A fifteen-day trip to Mexico is enough time to explore major archaeological sites, while leaving room for beach relaxation. Float in the turquoise blue water of the Chemuyil Cenotes, explore ancient Mayan ruins and experience indigenous cultural traditions. You'll get to visit Chichen Itza, soak in the sun on the beaches of Holbox Island, and sample authentic tequila while taking in sunset beach views.

Highlights

  • Swim in crystal clear cenotes
  • Go sailing in the Bacalar Lagoon
  • Experience a mystical bonfire in Chunhuhub
  • Explore the historical sites of Merida and Chichen Itza
  • Spend several days on Holbox Island for sun, beach, and surf

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Cancun, Transfer to Tulum Tulum
Day 2 Cenotes of Chemuyil, Tulum Archeological Site Tulum
Day 3 Float in the Muyil Sian Ka´an Biosphere Reserve, Transfer to Bacalar Bacalar
Day 4 Sailing Tour in the Bacalar Lagoon Bacalar
Day 5 Mystical Energy Bonfire Under the Ya'ax ché, Transfer to Chunhuhub Chunhuhub
Day 6 Great Gum Tree Tour in Chunhuhub, Transfer to Uxmal Uxmal
Day 7 Explore the Archaeological Site of Uxmal, Eco-tour Immersion in the Mun Ha Community, Transfer to Merida Merida
Day 8 Walking Tour of Merida: The White City Merida
Day 9 Honey & Coconuts in Sinanché and San Crisanto Merida
Day 10 Explore Yellow Izamal — the City of Hills, Immerse Yourself in the Peaceful Yokdzonot Cenote, Transfer to Chichen Itza Chichen Itza
Day 11 Sunrise at Chichén Itzá, Walking Tour of Colonial Valladolid, Transfer to Holbox Holbox
Day 12 Free Day on Holbox Island Holbox
Day 13 Free Day on Holbox Island Holbox
Day 14 Holbox to Puerto Morelos Puerto Morelos
Day 15 Puerto Morelos to Cancun, Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Cancun, Transfer to Tulum

Welcome to the Mexican Caribbean! Your local host will welcome you and help you to pick up your rental car. From here, you will head to the town of Tulum—a two-hour drive from the airport. 

Day 2: Cenotes of Chemuyil, Tulum Archeological Site

Chemuyil Cenotes
Chemuyil Cenotes
Your adventure begins in the community of Chemuyil, a small beachfront town with plentiful white sand beaches and shallow waters. A local guide will be waiting for you to welcome you with a plate of fruit and tell you more about the different places you will visit today. You'll spend the day learning about the project, which was initiated by 5 young people from the community of Chemuyil who seek to introduce and preserve the cenotes where they used to live and play during their childhood. Their initiative allows the visitor to explore virgin forests, discover the fauna, and become one with nature. 

You will be assigned a bicycle and start cycling through the charming town of Chemuyil. There you will continue your bike tour to visit 3 different cenotes of different shapes and sizes. You will start with a cenote known locally as La Cuevita; an enclosed cenote where your guide will tell you anecdotes and stories of the place.

Next, you will go to an open cenote where, with some luck, you will be able to see some of the endemic birds of the Yucatan Peninsula. Finally, you will visit an open cenote where you can take a dip. All of these cenotes are part of a system fed by the largest underground river in the world. Once you finish this experience, you will say goodbye to the young people of the community and head back to town.

In the afternoon, you will visit the ruins of Tulum, one of the most famous archaeological sites in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Spend the day exploring the area with your guide, who will explain why these ruins be played a particularly important role in the area's maritime and terrestrial trade. You'll also learn about the site's function as an astronomical observatory and as a defensive system.

This old Mayan city sits in the middle of a mangrove ecosystem, on a cliff facing ​​the Caribbean Sea. You'll find spectacular views from the site of both the surrounding forest, as well as the open water. From the archaeological site, you'll have access to the Playa Ruinas (Ruins Beach). After spending some time exploring the ruins, head down to the water for some sun wand water to round out your visit. 

