Summer Vacations Are Back Just in Time for Exploring the State of Yucatán
MÉRIDA, Yucatán 2021 — After months of pandemic restrictions, vacations are back, and the state of Yucatán has all the ingredients for a summer getaway for the ages. Yucatán is an ideal open-air road-trip destination that offers attractions related to archeology and history (e.g., ancient Mayan ruins and Hanequenera textile states going back to the 19th century), nature (cenotes and pink flamingos), sun and sand (the Riviera Yucatán), cuisine (cochinita pibil) and the living indigenous Maya culture, all within short distances of each other. It’s ideal for any traveler looking to experience a unique state in Mexico.
Approximately the size of Maryland, Yucatán is just over 15,000 square miles in area and connected by an easily navigated network of roads. To make the touring experience a little easier to manage, the state’s Ministry of Tourism has developed six tourism zones, each excelling in different offerings.
Mérida: Cultural and gastronomic capital of the south
The capital of Yucatán makes for a great home base for a visit to the destination. Mérida is home to more than 10,000 in hotels for all budgets, and Merida International Airport (MID) offers non-stop flights from Miami, Houston, Dallas, and San Diego via Tijuana’s International Airport. Oakland/San Francisco has a direct flight. Founded by the Spanish in 1542 on the site of the ancient Mayan city of T'ho, the city stands out for its wide offer of cultural, historical and artistic attractions. Not least among these is Mérida’s colonial-era downtown, featuring European architectural influences such as an outstanding predominant French style that can be admired in the large houses lining Paseo de Montejo, the main avenue of the city.
Mérida also offers myriad entertainment and gastronomy options. Visitors should start any visit in the historic downtown area, where they can not only admire the great variety of colonial buildings but also take in a host of museums, galleries, theaters, parks, outdoor cafés and bars — as well as more than 300 restaurants serving international cuisine and local dishes like huevos motuleños, Poc Chuc, Sopa de Lima.
Puerto Maya: From the turquoise sea to the pink explosion
The Puerto Maya region, located in the northeast of the state, is a coastal area offering a unique and colorful natural spectacle, with protected natural spaces and diverse fauna ranging from the deep blue of the cenotes’ (natural water holes) crystalline waters to the pink explosion of the flamingo population. Walk along the shores and admire the incredible exuberance that covers the Mayan coast of Yucatán. Travel the coast by boat and be a privileged spectator of the immense flocks of flamingos that cloud the sky as they fly by. Sail through the quiet mangrove to indulge your inner adventurer.
Puuc Route and Mayan Villages: A journey through history
The Puuc Route (puuc means "mounds" in Mayan) is a tour of archaeological sites that has undoubtedly become one of the favorite walks for both Yucatecans and visitors to the region.
This tour includes the archeological sites of Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak, Labná, Oxkintok, Calcehtok Caves and the Loltún Caves. Throughout the tour, visitors will find structures that have been completely restored, others that are still in process and some that are still covered with grass, trees and dense vegetation. The latter are very similar to those found by the first explorers at the end of the last century.
Capital of the Mayan World: Land of the eternal Mayab
The Capital of the Mayan World is one of the most representative regions of the state, given that the municipalities that comprise it are important historical, cultural and archaeological centers, such as Ek Balam and the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Pyramid of Kukulkán at Chichén Itzá.
The modern Maya still live here, with much of native and historical tradition upheld among the people. The Mayans’ secret to keeping their indigenous culture alive seems to be their adaptability. Even though the culture could not avoid being influenced by modernity, it managed to preserve many of its traditional bases.
Riviera Yucatán: A hidden treasure between the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico
Talk about the Yucatán Riviera and you have to talk about the rich variety it boasts along its 235 miles or so of stunning coast, from the beaches of Celestún all the way to El Cuyo. Along the Riviera, visitors will encounter various ecosystems, such as tropical forests, cenotes and underwater caves, that come together to make for an unforgettable experience. Progreso is the state’s major cruise port.
The Riviera is home to a unique gastronomy, with ancestral recipes that, blended with the particular flavor of the seafood of the area, create a range of options to delight gourmands.
Cenotes and Haciendas Zone: A wonderful journey through the past and present of Yucatán
The Yucatán is known for its haciendas, built in the second half of the 19th Century with the support of old families that had owned large territorial properties since colonial times and became wealthy through trade in, among other things, henequen. Today, many historical haciendas serve as high-end hotels.
Moreover, the state is known for its wealth of cenotes, fantastic watersheds and caves that were flooded during the last Ice Age. Besides being time capsules in which incredible limestone formations can be observed, they constitute the main source of fresh water in the region, since there are no rivers on the surface, due to the layer of limestone found below the state.
Yucatán has long enjoyed a reputation as Mexico’s safest state, a position that was enhanced last week when the U.S. Department of State updated its travel warning to Mexico. The first update since placing the entire country under a Level 4 Travel Advisory (“Do No Travel”) because of Covid-19, the update moved the state to the lowest level of travel restriction, Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions. This marks the first time a Mexican destination achieved Level 1 since the agency began issuing warnings for Mexico divided by state.