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When the winds start to blow, the snow starts to fly and the temperature drops, many Canadians head south to the Mayan Riviera on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is a favourite winter destination because nothing beats sitting on white sandy beaches that meet perfectly clear blue-green waters with gently rolling waves crashing against the shore. Couple this with the welcoming service and hospitality found at the beautiful resorts and you have the recipe for a perfect vacation.

I have found though that, in addition to enjoying the beautiful resorts and stunning beaches, many people are looking for a destination that also offers exciting things to do when they venture off the resort. This is why many people choose the Mayan Riviera for their sunny vacation destination.

Continue reading below to learn about 10 of The Yucatan Peninsula’s unique experiences.

1. Chichen Itza

The 2nd most visited archeological site in Mexico today is a place called Chichen Itza, which means "at the mouth of the well of Itza." For those interested in ancient history Chichen Itza is a must visit.

After much publicity and promotion, on July 7, 2007, in Lisbon, Portugal, The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen-Itza, which is known as "El Castillo" (the castle), was included in the list of the new seven wonders of the world. It is precisely 24-meters-high considering the upper platform.

For thousands of years Chichen Itza has been known as one of the great cities of Central America. Here, you can walk amongst the massive and fascinating ground stone buildings of the Mayan Ruins on the nearly 5 kilometers of land full of archaeology and thick forest surroundings.

There are also quite a handful of other archaeological sites to visit apart from the Kukulkan Pyramid, and the Mayan Culture is evident in all of them in so many ways.

2. Ria Biosphere Reserve

Head to the far corner of the Ria Biosphere Reserve to see the ever-popular Las Coloradas pink salt lakes. These lakes are used for industrial salt production and as the water evaporates, an overwhelming growth of red algae occurs. Plankton and brine shrimp also habitat in these bright pink waters.

3. Swimming with turtles

If you love sea turtles, make your way to Akumal Beach to swim in the shallow waters where three different varieties of sea turtles live. A lifejacket is required and lifeguards are always on duty since the waters have recently turned into a preserved area to protect the turtles.

4. A Visit to Merida

To fully experience the culture and history of the peninsula, go to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state. The rich culture and history will certainly make your trip memorable. You have to step foot in Merida to feast your eyes on mind-blowing architecture and the beautiful colonial-style houses, all of which exude rich and vibrant colors of the city. Merida boasts of broad central plazas and magnificent cathedrals.

Narrow streets are squeaky clean with quaint periwinkle, sherbet pink, mint green, and vibrant peach facades.

Head to the city center to buy a brightly woven hammock. Hammock weaving has been a tradition on the peninsula for more than 700 years.

5. A Dip in a Cenote

When a porous limestone bedrock collapses it forms cenotes, these are natural swimming holes which reveal a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools.

A lot of cave cenotes contain freshwater that has been carefully filtered by the earth, making them so clear and pure that you can see the marine life below.

Open-air cenotes also have clear water, and often are home to vitamins and mineral-rich algae that nourish and protect your skin.

The Mayan villages surrounded these spiritual wells and believed that they could speak with the gods through them.

Getting immersed in the clear waters with giant tropical trees hovering above will transport you back into prehistory.

6. Viewing the Colonial Architecture

While you’re near Valladolid go into the colonial city built atop ancient grounds to view the colorful (of course) architecture including the San Gervasio Church.

7. Sampling the Local Dishes

Now that you have worked up an appetite it is time to go out for some delicious Mexican food at the restaurants situated throughout the area.

8. A Visit to Cozumel

Just a short ferry ride away is the island of Cozumel. Visiting Cozumel gives you the opportunity to snorkel and scuba dive or to simply hike through the luscious green jungle areas.

9. A Relaxing Visit to Tulum

If you need to relax for a day, go to Tulum for sunbathing and yoga on the beach. The area is full of healthy food options, spas and other great activities.

10. A Day in Bacalar

Grab your sunscreen and rent an inflatable kayak and head out on the Bacalar Lagoon to feel like the pirates of the 17th Century. Laguna Bacalar is exquisitely lovely with near-pristine waters and has become a favorite destination.

One of the enthralling characteristics is the changeability of the lake coloring. There is just a special "Bacalar blue" that seems to appeal to everyone who sees it. The shades of blue and the intensities of colors vary as Tradewind-driven clouds come and go. The lake actually shows different shades of blue in different places at any one moment,

This is just a taste of what this area has to offer, but as you can see, the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most diverse and exciting places to travel in all of Mexico. From the stunning landscape to the vibrant culture, this destination has a little something for everyone. Reach out to me to start planning your next vacation.

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