Let’s talk about why the Yucatán Peninsula should be your go-to for an adventurous fall vacation. The popular spring break destinations on the Caribbean coast of Mexico might have you thinking predictable beach party, but some of the best adventures are rooted in history or waiting under the sparkling sea. (We can see your flippers flippin’ already). So set up home base in Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen or Cancun, and then get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Make time for Mayan Ruins
When the temperature drops back home, you’ll be climbing history. Literally. Ancient Mayan ruins are scattered all over the peninsula, but each site flaunts its own mystique. When we think about Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, we imagine the ancient Maya saying, “Go big, or go home.” This beyond-all-scale city still rises from the jungle two-thousand years later, and you can climb the steps, breath the fresh jungle air, and cultivate a pretty incredible Instagram story on the mammoth pyramid of El Castillo. Or, you know, just stand in total awe. If you’re feeling coastally inclined but still have an archaeological itch to scratch, take it to the ruins of Tulum. This ancient city is perched on cliffs overlooking the sea, so be warned: Focusing on any one beauty is going to be tough. Luckily, your camera probably has panorama. And If you’re staying in Cancun and don’t feel like making the drive to Chichen Itza (but you should!), you don’t have to miss out on all the age-old beauty. Visit the El Rey ruins located right in the middle of Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
Beauty below the surface
What weighs about 41,000 pounds, is the size of a school bus, and just can’t wait to take a swim with you? When you take a dip into the sea to swim side-by-side with a friendly whale shark—technically the largest fish in the sea—you’ll know you’re not in Kansas anymore. But if you’re looking for an underwater diversion where the scenery is a bit more stationary, consider diving in search of shipwrecks. We promise: A sunken shrimp boat is way more exciting than it sounds, and the Mama Viña is waiting on the seafloor off the coast of Playa del Carmen for your viewing pleasure. For a more naval scuba navigation, check out the wreck of the Juan Escutia—a sunken C-56 mine sweeper. Perks include polka-dotted eagle rays that both keep you company and keep your diving form in check.
The original in-ground pool
Before there were pools at your resort, there were cenotes. And before there were cenotes, there were underground river systems beneath the Yucatan jungle. And when those jungle floors collapsed? Voila. The peninsula became riddled with refreshing, crystal-clear natural pools, or cenotes. First up, the Yokdznot Cenote. Why do we love this hidden gem so much? Because you’re bound to have it all to yourself. It’s about ten miles west of Chichen Itza, making it the best way to refresh after exploring the ruins. Next is Cenote Azul. Even if this pool was boiling hot, we’d still want you to check it out because you’ll never see a natural blue like this again. Fortunately, it’s just the cool dip you need on a hot Yucatan day. Last but not least is the Jardin del Eden. Located just south of Playa Del Carmen, it should be number one on your list if you’re feeling a little acrobatic. Leap from the cliffs, or earn some bonus points and launch from the trees even higher up.
So, what do you say? Are you ready for a Mexico adventure that’s more than just perfect beaches? Discover the Yucatán this fall.