Day 3: Float in the Muyil Sian Ka´an Biosphere Reserve, Transfer to Bacalar

Floating in Sian Ka'an Reserve
Floating in Sian Ka'an Reserve
Today you will visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, which in Mayan means "a place where the sky is born". When you arrive at the Muyil Community Center, enjoy a light snack and join a group of travelers to start the tour. This community-based ecotourism cooperative focuses on the conservation and preservation of ecosystems by promoting unique experiences with a commitment to responsible tourism.

Your first stop will be the little-known and mysterious archaeological site of Muyil, which you will reach at the end of an interpretive trail surrounded by the thick jungle. Walk until you reach the edge of the turquoise Chunyaxche Lagoon, where you will take a small boat through a channel surrounded by mangroves to arrive at a small dock. Once there enjoy a serene dip in the water. It is a moment of reconnection with mother earth, as you float slowly through the channels you will feel the peace of your surroundings and take in the soft sounds of the local birds and other animals.

Once you are done enjoying the water, return to the community center on a short walk. You will be welcomed back with a traditional meal to complete the excursion.

After, drive from Tulum to Bacalar. 

Day 4: Sailing Tour in the Bacalar Lagoon

Bacalar lagoon
Bacalar lagoon
Bacalar, or Bakhalal in Mayan (meaning "near or surrounded by reeds"), is known for its seven-colored lagoon which you'll get to see on this boat tour. Sailing on these boats is a great alternative to motorboats since they do not pollute the water, helping to preserve the natural beauty of the place.
 
You will begin this approximately 4-hour excursion by visiting the pirates' channel, where you will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel. For hundreds of years, it has been the territory of travelers and treasure hunters. It is said that the Mayas built this channel for commercial purposes and also to connect the people of the south with those of the north. As a result, pirate attacks became very frequent, hence its name.

Continue navigating to the Cenote de la Bruja, also called "black cenote", where you can dive into the waters and enjoy the colors of the different depths. Finally, pay a visit to the 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 Bacalar lagoon.

Day 5: Mystical Energy Bonfire Under the Ya'ax ché, Transfer to Chunhuhub

Take in the experience around the fire
Take in the experience around the fire
This activity takes place in the community of Chuhunhub, where your local guide will meet you. In this mystical experience, you will be able to connect with the sacred tree of the local community, recharge your energy and receive purification from the grandparents of the village. They have, according to popular belief, the ability to cure illnesses with herbs.

You will listen to the stories that the wisest of the community will share with you while enjoying a sacred drink, which only the high level (gods) could make. It will be an experience of just over an hour full of mysticism and cultural immersion.

After, drive from Bacalar to Chunhuhub. 
Plan your trip to Mexico
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Great Gum Tree Tour in Chunhuhub, Transfer to Uxmal

Climbing the gum tree
Climbing the gum tree
You will start the tour through the lush jungle with the grandfather and local guide of the community of Chunhuhub. 

Gradually, you will immerse yourself in the dense Mayan jungle where you will discover how the ancestors found their food, water, and shelter until you reach an area of lush chicozapote trees over 50 years old, the tree from which chicle (gum) is extracted. At this point, you will learn about the process to obtain the chicle from the Chicozapote tree. To carry out this activity, the chicleros make cracks (which do not damage the tree), in a kind of zig-zag, then the sap runs down the trunk into a container. This mixture is put on the fire to generate a gum that is then left to dry.  The extraction happens during the rainy season, so if it is the dry season, you will see a demonstration of the activity. In both cases, you will learn how the Mayans used the tools given to them by Mother Earth to carry out all these processes in their daily life.

You will also have the opportunity to taste the organic gum produced by the grandparents of the community.

After, drive from Chunhuhub to Uxmal

Day 7: Explore the Archaeological Site of Uxmal, Eco-tour Immersion in the Mun Ha Community, Transfer to Merida

View of the ruins
View of the ruins
Meet your guide at the archaeological site of Uxmal, who will tell you a little more about these impressive pyramids. The name Uxmal means "thrice built" in Maya. This name refers to the construction of its tallest structure: the Pyramid of the Magician, which was built on top of the existing pyramids. Legend has it that the Pyramid of the Magician was built in a single night. However, this is very unlikely since it consists of several structures from different eras. One possible theory is that only the last and smallest structure at the top was built in one night, and it then became legend.

