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Mexico - Mayan Adventures and Caribbean Island

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To book this holiday please contact our Travel Experts directly on



A land where vine-clad lost cities are shrouded in the mystery of the Mayan people, and behind masses of wild mangroves paradisical beaches beckon.

Beginning with a boat ride across one of Mexico’s bluest lagoons, dotted with flamingos, this remote journey reveals the country’s most ancient ruins, colonial remnants, and nature reserves, immensely rich in rare wildlife.

Make your way, following in the footsteps of the Mayans through Tulum, Palenque and Chichén Itzá, pausing to paddle across sacred cenotes and misty waterfall pools. Finally, sail away from the mainland to an island hideaway in the Caribbean Sea, where time slows down and watching the sun dip behind the sea is a ceremony.

What does this price include?

  • 11 nights' bed and breakfast accommodation at a series of hotels in Playa del Carmen (1 night), Chetumal (1), Palenque (3), Campeche (1), Merida (2) and Holbox (3)
  • Visit to Tulum’s Mayan site
  • Bacalar Lagoon boat ride to the Canal de Los Piratas and the ‘Island of Birds’
  • A boat ride to the Yaxchilan ruins
  • A transfer to Palenque with a stopover in Escárcega
  • An excursion to the Palenque archaeological site and Roberto Barrios Waterfalls
  • A colonial Campeche city tour
  • A visit to San Ignacio Park to see cenotes and a typical Yucatan lunch
  • A visit to the Chichén Itza archaeological site
  • Return flights to and from Cancún
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers throughout
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager

Your Itinerary

View a full breakdown of your holiday to help you plan your trip

  • Arrive at Cancún International Airport, where you’ll be warmly welcomed by your friendly tour manager. You’ll then be transferred to the chic In Fashion Hotel & Spa, just a few minutes’ walk from a beach and the tempting waters of the Caribbean Sea.

    Post-unpacking, perhaps head straight for the swimming pool before meeting with a guide who’ll offer you a quick orientation of your area. The evening is yours to explore Playa del Carmen, the coastal resort town, potentially meandering along the Quinta Avenida pedestrian thoroughfare, lined with shops, lively bars, and restaurants.

  • Breathe in the sea breeze this morning, tuck into breakfast and  travel to one of the best-preserved coastal Mayan sites in Tulum, the pre-Columbian Mayan walled city. Dating back to the 13th century, these ruins set within Tulum National Park are scattered across a series of cliffs, which overlook the sea. The most famous ancient remnants include Castillo, which was built as a watchtower and the Templo de las Pinturas, featuring a partially restored mural. Further inland, the pyramid-shaped temples of Cobá are equally as renowned, ringed by jungle.

    Later that day, you’ll travel to Yucatán Peninsula’s Bacalar Lagoon known as the ‘Lagoon of Seven Colours’ given its assortment of azure shades.

    You’ll board a covered boat and set off across the lagoon, pausing to take photographs or jump overboard and swim before enjoying a picnic of fresh seasonal fruit.

    The boat will continue sailing to the famous Canal de Los Piratas, a striking waterway, which served as a route for merchant and pirate ships to transport goods between the Hondo River and the Bacalar Lagoon.

    Next up will be a visit to three cenotes, natural pits, or sinkholes of water, then a series of stromatolites, living fossils formed mainly of limestone and protruding out of the water, and the ‘Island of Birds’, a coral-covered sandbank.

    Afterwards, you’ll be taken to the relaxed coastal city of Chetumal, where you’ll check into the Capital Plaza Hotel, ideally situated in the Downtown area.

    Take some time to relax, have a refreshing swim, and review your surroundings, finding a spot for dinner.

  • Rise for breakfast before being driven during the day to Palenque, an ancient ruined city home to the largest and most famous of the Mayan sites, peppered throughout the jungle.

    On the way there, the tour will make a stopover for lunch (on your own account) at the small city of Escárcega before continuing the journey onwards.

    Upon arrival in Palenque, you’ll check into the colourful Hotel Chablis Palenque, where you can unwind and have dinner.

  • Following breakfast, you’ll be driven deep into the tropical Lacandon Jungle and then board a boat to travel to the ancient Mayan city of Yaxchilan, which was founded in the 5th century AD.

    This remote reserve of ruins is built on the bend of the Usumacinta River and encompasses an enrapturing complex of 80 striking structures, many impressively carved with detailed hieroglyphics and elaborate stucco designs.  

    Your guide will lead you around while explaining the meanings behind the carved lintels and the vine-clad statues as howler monkeys and toucans can be spotted through the trees.

    You’ll return later in the day to spend the evening, taking it easy after a day of exploration.

  • Tuck into breakfast and then set off to the archaeological zone of Palenque, which was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

    El Palacio (The Palace), with a four-sided tower, is one of the most notable structures and is made up of four courtyards, a labyrinth of corridors, and several rooms.  

    The Templo de las Inscripciones (Temple of Inscriptions), a highlight of the site, with its stepped pyramid design, and interior of preserved panels, was constructed to preserve the tomb of King Pakal, the ruler of Palenque from 615 A.D. 

    Lining the building's interior are 617 intricately carved hieroglyphs, telling the story of the city and its rulers, and Pakal was buried with a jade mask that is on display in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

    You’ll leave this site and then travel to Roberto Barrios, which is made up of five different waterfalls connecting to natural swimming pools in the heart of the jungle. Here, you can enjoy some free time to maybe take a soak in one of the pools or seek out the surrounding natural splendours.

    It’s then time to head back to the hotel and maybe lounge by the palm-tree-lined pool before dinner.

  • You’ll check out of the hotel this morning and venture to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Campeche. This port city on the Gulf of Mexico is known for its walls, preserved baroque buildings and military architecture.

