This 14-day journey through the Yucatán Peninsula weaves nature, Maya culture, and ancient wonders into one memorable adventure. Start your exploration in Tulum, where pristine beaches meet well-preserved Maya ruins. Then head to the Lagoon of Seven Colors in Bacalar for a serene escape before immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of Valladolid, with its colorful colonial charm and archaeological wonders. Finally, venture to Holbox, an island paradise packed with nature experiences.


  • Float through the ancient canals of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
  • Sail across the spectacular Bacalar Lagoon, known for its many shades of water
  • Wander around the ruins of Calakmul in the middle of a jungle Biosphere Reserve
  • Explore the forgotten Ek' Balam Archaeological Site and swim in a cenote
  • Swim with giant whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, at Holbox

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Tulum Tulum
Day 2 Adventure Day in Tulum: Ruins, Cenotes, Ziplining & Canoeing Tulum
Day 3 Hike & Float in the Muyil Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve Tulum
Day 4 Transfer to Bacalar, Authentic Maya Life Tour Bacalar
Day 5 Henequen Yarn Workshop, Bacalar Lagoon Sailing Tour Bacalar
Day 6 Visit Calakmul in the Biosphere Reserve Bacalar
Day 7 Transfer to Valladolid, Walking Tour Valladolid
Day 8 Ría Lagartos Reserve Boat Trip, Yalcobá Half-Day Experience Valladolid
Day 9 Visit the Ek' Balam Archaeological Site, Swim in a Cenote Valladolid
Day 10 Transfer & Ferry to Holbox Island Holbox
Day 11 Cabo Catoche Boat Day Holbox
Day 12 Swim with Whale Sharks Experience Holbox
Day 13 Free Day on Holbox Island: Beaches, Birdlife & Lagoons Holbox
Day 14 Transfer to Cancún, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Tulum, Free Time

The Mayan archaeological site of Tulum with its famous beach by the Caribbean Sea
Check out Tulum's Maya archaeological site located on the Caribbean Sea

Welcome to the Yucatán Peninsula! Upon your arrival at Cancún's airport, you'll meet your driver and transfer to your hotel in Tulum, a famous coastal town on the Riviera Maya. Tulum is best known for its stunning white sandy beaches, well-preserved Maya ruins that overlook the Caribbean Sea, and access to cenotes and underwater caves. Check into your hotel, grab your beach bag, and set out to explore as you wish. This afternoon is yours to soak up the sights and enjoy uninterrupted beach time and swims in the turquoise waters.

You should also visit the famous avenue where you'll find lots of restaurants, bars, and trendy boutiques. Tulum has become popular in recent years, so think ahead and make a reservation for dinner so you can enjoy the fun and lively social scene, delicious cuisine, and nightlife.

Day 2: Adventure Day in Tulum: Ruins, Cenotes, Ziplining & Canoeing

Get up close to your first cenote of the trip on today's tour

Tulum was an ancient Maya city set on the Caribbean Sea, and today's day trip will dive deeper into its history and culture. Your knowledgeable guide will lead your small-group tour to the seaside ruins where they'll share the secrets and traditions of this civilization. After, you'll enter the tropical jungle to explore the surreal cenotes. These unusual geological formations often have clear, turquoise waters, making them fun to swim and snorkel in.

Dry off then get ready for your next adventure—a zipline tour across the jungle canopy. You'll strap into safety gear and then glide across the forest, soaking up panoramic views. After, change gears when you grab a paddle and navigate the river in a canoe, pausing to soak in the tranquility of nature. Finally, you'll stop to enjoy a delicious traditional Maya meal with authentic dishes that will transport you to the heart of the Maya culinary culture. At the end of this big adventure day, you'll be taken back to your hotel.

Day 3: Hike & Float in the Muyil Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Float in the Muyil Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Boat through the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, then float with the currents

Today you'll explore the brilliant Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, which in Mayan means "a place where the sky was born." Arrive at the Muyil Community Center and join your guide for a five-hour nature hike and float experience. This community-based ecotourism cooperative focuses on the conservation and care of ecosystems by promoting unique experiences with a commitment to responsible tourism. Your first stop is the little-known and mysterious archaeological site of Muyil, which you'll reach at the end of an interpretive trail through by jungle.

You'll walk to the edge of Chunyaxche Lagoon. Admire its dazzling turquoise color and then take a small boat across a channel of crystal-clear water with mangroves on either side. When you arrive at the dock, you'll dive into the lazy river to begin a relaxing nature experience. Reconnect with Mother Earth as you float slowly down the channels, feeling the peace of your surroundings, listening to the gentle sounds of local birds, and feeling the current of the water. Eventually, you'll walk back along a path to the community center where a traditional meal is waiting.

