— Road trip Yucatan —

Discover our itinerary and our advice for a 3 weeks road trip in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

Our itinerary

Our itinerary for a 3-week road trip

Before detailing our itinerary, there is an essential question to raise before your trip.

HOW TO GET AROUND? There are two options. The first, the one we chose, is to rent a car. We rented it in Playa del Carmen and returned it 16 days later at Cancún airport. We got it for 250 euros per person knowing that it was a 7-seater SUV, for the same number of people on board.

The second option is the bus. The ADO company runs daily trips from its terminals in each of the cities on the above route.

But the biggest advantage of renting a car is surely to have your own independence.

First step


When you first hear about Cancún, you probably have stars in your eyes. However, like many other travellers, we were very disappointed. Overall, it's big buildings, expensive living and disappointing beaches. We only spent one night there and I would not recommend staying longer.

If possible, do not stay in the city, but in the hotel area by the sea.

Couchée de soleil sur la Playa Norte

Step 2


Second day and direction the ferry to Isla Mujeres. The return ticket costs about 500 pesos (25 euros). There are ferries every 30 minutes and the journey takes about 20 minutes.

This island of women sells dreams. The island is 8km long and 1km wide and offers beaches with clear blue water as rarely seen. You can also rent golf carts to get around.

Unfortunately, this island is full of tourists during the day. Many visitors come from Cancún to spend the day on the island, which makes the beaches, especially Punta Norte, very crowded. On top of that, many of the beaches are privatized by hotels and beach clubs.

Isla Mujeres is still an island to do and if you go, take a day trip to Punta Sur before returning to Punta Norte for sunset. But don't stay more than two nights.

couchée de soleil sur la Playa 88

Step 3


After an hour and a half bus ride from Cancún, we arrived in Playa del Carmen. We weren't very excited about the Yucatán until then. And if you stay in the city centre of Playa and expect to do the beaches in the centre, you will be very disappointed. Playa del Carmen is a party town.

You'll find it best if you go a little further out of town. Take a colectivo (mini-bus at 10 pesos) on avenue 30 in the direction of Playa 88, a very wild public beach 10 minutes from the centre and with far fewer tourists. But you don't need to stay more than 2 nights in Playa del Carmen.

Day at​ PUERTO MORELOS : If you have the opportunity, go to this small fishing village 30km from Playa del Carmen. It's a peaceful place away from the tourists and known for snorkelling. Several vendors will offer a boat tour with equipment to explore a beautiful coral reef. Negotiate for 20 euros per person for about 1.5 hours.

How to get there? There are two options. Either by taxi for about 700/800 pesos. Or by taking a colectivo for 30 pesos at Chedraui de Playa del Carmen. Then another colectivo to reach the centre of Puerto Morelos.

Step 4


Head to the ferry at Playa del Carmen to get to the island of Cozumel. There are ferries every hour. The round trip costs 500 pesos (25 euros).

Cozumel, at first sight, is a bigger and less touristy island than Isla Mujeres. And it feels good!

A piece of advice: take an accommodation close to the centre, it can be a long way to walk with big bags and taxis are expensive.

Cozumel is a big island, so it's worth exploring. I advise you to rent scooters or pick-ups to go around the island. Be careful to negotiate well.

h​ h​​We went around the island from the south, and it was beautiful! Very wild and deserted, there are no houses on the other side of the island. Splendid beaches, but some of them are not free. But don't worry, there are others.

Last brand tip: Go by scooter to the Money Bar Beach Club to contemplate a magnificent sunset with your feet in the water. Without necessarily consuming. But above all, don't forget your mask and snorkel, which will be useful for exploring the magnificent coral and fish around.

Cozumel is an island that can be done in one or two nights at the most, but it's a place that made an impression on us, so I recommend it!

Photo de la Cenote Sac Actun

Step 5


We arrived in Tulum after a 1 hour drive, having picked up our rental car in Playa del Carmen. We stayed in a hostel, the Mayan Monkey, very nice and well located. I recommend it if you have a limited budget.

As for Playa del Carmen, you have to wander around the city. Because if you stay in the centre, you will get depressed. It's a main road with buildings, bars and restaurants. But without any charm, none. That's why you shouldn't stay there, and a car is very useful in this case.

What to do? We stayed 4 nights and had time to do a lot of good things. What I recommend: The playa Xpu Ha at 30 minutes from the centre (there is a charge for entry by car but it is worth it!); Akumal -> A beach for diving/snorkeling. You can normally see turtles and rays; The archaeological zone of Tulum et its beach (visit to the ruins is subject to a fee but free for Mexican students); Cenote Sac Actun (500 pesos/person but surely one of the most beautiful in Yucatan); The main beach of Tulum (Playa Paraiso).

