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In part one of the Yucatan Peninsula: Beyond Cancun series, we introduced you to the magical appeal of colonial cities in Mexico and some of the wonders created by man. With this post, we would like to take you through a journey back in time to discover the beauty that can only be present in the untouched natural environments of the Yucatan Peninsula.
A pristine paradise of white sand beaches untouched by industrial development, Isla Holbox is one of those rare secrets that no one wants to share. For years, Holbox was an off the beaten path favorite. Now, the 7-mile long island has entered the 21st Century through tourism and its placement as THE top place in the world to swim with the ocean’s largest fish, the whale shark. The tiburon ballena gather just off the coast of Holbox each May through September, opening the doors to the tourism industry since the discovery of this gathering place 6 years ago. The main economic sustainability of the island is fishing, which can be seen and felt in the picturesque scenery of the island that time left behind. The only mode of transportation is rented golf-carts, bicycles and foot traffic through the sand-filled streets of Holbox. Without an ounce of asphalt in the whole island, this destination beyond Cancun is made for ultimate relaxation, amazing fresh fish, and nature gloating at its finest.
Mexico’s newest upcoming tourist destination, Mahahual—like most beach towns in Mexico—used to be a small fishing village that is growing thanks to international and national tourism. Mahahual, is the heart of the Costa Maya which runs from the Sian Ka’an to the town of Xcalak. About a 25-minute walk from the town there is a major cruise port in Costa Maya that draws thousands of visitors to this area of Mexico. Part of the appeal besides the beautiful beaches and luscious tropical Yucatan Peninsula jungles is the scuba and snorkel in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The second biggest barrier reef in the planet, 400 m away parallel, is the perfect spot to see a diverse collection of underwater life. But the real charm of Mahahual is found in the rugged vegetation and feel of its town and beach roads, a major magnet for travelers looking to get out of Cancun to explore and discover.
The only town in the state of Quintana Roo to meet the qualifications of a Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) by the Secretariat of Tourism standards, Bacalar is the home of mystery, adventure, and bloody tales of pirate attacks all engulfed in the beautiful natural surroundings of the green, tropical jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula and the blue-turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Located in the southern part of the state, this small paradise nestled in the Yucatan Peninsula is home to the Bacalar Lagoon—also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors for its distinctive beauty—and the Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote)—rumored to be the largest. Scuba fanatics have adopted the cenote as a favorite spot because of its intricate passages and mysterious caverns. Part of the appeal, of course, is the rich history that surrounds this town, especially the battle scars left by pirates in their quest for treasures. The most attractive factor in Bacalar, however, continues to be the vivid colors in the natural environment and the ever-so-present hospitality and kindness of people in Mexico.
With only 500 inhabitants, Punta Allen is truly a secluded, little paradise where the only things sitting on its beaches are the palm trees of the Caribbean and the few lucky people who have discovered this Yucatan Peninsula secret. The road to paradise is a sandy coconut road about 30 miles long through the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve. The 2 ½ hour drive is aligned with the incredible beauty of Caribbean beaches, pristine mangroves, and serene quietness. Few people have the tolerance to endure the rutted road that leads to this haven, but the virgin beauty of these preserved beaches are a true testament of the gift nature can offer.
As a conscious, eco-friendly company, we would like to end this post with a special request for locals and visitors of the Yucatan Peninsula: to continue to care and respect the natural resources and ecosystems that make places such as Holbox, Mahahual, Bacalar, Punta Allen, and so many others the attractive and beautiful tourist destinations we all admire.