Day 4: Transfer to Bacalar, Authentic Maya Life Tour

Free time in Bacalar
Notice how the beautiful Bacalar Lagoon shows off many shades of blue and green

Your Yucatán Peninsula exploration continues with a two-hour transfer south to Bacalar, a place famous for its stunning freshwater lake known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors (Laguna de los Siete Colores). The mineral-rich lake's vibrant hues range from deep blues to turquoise and emerald greens, creating a mesmerizing and picturesque landscape. Check into your hotel and use the afternoon to enjoy free time. Stroll along the shore of the lagoon, experiencing the contrasts, then visit the 18th-century Fuerte de San Felipe, a fort built to protect against pirates. 

Later today you'll experience the heart of Maya culture in a traditional house. Your hosts will share the meaning of the structure, the rustic kitchen with three stones, and the family's daily chores, from hammock weaving to planting and harvesting corn to the preparation of tortillas. With this one-hour immersion, you'll get to understand local life and taste chaya quesadillas (Maya spinach).

Day 5: Henequen Yarn Workshop, Bacalar Lagoon Sailing Tour

Henequen yarn, the green gold in pre-Hispanic times
Learn how henequen yarn was considered green gold in pre-Hispanic times

Agave plants have many uses beyond mezcal and tequila. Cultivated by the Maya since pre-Hispanic times, henequen is a species of plant of the agave genus that was named "green gold" because of the great economic benefits it generated during its industrial boom. This morning you'll learn how to extract henequen fiber (called sizal, in Mayan Kiij), which has been inherited by the ancestors and taught by the grandfather of the community, who has continued to share his knowledge of the process and daily use.

Plan your trip to Mexico
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
This afternoon you'll set sail on the brilliant seven-colored Bacalar lagoon. Visit the Pirates' Channel, where you'll have the opportunity to swim and snorkel. Continue navigating to the Cenote de la Bruja, also called "black cenote," where you can dive in and enjoy the colors of the different depths. Finally, visit Isla de Los Pájaros, a place locally declared as a sanctuary, where you can go bird watching and enjoy the different shades of blue of the lagoon.

Day 6: Visit Calakmul in the Biosphere Reserve

Explore what was once one of the largest and most powerful cities of the Maya civilization

Today you'll visit the archaeological site of Calakmul, an impressive ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the middle of the jungle. The experience begins with a 37-mile (60 km) drive just from the entrance of the archaeological site to the jungle interior, which separates Calakmul from the rest of the world. Yes, it's remote! With a little luck, you might see white-tailed deer, pheasants, turkeys with iridescent plumage, a coati if you're lucky, or canoe-billed toucans hiding in the trees.

Finally, you'll arrive at the archaeological zone. Here you'll visit the highest pyramid of the site, which towers 147 feet (45 m) above the forest. Climb to the top to enjoy the incredible views of the jungle in a sea of green that is comprised of trees that seem to go on forever. There, at the top, you can hear the noises of the jungle—trills and hums, spider monkeys moving branches as they move, or woodpeckers playing their wooden melody in search of insects.

Day 7: Transfer to Valladolid, Historic Walking Tour

Colorful Spanish architecture
Take photos of the colorful houses in the historic center of Valladolid

Today a private driver will take you 3.5 hours to Valladolid, a charming and colorful colonial town known for its well-preserved Spanish architecture. After a four-hour drive, you'll reach the vibrant destination—check into your hotel and lace up your walking shoes ahead of this afternoon's walking tour.

Meet your local guide for a 90-minute jaunt through the historic heart of Valladolid. This town, founded in 1543, was once the scene of extensive clashes between the Maya and conquistadors during events such as the Caste War of 1847 and the first spark of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. These days the Yucatecan city stands out for its hospitality, cenotes, gastronomy, and beautiful facades. Your guide will share stories of the past and details of local life as you pass landmarks including the former Convent San Bernardino de Siena, the cathedral, and Calzada de Los Frailes.

Day 8: Ría Lagartos Reserve Boat Trip, Yalcobá Half-Day Experience

Flamingoes in the reserve
Look for pink flamingoes in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve

Early this morning you'll explore the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve by boat. Together with your guide, you'll discover the biodiversity of the ecosystem on a two-hour ride through one of the main feeding and nesting areas of American flamingoes in the Yucatán Peninsula. You'll also visit Las Coloradas (salt factory) and beautiful salt lakes that have a pinkish tone. Take an exfoliating Maya bath in the white clay mounds, which are beneficial due to the concentration of sulfur, minerals, salts, and seaweed. Finish the excursion with beach time and a swim.

On the return drive to Valladolid, you'll be dropped in Yalcobá for a half-day experience exploring nature, corn, and cenotes. Meet the Maya community of Yalcobá for this half-day of immersion. Start with a delicious traditional lunch then you'll join a guided tour through the milpa (a traditional agricultural system where maize is intercropped with other species), go interpretive trekking through the Maya jungle, and explore caves, rehoyadas (dry cenotes full of vegetation), and cenotes.

