Located in the south-eastern part of Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula was home to the Maya civilization before it was taken over by the Spanish in the 16th century. The Maya and Spanish heritage created the new culture of Yucatán. The Mexican states of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo make up the peninsula. Quintana Roo was the gateway into the Maya world–between 300 and 900 AD, the Mayans built various cities in the Yucatán. There are seventeen sites that have been restored and opened to the public, the most famous ancient Maya ruins being Chichén Itzá, Uxmal and Ek Balam.The Legend of Yucatán
Francisco Hernández de Córdova, a Spanish Conquistador, arrived on the coast of Yucatán in 1517 to explore the shores of southern Mexico. The legend goes that Córdova, asked the natives what the land they had just discovered was called. They replied in their native tongue “I don’t understand you.” Because Córdova thought their answer sounded like the word Yucatán, he gave that name to the region.
Cancun International (CUN) welcomes numerous flights daily from all over the world. It is one of the airports where a window seat is particularly rewarding. The approach boasts beautiful views of turquoise blue water and white sandy beaches! Cancun is a great starting point to explore the Yucatana. However, depending on where exactly you want to go you might prefer Merida (MER).
To rent or not to rent a car in the Yucatan?
Renting a car is really inexpensive and allows you to get wherever you want. These are a few suggestions when it comes to renting and driving in the area:
- Stick to the well known rental companies: Hertz, Sixt, Avis…they are reliable, well represented, and you know what you can expect.
- Don’t skimp on insurance. Protect your vehicle and yourself. I am a great advocate for insurance. It might cost a little but the peace of mind when something happens is priceless.
- Remember, Cancun is notorious for time-share sales. Airport, resorts wherever. You will likely also find them at your rental car company so be warned and steer clear.
- Check-points: Likely you will come across several police security checkpoints. They will check your paperwork and might make you get out of the car to search it (with dog or without). It’s not a big deal just be polite, have your stuff in order and you will be on your way in no time.
- Speed limits: Nobody wants to get pulled over and have their passport confiscated so please, just respect them.
- Gas: There are numerous Pemex gas stations along the way. Make sure to carry cash as some do not accept credit cards. You can usually use US Dollars, but it is better to have Mexican Pesos. Also, don’t forget to tip as all gas stations are serviced and the attendants will fill up your tank, likely even clean your windows.
Visit Mexico publishes a wonderful guide covering the Yucatan Peninsula.
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Yucatan Peninsula Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
She co-wrote the article with
Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at email@example.com