The Yucatán Peninsula – El Mundo Maya

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.Early mornin at Chichen ItzaThe 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.

Closest airports
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). Flying into Cancun International airport

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.

Area Guide
Visit Mexico publishes a wonderful guide covering the Yucatan Peninsula.

Stefanie Pichonnat AAV Travel

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


She co-wrote the article with

Stephanie Jellett travel writer AAV Travel


Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at



Are Cancun and The Riviera Maya Safe to Travel to?

In a concern to diminish the harm done by negative press, the Karisma Resort management just published the following Questions & Answers for their specialist travel agents to reassure their customers:

Is it safe to visit the Riviera Maya and your properties?
a. There have been no reports of incidents in the Riviera Maya, where El Dorado Spa
Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels by Karisma are located. The isolated, drug-related
incident that took place outside of Cancun earlier this month was more than 100
miles in the opposite direction of Riviera Maya, and did not involve everyday citizens
or tourists.
b. We have been reassured by the tourism ministry that Riviera Maya remains a safe
tourist destination.
c. Border towns including Chihuahua and Tijuana, which are the focus of such
violence, are more than 1,500 miles and 2,000 miles from Riviera Maya, respectively.

Wasn’t there a travel advisory cautioning travelers about popular tourist areas like
Los Cabos and Cancun?

a. No, the Mexico Tourism Board maintains that Mexico remains a safe tourist
destination, further reassuring that popular tourist destinations including Los Cabos,
Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and the Riviera Maya (where El Dorado Spa Resorts &
Hotels and Azul Hotels by Karisma are located), all remain safe for visitors.
b. The U.S. Department of State also issued a travel alert warning U.S. citizens about
dangers in border towns.

Are reports that the Cancun Airport has been taken over by the military true?
a. Despite the proliferation of rumors, there are no formal reports indicating the
takeover of the Cancun Airport by military officials.

What are you doing to ensure the safety of current guests?
a. We are committed to providing our guests with exceptional and memorable
experiences and their satisfaction is our top priority.
b. El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels, by Karisma are closed to outside
persons. Further, we employ 24-hour security to help ensure the safety of our
c. Riviera Maya remains a safe tourist destination and because there have been no
reports of violent incidents in the area, we do not feel the need to increase security at
El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels by Karisma.

These statements are based on the following resources:
Mexico Tourism Board
U.S. State Department

In addition, Mandy Chomat, Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Karisma Hotels & Resort also speaks out on behalf of the Riviera Maya and Mexico in an interview with Travel Agent Central.