Yucatan Peninsula Wildlife

Top places for Nature and Wildlife experiences

The Yucatan Peninsula is situated in south-eastern Mexico. It’s about 181 000 km² and separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. For tourists, Cancun is the most well-known place, definitely for American Students. But the Yucatan Peninsula has much more to offer, ranging from cenotes to Maya ruins and whale shark snorkelling… The Yucatan Peninsula consists of three Mexican states; Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Campeche and stretches out to the border of Belize and Guatemala.

For those that like the beach holidays, Cancún, Tulum and Playa del Carmen are the places to be. But there are also a couple of nice islands around like Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox.

Disclaimer: this article contains affiliate links. This means Wildlife Impulse will get a commission on some products advertised, without additional costs you as customer.

Isla Holbox – Whale sharks

Isla Holbox is a very interesting place. It consists of sandy streets and beautiful beaches. The houses are very colourful and there are no nightclubs. This being said, there is a great atmosphere and there are plenty of bars and nice hostels to make your stay unforgettable. The way of transportation on Holbox are golf carts, which can be quite noisy at times. Nevertheless, Holbox is a perfect place for whale shark watching and bird watching. Among the things to do is definitely snorkelling with the Whale sharks and taking a kayak tour through the mangroves.

Check out my snorkelling with whale sharks experience!

Accommodation on Holbox
Whale Shark Snorkeling Adventure (Lonely Planet recommendations)
Kayaking Tour (Lonely Planet recommendations)

Other Islands: Isla Mujeres and Isla Cozumel

I haven’t visited them myself, but definitely, Isla Mujeres was a name coming back in multiple conversations about places to go. Apparently, the main hostel has such a crappy WIFI (on purpose) so people with getting more in contact with each other, not sure if it’s a myth or it’s reality.

Cuzuma Cenotes

Merida is a lovely place to get a bit of culture and explore some Mexican city that’s not near the coastline. One of the highlights is the Cuzuma Cenotes. Cenotes are underground fresh water sources, which are very clear and a nice scenery to have a swim. They are formed in this region with limestone. Feel free to look up more about them. The Cenotes tour in Cuzuma consists of three cenotes (Chelentun, Chansinic and Bolonchoojol). The tour is more than just a cenote adventure though. You start on a tuk-tuk, changing to a railway, where horses will take over your journey. Although there are different places where you can visit cenotes, one tip I can give is google it first and check some pictures, I heard from different people some cenotes can disappoint.

Cuzama adventure from Merida
Accommodation Merida

Merida cuzuma cenotes swim
Merida cuzuma cenotes

Another review: http://www.roamingaroundtheworld.com/tres-cenotes-of-cuzuma/

Flamingos in Celestun

Celestun is a beautiful little town on the West coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s not very touristy at all, but perfect if you are looking for some quiet place to take some rest. Celestun has a nice beach, but it’s most famous for the flocks of flamingos. Coming from Holbox, Celestun’s tour organisation was a bit more basic and finding other tourists who want to go on a trip is always a plus, as you are mostly paying for a boat with a guide, not per person. These tours are definitely worth it though. They take you in a lagoon which a lot of flamingos, which gives you some amazing views. You are literally in the middle of them. Although it seems to vary at different times of the year, it sounds like the flamingos are there year-round. Overall it was a great trip, but I have to say, coming from Holbox with all the boats around the whale sharks and keeping to the rules, Celestun is quieter and at least our boat driver was a bit less aware on how not to disturb the birds. He was doing a great job, just on some occasions, I felt we were too close to some birds. The tour will also take you through a bit of mangrove, which is nice (but a bit more mosquitoes when I visited – August).

Offer from Merida
Accommodation in Celestun

Also trips available on the lonely planet page:

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

I heard great reviews about this part of the Yucatan Peninsula. Although I haven’t been there myself, here are some resources which are worth checking out. First of all, Bob Manu Tours, which I met during my time in Calakmul Biosphere reserve. Secondly, I found this amazing blog about how to arrange a trip on your own in the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve:
DIY tips http://www.roamingaroundtheworld.com/how-to-visit-sian-kaan-biosphere-preserve/

Organised trip
Accommodation in Tulum


Calakmul is both a Maya ruin and a great nature reserve. It’s one of the largest cities during Maya times and the ruins are situated for into the reserve. It’s about 60 km drive from the main road (one way). At the entrance of the reserve, at Km 20 (20 km from the main road), there is a nice museum. This is also basecamp for the Operation Wallacea monitoring program during July.

Other Maya ruins: Chichén Itzá

Lonely Planet information

Travel to Mexico

Learn more about Mexico

Accommodation Cancun
Find a Flight


Disclaimer: this article contains affiliate links. This means Wildlife Impulse will get a commission on some products advertised, without additional costs you as a customer. Check out https://wildlifeimpulse.com/help-us/other ways you can help.

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