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Cancun’s by far the most popular destination on the Yucatan Peninsula, but travel writer-photographer duo Hannah & Adam of travel blog GettingStamped.com love the area for all it has to offer outside the bustling tourist zone—from majestic Mayan ruins to underground cave diving and other natural wonders. Here are seven unforgettable things to do in the Yucatan.

RELATED: Three unforgettable, perfect days in Riviera Maya

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Mayan Ruins of Tulum

1. Visit seaside Mayan ruins

For more than 4,000 years, the Mayan civilization called the Yucatan and parts of Central America home. At their peak, they had hundreds of cities and temples scattered throughout their empire and today the ruins of these ancient cities can be found as far south as Honduras. But only one is perchedhigh above the Caribbean Sea: Picture a beautiful backdrop of crystal clear turquoise water filling out the frame, and it’s just a two-hour drive from the hotel zone in Cancun, making it a must-see on any Cancun itinerary.

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Diver visiting the MUSA underwater museum – Photo by: Ratha GrimesCC

2. Swim through the world’s largest underwater museum

Kick your fins around 500 sculptures sunk into the sea by artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The Museo Subacuático de Arte is a massive collection of underwater statues located between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. The museum is aimed to show the relationship between humans and nature in both positive and negative ways. Don’t miss the antique VW beetle made of concrete.

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3. Explore Cenotes

The word cenote came fromthe Mayan name for a sink-hole. A natural geological formation where the limestone bedrock opens up to the underground river below. It’s estimated that there are over 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatan. Sinkholes similar to the Yucatan’s cenotes exist a few other places in the world, but nowhere else in such vast numbers. New cenotes are still being discovered and explored. Popular with divers for their unique cave structures and link to the ancient Mayan culture.

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Queso Relleno – Yucatecan Stuffed Cheese

4. Try Yucatecan food

Most people associate Mexico with tacos, but Mexico is a huge country with many areas all with their own regional specialties. The flavors and dishes found in the Yucatan are a unique mashup of Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, and even Mayan cuisines. Try a local favorite Queso Relleno, or stuffed cheese, which consists hollowed-out Edam filled with pork, peppers, onions, tomatoes, raisins, capers, olives and spices.

RELATED: Celebrity chef Rick Bayless’ 5 favorite Mexico City restaurants

Sea turtle swimming in the green waters of Akumal bay in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

Swimming sea turtle of Akumal bay

5. Visit the turtles of Akumal

A short drive from Mexico’s most popular resort town is a small bay that is more popular with sea turtles than people. Akumal is home to a strong population of Loggerhead turtles. It’s one of the few, easy to access public beaches with an almost guaranteed turtle sighting. Rent snorkel gear or a guide for the day to take you out to see the majestic sea turtles of Akumal.

Looking into the Chicxulub crater

Looking into the Chicxulub crater | Ken Thomas from Wiki CC

6. Stand in the crater that killed the dinosaurs

According to scientists, 65 million years ago a 6-mile wide asteroid hit the northern edge of the Yucatan, wiping out the dinosaurs. The impact left behind the 112-mile wide Chicxulub crater (the only one visible from space on earth). The center of the crater sits in the modern day village that the crater was named after, Chicxulub. Although the crater is more impressive from above, the asteroid left behind many cool features in the Yucatan including a ringof cenotes around the crater’s edge. Scientists also say that we have this asteroid to thank for a lot of the unique features of the Yucatan including the huge amount of amazing cenotes.

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Divers exploring the Mesoamerican Reef

7. Dive the largest reef in the Americas

Often overshadowed by the Great Barrier reef, the Mesoamerican reef is over 600 miles long and filled with over 500 species of fish. The reef system runs from the tip of the Yucatan all the way down to the bay islands of Honduras. World class diving and snorkeling sites can be found all alongthe Yucatan Peninsula. The Mesoamerican reef system makes for some of the best diving in all of the Americas – just another reason that makes the Yucatan such an amazing place.

 

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Tagged: Caribbean, Mexico

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Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog GettingStamped.com.

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