycling tour through the surrounding countryside to a local village, with a refreshing swim in a jungle cenote. Cenotes are the theme of the day here . . .


Day 5 Chichen Itza & Yokdzonot Cenote
The vast ruins here will stun even the most reluctant of young sightseers. Dominating the centre of the ancient city is the vast Temple of Kukulkan, the most renowned of the many picture postcard structures. Children will love being regaled by stories of human sacrifice and gore at the Skull Wall.

After a morning of sightseeing, enjoy a local lunch and cool off with a refreshing swim in the aquamarine waters of the nearby Yokdzonot cenote before returning to your hotel later in the day.

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Day 6 Izamal – Rural Hacienda
Today you will leave Valladolid behind and make your way to Izamal, where you will have time to stop and enjoy this picturesque town, predominantly painted yellow to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1993. Take a horse drawn carriage around the picturesque streets, climb up the vast pyramid in the centre of town or wander around the market, sampling the produce.

Later, drive into the countryside for three nights at a picturesque rural hacienda. The rich ‘sisal barons’ of colonial times lived in exquisite mansions in Merida, but also built grand country estates (haciendas) in the middle of their plantations. Although many of the haciendas are now dilapidated and overgrown, some have been converted into gorgeous boutique hotels. We will suggest a property according to your budget. Some are more modest whilst others are extravagantly luxurious, but all offer beautiful grounds and a glimpse of plantation life. 


Day 7 Rural Hacienda
Today you may choose to just relax at your hacienda, or alternatively you can travel back in time on a tour of the sisal plantation at Sotuta de Peón. This is a working plantation, but all of the immaculately preserved machinery dates back to the colonial period. The kids will be fascinated to see how it all works. You can also take a ride on the traditional plantation transport, a simple wooden carriage on rails, pulled by a mule. This will take you to an underground cenote where you can swim. Afterwards the rest of the day is free for you to relax.


Day 8 Uxmal or Celestun
A free day for you to take an excursion into the surrounding area.

One of our favourites is a visit to the superbly preserved Mayan ruins at Uxmal. These are on a par with Chichen Itza but because they are located so far from the coast (and the tourist hordes staying in Cancun) they get a small fraction of the number of visitors. Wander around the site with just a handful of other tourists. Older children will enjoy climbing up the precipitous ruins for superb views whilst younger visitors will happily spend hours playing hide and seek amongst the temples.

Nature lovers may wish to go further afield to Celestun. This is a quiet fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico. The area is renowned as the nesting spot for hundreds of pink flamingos, as well as cormorants, pelicans and crocodiles. Take a cruise on the lagoon and stop to walk through the mangroves. Here you can try to spot caiman and crocodiles (from the safety of a raised walkway!). Later, it’s just a two minute drive to the coast, where we can recommend a superb seafood restaurant. The chef here serves possibly the best cerviche in Mexico (yes it’s a grand boast, but wait till you try it), enjoyed after a dip in the sea.

Another option is to spend the day in Merida, Yucatan’s capital city. Here you can find many impressive neo-classical mansions, a grand main plaza and Mexico’s oldest cathedral. There is also a bustling local market where you can hone the haggling skills.

Return to your hacienda for the night.


Day 9 Rural Hacienda – Bacalar
Today you have a relatively long drive (around 4.5 hours) to Bacalar, on the east coast. En route you can stop off to explore Uxmal ruins (if you haven’t already visited them), or continue on to the charming ruins at Chacchoben. Although these are quite small, they are usually deserted and there is a pleasant café, so this is a good place to stop and stretch the legs.

End the day in the small town of Bacalar, on the edge of the spectacular Lagoon of Seven Colours with picture perfect views.


Day 10 Bacalar
You have a full day to enjoy the lake at Bacalar. The depth of the water varies widely as you move across the lake. Where it is shallow the colour of the lake is a beautiful pure turquoise whereas elsewhere the depth drops hundreds of metres and the water turns black. You can take a boat ride out onto the lake, stopping to swim in some of the most picturesque spots. Alternatively explore the lake by kayak or SUP (stand-up paddle board).


Day 11 Sian Ka’an Biosphere – Riviera Maya
This morning you will head north to the gorgeous beaches of the Riviera Maya. En route you can stop at the Sian Ka’an biosphere, before continuing on to your destination for some time of relaxation.

The Sian Ka’an biosphere is a huge nature reserve that is home to a series of connected lagoons and endless mangroves. Take a boat ride across the lagoon before donning an upside down life-jacket (like a giant nappy) and floating through the mangroves with nothing but the sky above, a few flitting butterflies, and a gently floating river. Bliss!


Day 12 Beach
Free time to enjoy the beautiful white sandy beaches of the Riviera Maya. There are numerous activities you can do from here, all within easy reach and we’ll suggest those that suit. These include exciting water parks, breath taking cenotes, mystical Mayan ruins or snorkelling with turtles … or simply relax in a hammock under a palm tree!


Day 13 Snorkelling
Today you will take a guided snorkelling trip off the coast at Akumal beach to search for colourful fish and turtles. Akumal is the only place along the Mexican Caribbean coast where you can snorkel directly from the beach to see turtles. Sightings are pretty much guaranteed!

The remainder of the day is free to relax on the beach or continue exploring.


Day 14 Beach
Today is a full free day to enjoy the Caribbean coast and all that is on offer here. Perhaps take an exciting journey underground, to the Sac Actun cave complex. Here you can don snorkel and mask and swim through narrow channels, ducking low under stalactites and swimming between stalagmites. This is part of the longest underground river system in the world and a great adventure for more active families.

Budding historians will want to see the ruins at Tulum. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans. It was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. The ruins stand on a bluff facing east towards the Caribbean Sea – a majestic spot and a magical place to take a dip.

Alternatively give water-loving children one final treat and head to Xel-Ha, a huge water park that that will absolutely love. There is a lazy river, zip-lines over the water, a helter skelter waterslide, over-water rope course, several jumps, places to float, snorkel, swim, relax etc. It can be busy but as soon as you get away from the main entrance the crowds diminish.


Day 15 Cancun
Transfer to Cancun for your flight home.

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Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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