During my long stay in LA – Read article HERE, I had the opportunity to go on a little trip to Mexico, and more precisely to the Yucatán peninsula with my host family. We spent 5 days there. This is not enough to visit the main attractions of what the Yucatán area has to offer, but we tried to see as much as possible with the time we had. 😎
As Cancun was our first stop, we flied from LA to Cancún.
Cancún is a resort city in Mexico on the Yucatán Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea, and known for its beaches, numerous resorts and nightlife.
It’s composed of 2 distinct areas: the more traditional downtown area, El Centro, and the Zona Hotelera, a long beachfront strip of high-rise hotels, nightclubs, shops, and restaurants. Cancún is also a famous destination for students during universities’ spring break periods.
My impressions about Cancún
My thought about Cancún is that the beaches are really beautiful, but it is very touristic. If you are looking for a more authentic Mexico, I suggest you not to spend too much time in Cancún.
Cancun is very nice to party, but it’s not what Mexico has the best to offer. There are so many pretty places, much more authentic. According to our driver, the vibes in Tulum are good, and it’s more authentic. 🙂
After Cancun, we went straight to Valladolid, which is a cozy, colonial town in the middle of the Yucatán peninsula. Valladolid is very relaxed. The town is also an ideal starting point for visiting the Mayan ruins.
That’s a reason why we stayed 2 nights in Valladolid, as our next visits were Cobá, Rio Secreto, Chichen Itza and the Cenote Ik-Kil. We stayed in a hostel in the center, booked via hostelworld. The price was really cheap.
The street scene of Valladolid comes quite close to the idea of a typical Mexican town: pastel-colored colonial houses, old VW Beetles, colorful flag chains and a small Cathedral that is simply beautiful to admire. I really like the vibes of that city. 😍
The next day we started our visit with Cobá. Cobá is an ancient Maya city on the Yucatán Peninsula, located in what is now northeastern Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Cobá’s ruins are a treat and exploring them is a big part of the reason for coming here: the state’s tallest pyramid, a beautiful ball court and a variety of other structures make for a fun few hours. The ancient city of Cobá is the tallest Maya structure in the Yucatán Peninsula.
The Cobá Maya sites are some of the most beautiful vestiges in the world. Surrounded by lush, colorful jungle, this archaeological site is a real-life paradise.
You can rent bikes in Cobá, and that’s what we did. It is a good way to explore every corner of the ancient Maya ruins.
After our visit in Cobá we went to our second visit of the day: Rio Secreto.
Note – Not suitable for the claustrophobic! I am one, and didn’t know what to expect before the visit.
Río Secreto is a semi-flooded limestone cave system near Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. There are 38 kilometers of caves in the system, of which approximately 10% are used for ecotourism.
All guests are required to shower before entering the cenotes to remove sunscreen or make-up on their body in order to preserve the quality of water. We were given a wetsuit, helmet with headlamp, water shoes, and life vest, but I was not allowed to bring my phone or camera. We were followed by a photographer and bought some pictures at the end of our visit.
During the visit, we followed our guide. He carefully took us through the caves to discover this flowing underground river, sometimes walking, sometimes swimming.
We slowly descended gentle slopes of smooth stone, ducking through narrow passages about 100 feet below the surface. Some natural agility and good stance come in handy as you get in and out of puddles along slippery rocks and avoid low ceilings that might touch your head.
Sometimes we would float and swim in a deeper pool. Along the way, we saw stalagmites and stalactites, natural limestone columns, cathedral shaped ceilings and the fauna that inhabit the caves, such as bats and small fish and there are roots of trees above that curl along the stalactites and the ground.
With some hindsight, I found it an amazing experience even with my claustrophobia, but to be honest, I won’t do it again! It’s an experience that I will certainly never forget.🤪
On the next day, we went in the morning to the Chichen Itza. The Chichén Itzá is a complex of Mayan ruins on the Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, and is part of the seven-world wonder.
It is also a massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan, dominates the ancient city, which thrived from around 600 A.D. to the 1200s.
In the afternoon, we went for a jump into the cenote Ik-Kil. That cenote is located in the Ik Kil archaeological park, near the Chichen Itza. It’s not one of the prettiest cenote, but was on our route. That’s why I suggest you to look also for other cenotes in the neighborhood.
On that same evening, we went back to Cancun to catch our flight on the next morning. We were still able to enjoy the city before our departure.
Unfortunately, in 5 days we were not able to fully discover the Yucatán region, but it allowed us to have a good overview of that region of Mexico. I would come back for sure! 😁
- When in Valladolid, try the Marquesita or in other words, the Yucatheque pancake. There, the marquesitas are extremely successful and are part of everyday life. On every street corner, there is a street vendor of Marquesitas. It is a pancake filled with cheese and Nutella. The combination may seem strange to us, but it was tasteful ! 🤤 (see picture below)
- Drink as much tequila as you can. 😆