Are you enjoying the cooler, “winter” temperatures in Mérida? We love this time of year! This is the perfect time for traveling the Yucatan. Cooler temperatures are when we get out and about to explore parts of the Peninsula that we haven’t been to before. Between October and March, the weather is more agreeable in the Yucatan Peninsula. Notably, you don’t have to worry about exceedingly high temperatures or hurricanes. We’ve put together a short list of 11 items which have a priority spot in your backpack or car for your epic Yucatan Adventure. Importantly, these are recommended for day trips as opposed to a 10 day road trip across the Peninsula.
COVER PHOTO: Approximately 1 1/2 hours from Mérida, Ticul is known for its high quality, leather shoes.
Firstly, this might sound like a crazy obvious suggestion but don’t forget that the sun is still just as powerful even in cooler temperatures. If you’re heading to the beach in particular, do not forget your sunblock. Of course, reapply often. Other suggestions, when traveling the Yucatan in the pueblos (towns and villages), cenotes, haciendas and archeological sites are:
- An umbrella – not just for the rain but great for sunny days.
- A hat – for a locally made jipijapa hat, look for stores around Plaza Grande.
- Light clothing with short or long sleeves.
Also, don’t forget insect repellent!
Our favorite pyramids are in Uxmal.
Again, a possibly obvious suggestion but super important. Take more water than you think you need when you head out for the day. Depending on how many people are accompanying you, make sure you have a couple of liters per person. Invest in a nice water bottle that keeps your water cool. Additionally, you might want to make sure you have change to buy some cold water or juices on your day out.
Before leaving Mérida, we recommend stocking up on a few snacks while traveling the Yucatan. You may not be able to stop once you’re on the road. The highways are generally quiet. While there are restaurants, they are scarce and usually located close to the points of interest. You might also find that shops and restaurants are closed in the middle of the day in the small towns. This is because the locals will be taking their siestas. Before you find yourselves becoming irritable with hunger, or hangry as we like to say, take chips, fruit or cookies for the journey.
If you’re taking fruit or anything that needs a cooler temperature, pop a cooler or cool bag in your car. If there’s one thing that we value while traveling the Yucatan, it’s our cool bag. It also means we can sneak in a bit of chocolate!
One of the beautiful building in Progresso on the city square.
The signal out in the wilderness of the Yucatan Peninsula cannot be relied upon. You might be accustomed to trusty google maps. But, if you’re looking to step off the beaten track in search of cenotes or ruins then you might just find google abandoning you. Get a road map or, even better, a cenote map. When you get close to a cenote, people from local villages will often guide you on their bikes. Please remember to tip them for their helpful service.
While we love a guide book, we acknowledge that they can have outdated information very quickly. However, they will always have interesting history and facts about places of interest. For Maya ruins, this can be a great alternative to hiring a guide for the day. Having said that, our experience with guides at archeological sites has always been absolutely worth it. We’ve always come away with a much richer experience than when we’ve explored the sites ourselves.
This is absolutely vital. Once out of Mérida, it can be much harder to either pay by card or find a cash point. Better to take a few hundred pesos out before setting off on your journey than to find that you can’t eat at any of the local restaurants because they don’t accept cards. Especially if you’re hoping to have lunch at a local establishment with really authentic Yucatecan cuisine. It’s also a good idea to have cash on hand to tip people who work at gas stations, guides and waiters.
Note: if you’re traveling further afield you MUST have cash for the toll booths.
Cute shops and restaurants are found all over Valladolid – approximately 2 hours from Mérida.
Of course, if your day plan includes the beach and/or a cenote then this will already be in your bag. We highly recommend including swim gear regardless. There are usually cenotes dotted around close to archeological sites and haciendas. You might find that you want to dip in crystal clear water to freshen up. Don’t forget an extra towel (we may have dropped ours in the dirt once or twice), a change of clothes and maybe some wet wipes to feel a little cleaner after your dip.
You might think we’ve got the young ones in mind when we suggest taking pillows. But, this is for all you adults too. A day out from Mérida generally involves a journey of a couple of hours (or more) so a little nap on the way back is not unheard of. Keep your head and neck happy and throw a pillow in for comfort. You’re more likely to enjoy your evening back in Mérida if you’ve not suffered on the car or bus journey back to town. Don’t forget to be comfortable dear readers . . .
San Mateo Church in the village of Santa Elena, between Uxmal and Ticul.
A First Aid Kit
First aid kits are easy enough to buy either on Amazon, Walmart or Chedraui in Mérida. And just for peace of mind, it’s totally worth having one in your car. Particularly for cuts and scrapes from climbing into cenotes, the occasional blister on your foot from exploring the Ruta Puuc in your new walking shoes, grazes from brushing up against a particularly prickly cactus… just us? Well, you can never be too prepared!
You might have seen a lot in the Facebook groups, YouTube channels and online news recently that the Government is cracking down on visitors who are outstaying their welcome in Mérida and the state of Yucatan. There’s no need to be alarmed. However, make sure when you set off on your travels you have all the correct documentation. From visa info to car rental documents, have all of these on hand. There are police checkpoints at pretty much every entry/exit point to Mérida and while it’s unusual to be pulled over, best to be prepared.
View of Santa Lucia Church and the grounds of Hotel Casa Lucia, a great place to stay in Mérida Centro.
Are you a backpack kinda traveler? A bumbag/fanny pack user? Or maybe a pocket lover? Well, whichever works best for you, we recommend throwing an extra bag into the car. We bet that you’ll want to use it. For carrying your water, snacks, sun protection, guide book and everything else, obviously a backpack seems like the best option. Notably, maybe take a couple of tote bags for any purchases you make along the way such as souvenirs, snacks or extra bottles of water. Take a disposable bag for any rubbish too. Remember to leave no trace on your travels and avoid buying unnecessary plastic.
Extra: Masks and Hand Sanitizer
Whether you did this before the pandemic or not, it’s imperative now. As of February 2022, wearing masks is still mandatory while traveling the Yucatan. So, you need to have a couple on hand. Additionally, having your own hand sanitizer and/or alcohol spray will help when exchanging money, entry tickets at sites, etc. is very wise Whether vaccinated or not, remember to continue to keep your distance and follow the guidelines.
Vallodolid is one of the Pueblos Magicos in the Yucatan.
Have fun exploring beyond Mérida and discovering new magical sites traveling the Yucatan. After a couple of years of uncertainty and having our travel options limited due to Covid-19, we’re really enjoying getting out and about again and we hope you do too. Stay safe everyone.
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