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Yucatan, Mexico Scenic & Historic Tour

Cancun, Mayan Riviera, Merida, and the Mayan Ruins

Museums, folklore, markets, Panama hats, and Ponchos

Impressive ancient cities, pyramids, temples, and intricate mosaics

Rebecca at Blue Bay Village.

   

Blue Bay Village pool.

Rebecca at Blue Bay Getaway, Cancun.

   

Blue Bay Getaway pool with beach inbackground, Cancun.

Tours

We use the best tour operators to book all kinds of tours to Mexico including independent tours, escorted tours, and packages. Contact us to book your travel. We book travel worldwide. Check out our Special Promotions.

Cancun

Cancun is a very popular destination. Many people go there from all over the world. There are numerous choices in hotels. Some of these hotels are All-Inclusive with meals and drinks included, while others offer the option. Some hotels are Adults Only. We stayed at the Blue Bay Getaway, which is both All-Inclusive and Adults Only. Cancun offers much fun with numerous activities, nightlife, and shopping. You can also also choose to simply relax on the beach. Where ever you stay it is easy to get around since the busses are inexpensive and run about every ten minutes during the day . There are many day tours including the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza and Tulum, Xel Ha (snorkeling), Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, dinner cruises, jungle tours, horseback riding, and water parks.

Birds at Isla Mujeres.

   

Dolphin at Isla Mujeres.

Birds at Isla Mujeres.

   

Dolphin show at Isla Mujeres.

Isla Mujeres

We took the day trip by boat to Isla Mujeres. On the island you can spend time on the beach, go shopping, and take in the dolphin show. The dolphin show is quite good. Many people enjoy swimming with the dolphins, but there is an extra charge for this.

Rebecca at El Dorado Resort.

   

El Dorado Resort beach.

Rebecca enjoying outside dining at El Dorado Resort, Mayan Riviera.

   

Beach at El Dorado Resort, Mayan Riviera.

Mayan Riviera - Sun Coast

South of Cancun along the coast are many hotels and resorts in a region that is referred to as the Mayan Riviera or the Sun Coast. Some of these resorts are only a year or two old and others are just being built. This is a great place to go if you are looking for a beach location away from busy Cancun. Many of these resorts are All-Inclusive and a few are Adults Only. We stayed at the El Dorado Resort and Spa which is both All-Inclusive and Adults Only. It is not overly large and it is fairly secluded. It is easy to relax at resorts on the Sun Coast, but it is also possible to take many day tours such as those listed above under Cancun. The Sun Coast is a great place for a honeymoon or to celebrate an anniversary. It is also a popular place to be married.

Tulum Ruins, Mexico.

   

Xel Ha, Mexico.

Beach and Mayan Ruins at Tulum.

   

Snorkeling at Xel Ha.

Tulum and Xel Ha

A nice day tour includes both Tulum and Xel Ha. Tulum is the only Mayan Ruin city built on the water. The walled city is thought to have been settled from about 900 to 1200 AD. There is also speculation that Tulum was settled when the first Spaniards arrived in Yucatan, Mexico. In the picture above the tallest building, referred to now as El Castilo, can be seen behind the beach. The beach is a good place to go swimming. Not far from Tulum is Xel Ha, which offers countless places to snorkel and many foot paths through the attractive jungle. For a fee you can swim with dolphins.

Hotel in Playa del Carmen,  Mexico.

   

Hotel room in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Charming hotel in Playa del Carmen.

   

Hotel room at hotel in Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen

A charming town on the Mayan Riviera is Playa del Carmen. There are many shops and restaurants as well as nightlife. If you are looking for a location that is not as secluded as the nearby resorts and not as hurried as Cancun this might be your place. The beach is nice, day tours are available, boats run to Cozumel, and you can SCUBA dive.

Church near Merida, Mexico.

   

Park in Merida, Mexico.

Spanish style church in small town near Merida.

   

Plaza Mayor, a lovely park in Merida for relaxing and meeting people.

Merida

If you go to Yucatan, Mexico to see the City of Merida and the nearby Mayan ruins you will have a marvelous time, as we did. Merida is unspoiled by tourism. It is located nearly due south of New Orleans just across the Gulf of Mexico. It is the capital city of the state of Yucatan, and it has a population of about one million people. Merida is a city with beautiful parks and majestic old mansions, churches, and buildings. The Spanish influence is very evident. The people are very friendly and are filled with Mayan pride. On most evenings there are concerts or programs of folklore. In the market you can buy (bargain for) many items including Panama hats and ponchos, as we did.

