Best of Tulum and Quintana Roo
Tulum’s Southern Beaches: Mile after mile of powdery white sand, tranquil turquoise water, cozy bungalows peeking out from behind softly bending palm trees: These are the beaches you’ve been dreaming of and the reason you came to the Caribbean in the first place.
Cenotes near Tulum: Sure the ocean reefs are gorgeous, but don’t miss a chance to explore this eerie and unforgettable realm of limestone caverns, bristling with stalagmites and stalactites, and filled with the crystalline water of the world’s longest underground river system.
Cobá Archaeological Zone: Just an hour from Tulum are the terrific jungle-cloaked ruins of Cobá, where you can climb the Yucatán’s second-highest pyramid and rent bikes to get from temple to temple. Arrive early to enjoy the rich birdlife, then hit the nearby cenotes or monkey reserve for a great all-day outing.
Ascension Bay: A huge protected expanse of calm ocean flats and tangled mangrove forests make this a world-class destination for bird-watchers, anglers, and everyday travelers alike. Take an all-day tour from Tulum or sit back and stay awhile at a homey lodge or bed-and-breakfast in Punta Allen.
Banco Chinchorro: A punishing two-hour boat ride across the open sea is rewarded with spectacular diving on one of the world’s largest coral atolls. And now you can stay the night, doubling your diving pleasure.
Fuerte San Felipe Bacalar: Housed in a stout star-shaped fort, this small-town museum has fascinating and innovative displays on piracy and the Caste War, and overlooks beautiful Laguna Bacalar, which the Maya called Lake of Seven Colors.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition