On this family-friendly two-week itinerary, you'll discover the diverse state of Chiapas, with its jungle waterfalls, colonial cities, and Mayan communities. Then you'll pick up a rental car and drive yourself around the Yucatán Peninsula, stopping to relax on the beach, swim in cenotes, and visit archaeological ruins perched high above the Caribbean Sea.

Highlights

  • Cruise through the Sumidero Canyon on a boat
  • Hike to waterfalls, including El Chiflón and Misol-Ha
  • Go for a swim in X'Canché Cenote 
  • Relax in an island paradise on Isla Holbox

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Mexico! Cancún
Day 2 Boat ride through the Sumidero Canyon  San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 3 El Chiflón Waterfalls & Amatenango del Valle San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 4 Agua Azul & Misol-Ha Waterfalls  Palenque
Day 5 Trekking in Palenque Campeche
Day 6 Magical city of Izamal Izamal
Day 7 Chichén Itzá & colonial city of Valladolid Valladolid
Day 8 Swimming in X'Canché Cenote   Valladolid
Day 9 Arrival in Tulum Tulum
Day 10 Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve Tulum
Day 11 Punta Laguna & Isla Holbox Holbox
Days 12-13 Days off on the paradise island of Holbox Holbox
Day 14 International departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Mexico! Arrival at Cancún's airport

Sea, sand, and sun in Cancún
Sea, sand, and sun in Cancún

Welcome to Mexico! You'll arrive at Cancún’s airport, then you will be transferred to a hotel close to the airport to rest. Head down to the beach for a few hours or go out for tacos, then get ready for the next day's flight to Chiapas.

Day 2: Tuxtla - Boat ride through the Sumidero Canyon 

Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas
Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas

Catch a flight to Chiapas. Once there, you will be taken to the village of Chiapa de Corzo to see the Sumidero Canyon, a natural wonder of Mexico. You'll board a motorboat to navigate the canyon, a stunning natural formation that dates back 136 million years, its walls soaring high above the Grijalva River amid thick vegetation. During the journey, you'll see a wide diversity of wildlife, flora, and fauna, including bromeliads, pines, river crocodiles, and spider monkeys. You'll also see waterfalls, caves, and interesting rock formations.

Day 3: Excursion to El Chiflón Waterfalls & Amatenango del Valle 

El Chiflón Waterfalls
El Chiflón Waterfalls

Today, head to El Chiflón Waterfalls to admire the tallest waterfalls in Chiapas. You'll have the opportunity to see the main waterfall, called “Velo de Novia"—a towering curtain of water formed by the San Vicente River. On the way back to the town of San Cristobal de las Casas, stop in Amatenango del Valle, a village surrounded by cornfields and well-known for its pottery traditions.

Day 4: Agua Azul & Misol-Ha Waterfalls

Misol-Ha Waterfalls
Misol-Ha Waterfalls

Very early in the morning, your transportation will take you to Palenque. Today you'll visit Agua Azul waterfalls, known for its bright blue water, bright green vegetation, and the endless sound of water. Continue with a visit to the towering Misol-Há waterfall. Then head back to Palenque to relax at the hotel and go out for dinner.

Day 5: Trekking in Palenque 

Exploring the ruins of Palenque, Chiapas
Exploring the ruins of Palenque

After breakfast, go to the archaeological site of Palenque to learn more about the Mayan world. The pre-Hispanic city and Palenque National Park were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1987—you'll hear about myths, rituals, and commonly held beliefs as you admire the architecture, including more than 200 architectural structures. The Temple of the Inscriptions and the Grand Palace are special highlights. Then go trekking on the nearby path of Motiepá: keep your eyes open for jaguars and howler monkeys.

Day 6: Campeche - Magical city of Izamal

Convent San Antonio de Padua in Izamal
Convent San Antonio de Padua in Izamal

This morning, your guide will introduce you to the colonial city of Campeche, passing through Pirate’s Alley, the different forts that used to be the entries of the city, the main streets, and the main square. You will then pick up your rental car, which you will drive for the rest of the trip.

The first step of the self-driving tour is the magical village of Izamal, built in the middle of the 16th century on the ruins of a Mayan city. The most important building of the city is the Franciscan convent built over the  Mayan shrine called Pap Hol Chac. Once checked into your hotel for the night, you will have all the time you want to walk around this charming village.

Day 7: Chichén Itzá & Valladolid

Explore the ruins of Chichén Itzá
Explore the ruins of Chichén Itzá

Hit the road this morning and stop to visit the wonderful archaeological site of Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, before continuing on to Valladolid.

Two important moments in Mexican history happened in the city of Valladolid: The Caste War of Yucatan in 1847 and the Rebellion of Valladolid in 1910. Valladolid is otherwise known as the “Sultan of the East” due to the beauty of its colonial buildings and its strategic location.

Day 8: Swimming in X'Canché Cenote 

Ek Balam's cenote
Swimming in X'Canché Cenote

Rise bright and early to discover the Yucatec-Maya archaeological site of Ek' Balam. Once a thriving seat of a Mayan kingdom, the city was absorbed into the dense jungle typical of the area and wasn't rediscovered until the late 1800s. Wander the complex and climb the steps of the Acropolis, taking in the site as well as the surrounding jungle. 

From there, you'll head to Ekʼ Balam's local village to visit three Mayan families which will be open to share their culture with you and teach you how to make tortillas, knit hammocks, and participate in an embroidery workshop. Finally, you will head to the X'Canché Cenote to enjoy a swim in the fresh, cool water.

Day 9: Valladolid - Tulum

Tulum
Ruins high over the sea in Tulum

Today, you will head to the beautiful coastal city of Tulum, best known for its Mayan archaeological site overlooking the Caribbean sea. It's also known for its beautiful beaches, including Playa Ruinas and Playa Paraiso. Check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day free.

Day 10: Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve 

Muyil
The village of Muyil

Today, you'll drive to the village of Muyil, located in the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka'an. In the local language, Sian Ka'an means "the place where the sky starts." Indeed, the turquoise blue of the sea seems to melt together with the color of the sky on the horizon. A guide will take you for a boat ride along an ancient canal that flows through four different ecosystems. Then go for a swim in the lagoon of Boca Paila. This excursion will end with a visit to a cenote and a butterfly greenhouse.

Day 11: Punta Laguna & Holbox

Sunset on Isla Holbox
Sunset on Isla Holbox

After breakfast, take the road to Punta Laguna for a canoe ride and a guided walk in the forest to see spider monkeys. Continue to Nuevo Durango to have a delicious meal in an eco-tourism cooperative run by the Mayan community.

In the morning, you will travel to the last destination on your trip: Isla Holbox (Holbox Island). You'll catch a ferry to this paradise island, then check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day relaxing. To preserve the beauty of the island, few motor vehicles are allowed: revel in the peace and quiet as you swim, stroll, sunbathe, and sleep.

Days 12-13: Days off on the paradise island of Holbox

Holbox Island
Holbox Island

Sleep in and take it easy: you have two days to relax on the island.  Enjoy the spectacular color of the sea, the unpaved streets, and incredibly beautiful sunsets. Rent a bike or a golf cart to get around, or just stay put in a hammock that swings in the breeze. Dine on fresh seafood and make a toast on the last night: it's the perfect ending to a perfect trip.

Day 14: International departure

Catch the ferry from Isla Holbox and transfer to Cancun International Airport to make your connection home. Have a great flight!