Exploring the Yucatan Peninsula while avoiding the parties of Cancun
Exploring the Yucatan Peninsula while avoiding the parties of Cancun

Troy Mancuso

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The Mayan Riviera offers a vacation spot unlike any other – especially for those wanting a taste of the Yucatan Peninsula without the parties of Cancun. White sands, crystal clear water, delightful cuisine, archeological landmarks and great views are just a few of the experiences you’ll encounter here.

As a high school graduation present, a good friend’s mom paid for us to go to the Mayan Riviera. Even after researching these sights we were going to visit, seeing them in person was quite the spectacle. The weather around June was perfect. The sun was shining and the water was warm with barely any chance of rain.

Most our days were spent exploring the beaches and adjoining hotels. We’d rent kayaks and paddle out into the water as far as we could see. The water was very calm with only a mild current so it didn’t feel very dangerous. The pools and beaches kept us cool throughout the sunny days. At night we’d hit the discotheque and break loose with the other vacationers.

One day we spent snorkeling through underground rivers. Xcaret features a natural network of channels which circulate under the Yucatan Peninsula. Three different rivers flow through the park and each has its own distinctive theme. Grab you lifejacket and snorkel and take a dip in the river. After a long day in the water you’ll work up an appetite and indulge in La Laguna Restaurant, the international buffet that includes foods ranging from sushi to tacos.

The second day we visited the temples of Chichen Itza. Once the center of the Maya Empire, Chichen Itza has since earned the title of one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The tallest structure, El Castillo stands 24 meters high and is intimately tied to the skies and stars. Chichen Itza also holds the largest ball court in the Americas. In a game similar to modern day basketball, players tried to hit a 12-pound ball into a hoop high on the court walls. Unfortunately, the losers of this game were put to death.

Maya 2

One of the last major landmarks on our trip was the Il Kil Cenote. A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole that exposes groundwater underneath. Here we saw lush vegetation and a large reservoir of water that we could jump into from a cliff. This is a very cool place to check out and it’s usually included in the Chichen Itza tours since it’s in the same area.

Maya 3

Overall, we were in the Mayan Riviera for five days. It was the perfect amount of time to both relax and explore the peninsula. I recommend this to anyone that wants to visit this area without staying in the party capital of Cancun.

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