Day 9: Visit the Ek' Balam Archaeological Site, Swim in a Cenote

For centuries Ek' Balam was hidden by the Yucatán jungle
It's easy to see why Ek' Balam was hidden by the Yucatán jungle for centuries

Ek' Balam is one of the most impressive archaeological sites of the Yucatán Peninsula, and better yet, it's less popular than Chichén Itzá. The name means Black Jaguar, which refers to the Maya king who constructed this site, which reached its peak during the Late Classic Period (600-900 CE). When the Maya abandoned it, the area became surrounded by dense low-lying jungle. The pyramids were only discovered when archaeologists and adventurers saw a group of hills with trees growing out of them. Digging around the mounds, they uncovered treasures of buildings and artifacts.

Today you'll explore these ruins, which were hidden for hundreds of years. After exploring Ek' Balam with a private guide, you'll grab bikes and make the short 1.5-mile (2.4 km) journey to a beautiful cenote. Here you can take a swim in the refreshing waters, then enjoy a special lunch nearby before returning to Valladolid.

Day 10: Transfer & Ferry to Holbox Island

Transfer from Valladolid to Holbox
 Holbox is the main port on the small island of the same name

Today you'll swap the peninsula for Holbox Island. A private driver will collect you for the 2.5-hour transfer to Chiquilá, where you'll catch a half-hour ferry to this tropical paradise of Holbox and a taxi will be waiting for you to take you to your accommodation.

The rest of the day is yours to spend however you like on this peaceful island. Soak in the sunshine, the spectacular turquoise waters, the unpaved streets, the incredible sunsets, and the delicious local food. Choose one of the beautiful beaches to enjoy the sun and white sand, and recharge your batteries. Catch the sunset from Punta Coco, view the starry sky from the beach, or enjoy a show of bioluminescence in the waters.

Day 11: Cabo Catoche Boat Day

Holbox Island
Set sail along the coast of Holbox Island today

Cabo Catoche is the beautiful meeting point between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, located about 26 miles (43 km) east of Holbox. Here you'll find incredible landscapes, like virgin beaches, and diverse marine life. Early today you'll meet your captain and guide at the Muelle Tiburon Ballena pontoon to board a boat and set sail. Start the day with a spot of fishing so you can enjoy the freshest ceviche for lunch! Then you'll have the chance to dive in and enjoy swimming or snorkeling with tropical fish and colorful corals. Look for hawksbill turtles, octopuses, and lobsters.

You'll soon reach the northernmost tip of the peninsular—Cabo Catoche. After a relaxed lunch on a quiet and remote white-sand beach, you'll slowly return to Holbox. On the return journey, you'll pass by Isla Pájaros or Isla Pasión where you can often observe pink flamingoes (usually between May to November), and finally finish back at the pontoon.

Day 12: Swim with Whale Sharks Experience

Swim with the Whale Shark in the waters of Holbox
Swim with the whale shark in the waters of Holbox

Swimming with whale sharks in Holbox is a remarkable experience that you'll tick off your bucket list today. The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, and Holbox receives huge numbers of them between June and September each year. Despite the scary name, there's nothing to fear—they can grow as large as a bus but are the most peaceful giant sharks on the planet! After a hearty breakfast, set sail with your captain in search of the gentle giants. Along the way, you might see rays, dolphins, and turtles too.

Your guide is an expert in swimming alongside whale sharks and will advise you on how to enjoy the experience safely and confidently. This is a full-day experience, and on the way back, you'll also stop at a small reef to snorkel. After you'll stop at Santa Paula, where you can swim, stretch your legs, and enjoy a delicious and fresh ceviche before the final 45-minute cruise back to Holbox.

Day 13: Free Day on Holbox Island: Beaches, Birdlife & Lagoons

Spend a free day relaxing on Holbox Island
Spend an entire day relaxing on Holbox Island

Today you're free to spend your time on Holbox Island however you'd like. Take your pick between the many idyllic beaches, or, because cars are not allowed on the island, consider renting a bicycle or a golf cart to travel around and explore the less crowded areas. You could also walk around town and browse the street art for souvenirs, or simply relax at one of the many cafés.

If you prefer to get out on the water, take a three-island tour to explore Isla Pájaros, where you can observe a great diversity of birds. Or head to Isla Pasión or Isla Yalahau, where you can refresh yourself in a lagoon that pirate legends called a fountain of youth.

Day 14: Transfer to Cancún, Depart

Enjoy your final moments on Holbox Island before departing

It's your final day in Mexico, so take a taxi to the Port of Holbox for the half-hour ferry back to Chiquilá. From here a private driver will be waiting to take you to Cancún airport for your flight home or to your next destination. After an exciting trip, it's time to say adiós to Mexico. Safe travels!

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Map of Discover the Yucatán: Natural Treasures & Maya Heritage - 14 Days
Map of Discover the Yucatán: Natural Treasures & Maya Heritage - 14 Days