This city stands out for its monumentality and fineness in its architecture and decorative art. It is perhaps the most representative city of the Puuc style, with low, horizontal palaces built around patios. The decoration is incredible, as you can appreciate the quality of indigenous art with detailed sculptures made with polished stones that form a perfect mosaic. During its heyday, the city was one of the largest in Mesoamerica: at its peak, Uxmal was home to some 20,000 Maya.

In the afternoon, will meet your guide in the community of Muná for an ecological tour through the jungle and a visit to a lookout point. This community project combines nature conservation and traditional Mayan culture. You will start with a view from the lookout point, where you are sure to get spectacular photos. Afterward, you will enter the jungle and feel how it embraces you little by little.

At the end of the trail, you will enter the grotto of the Mayan aluxes. According to Mayan mythology, these beings inhabit the jungle, filling these territories with legends and magic. It is believed that Mayan sorcerers and wise men made aluxes figures, which at night came to life to take care of the owner's property, the animals, and the jungle itself. The guides will also tell you the legend of Xtabay and the meaning of Xibalba, the underworld.

After, drive from Uxmal to Merida. 

Day 8: Walking Tour of Merida: The White City

Merida's Cathedral
Merida's Cathedral
Spend some time exploring the historic city center of Merida, also known as the White City. Founded on top of what was once the Mayan city of Ichcaanzihó (better known as T'Hó), today Merida is a modern city that has developed a specific cultural identity due to its isolation from the rest of Mexico.

Learn about the city's indigenous roots, as well as its colonial history as you walk through Merida. You'll see examples of colonial architecture, include the Cathedral, the Municipal Palace, and stroll along the city's main avenue: Paseo Montejo

Day 9: Honey & Coconuts in Sinanché and San Crisanto

Honey bees entering a hive
Honey bees entering a hive
Today, you will learn about honey production and take a boat ride through a mangrove swamp. Your first stop will be Sinanché to learn about beekeeping in Yucatán and the different types of species found in the region, as well as the importance of bees for the environment. You will also learn about the honey production process, interact with the bees while wearing a beekeeper's suit, taste different varieties according to the type of plant pollinated, and participate in a workshop to create a handmade candle based on honey products.

Continue on to San Crisanto, a coastal community where you will board a boat that will take you through the mangrove swamp to an Ojo de Agua (freshwater spring). During this experience, you can appreciate the diversity and richness of the local flora and fauna, which are essential to preserving the coasts from erosion.

Afterward, have lunch at a local restaurant. Wrap up the tour with some relaxation at Sac-Há, an oceanfront beach area surrounded by coconut palms and white sand.

Day 10: Explore Yellow Izamal — the City of Hills, Immerse Yourself in the Peaceful Yokdzonot Cenote, Transfer to Chichen Itza

Stone path leading up to the entrance of the San Antonio Convent
The stone path leading up to the entrance of the San Antonio Convent
Spend the day visiting Izamal, an iconic example of colonial architecture. Just about all the buildings are painted an egg-yolk yellow, and cobblestone streets and colonial lamp posts complete the scenery. The village was conquered by the Spaniards, and it was the monks, in their eagerness to convert the indigenous Maya to Catholicism, that gave the city its religious distinction.

An important sight in Izamal is the Franciscan Convent San Antoni de Padua that was built from and over one of the Maya pyramids. Make sure to make time for plenty of food stops: Izamal is renowned for its delicious Yucatecan cuisine.

In 2005, a group of women from the rural community of Yokdzonot, Yucatan organized to transform the Mayan cenote of their village into a unique eco-tourism site. Today, experience how the earth beats in turquoise waters that unite mind, body, and soul as you swim. Take a deep breath inside the cenote and discover the underwater world.

Cenotes were the main water supply in the middle of the Mayan jungle, a reason to develop cities and settlements. They were also considered symbolic spaces for the rituals of rain, life, death, rebirth, and fertility, and served a sacred function for the Maya. This cenote is not as popular with visitors, so it is not as crowded as other cenotes and its waters have the perfect temperature to feel refreshed from the heat.

