Yucatán is a privileged state, blessed with a natural wealth of beaches, coasts, jungle, mangroves, and, of course, for the fauna and flora that live here temporarily or permanently. Its beauty is reflected in the natural sites that we find in each of its corners and that will surely leave you spellbound.
Here are some of the ecological reserves you won’t want to miss during your trip to Yucatán.
This region is a paradise in pink: a haven for the colonies of flamingos that live there, the many local and migratory birds, crocodiles, and turtles, among other species. Fun fact: its natural conditions are permanently protected as it is a Special Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
Its clear skies and crystal-clear water make for dreamlike views, and you will fall in love with its coastal-village quiet. You can tour it by boat and visit the mangroves, the swamp, and the petrified forest, or you can enjoy the beach and its restaurants.
Take a boat tour at the Parador or from the beach; both options are perfect to do as a couple, with friends, or with your family.
It is one of the pink flamingos’ main nesting areas; you can also find herons and crocodiles, among others. This is one of my favorite places to watch the sunset in purple and pink hues, completely out of this world!
Every morning you can take a boat tour that will take you to see a myriad of birds and different ecosystems, such as the lowland jungle, the savannah, and the mangrove. The lands are also full of life at night, when it’s easy to spot crocodiles. A (very safe) tour is simply fascinating.
These wonders are protected and cared for with great respect by the locals, who try to minimize visitors’ impact; so be sure to follow their instructions. The boat trip, both during the day and at night, lasts approximately two and a half hours. If you love photography or birding, this one’s for you!
Near the village of Río Lagartos you’ll find El Cuyo, Las Coloradas (where the famous pink salt ponds are located), and the picturesque town of San Felipe, with its wooden houses painted in vibrant colors. A weekend getaway to take in all the marvels of the area is definitely worth it.
This natural wonder of a reserve is on the border between Yucatán and Quintana Roo, less than 20 kilometers from Cobá. It’s ideal for exploring the low and high jungle, touring the lagoon, and learning more about the habitat and habits of the spider monkey. Minor spoiler: during the day, the adults go out to look for food and the little ones stay behind playing or feeding on fruits.
Camping, kayaking, ziplining, and hiking are only a few activities you can take on here. At the same time you’ll learn about Maya life in the communities, enjoy the sounds of nature, and even swim in a cenote (which you access through a rope!). Punta Laguna is perfect for the more adventurous travelers!
This recently-appointed Pueblo Mágico has it all. Experience the sea, mangroves, marshes, an infinity of birds, and a natural spring (Ojo de Agua): outdoor fun for everyone, regardless of style or age. In its red- and white-mangrove islets, you can find herons, ducks, and other birds all year long. Each setting becomes a beautiful postcard that you’ll want to keep in your memory. Its crystal-clear waters will refresh you, and there are perfect spots to spend a relaxing day at the beach if that’s more your speed.
If you’re looking to dive and sail into the past, however, you can also visit the sunken ships and canyons. Always remember to respect nature by not leaving garbage behind and try to keep the impact on these natural wonders to a minimum.
The meeting point for all tours is the former Customs Office (Ex Aduana); a range of tours can be found there.
The Cuxtal ecological reserve, located in the south of Mérida, is made up of more than 10,000 hectares. A temporary home to all kinds of migratory birds, it has a cenote, truck rides, camping areas, and children’s playgrounds. It also has trails to walk and breathe fresh air along its exuberant flora and fauna.
Visiting any of these natural sites in Yucatán is a respite for those seeking an alternative to city life. Connecting with nature in its pure state, seeing animals in the wild, and appreciating the vegetation, the sunrises, and sunsets, as well as experiencing unique moments with family or friends…These are just some of the many attractions that Yucatán offers for everyone.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Born in Mérida, Violeta is a communicologist dedicated to writing and creating content on tourism, fashion, and entrepreneurship. She has recently started working as an English-Spanish translator.
Photography by Cassie Pearse, Juan Manuel Mier y Terán, Luis Díaz Gamboa, Violeta H. Cantarell, Tania López, and Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today.
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