    This city was fortified in the 17th century in response to pirate attacks, and you can visit its two hilltop fortresses, which have been turned into museums. The Fort de San Miguel holds the Campeche Archaeological Museum, which is also worth a visit given that it boasts a vast assortment of artefacts from local Mayan sites.

    A guided tour will introduce the city, revealing intriguing stories, and elaborating on its history and highlights.

    Hotel Mision Campeche, housed in a Spanish colonial-style building, will be your home for a night and is perfectly placed for pottering around the must-see landmarks in the historic centre.

  • This morning after breakfast you’ll say goodbye to Campeche and travel to Mérida, stopping on the way at San Ignacio Park, an expansive nature reserve.

    Here, you’ll have the chance to wander around the gardens and swim in an illuminated, underground cenote, which features thermal water due to a heating effect within the cave.

    After you’ve paddled, you can ride a bike around the grounds, stopping to look at the various flora and fauna.

    A lunch of typical Yucatan dishes will then be served and later you’ll continue onto the city of Mérida, which is famous for its blend of historic ruins, colonial, and contemporary facades.

    You’ll check into the grand Hotel Mision Merida, designed in a colonial style and dating back to the 19thcentury later in the day.

  • Fuel up on breakfast as you have a full day to make the most of Mérida. With museums, markets, and galleries galore, there’s no shortage of sights to take in.

    Just strolling along the streets, interspersed with sprawling plazas, imposing cathedrals and multi-hued buildings, is an experience in itself.

    From San Ildefonso Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in the Americas to the tree-fringed Pasejo MontejoAvenue, inspired by the Champs-Élysées, you’ll uncover spectacles at every turn.

    Alternatively, you can unwind back at the hotel, claiming a spot by the pool, with an icy margarita in hand.

  • You’ll have breakfast, check out and transfer to Chichén later in the day for a tour of Chichén Itzá – a sacred site and one of the greatest Mayan centres of the Yucatán peninsula. Known as one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Mexico, it’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

    Your guide will show you around, highlighting points of interest, including the towering step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan, which looks out over this ancient city and dates to around 600 A.D.

    This pyramid has 365 steps – one for each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides features 91 steps, and the platform at the top makes the 365th. You can also view the circular observatory known as El Caracol, and a ball court, which is the largest in the Americas.

    The tour will then continue to the village, Chiquila where you’ll take a ferry to Holbox, a paradisal island, teeming with marine life and enclosed by turquoise waters on the north coast of the Mexican Caribbean. You’ll then check into your island retreat, Holbox Dream set right on an unspoilt beach and enjoy a free evening.

  • Wake up in a calm, coastal haven this morning and after breakfast, you have the day completely at your disposal.

    Embrace the easy-going atmosphere of this car-free island, hemmed by heavenly sandy stretches and part of Yum Balam, Mexico’s largest ecological reserve.

    Take to the still waters, perhaps snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, or joining a sea safari in search of whale sharks.

    Stroll to the island’s ‘downtown’, with high-rise buildings and chain stores welcomingly absent. Pass by pastel-painted shops and decide on one of the open-air eateries to drink or dine in before watching the sunset from the pier.

    You can also partake in an optional boat trip to three islands, with the first being Bird Island, which offers an opportunity to see some of the 150 different bird species. Next up is Yalahau Lagoon, which is separated from the mainland, often dotted with flamingos, and believed to have healing properties. The final stop on this excursion will be Passion Island, a pristine escape perfect for birdwatching.

  • It’s your last breakfast and the final chance to have a mosey around Holbox before you’ll take a taxi to the dock, ferry back to Chiquila and transfer to Cancún International Airport for your flight home.

  • Arrive back in the UK this morning after a memorable Mexican adventure.


Dates & Prices

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Mexico - Mayan Adventures and Caribbean Island Touring Hotels

You'll be staying in a series of comfortable hotels that are conveniently located for your tour itinerary.

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Further Information

  • When travelling to the USA, British citizens require passports with an integrated chip (shown on the front by a small rectangular symbol beneath the word PASSPORT), valid beyond the return date from the USA. Visas are not normally required for entry, but visitors must apply for an ESTA online with US Immigration at least 72 hours before departure at The current charge is $21 for British Citizens. British subjects and anyone who has a criminal record or has ever been arrested should consult the US Embassy as a visa may be required. Note too that if you have visited North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationality with any of these countries, you do require a US visa and cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program.

  • Visit to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

  • All outbound flights depart and arrive on the same day. All return flights leave in the evening and land in the UK the next day. On-board meals will usually include lunch and a snack on outward flights, and dinner and breakfast on flight home. Soft drinks are complimentary, but some airlines will charge for alcoholic drinks.

  • You are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.

  • If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

  • The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

  • Gratuities are a way of life in North America, and it is generally accepted that they form part of a person's earnings. The customary gratuity for a coach driver or Tour Manager is about $5 per person per day. It is normal to tip 15-20 per cent of the bill for a taxi or in a restaurant, and to leave a dollar or so per drink in a bar. When on board your cruise, tips are included in the tour price.

  • Smoking is not permitted on any coach forming part of your holiday; regular stops will be made though for your comfort en route. The majority of hotels in North America are non-smoking throughout including in all bedrooms. In general smoking outside is acceptable, but do look out for signs prohibiting this close to public entrances or bus stops.

  • Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

  • Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.

  • Standard hotel rooms in America will contain one or two double- or queen-sized beds, and it is not possible to add extra beds to the room. Parties consisting of more than two travellers, but who have only booked one room, will be expected to make use of the two beds provided. If this is a concern, you may wish to consider booking more than one room for your group.

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