Located on the northern most part of the Yucatan peninsula, the state of Yucatan (one of Mexico's 31 states) remains one of the most popular tourist attractions worldwide. Showcasing some of the world's most spectacular sceneries, a perennially stable and sunny climate and the crib of the Mayan civilization, whose ruins and knowledge continue to fascinate all types of travelers, from the archaeological layman, to the field expert.
In fact, there is so much to do, that an informative Yucatan guide is necessary to get the most out of a holiday in the region. In this guide, I will try and offer travelers and daydreamers alike a taste of what the Yucatan has to offer, and do my very best not to diminish it in the process. Bear in mind that this is merely a minute sample of what one can do, and that the selections will be subjective as a result.
Chichen Itza, which can be found in the north of the state of Yucatan, is one of the world's most treasured Mayan archaeological sites, hosting a wide spectrum of ruins with different architectural influences.
At the very centre of Chichen, "El Castillo", a 30 meter step-pyramid that served as a temple to the God Kukulkan rises majestically. El Castillo is a testament to the knowledge and ambition of the Maya and is littered with astronomical references. Each side of the pyramid, for instance, has 91 steps. If we multiple this by each of its 4 sides, and add the last step on top we have 365 steps, clearly symbolising a year.
But El Castillo does not limit itself to passive references. Twice a year, during the spring (May) and autumn (September) equinoxes the temple casts a plumed-serpent shadow on its western wall.
Other magnificent structures within Chichen Itza incluse the Great Ball Court, the Temple of Warriors and the Cenote Sagrado, a large water hole which gave life to the civilization in an otherwise arid environment.
On the east coast of the Yucatan penninsula, Tulum is a small ruin that was once used by Maya clergy and kings as a spiritual resort. Facing the tropical Caribbean sea, Tulum is nothing short of breathtaking in beauty and timelessness. This is possibly my favorite Yucatan attraction and I urge readers to find a good Tulum guide to learn more. There simply isn't enough space here to talk about the many features Tulum has to offer.
The first thing to realize about Tulum is that there are some misconception about what exactly Tulum refers to. In this article I will talk about Tulum in terms of three separate places. The town of Tulum pueblo, the Tulum playa (beach) and the Tulum ruins.
Accessing the ruins may involve a one-mile hike from the highway (Hwy 307), but luxury is never more than a stones throw away as tourist attractions such as restaurants have been built to provide hungry and thirsty travelers a brief siesta along the way. Travelers can also cool-off by viewing the ruins from the beach, and can swim north towards other attractions such as the still pristine beach known as Boca Paila.
The town of Tulum Pueblo offers visitors a dose of modernity while retaining its cultural prestige. You can find anything here from high-speed internet, traditional markets, banks to western styled supermarkets.
Perhaps the greatest attraction at Tulum, aside from the renowned ruins, are the numerous beaches. The Yucatan's Riviera Maya contains some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Whether you plan on a personalized acquatic based tour of the ruins, or you feel like swimming to the desolate Boca Paila for calm and authenticity. There are hundreds of ways to approach the ocean and enjoy the sea.