- Snorkel in the world-renowned waters of the Mesoamerican Reef
- Swim in several famous cenotes, including an underground river
- Cruise ancient jungle canals in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
- Explore Maya ruins in the jungle and on the beach
|Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Puerto Morelos, Snorkel in the Marine Park
|Río Secreto Underground River Adventure
|Snorkel Tour of Isla Contoy, Free Time on Isla Mujeres
|Transfer to Tulum, Explore
|Ancient Canal Experience in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
|Visit the Tulum Archaeological Site & Swim in a Nearby Cenote
|Transfer to Valladolid, Walking Tour of Colonial Valladolid
|Tour Ek' Balam Archaeological Site & Cenote Swim
|Visit the Maya Community of Yalcobá & Explore the Surrounding Jungle
|Transfer to Cancún, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Cancún, Transfer to Puerto Morelos, Snorkel in the Marine Park
Welcome to the Yucatán Peninsula! Home to the ancient Maya people, the Yucatán is ideal for travelers looking for intriguing ruins, tranquil cenotes, lush rainforest, beach vibes, and friendly people. Upon your arrival at Cancún International Airport, you'll meet your driver for your transfer to the charming fishing village of Puerto Morelos.
Just 30 minutes south of Cancún, this laid-back town feels much farther away from the party capital of Mexico. Puerto Morelos is known for its annual fishing tournaments, Caribbean breezes, easily accessible reefs, and calm beaches. After you check in to your accommodations, it's time for a snorkel in the famous waters of the National Reef Park of Puerto Morelos. Mere feet from the main beach in Puerto Morelos, this protected area has clear, turquoise waters with perfect visibility. Your guide will lead you on a two-hour tour of the reef park, pointing out coral varieties, colorful fish, and other marine life.
Day 2: Río Secreto Underground River Adventure
Today, your guide will take you to one of the largest underground river systems in the world: the Río Secreto. This natural reserve between Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen lies in the heart of the Riviera Maya, and its gently flowing water has carved this extensive limestone cave system over hundreds of years.
As you make your way through the caves, your guide will explain the history of the features and formations of this geological wonder, including many stalactites and stalagmites. You'll spend up to four hours exploring the watery caverns, walking or swimming in some of the clearest, freshest water you'll ever experience.
Day 3: Snorkeling Tour of Isla Contoy, Free Time on Isla Mujeres
Set sail for the nearby Caribbean islands of Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres on today's 10-hour day trip. Your day starts with a scenic cruise from Puerto Morelos to the waters near Isla Contoy, where you'll take a guided reef snorkel tour among the tropical fish and brightly colored coral.It's on to the protected nature reserve of Isla Contoy next, where an incredible population of bird species flourish, and clear waters make the shores ideal for swimming and relaxing, Caribbean-style. After a delicious lunch on the beach, you'll hop aboard the boat and take in the ocean views before arriving at Isla Mujeres. You'll have one hour of free time on the island to explore the colorful streets and beautiful beaches or to indulge in souvenir shopping before setting course back for Puerto Morelos.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Transfer to Tulum, Explore
Bid adiós to charming little Puerto Morelos as your driver takes you on the 1.5-hour drive south down the coast to Tulum, one of the hottest spots on the Riviera Maya. After you check into your accommodations, you'll have the afternoon free to do as you wish. Tulum is famous for its beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, nightlife, and delicious international cuisine. You can shop on the lively Tulum Beach Road, where you'll find many restaurants, bars, and boutiques, or visit one of the white-sand beaches, such as Playa Paraiso.
You could also spend your afternoon visiting the lagoons that Tulum is particularly known for, called cenotes. A natural phenomenon unique to the Yucatán is these exposed, underground sinkholes that have provided fresh water for thousands of years. Viewed as sacred ceremonial sites, they were considered "windows to the underworld" by the Maya people. Some of the best ones to explore near Tulum are Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavera, and Two Eyes Cenote.