Spanish style churches

In the country there are a number of small towns. Every small town seems to have an old large Spanish style church. But in marked contrast, many of the people live in very modest dwellings.

Rain god Chac at Uxmal, Mexico.

   

Pyramid of the Magician Temple at Uxmal.

Rain god Chac with hooked nose at Uxmal.

   

Pyramid of the Magician, the main temple at Uxmal.

Ruins at Uxmal

The Mayan ruins are very impressive. We first went to Uxmal, which is about an hours drive south of Merida. Uxmal was an important city from about 600 to 900 AD. Why the city was abandoned remains a mystery. When you walk and climb the buildings around Uxmal you cannot help but be amazed and wonder about the thriving community that walked in those very steps more than a thousand years ago. The first modern excavation of Uxmal was in 1929. Yet, many buildings remain to be recovered from the jungle and restored. The upper parts of the buildings at Uxmal display intricate mosaics. The art work is very interesting. The tallest building is the Pyramid of the Magician which is 128 feet (39 meters) high. It is a steep climb to the top, but once you get there the view is breathtaking. The climb is also a challenge to those afraid of height. But frightening or not, the pyramid must be climbed. No one should miss the view!

Ruins at Kabah and Sayil

We also visited the ruins at the nearby Mayan towns of Kabah and Sayil south of Uxmal. At Kabah there is an arch over an old Mayan road. The Mayans built roads through the jungle to connect the towns and cities.

Ruins at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is located about a two hours drive southeast of Merida, and perhaps a little further from Cancun which is to the east. This city thrived from about 550 to 900 AD. But for unknown reasons the city was abandoned, only to be resettled again around 1100 AD. It remained occupied until about 1400 AD, at which time the people once again disappeared. The buildings constructed during the first period of settlement are very similar to the buildings at Uxmal with intricate carvings at the top of the buildings. But the buildings constructed during the second occupation at Chichen Itza are quite different from the older buildings. Very grotesque carvings of human sacrifices and death scenes are found all over the buildings. Indeed, human sacrifices were carried out by these people, and they were considered to be important rituals. Near the hands of Chac-Mool, pictured on the Homepage, can be seen a receptacle which was used to place the hearts of sacrificed victims.

Temple of the Skulls at Chichen Itza.

   

Observatory at Chichen Itza.

Temple of the Skulls at Chichen Itza.

   

Observatory at Chichen Itza.

Ancient day astronomers and engineers

The buildings at Chichen Itza, as well as Uxmal, are a fascinating study and a photographers delight. One of the buildings has a domed shaped structure on top that looks so much like a modern day observatory that there can be no question what the building was used for. That they studied the stars is evident from the placement and design of buildings in the city. They had figured out the length of a year, the timing of the seasons, and much more.

The best view of Chichen Itza is found from the top of the big pyramid named El Castillo. Climbing the pyramid to its' height of 82 feet (25 meters) is another trial for those afraid of height. But nearly everyone climbs the pyramid, because it must be done! There are a number of interesting facts about El Castillo. Each side of the pyramid has 91 steps. When you add all of these steps together plus the one step to the top platform from the four sides you get 365 steps, the number of days in a year. Even more amazing, the Mayan engineers designed and constructed the building with such precision that during the spring and autumn equinoxes light shines on the north set of steps so that the combination of light and shadows form the outline of a serpent. There is a head of a serpent at the bottom of the pyramid. The serpent appears to ascend in the spring and to descend in the fall. This spectacular light show only lasts for a little more than three hours. The fact that the light show occurs, and at the right time, proves that the Mayans understood astronomy and were talented in the construction of buildings.

Charming hotels

At Uxmal and Chichen Itza we stayed at hotels within walking distance of the ruins. Both hotels are surrounded by lush vegetation. The pleasant nature and beauty of the hotels create a wonderful atmosphere separate from that of the ruins. Although Chichen Itza is often seen an a day tour from Cancun it is best seen by staying longer and spending the night.

El Castillo at Chichen Itza.

   

Hotel with lush vegetation.

El Castillo, the main temple at Chichen Itza.

   

Hotels with lush vegetation are located close to both Uxmal and Chichen Itza.


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