The time to renew our travels may seem as distant as the Sahara desert. But just like the dust in Yucatán, this moment may be closer than we think. A sign of this is that our state received the Travel Safety Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Receiving this distinction conveys a certain sense of calm to those who want to plan future explorations around Yucatán, since it has been recognized as a place that meets health protocols and standards.
I’m going to tell you everything you want to know about planning your next trip and why Yucatán is the perfect place to begin appreciating the outside world.
How can I prepare myself for future travels?
The rules for travel have changed and because prevention is essential, you should be more flexible than usual with your planning so that you can adapt to whatever protocols are in place. When you decide to begin traveling, start with smaller trips to keep your risk of exposure low. Try to plan your itinerary as close as possible to your travel date and then adjust your plans to the current situation.
It’s also important to know that experts recommend we start by traveling locally; and Yucatán is the ideal place to vacation once quarantine ends. Start small, with an outing to a trusted restaurant to see how you feel with the regulations that are currently in place.
When it becomes possible, consider exploring the diversity of Yucatán. We should feel fortunate to have such amazing places to visit and having the state to ourselves.
What is there to do in Yucatán?
You may want to visit one of the many beautifully-restored haciendas in the state. This will give you the perfect opportunity to enjoy lovely (not to mention secluded) surroundings and also taste a traditional Yucatecan meal. If you’re up for it, you can also switch it up and spend a night in one of their rooms. For example, Hacienda Xcanatún just remodeled their sumptuous facilities and you can be one of the first people to enjoy them. Or think of the gorgeous Hacienda Petac, which is legendary for its privacy, beautiful gardens, and personalized attention to detail.
Outdoor activities are the ideal way to put a spin on things and after spending the last few months cooped up, we’re all craving some fresh air. A major bonus is that they also allow for better social distancing.
Though archeological sites have not opened to the public and will probably be some of the last places to do so, they offer a wide-open space where you can surround yourself with culture, have plenty of space to move, and are great for social distancing. They will likely allow only a limited number of visitors once the quarantine is over. Imagine having the opportunity to visit Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, or Ek Balam with very few visitors. It will feel as if you’ve rented the whole place for yourself. Take this chance to snap perfect pictures at these amazing heritage sites, without having to worry about people being in the background, or photobombing your portrait.
Even if regulations are lifted, you may still feel uncomfortable going to public places. In this case, the beaches of our state are a great option. To have a modified version of the traditional summer “temporada” experience, book a room in a hotel by the beach or rent a house with an ocean view with your family. At this time, docks and marinas are open, but public beaches and the Malecón in Progreso are still closed to avoid the disease from spreading. Take this into account when choosing your space.
When we talk about water-related activities, it’s a fact that cenotes make our state a very special place. This will be even more true when they open to visitors once more. Just like us, cenotes have been in quarantine, so their water will be more crystal-clear than ever before.
What do I have to take into account?
We’ve heard the word “prevention” more times than we’ve had mood swings during this quarantine. But it’s important to remember that prevention is key to avoid putting yourself and others at risk, especially while traveling. So, even if your trip is local, research before making plans and make sure you follow all recommendations.
But, what’s open now?
If you are a foodie, then you’ll be happy to know that restaurants are up and running. Keep in mind that if you decide to dine-in, it’s important to make a reservation because eateries are limited to a certain number of visitors at a time. When you make your reservation, ask what measures you have to take to keep yourself, the workers at the establishment, and other customers safe. At this time, the government has announced that restaurants can operate at 25% capacity, seven days a week.
You’ll also be able to visit certain galleries and stores by appointment. If you’re craving Pox, mezcal, or beautiful handcrafts, call up La Poshería. To support local artisans, visit La Cúpula, SoHo Galleries, or El Zapote. Or contact Paloma van den Akker, Between the Lines, or Casa T’ho to set up a visit that will fill your senses with their enchanting spaces, gifts, books, and more.
Thanks to the Travel Safety Stamp, tour guides, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, and transportation services are receiving training to follow health and safety guidelines. When planning an outing, keep in mind the importance of supporting local businesses that have been severely hit by the quarantine and now are now ready to open their doors to you. When you enjoy these restaurants, small hotels, stores, and coffee shops around Yucatán, you’ll not only be having a good time, you’ll also be supporting many people’s livelihoods.
It’s safe to say that 2020 keeps the “surprises” coming. Life as we know it has changed completely and while a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, our lives and travel will continue to adapt. But let’s not allow change to calm our thirst for discovery and life. Instead, let’s follow health protocols to keep everyone safe and, to the extent possible, continue our adventure.
Editorial by Teresa Siqueira
Photography by Nora Garrett, Catrin, Hacienda Xcanatún, and Cassie Pearse for its use in Yucatán Today
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