Why Not Go to the Yucatan Peninsula?

Visit the Yucatan and the westernmost shores of the Caribbean

Photo credit: © Wei-chuan Liu | Dreamstime.com
 

The Yucatan Peninsula is home to a millennium of history, from the ruins of Mayan civilization to colonization and the fight for independence.

Located on the Quintana Roo peninsula, or Q. Roo for short, is the easternmost state in Mexico. Here, the blue waters of the Caribbean meet the Mexican border, and you'll find the island of Cozumel. Q. Roo is also home to Mexico's most popular tourist destination: the resort city of Cancún. But if you are looking for an alternative to the hustle and bustle of Cancún, Q. Roo contains some relaxing options. Explore Mayan Ruins at the "Riviera Maya" or swim along the Yucatan shore. Fish in Costa Maya, take an eco-tourist journey through Isla Mujeres, or relax on the less busy beaches of Playa Del Carmen. Additional information on Cozumel and the Mexican Caribbean is available at Cozumel Travel Notes.

The Mexican Caribbean: Facts at a Glance
Currency The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso; the exchange rates are floating, so be sure to check for current rates when planning a trip.
Electricity Mexico uses the same electric system as the U.S. and Canada, 110V AC (60 cycles); however, voltage may cycle slower, so use appliances on lower speeds.
GDP Per Capita In the Mexican Caribbean, the average annual GDP per capita is $9,100 (USD).
Island Size The Mexican Caribbean covers 19,440 square miles of land.
Language Spanish is the official language of the Mexican Caribbean.
Population About 1,023,500 people inhabit the Mexican Caribbean; 12,100,000 people visit annually, 86 percent of whom are from U.S.

Entry Requirements

Mexico requires all travelers to present an up-to-date passport. Be prepared to show an on-going or return ticket as well. A visa is required if you are staying for more than 30 days.

Getting There

International flights to Cozumel and the Mexican Caribbean have decreased over time, so vacation packages may include the cost for travel through small charter flights into Q. Roo. A connecting flight is almost always necessary to reach Cozumel. Continental and U.S. Airways provide the best service into Cozumel, with flights typically departing from Houston and New York City. Visitors can also reach other Q. Roo locations via a connecting charter flight from Cancún or passenger ferry from Cozumel.

Climate

Maps

In the Mexican Caribbean, the months of November through February typically bring sunny days, but the region still experiences some inclement weather. Prepare for possible rain - the Mexican Caribbean sees an average of 39.4 inches a year. Temperatures in the winter months average a low of 67 and a high of 81, while summer month temperatures can reach anywhere between 78 and 90 (degrees Fahrenheit), making the climate pleasant for year-round traveling. In Cozumel, October through December brings strong winds. A month-to-month breakdown of Caribbean weather can be found here.

Geography

The Yucatan Peninsula is wedged between two bodies of water, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Most of the ground is limestone covered by a thin layer of rich soil. There are few surface rivers, due mainly to cracks in the limestone that drain all surface water. All beaches in Quintana Roo, including Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Playa Del Carmen, have sparkling white sand and crystal clear waters. Cozumel is mostly flat with dense jungle vegetation. Gorgeous coral reefs surround the southern shore. The Mexican Caribbean provides several options for an eco-tourist vacation, making it a great destination for nature lovers. Isla Mujeres and Playa Del Carmen contain various types of vegetation, and are home to the largest reef in the Caribbean. Travelers looking for rugged terrain should explore the eastern and northeastern regions of the Yucatan Peninsula, which are perfect for off-road travel. If a boat and a fishing rod sound like a dream vacation, then Costa Maya will be your paradise.

Health and Safety

It is generally recommended that Mexico's visitors, including those on the island of Cozumel, drink purified bottled water, as turista, or traveler's diarrhea, is common among outsiders who are not accustomed to the local water. As a result, travelers should also choose food carefully except when dining at first class restaurants.

For the most part, Q. Roo and Cozumel are subject to the same petty crime as other tourist areas; car break-ins and pick pocketing scams are the most frequent crimes. Exercising simple caution goes a long way: Watch your valuables, don't wear a lot of flashy or overly expensive jewelry, and don't carry too much cash at one time. Also, be cautious when exploring less populated areas; if possible, hire a local guide, and always establish the cost of services before they are rendered.

People

In Cozumel especially, but throughout the Mexican Caribbean, people value conversation and proper manners. Always greet others with "Buenos Dias," and take time to make polite conversation. It's also best to greet each person individually rather than give one all-purpose greeting to a whole group. Locals interpret grinning for no particular reason as a sign of smugness, amusement, or superiority. Locals perceive "gringos" - a slightly derogatory name for rude visitors - as being loud and demanding. Politeness is key to receiving adequate service and having an enjoyable Mexican Caribbean experience.

 

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