The peninsula of Yucatan is home to Isla Mujeres, Tulum, Valladolid, and Chichen Itza.
The peninsula is also home to the largest underground river in the world. This river is mostly covered by stone but in some areas the limestone has collapsed forming cenotes, which look like underground caves with turquoise water.
My friend and I wanted to do a trip to Tulum, but after learning that the peninsula had so many amazing locations to explore, we decided to turn our visit into a road trip and explore the area by car.
These were the highlights of our trip and locations you can’t miss while in Mexico:
1. Punta Sur in Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla mujeres is a tiny island near Cancun and it only takes 30 minutes to drive from tip to tip and the main form of transport for tourists is renting and driving a golf cart.
At the very southern tip of the island you will find Punta Sur, a site with picturesque scenery and cliff formations, also home of an ancient Mayan temple dedicated to the Mayan Moon Goddess.
Tip: It is best to visit during sunset. There was a decent amount of people but the site is big enough that it does not feel overly crowded.
2. Azulik Eco Resort in Tulum, Mexico
After our overnight stay in Isla Mujeres, we took the ferry back to Cancun and picked up our car we had pre-booked online from Europcar.
We drove for 2 hours and headed straight to Tulum and we booked two nights at Azulik, an eco-friendly resort located in the popular ocean strip in the area.
The resort has two restaurants, a museum, the beach front, clothing boutiques and a spa. Villas are their main form of accommodation.
Jungle Villa in Azulik
My friend and I decided to book the Jungle Villa for two nights. The villa has a large round bed, a private bathroom, a ceramic bathtub with hot running water, and a big balcony with a jacuzzi.
Side Note: The resort uses minimal electricity, meaning the villas only have one electricity socket, there is no air conditioning (only a fan), and no light. The villas are lit every afternoon around 5pm with candles. Wifi is only available in one of the resort lounges.
Restaurants in Azulik
Our welcome to Azulik included a complimentary champagne glass to enjoy at either of their restaurants and there is one nest reserved at Kin Toh to be enjoyed by resort guests only.
We also had the opportunity to visit the large nest, which belongs to the sister restaurant inside Azulik, Tseen Ja.
Can you visit the restaurants without being a resort guest?
Yes! Non-resort guests can make dinner reservations, but do not have access to the nests unless booked and cannot visit both restaurants, only the restaurant where reservations are made.
3. Cenote Cristal, Mexico
The next morning after arriving in Tulum, we decided to check out some cenotes in the area.
So, what are cenotes?
Yucatan is home to the largest underground river in the world. This river is mostly covered by stone but in some areas the limestone has collapsed forming cenotes, which look like underground caves with beautiful turquoise water.
Our first stop was the Cenote Cristal and across the street you will find the Cenote Escondido.
4. Cenote Nohoch Nah Chich, Mexico
That same day we stopped by Cenote Nohoch Nah Chich. The water is so blue and crystal clear.
Tip: Bring your own snorkels and swim into the cave where you will see diverse marine life.
5. Chichen Itza & Cenote Ik Kil, Mexico
After spending two nights in Tulum, we checked out of Azulik and drove straight to Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik Kil.
Chichen Itza can be covered in around 2 hours and you will see many interesting temples and learn their history.
The cenote is beautiful but gets very crowded. I would recommend visiting the cenote first during opening at 9:00am and then walk around Chichen Itza.
6. Cenote Suytun, Mexico
The next morning we started heading north and stopped by the Cenote Suytun.
Most definitely my favorite cenote visited. After taking some pictures I decided to swim around for a bit. There are black cat fish in the water and they are not shy so you will see many of them.
Swimming in this cenote was definitely a little bit creepy, but it’s all part of the thrill!
Additional Tips & Recommendations for Mexico
- Buy a sim card when landing in Cancun. You will need it to be able to use your phone GPS to drive to different locations and internet will be essential during your drive.
- Have enough cash for highway tolls. They do not accept card payments. We had to take money from other tourists since we had ran out of cash.
- The roads in Yucatan are very well kept and are not dangerous to drive on.
- For more trips across Latin America you can read my blog posts about Panama or Colombia