Day 5: Ancient Canal Experience in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Today, you'll visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, which in Maya means "a place where the sky is born," for an ancient canal experience, a recreation of a Maya trade route that connected the Caribbean Sea to major Maya cities through a lagoon system.
The experience begins at the Muyil Community Center, where you'll meet the rest of your group. This community-based ecotourism cooperative focuses on conservation by promoting responsible tourism. From here, you'll be transferred to the dock, where a boat will be waiting to navigate you through the reserve, visiting both Laguna de Muyil and Laguna de Chunyaxche before you disembark at Xlapac for a quick dip in the waters.
Next, you'll head to Laguna de Capelchen, where you can try to spot manatees and crocodiles in their natural habitat. Your final tour stop will take you to Playa Boca Paila to observe the difference between the water of the lagoon system and the water of the beach. Finally, you'll be welcomed back to the Muyil Community Center for a traditional meal.
Day 6: Visit the Tulum Archeological Site & Swim in Nearby Cenotes
The star attraction today is a tour of the Tulum Archaeological Site, one of Mexico's most famous Maya ruins and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend the day exploring the area with your guide, learning why the ruins played a significant role in the area's maritime and terrestrial trade. You'll also learn about the site's function as an astronomical observatory and a defensive system.
This ancient Maya city has a dramatic location in the center of a mangrove ecosystem, on a cliff facing the Caribbean Sea. You'll find spectacular views from the site of the surrounding forest and the open water. You'll have access to the Playa Ruinas (Ruins Beach) from the archaeological site. After exploring the ruins, head down to the beach for some sun, sand, and surf. After the tour of the ruins, you'll have another chance to immerse yourself in several of the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum.
Day 7: Transfer to Valladolid, Walking Tour of Colonial Valladolid
Say your goodbyes to the coast and join your driver for the transfer to Valladolid today. Located just under two hours away from Tulum, Valladolid was founded in 1543. Invaded several times by the Spanish, the city was the stage of vast confrontations between the Maya and the conquistadores, including the Guerra de Castas (Caste War) in 1847 and the first spark of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
After you check into your hotel, you'll enjoy an afternoon walking tour through the heart of the historic center. Today, this charming Yucatecan city is known for its hospitality, cenotes, food, and beautiful architecture. Your tour will include the Ex Convento San Bernadino de Siena, the Valladolid Cathedral, and the beautiful Calzada de Los Frailes (Road of the Friars), which has the best restaurants, shopping, and Instagram-worthy photo ops in town.
Day 8: Ek' Balam Archaeological Site & Cenote Swim
Today, your guide will pick you up for a day of sightseeing at the archaeological site of Ek' Balam. This Maya site peaked during the Late Classic Period (600-900 CE), before it was abandoned and slowly overtaken by the dense, low-lying jungle typical of the Yucatán Peninsula. The pyramids were discovered hundreds of years later by archaeologists and adventurers, who noticed the strangely-shaped group of hills with brush growing out of them.
After your tour, hop on a bike (or, if you prefer, a bike taxi) for a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) ride to a nearby cenote next to the community of Ek' Balam. Choose between various lunch options to sample regional dishes, and finish the day with a leisurely swim in the local swimming hole. After your tour, meet your driver again for the 30-minute drive back to your hotel in Valladolid.
Day 9: Visit the Maya Community of Yalcobá & Explore the Surrounding Jungle
For your final full day in Mexico, you'll visit the local community of Yalcobá for a real opportunity to immerse yourself in traditional Maya culture. Learn from the locals on a guided tour through a milpa—a traditional agricultural system in which maize (corn) is grown alongside other food crops.
Trek through the jungle with an expert guide to explore caves and rehoyadas—dry cenotes full of vegetation. You'll also be treated to a traditional dish for lunch and discover another hidden cenote to freshen up after your sweaty jungle hike. Your driver will bring you back to Valladolid, a 30-minute drive, for your last night on the Yucatán.
Day 10: Transfer to Cancún, Depart
It's time to say goodbye to Mexico! When the time comes, your driver will transfer you to the Cancún International Airport from Valladolid in plenty of time for your flight. Safe travels!