There are a wide variety of activities and sports to partake on the Yucatan.  Land-lovers can hike, photograph and enjoy the history and sights of the Mayan ruins.  Adventurous travelers can rent a car and explore the peninsula’s varying terrain and cities.  Ocean-dwellers will find innumerable things to do, and those who simply want to relax will find the white sandy beaches a perfect place to do just that.

 

There is a lot to do in, and on, the water here.  This is an area internationally renowned for snorkeling and scuba diving.  The Great Maya reef, which extends 600 miles from the north of the peninsula down to the Bay of Honduras, can be explored.  There are lots of dive sites, mostly in the area near Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, and the different dive sites provide a variety of underwater experiences.  There are diving centers all along the coast.  Snorkeling equipment can usually be rented in hotels and is never a problem.  Other water activities include kite surfing and wind surfing, and deep-sea fishing.

 

Another type of adventure in the Yucatan is eco-travel.  Rainforests cover much of the interior of the Peninsula, and there caves, waterfalls and lagoons.  Tour operators run tours to some of these places, but either knowing a local to show you the secrets of the peninsula or taking your chances exploring the interior by car are required to find some of the most enchanting places.  For tourists who are on the adventurous side and choose to explore on their own, it is highly recommended to study maps and plan meticulously to avoid trouble.  You can also go on a guided jeep tour.

Information specific to certain places is listed below.

Playa del Carmen

For those who want something more active from their vacation than relaxation on the beach, Playa Del Carmen has much to offer. Its calm, turquoise waters are perfect for swimming, kite surfing, windsurfing and snorkeling. Along the coastline there are a number of immense coral reefs teeming with an abundance of colorful marine life. The many dive shops along the beach will provide you with whatever equipment you need for various sorts of dive expeditions.

For those who would prefer to be on the water to being in it, there are great opportunities to make a day cruise on a chartered sailboat or catamaran. The vast array of marine life below the surface makes Playa Del Carmen a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. For the very adventurous traveler, a parasailing expedition is a high flying way to get a different perspective of your Playa vacation.

Off of the beaches you can also find in the town a number of gyms where you can get in some exercise, aerobics, weight training, yoga and more. Or the sports center, called the Unidad Deportiva in town, has facilities for those who would like to take in a game of tennis or shoot some hoops. The Playacar Golf Club is an all-inclusive golf resort where your green fee includes the cost of your food and beverages, both from the traveling refreshment carts and from the 19th Hole cafe after your round has finished.

Tulum

Sian Ka´an Jungle Trip

This is a must do while visiting Tulum. The best trip is through the local community tour group. They offer a guided tour through the jungle with explanations of wildlife, trees, and medicinal plants. The hike takes you through Mayan ruins and wetlands where you end up by a lagoon. There is a short boat tour through the Mayan canals and then you get to cool off by wearing life jackets and literally floating downstream through one of the canals. There are gorgeous orchids and mangroves. The water is crystal clear and very refreshing. There is then another short boat ride to a cenote to watch for manatees (we weren't able to see them) and then to a museum for an authentic Mayan lunch with tamales and fresh honey. After a walk through the museum, you ride a small van to a cenote for a late afternoon swim. The tour lasts all day and is worth every penny.

Snorkeling

You are so close to Hidden Worlds & Dos Ojos, great caves & cenotes for snorkelling. Same for Aktun Chen, which also has a monkey preserve. Other great cenotes include: Gran Cenote, Cenote Carwash, and Cenote Calaveras on the road toward Coba (but very close to Tulum) and Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal just south of Tulum pueblo on the highway toward Carrillo Puerto (again, just outside the pueblo, very close to Tulum).

Xel-Ha is close-by, about 17 km north of Tulum pueblo. You can get there by taxi or colectivo. You can do it all here: Snorkel, tube down the lazy river, jump off a cliff, swing on a rope, hang with the iguanas, swim with the dolphins ($). You can choose to pay the simple entrance fee, or the all inclusive fee that includes meals and gear.

If you’re looking for more great snorkelling, there is a lot nearby in Tankah (Casa Cenote), Akumal, Half-Moon Bay, and Yul-Ku Lagoon.

Archaeological sites

If you have little time to spend in Yucatan, Chichen Itza and Uxmal are the two major archaeological sites you should include in your visit.  Both places are part of the "World Heritage" list and offer two different Maya architecture styles: Uxmal is a true Puc Style and Chichen Itza has a Toltec influence, a Post-Classic Maya style.  Try to book a hotel at least for a night in both sites, and do miss the day-trip bus tours if you don't enjoy crowds and mid-day heat.

You may also want to check out the ruins at Coba, which is about 45 minutes from Tulum. There are a variety of companies that will take you, some combined with other activities like visiting a Mayan Village, Zip-Lines, Rapelling, Kayaking, Cenotes, etc. Or you can hire a taxi to take you there independently.

The ruins at Muyil are much less visited than the ones at Coba and Tulum. They are hidden in the jungle and really magical. This is a great half-day trip. The easiest way to get there is by rental car or taxi (you can arrange for the driver to wait for you).

Possiblities of things to do in this area are endless!

Running

If you´re a runner, be sure to get up early so you can run before the sun is strong, or wait until the evening, about an hour before sunset. The sun is very hot during the day, and since you´ll probably be sweating a lot more than you do at home (both while running and not), be sure to drink a lot of extra fluids.

There is a great bicycle trail leading from Tulum pueblo to the beach highway, but it´s very sunny and not protected by shade at all, though it´s just to the side of the main road so you are more protected from cars. Running along the beach highway is great because you get to see (at least the entrances to) other hotels and restaurants in the area. Be sure to run facing traffic, so you can see the cars that are coming toward you.

SPA Lovers:

There are many Spa Resorts in Yucatan Peninsula, most are found at the Riviera Maya towns and offer a variety of services.  Two fine Hacienda hotels that have great Spa servicies are:  Hacienda Chichen Resort, in Chichen Itza, and Hacienda Xcanatun, outside Merida.

Hacienda Chichen's Yaxkin Spa offers holistic Spa experiences based on ancient Maya purification traditions and rituals, the Spa uses only 100% natural ingredients to enhance the natural beauty of your skin, such as wild virgin honey, aloe vera, fresh tropical fruits and coconut milk, Maya clays and fine essential oils.  It also offers a great hot stone massage and a Maya holistic ceremony at their Zumbul che Maya sweat bath.  Hacienda Xcanatun has a lovely Spa open to its guests, where facials and a variety of massage techniques are offer.  Both Spa's are open to visitors not staying at the Haciendas.

Nightly Cultural Events in Merida

Visitors that enjoy music, dancing and the performing arts, can really have a pick of cultural events each night at the Historic Distric of Merida, the Capital of Yucatan State.  Each night, plazas and parks offer free performings enjoy by locals and tourists alike.  Check the Tourist Information Kiosks around town to pick up a Cultural Events Schedule brochure when you arrive to town.