After, drive from Mérida to Chichén Itzá. 

Day 11: Sunrise at Chichén Itzá, Walking Tour of Colonial Valladolid, Transfer to Holbox

Sunrise at Chichen Itza
Sunrise at Chichen Itza
Today you will get up early at 5:30 am to wait for the sunrise at one of the 7 Wonders of the World, the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá. This hour is incredibly special since the site is practically alone and you can enjoy it without the heat of the day. Additionally, the light of the sunrise in such an impressive site full of history gives it a magical touch.

This pre-Hispanic city was the most outstanding capital of the Mayan area at the end of the Postclassic period. When the Spanish arrived, it was the most revered center of worship and pilgrimage in the Yucatan Peninsula. Your local guide will tell you the history of this place from the Pyramid of Kukulkan (El Castillo), through buildings and monuments of great importance, such as the Chacmools, the Temple of the Warriors, the Hall of a Thousand Columns, and the Ball Game Field, to name a few.

In the afternoon, enjoy a walking tour through the heart of the historic center of Valladolid. Founded in 1543 and invaded several times by the Spanish, the city was the stage of vast confrontations between the Maya and the Conquistadores during events such as the Guerra de Castas in 1847 and the first spark of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

Today, Valladolid is a charming Yucatecan city that's known for its hospitality, cenotes, food, and beautiful architecture. During the tour, you will visit (among others) the Ex Convento San Bernadino de Siena, the Cathedral, and the beautiful Calzada de Los Frailes.

After, drive to Chiquilá. Vehicles are not allowed to preserve the beauty of the island. You will have to leave the car in a parking lot at Chiquilá before taking the ferry to Holbox Island.

Day 12: Free Day on Holbox Island

Holbox Islands
Holbox Islands
Today is free to spend however you want on the peaceful island. Soak in the sunshine, the spectacular turquoise waters, the unpaved streets, the incredible sunsets, and the delicious food. Choose one of the beautiful beaches to enjoy the sun and white sand, and recharge your batteries. 

As cars are not allowed on the island, you will also have the option to rent a bicycle or a golf cart to travel around and explore the less-crowded parts of the island. Other great options to spend your free day include walking around town, browsing the street art for souvenirs to bring back home, or simply relaxing at one of the town's cafes. 

If you prefer to get onto the water, book a boat tour to Cabo Catoche for an afternoon of snorkeling and enjoying the underwater world.

At the end of the day, catch the sunset from Punta Coco, view the starry sky from the beach, or enjoy a show of bioluminescence in the waters.

Day 13: Free Day on Holbox Island

Holbox Islands
Holbox Islands
Today is free to spend however you want on the peaceful island. Soak in the sunshine, the spectacular turquoise waters, the unpaved streets, the incredible sunsets, and the delicious food. Choose one of the beautiful beaches to enjoy the sun and white sand, and recharge your batteries. 

As cars are not allowed on the island, you will also have the option to rent a bicycle or a golf cart to travel around and explore the less-crowded parts of the island. Other great options to spend your free day include walking around town, browsing the street art for souvenirs to bring back home, or simply relaxing at one of the town's cafes. 

If you prefer to get onto the water, book a boat tour to Cabo Catoche for an afternoon of snorkeling and enjoying the underwater world.

At the end of the day, catch the sunset from Punta Coco, view the starry sky from the beach, or enjoy a show of bioluminescence in the waters.

Day 14: Holbox to Puerto Morelos

Slopped lighthouse of Puerto Morelos
Sloped lighthouse of Puerto Morelos
Spend one last morning in Holbox before you say hasta luego to this paradise. Take a ferry back to Chiquilá, pick up your rental car, and drive to the beach town of Puerto Morelos. 

Day 15: Puerto Morelos to Cancun, Departure

Cancun
Cancun

Today is your last morning in this paradise. This part of Mexico is famed for its spectacular sunrises, so rise early on your last day to take in the magnificent show. 


Afterward, you'll have a free morning to rest. At the scheduled time, drive to Cancun's airport to drop off your rental car and catch your flight home.