Natural Attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula

Past the lights, bars, and clubs lies an ancient Mexico full of life

Photo credit: © Milan Hlavác
 

While the area is probably best known for the large city of Cancun, there is a plethora of natural offerings that go unnoticed by most visitors. National parks, caves, zoos, and many other attractions dot the area adding ecological education to those visitors interested.

Combining Activities

EcoColors

For the serious adventurer, EcoColors offers multi-day trips jam-packed with outdoorsy activities and attractions. Packages can last for durations of anywhere between one day and over a week. Striving to connect nature-related education with fantastic experiences, EcoColors combines ancient cultural heritage with beautiful wildlife and native plants.

Selvatica

Selvatica is a self-proclaimed “adventure kingdom” located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Sitting on more than 330 acres of wild Mexican jungle, this facility features a selection of unique activities to please visitors of all ages and lifestyles. Choose from ventures like high-rope circuits with bicycles, army truck tours to natural landmarks, horseback riding, exploring sinkholes and more.

Puerta Verde

Along with the standard attractions of kayaking and hiking, Puerta Verde offers visitors 23 different activities that can be enjoyed while soaking in Cancun’s stunning nature. Leisurely wander through the property’s butterfly sanctuary, or dare yourself to swim alongside whale sharks. Guests may stop by for one day, or book a multi-day getaway to experience everything that Puerta Verde has to offer.

It might just be more convenient to contact one of the following guides for your nature tour:

And still, there are many more natural attractions in the Mexican Caribbean just waiting to be explored. Use the following chart as a guide to help you decide what you want to do during your trip to the area.

Nature Preserves and Hiking

Garrafon Reef Park

Do you want to enjoy part of your vacation out in the fresh air? You can choose from a couple of hiking trails and some nature preserves in the area.

Garrafon Reef Park is a popular nature preserve Isla Mujeres, in eastern the Yucatan Peninsula. Garrafon Reef Park takes advantage of the natural reefs, cliffs, and ocean by creating a haven for those who love splashing around in the water. Offering a number of water activities, a restaurant, and a bar, this is a great place to spend a day.

Vacationers hoping to find a another great natural attraction will be interested in seeing places like Jungle Place. The Jungle Place is a sanctuary for endangered Spider Monkeys in the Mexican Caribbean, most of which have been rescued from life threatening situations. The owners care for these animals as if they were a part of a family, and on a rare basis, allow guests to come visit with the monkeys and explore the habitat.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve: The reserve is located four miles southeast of San Pedro.

Be sure to look through this table for more information about nature preserves and hiking spots.

Nature Preserves and Hiking In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Type Location
Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and National Park Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 5.7 mi. South of Central Xcalak Belize
Bluffs Trail Hiking Trail 3.6 mi. Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Chinchorro Bank Biosphere Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 25.5 mi. East-Southeast of Central Costa Maya Mexico
Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 6.0 mi. East of Central Sarteneja Belize
Cozumel Reef National Park Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 0.4 mi. West of Central downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Fireburn Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 11.6 mi. East-Southeast of Central Chunox Belize
Garrafon Reef Park Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 4.2 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Hiking Trails Hiking Trail 1.5 mi. South of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 7.9 mi. North of Central Caye Caulker Belize
Holbox Ecological Preserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 1.1 mi. South-Southwest of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox
Isla Contoy National Park Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 18.0 mi. North of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Mexico
Jungle Place Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 4.4 mi. South West of Central Akumal Mexico
Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 27.1 mi. Northwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Punta Nizuc National Park Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 4.4 mi. South of Central Cancun Beach Hotel Zone Mexico
Shark-Ray Alley Marine Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 2.7 mi. South of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Shark-Ray Alley Marine Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 3.5 mi. South of Central San Pedro Belize
Shipstern Nature Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 5.3 mi. South of Central Sarteneja Belize
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 11.3 mi. West-Northwest of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Whale Shark Habitats Nature Sanctuary/Wildlife Reserve 1.0 mi. North of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox

Caves

Aktun Chen Cave System

Although most tourists come for the beautiful water and coastline, that isn't the only way to experience the natural beauty of the land. the Yucatan Peninsula offers some great options, including 6 caves.

You should consider visiting Aktun Chen Cave System, which is located within the Yucatan Peninsula. Located within the Indiana Jones Natural Adventure Park are a number of activities that guests can participate in and lots of wildlife to see. One of the attractions on site is the Aktun Chen Cave system.

Another attraction Blue Creek Cave. It is southern the Yucatan Peninsula. Blue Creek Cave is popular amongst tourists who want the full Maya experience. Called "Hokeb Ha" by the Maya people it was once frequented by many people of this mysterious culture.

The chart just below offers some key facts regarding caves.

Caves In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Type Location
Aktun Chen Cave System Cave 6.2 mi. Northwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Blue Creek Cave Cave 1.3 mi. South-Southeast of Central La Union Belize
Caves And Arches Cave 0.8 mi. Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Chac Tun Cave Tour/ Paintball City Cave 3.7 mi. Northwest of Central Playa del Carmen Mexico
Cristalino Maya Cenote Cave 1.8 mi. West of Central Puerto Aventuras Mexico
Jardin Del Eden Cenote Cave 1.8 mi. West of Central Puerto Aventuras Mexico

Parks and Botanical Gardens

Selvatica

Travelers can enjoy one of the many parks, or a botanical garden in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Kantun Chi Eco Park is the vicinity of La Gloria, in eastern the Yucatan Peninsula. Kantun Chi is accessible just 200 meters south of the Barcelo Maya Hotel. Buses from Cancun drive right up to the property, while those driving can take Federal Highway 307 south from Cancun.

