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Yucatán: the Mexican Caribbean


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NP Magazine 44 - Digital and paper


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Yucatán: the Mexican Caribbean

Spectacular white sand beaches and epic Mayan archaeological sites. Charming colonial cities, delicious gastronomy, and natural reserves with idyllic landscapes are some of the reasons to visit this Caribbean enclave.

Text and Photos: Sergi Reboredo

The Yucatán Peninsula, located between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, is the Mecca of Mexican tourism and is also beginning to be the Mecca of Spanish tourism. It has the attractions of a chimerical trip: vestiges of a surprising passage and a prodigal nature in jungles and white sand beaches. Its climate, with great temperatures all year round, makes it even more charming.

As soon as you land in Cancun, the best thing to do is to put your feet on the ground and get away as quickly as possible. A model of tourism based on hotel complexes built without moderation on the coastline is all it has to offer. In the last 45 years, it has lost 77% of its forests, 64% of its coastal dunes, and 68% of its wetlands, in addition to 97% of the extension of its beaches.

Playa del carmen.

Playa del Carmen still retains that fishing village charm. It was a fashionable destination for backpackers in the 1990s and today has become a lively town with a lively beach and nightlife. Fifth Avenue, not to be outdone by New York, is its main artery.

It stretches north from the Plaza Mayor and is lined with clothing stores, restaurants, bars, and trendy cafés. The city’s beach is not the best place for those seeking tranquility, although its white sand and beach bars by the sea make it ideal for escaping from shopping. Chunzubul Beach on the other hand, more solitary, is perfect for snorkeling and diving lovers.

Ruinas of Tulum.

Tulum is one of the most beautiful enclaves in the Yucatán. When the Spanish arrived in the 1520s, Tulum was a walled Maya city with a thriving commercial community. Its ruins, still standing, include a recognizable main street, the Palace of Halach Uinic and the House of Columns.

Its castle appears in any brochure on Mexican Mayan ruins, standing amidst palm trees and coral sands, and at its feet the formidable Playa Paraiso, which lives up to its name. Among the ruins, there is a small cove considered one of the most beautiful in the world, for the pristine whiteness of its sand, which almost looks like dust.

Yucatán: the Mexican Caribbean

The Great Cenote of Tulum.

Along the road to Cobá from Tulum, there are several accessible cenotes where visitors can take a dip.

Sixty-five million years ago, a huge asteroid hit the Yucatan Peninsula, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs, and also creating a vast network of limestone caves, subway rivers and cenotes. Swimming or snorkeling in one of them, even though the water is cold, is a fascinating experience.

The Great Cenote of Tulum is located just four kilometers from the ruins. It has a circular shape and its interior is full of stalactites and stalagmites. Surrounded by rock columns and exotic flowers, it has a depth of 10 meters and is illuminated by natural light falling from the sky, which makes its waters seem even more crystalline.

Ruins of Muyil.

The archaeological remains of Muyil are a clear example of the architecture of the Petén, with much similarity to the sites of Tikal in Guatemala. The site was inhabited more than 2,000 years ago by the Maya, and possibly the Itzaes, when these people migrated from the Guatemalan Petén to the north, around the 4th century AD.

It is a much more humble settlement than that of Chichén Itzá, but no less impressive for that reason, since the thickness of the jungle, the nearby lagoon, as well as the few people who visit it, make the excursion more than interesting.

Chichen Itzá.

The so-called city on the edge of the well of the Itzaes is indisputably one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and the only one existing in Mexican lands.

The impressive pyramid of Kukulcan rises with geometric precision in the middle of an esplanade that a thousand years ago was the political, religious and cultural center of the Mayan empire. With a grid structure of 55 meters per side, it is dedicated to the god Kukulcan, a divinity of Mayan mythology who participated in the creation of the Earth and whose name means feathered serpent. Touring its ruins, which range from its astronomical observatory, the ball game, the Tomb of the High Priest, or the temples from which young virgins were sacrificed, can take about three hours and it is necessary to wear clothing that protects from the sun.

Yucatán: the Mexican Caribbean


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