A Road trip is a fantastic way to travel the Yucatan peninsula as you can set your own agenda, travel at your own paste and keep a lot of flexibility. And when following our Yucatan road trip itinerary you will have a relaxed vacation and experience all the must sees on a Mexico road trip.
Things to know when renting a car in Mexico
Getting a rental car in Mexico is fairly easy and cheap and you will get the best deals when using a price comparison website. We used billiger-mietwagen.de and got a great deal on a compact car. Make sure that the insurances you need are included as otherwise the local car rental station will try to sell you a package.
The Mexican roads are easy and save to drive, traffic is not bad and signalization is good. To save costs on a navigation system you can easily navigate with google maps. One last advice is to exactly follow the traffic rules as there are still some questionable police men that focus specifically on tourists to make some extra money. We learned our lesson in Campeche and hope that you can learn from it too.
Best time to travel Mexico by car
In general Mexico can be travelled all year round but of course there are seasons. High season is from December to April when its mostly dry and May to August offers the hottest temperatures. Probably the month to avoid is September as it’s the hurricane month. There are not always hurricanes, but a lot of wind and heavy rains.
Seaweed could also influence your Mexico road trip. Normally the seaweed arrives from April to August on the Mexican Caribbean coast but every year it’s a bit different. But don’t worry, as there are many cenotes, open caves filled with freshwater, on the Yucatan peninsula that are perfect to cool down and are absolutely seaweed free. Plus Celestun, Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres don’t get seaweed either and the staff at the good hotels at the Caribbean coast do a tremendous job to keep the beaches clean.
Let the fun begin in spiritual Tulum
As most travelers we arrived on the Cancun international airport. Feel free to get your rental car at the airport and also start your Mexico road trip there. As we had to process our Africa trip first, we traveled by bus to Tulum and got our rental car there after a few days.
The obvious reason to start your Yucatan road trip in Tulum are its white sandy beaches, the great Mexican food and the healthy spirit of the jungle road. And there is more. For one there are the cenotes, open caves filled with ground water, that are perfect to jump into. We dived with red-eared slider turtles at the Grand Cenote, jumped through the holes of the scull shaped Cenote Calavera and explored the caves of Dos Ojos. And there are the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Cobà that can’t wait to get explored and climbed.
The Coba mayan ruins are a special highlight. This archeological site is beautifully located in the jungle and you can actually still climb Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid on the Yucatan peninsula.
Blue Laguna de Bacalar
Before you reach Bacalar on your Yucatan road trip you should stop at the Lagoon de Kaan Lum with its mysterious blue hole in the middle of the lagoon. La Laguna de Bacalar can also look quite mysterious and when the sun is out the water looks like in the Maldives. And because this lake in Central America is enormous you could easily mistake it for a tropical sea.
The Agua Azul are probably the most beautiful waterfalls you can imagine. Its colors are mind blowing and you can even swim in its turquoise waters.
The Mayan ruins of Palenque are also hidden deep in the Mexican jungle. It is said that its architects were stoned on magic mushrooms and when you look at the ruin site you kind of get the feeling that this is not only a legend.
Food Paradise Campeche
The next stop on your Yucatan itinerary should be Campeche. It is probably the most delicious and colorful city in Mexico. The entire old town is full of beautiful houses painted in bright colors. And some of those houses are restaurants that serve the best Mexican food you can imagine. They offer high-class cuisine at a cost that in other countries would barely be enough for a visit at McDonald’s.
Maya ruins of Uxmal
The next destination you enter on google maps should be Uxmal. Its archaeological site is the best preserved of all Mayan ruins and it is still not clear why the ancient Maya built a city there. Because this area faces quite a high risk for draughts. But they must have had good reasons as they built a city that was and still is stunningly beautiful.
Flamingos in Celestun
You can easily reach Celestun on a day trip from Merida. And you should go there as it offers an almost perfect Caribbean beach. And what makes it even better, is the fact that it is not affected by the seaweed that sometimes hunts Mexico’s east coast.
Another reason to travel from Merida to Celestun are the Flamingos in the Celestun biosphere reserve. There are many boats right at the beach, that will take you on the trip as soon as they have enough guests.
Famous Chichen Itza
The most obvious stop on your Mexico road trip is Chichen Itza. The archeological site of Chichen Itza is an UNESCO world heritage site and also one of the new seven wonders of the world. That is quite a title, but when you stand in front of El Castillo, also known as Temple of Kukulcan, you understand why.
And in case you are eager to cool down after exploring an entire Maya city including a well restored ball court, the cenote of Ik Kil right next to it is perfect.
Relax on Isla Holbox
For the first time on your Mexican road trip you will need to park your rental car and take the ferry to reach this car free island. But don’t worry, there are many protected parking lots in the harbor town of Chiquila. Isla Holbox itself is probably THE paradise on the Yucatan peninsula. Its beaches are absolutely perfect and palm trees provide just the right amount of shade to reach a state of complete relaxation. You have the chance to snorkel with Whale sharks and to cruise around with golf carts and there are many small restaurants whose walls are full of street art.
Brunch in Cancun
Back on the mainland it takes only 2h on a Mexican road to reach Cancun. Cancun is one of the top holiday destinations at the Riviera Maya on the Yucatan peninsula. And its white sandy beaches in the hotel zone are hard to top. They are so well maintained that even during the worst seaweed season they are way cleaner than all the other beaches.
And even when you are staying in the village you can have brunch in one of those luxury resorts and enjoy the beach afterwards.
Diving on Isla Mujeres
Before you reach the last stop of your Mexico road trip you should return your rental car, as Isla Mujeres can only be reached by ferry. It is an absolute paradise and the easiest way to get around is by golf cart. You can start your beach trip at Playa Norte and drive along the west coast all the way to Punta Sur. But don’t forget to stop at the Garrafon natural reef park as it offers the best snorkeling on the island.
The other main attraction of this island paradise is its diving. Machones reef and Punta Negro are natural reefs and great spots to experience the corals and the marine life. And there is also a sunken gun boat to explore. But the main attraction is an underwater museum full of sculptures and statues covered with corrals.