The state of Quintana Roo, Mexico is every sun seeking, water adventurer’s dream come true. From the white-sand beaches of Cancun to the 100-mile shoreline of the Mayan Riviera, Quintana Roo’s position along the eastern Yucatan peninsula flanking the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea is a vacationer’s paradise, with accommodations, restaurants, and nightlife to meet all lifestyles, budgets, and tastes.
Many people love the excitement of Quintana Roo’s bigger resort destinations like Cancun and Playa de Carmen, but the Islas Mujeres and Cozumel off the coast of Quintana Roo are perfect destinations for those seeking a less energetic tropical haven.
The world’s second largest reef sits between the mainland and the islands, and you can, within half an hour, get to this primo scuba diving and snorkeling site. The popular Arrecife Palancar (Palancar Reef) with its stunning coral formations offers some of the world's finest viewing of colorful fish, sea turtles, and other exotic creatures, along with underwater photography with an extraordinary 230-foot visibility.
For those times you prefer to be on top of the water, rather than beneath it, rent a jet ski or take a dinner cruise to enjoy the views, you might even be able to catch a glimpse of The Underwater Sculpture Museum – the world’s largest underwater museum. These incredible sculptures, many representing Mayan people, were designed to become artificial reefs. It’s actually better seen beneath the water, but either way, you just have to see it!
For those looking for an even quieter vacation, Holbox Island and the town of Xpu Ha are about as serene as you’d want to get. And, like so many other areas along the coast of Quintana Roo, they are fantastic places to get in some deep-sea fishing.
Secluded Holbox Island, located at the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula is virtually a virgin tourist destination. It’s a quiet fishing village, with 26-miles of white sand beach. The only sound you might hear are, fishing boats, or an occasional tour boat, like those taking people out to see and swim with the whale shark or to view hundreds of migrating birds.
Holbox is the world’s premier whale shark watching destination! The awesome whale shark is the biggest fish on the planet; its white-spotted body, measures between 15 and 50 feet in length, and can weigh as much as 10 tons.
Isla Pajaros, also known as Bird Island, is home to 520 known bird species, many of which are in danger of extinction. It’s a spectacular sight, particularly at sunset when all the birds flock back to the trees to roost for the night.
Xpu-Ha, also a quiet fishing village, is located along the Mayan Riviera. Enjoy the calm and sanity of this quaint little gem, while using it as launching site for other attractions along the Riviera.
The Yucatan Peninsula, of which Quintana Roo is a part, is where the Mayan people settled very long ago. Many cities in Quintana Roo have museums that offer an insight to their rich culture and heritage, their religion, even their ideas about the future. The museum in Chetumal, the capital city of Quintana Roo, houses exhibits illustrating all things Mayan, from architecture to medicinal plant use.
You can’t go home without visiting the archeological sites of the Mayan ruins. No one does that. You’ll find the ancient temples, pyramids, arenas, and sacrificial buildings, among many other structures, each with their own story, telling a way of life that we can barely imagine. The ruins at Tulum and Chichén Itza are very popular, but so many other relatively unknown, but equally impressive, ruin sites exist like Coba, Xel-ha, Muyil, Kohunlich, Dzibanche, Oxtankah, and Chaccchoben. If you want a less crowded experience, check out these great ruin sites.
Explore the cenotes – natural springs, lagoons, and pools of water made from limestone by ancient Mayan. Swim, snorkel, or scuba dive with colorful creatures through deep caverns found in some of the larger cenotes. While you’ll find cenotes in several locations, the beautiful Cenote Azul in southern Quintana Roo is a popular swimming site.
There are so many great things to see and do in Quintana Roo; you can be as active or as idle as you want to be; you can go inland and take in the area’s history and culture, explore ruins, swim in the lagoons and cenotes, or tour museums, old churches, or botanical gardens. No matter where you go in Quintana Roo, along its shores or amongst the flora and fauna, you’ll find that there is absolutely something for everyone to enjoy in this lush, tropical paradise.