Step 6


After a 3 hour drive we are about to discover the magical corner of Quintana Roo. Bacalar. Without hesitation my favourite place of the trip. So go for it!

We stayed in another hostel, the Che, which I also recommend if you are limited.

Bacalar is different. Not very touristy yet but it will be soon. It is no longer the sea but a transparent blue lagoon. It is a city made for resting and enjoying the moment.

What to do? I strongly advise you to take a boat trip on the lagoon (about 2 hours). You will see several cenotes and you can swim in some places. Try to go there for the sunset!

We also went to Los Rapidos, a place that many blogs recommend to do. However, we were quite disappointed by the place, even if it is still nice to do, especially if you are accompanied by children. There were a lot of tourists there, mainly French. Moreover, this activity is not cheap, costing between 150 and 200 pesos per person.

Another thing, if you can wake up early in the morning, go and see the sunrise on a pontoon facing the lagoon. It's simply magical, I just hope you don't get clouds like we did!

Step 7


December 24th. We head from Bacalar to Telchac Puerto, a small village north of Merida. It's about a 4 hour drive to Merida.

Telchac Puerto is a village at 1h from Merida by car, on the seaside. No luck, we had taken an AirBnb by the sea with a pool to celebrate Christmas. Result: it rained for 2 days and the sea was brown! So don't do like us, stay in Merida!

With this weather, we didn't even get to visit Merida, which is a very pretty city and also very safe.

Step 8


On the program, the obligatory passage of this trip: the visit of Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the world.

I advise you to go early in the morning because it is indeed crowded during the day! Tourists from all over the world come to Mexico especially to see this Mayan city.

If you come by car, there are several car parks around the site, which will cost you less than 100 pesos.

For the visit, it costs about 550 pesos per adult, 100 pesos per child. And free for students in Mexico. To that you can add the price of the guide, not obligatory but strongly advised to understand the history of this archaeological site. The visit lasts 1h30/2h.

Step 9


After an excursion to Chichén Itzá, we chose to spend the night in a rancho in the middle of the forest for even more adventure. But it was not a good idea, as it was 1h30/2h from Valladolid on roads and tracks for 4x4.

The next morning, we headed for Valladolid. It's a city that is very similar to all other Mexican cities, but if you haven't had the opportunity to travel to the country, you'll find it a pleasure.

After a short visit of the city and its centre, we took the road to visit two cenotes: SAC-AUA et OXMÁN. These are two beautiful cenotes at about 150 pesos that are really worth it. I highly recommend both, as they are very different. However, you will need a car or scooters, which you can certainly rent locally, to get there.

Step 10


If you have the opportunity to go to Río Lagartos, don't hesitate! It is a very quiet fishing village, which will allow you to get away from the tourists of the Yucatan.

Upon arriving there, several locals sold us their boat tour. The 40 minute excursion, with the aim of seeing crocodiles and flamingos, quickly attracted us. We were 3 and paid 500 pesos. And it was by far the best excursion of the trip. We were lucky to see 2 crocodiles at less than a meter. Then many flamingos but not only. A real show! I highly recommend it.

After this excursion, we took the road towards Las Coloradas, pink salt ponds. This is an increasingly touristy place, and you must take a guide for the visit. It is about 250 to 300 pesos for 30 minutes to 1 hour visit. To get a better view of the pink water, it is recommended to arrive between 12 and 3pm. We loved this visit even if we will not do it a second time.

I therefore recommend staying one night in Río Lagartos and its surroundings. We stayed at l'Hotel Mercy Inn's : cheap, well located and clean.

Last step


Last stop of the trip and not just any stop: Holbox Island. We had high expectations of Holbox. After arriving in Chiquilà, we took the ferry for about 350 pesos per person (round trip).

We arrived on the island and, good news, it had just rained for 3 days. The island was almost flooded when we arrived and we had to drive 30 minutes to the port. In Holbox, there are no cars, and quad taxis cost an arm and a leg. So we had to walk there naked with our big suitcases. And we were going to sleep in incredible comfort: in a tent. Of course, this campsite was not very close to the centre, but it was only 2 minutes away from a deserted beach, and in the morning, it's quite nice.

After a first night at the campsite, we headed for the Che Hostel, which is 2 minutes from the ferry. Once again, hostels are very convenient in the Yucatan because: cheap, comfortable and often well located. But above all, if you have the opportunity to go to a Che, don't miss their Barbecue night! For 160 pesos, I can tell you that it's worth it!

What to do in Holbox? It's a very deserted island, so there's not much to do except sunbathe all day. You can also go to Punta Mosquito, Holbox's attraction.