Yucatan Roadtrip: Caribbean Islands, Pirates and… Cancun | Mexico

I usually put the *’s (notes) at the end of my posts but for this post it’s very important to read them first:

*Yucatan is the name of the peninsula in the east of Mexico. It includes the states; Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan. As you can see, Yucatan is also the name of a state IN the peninsula. However, when I talk about “Yucatan”, I mean the peninsula, not necessarily the state.

**Basically Mexico without the peninsula.

***The inland of Campeche state is jungle, which is quite special of course.

****Obviously not all American spring breakers do that!! I’ve met some very nice Americans there too – just like in the other parts of the country.


Cancun; Mexico’s most infamous beach town – owned by the States. Ask a random Mexican if Cancun is Mexico and the answer will be a big NO.

It feels like every country sends its worst lower class people there. Dirty, noisy, huge luxury hotels and American spring breakers who offend the locals****. Those are the things that remind me of Cancun because, yes, I have been there. 2 Times even! The first time out of curiosity (I immediately ran away to Isla Mujeres) and the second time because we were gonna meet up with a family member of my boyfriend’s.

2 Times was enough. Everyone talks about Yucatan* like it’s heaven on earth but that definitely doesn’t apply to me. Don’t get me wrong, the Yucatan peninsula has beautiful cities and even more beautiful beaches but compared to the other Mexico**, Yucatan isn’t that interesting after all – to me at least.

All together I spent about a month in Yucatan;

The first place I visited there was Campeche. The historical centre of Campeche looks like a fairytale village. The best thing about this is that there is some truth in this comparison; during the 17th century Campeche had to protect itself against pirate attacks. That’s why there’s a big wall around the city. Campeche is located right next to the sea but because of the damn wall, there’s no beach… (a local told me there is a small beach outside of the centre but apparently is ugly and way too crowded).

“So, what’s the problem?” I hear some of you asking. Well, the average temperature is around 37°C and if that isn’t enough already, it’s also very very humid.  That’s the problem.

After 4 days, I couldn’t stand it any longer and went back (!) to San Cristobal de las Casas in the mountains of Chiapas (where I would freeze to death at night)  – this must’ve been a sign as I met my future husband there!

The second time I found myself in Yucatan was in… Cancun. I honestly don’t wanna think back about this time. I wrote a post about my not-so-glamorous-adventures in Cancun’s creepy neighbourhoods. This post is still in Flemish (Nederlands) only though as I haven’t found the time yet to translate it to English. But I will, some time, I hope.

Back then I immediately ran away to Isla Mujeres where it was sooo much better as there are no resorts there and the people aren’t that annoying. Still an absence of Mexican culture and atmosphere though…

After this trip, I decided to never return there until…

…a family member of my boyfriend’s decided to come and visit and take us on a trip through Yucatan.

This is how I ended up going to Cancun for the second time. The night before the family member arrived, we slept in Cancun’s cheapest hostel (which was still kinda expensive), it wasn’t that comfortable there and waaay too hot. Even hostels in Cancun are different from hostels in the other Mexico.

Luckily we spent the other nights in luxurious hotels and once even in a honeymoon suite right next to the Caribbean Sea – that, of course, changed my mind about the area a bit. Haha.

Our first stop was Mérida. A beautiful town with a very nice atmosphere and it actually did feel like Mexico! I wish I could’ve wandered around the city some more but we didn’t have time for that as the hyper active family member dragged us from one tour to the other! (which was pretty awesome though)

The first tour was to Chichen Itza and a not so impressive cenote… wrote a post on this topic earlier.

The second tour was a cenote tour. We wanted something less touristy and that’s exactly what we got! It wasn’t an organized tour because nobody knows about this place.

The place was dusty and, again, waaay too hot (welcome in the Yucatan peninsula). A boy was waiting for us on a motortaxi. A motor..what? A motorTAXI. A motorcycle with a little platform on wheels in the front where 3 (!) people can sit.


The boy drove us to another place where a wooden coach on rails (?!) drawn by a horse was waiting for us; strange vehicle number 2.

The “coachtrain” was our way of transport of the day as it brought us from one cenote to the other.


This natural attraction is called Cenote Cuzama by the way.

The first cenote was in a cave and the water was half warm.

The second cenote was very deep under the ground. We had to climb down on a sketchy looking ‘stair’. The water was really warm, I could’ve stayed there for hours.


The third cenote looked like the stereotypical cenote. Hole in the ground and when you look through it you see clear blue/turquoise water.



We were alone in all 3 of the cenotes, this is quite special if you know that most cenotes in Yucatan are always full of tourists.

On to the next part of our trip; ISLA MUJERES.


White sand, clear turquoise water and palm trees. It exists and it’s called the Caribbean.

The beaches in the northern part of the island (where all the hotels are) are very beautiful but also very crowded. The beaches in the south, the part without hotels where all the locals are living, are even more beautiful and there’s almost no one. How do you get there? Rent a golf cart and drive down to the south. Garrafon de Castilla is a great place to enjoy some time at a quiet beach and go snorkelling.

We also visited a turtle farm and the point where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean come together; Punta Sur.

And that was the end of our holiday in Yucatan.

Back to our cockroach hotel in Mexico City!

Our holiday in Yucatan was amazing. Yucatan truly has paradise-like places but let me tell you this; when you’re on the bus there, or when we drove from one cenote to the other, the only things you see are dry and burnt bushes.***

In the other Mexico it’s a true pleasure to look out of the windows during a bus trip as the nature there never stops being beautiful.


The point in the corner on the left is San Cristobal de las Casas; a hippie town in Chiapas. At least it’s not as hot there as in the Yucatan Peninsula. On the right you see Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Isla Mujeres is only 20 minutes away from Cancun by boat.


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