Palapa-shaded beach retreats and plunge-ready spa hotels line up around Mexico‘s most popular peninsula.
From Holbox to the jungle-knitted hinterland around Mérida, there’s more to the Yucatán than the crowded hotspot of Cancún. Here, we ditch the all-inclusives and head instead for wholesome hotels that’ll leave you with more than just dodgy tan lines – all bookable on Culture Trip.
You can now explore the region by booking Culture Trip’s small-group, nine-day Yucatán Peninsula tour.
You shouldn’t overlook Mérida, the Yucatán capital, when in Mexico’s best-loved beach state – and Casa Azul, a 19th-century certified historic monument, is your palatial base when in the Ciudad Blanca (White City). The so-called Blue House has just eight suites, each inspired by a local landmark, including a Franciscan convent and 16th-century cathedral, while the pink, flower-filled suite is an ode to the Santa Isabel hermitage. Restaurant tables are tucked between colonial columns, breakfast comes gratis and courtyard gardens give way to a small pool. Three daughters restored this casa and you’ll feel part of the familia in no time.
If you’ve come to Mexico’s playa playground for blue seas and sugar-fine sand, you’ll find it at Aqua Star Hotel. Rooms and apartments are simple and functional, done out in tropical woods and shades of blue that nod to the view outside. Plump for one with a balcony – or even a hot tub, if you’re feeling flush – and bag a sea-facing front-row seat. The pool deck and beach are pretty special, too.
From above, Mahekal Beach Resort with its handful of palapa-style huts blends subtly into the jungle. At ground level, luxe touches including sea-facing beach houses and treehouse-style penthouses – there’s even a palatial residencia, with a kitchen and private terrace with hammocks. There’s a spa and several pools to spoil, plus a dive center that’s been here for 35 years, so they know every fish-filled corner of the nearby reefs. Ask nicely and they’ll show you where the turtles live.
Until recently, Isla Holbox – an island off the north Yucatán coast – was very much a laid-back, lo-fi sort of place, where you kicked off your shoes on arrival and dispensed with them until you left. It still has many of those things – car-free, crowd-free, carefree – but the arrival of several hotels marks a turning point. Designed by young architects who won a competition for their Mayan-influenced ideas, Punta Caliza is all whitewashed walls, single-story dwellings, cedarwood interiors and palapa roofs. Come here from May to September, during whale shark season, when you can swim alongside the world’s largest fish.
This loved-up hotel woos honeymooners and couples with its adults-only offering on the beach in Tulum. Rooms are designed for two and chef Paul Bentley, who’s won awards for his Magno Brasserie in Guadalajara, seduces with his Med-Mexican menu in the main restaurant. There are jungle adventures in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and river tours where you can spot spider monkeys swooping through matchstick palms. In the spa, couples can connect with various rituals performed in a traditional Mexican sauna. You’re in Tulum, after all…
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.