A second popular attraction in this category is Selvatica. There are four different adventure packages at Selvetica. The Extreme Canopy Adventure features a zip line tour and cenote swim; the Off-Road and Flight Challenge includes one of the fastest ziplines availale, an aerial challenge complete with a parachute experience, ATVing, and a cenote swim; the Zip & ATV Jungle Expedition is a zip line and ATV tour that finishes with a cenote swim; and finally, the Corona Rally is a zip line tour followed by a trip through the jungle on a Corona buggy that ends up at the cenote for a swim.

The parks and gardens worth considering are displayed in the following table.

Parks and Gardens In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Type Location
Boca Del Rio Park Park 6.9 mi. South-Southwest of Central Ambergris Caye
Cenote X-Canche Park 31.6 mi. East-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza
Cenote Zaci Park 24.0 mi. East of Central Chichen Itza
Central Plaza Park 0.0 mi. North of Central Downtown Holbox
Dzitnup Cenote Park 21.0 mi. East of Central Chichen Itza
Francisco Canton Park Park 23.7 mi. East of Central Chichen Itza
Ik Kil Cenote Park 1.8 mi. Southeast of Central Chichen Itza
Kantun Chi Eco Park Park 1.9 mi. West of Central Puerto Aventuras
Kids Park Benito Juarez Park Downtown Cancun
Manati Cenote Park 10.4 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal
Parque De Las Palapas Park Downtown Cancun
Pirate Mundaca Park Park 3.1 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres
Plaza 28 De Julio Park Park Downtown Playa del Carmen
Punta Allen Park Park 0.0 mi. East of Central Punta Allen
Sac Muukal Cenote Park 21.1 mi. East of Central Chichen Itza
Selvaje Cenote Park 19.3 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal
Selvatica Park 16.1 mi. North of Central Playa del Carmen
Tajmahal Cenote Park 1.2 mi. Northwest of Central Xpu Ha
Vaca Ha Tortugas Cenote Park 13.6 mi. South West of Central Akumal
Xunaan Ha Cenote Park 6.5 mi. South West of Central Akumal
Yax-Che Jardin Botanico Botanical Garden 4.5 mi. South West of Central Riviera Cancun
Yaxmul Cenote Park 8.9 mi. South West of Central Akumal

Zoos and Aquariums

Crococun Zoo

If the thought of passing some time with interesting animals sounds like fun, you should visit Croco Cun Zoo. For the nature lover, visitors come in close contact with local animals during a 65-75 minute interactive tour led by an English-speaking guide. Feed monkeys, snakes and even crocodiles while safely supervised.

Another related option is Payo Obispo Zoo. The zoo is a great place to learn about local fauna without having to venture out into the wild. Tour the zoo yourself or sign up for a guided tour.

Take some time to look through the chart below for more information.

Zoos and Aquariums In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Type Location
Croco Cun Zoo Zoo 2.5 mi. North of Central Puerto Morelos
Crococun Zoo Zoo 1.9 mi. South West of Central Riviera Cancun
Crocodile Visit Zoo 27.7 mi. West of Central Akumal
Dolphin Discovery Zoo 0.4 mi. West-Northwest of Central Puerto Aventuras
Interactive Aquarium Cancun Aquarium 1.1 mi. North-Northeast of Central Cancun Beach Hotel Zone
Payo Obispo Zoo Zoo 0.2 mi. Northeast of Central Chetumal
Pepe's Tigres Zoo 6.1 mi. East-Southeast of Central Cancun
X'Cacel Turtle Conservation Area Zoo 4.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal
Xaman-Ha Aviary Zoo 1.6 mi. South West of Central Playa del Carmen

Land Formations

Another fun idea is to visit some of the more popular naturally occurring land formations. Fully natural attractions like these in the Yucatan Peninsula are summarized in the following chart.

Land Formations In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Type Location
Angelita Cenote Hot Spring None None
Cenote Azul Hot Spring 2.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central Bacalar Mexico
Chikin Ha Cenote Pond 1.8 mi. West of Central Puerto Aventuras Mexico
Chunyaxche Lagoon Lagoon 19.1 mi. North-Northwest of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Cristal Cenote Hot Spring None None
Crocodile Swamp Swamp 3.7 mi. South of Central Riviera Cancun Mexico
Dos Ojos Cenote Hot Spring 9.0 mi. Northeast of Central Tulum Mexico
Escondido Cenote Hot Spring 5.1 mi. West-Southwest of Central Tulum Mexico
Four Mile Lagoon Lagoon 6.7 mi. South West of Central Chetumal Belize
Honey Camp Lagoon Lagoon 13.0 mi. South of Central Caledonia Belize
Laguna Makax Lagoon 2.1 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Muyil Lagoon Lagoon 20.5 mi. North-Northwest of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Progresso Lagoon Lagoon 1.6 mi. Northeast of Central Progresso Belize
Puerto Morelos Commercial Port Harbour Puerto Morelos, Eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Ranchito Lagoon Lagoon 13.1 mi. South West of Central Chetumal Belize
Regina Cenote Hot Spring 5.8 mi. West-Southwest of Central Tulum Mexico
Rocky Point Point 8.8 mi. Northeast of Central Ambergris Caye Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Reef Reef 0.8 mi. East of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Yal-Ku Lagoon Lagoon 1.1 mi. Northeast of Central Akumal Mexico
Yalahao Spring Hot Spring 1.1 mi. South-Southwest of Central Downtown Holbox Holbox

Bear in mind that The Yucatan Peninsula offers other attractions. To reach our detailed guide to other attractions, visit this page.

 

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