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Why the Yucatan Peninsula is a paradise for outdoor adventure

  • Feb 7, 2017

Jutting off the Mexican mainland and thrusting into the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the world's most special places to visit. Amid a backdrop of relaxing luxury sits ancient ruins, forests teeming with life and some spectacular geology.

A visit to the Yucatan Peninsula is perfect for outdoor adventure simply because there are so many different ways to explore the region. Here's a little bit more about what makes this area so unique:

The caves
During your stroll to the beach or hike through the jungle, you may not realize that beneath your feet sits one of the planet's coolest and strangest cave systems. Over millions of years, the porous limestone that comprises the peninsula has been eroded by underground waterways and chambers. As a result, there are miles of pools, caverns and passages that stretch across the area. As National Geographic reported, not only are these formations utterly breathtaking, but they also hold hidden secrets and artifacts from the Spanish conquistadors and Mayan Empire. And for real history buffs, the Chicxulub crater sits along the north shore of the peninsula. This is thought to be the impact site of the asteroid that contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

During a visit to the Yucatan, there are dozens of guide groups and tours that make it easy to check out the subterranean caves. Make sure you bring your Pro Trek PRG300-8 watch altimeter to see the precise depth of some of these grottos.

The ocean
Beyond the underground waterways that make the region so unique, the Yucatan oceanfront is also a premier spot for everything from snorkeling to extreme water sports. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System dots the east coast of the peninsula, and the World Wildlife Fund reported that this series of coral, mangroves and atolls is one of the largest such structures in the entire Western Hemisphere. Visitors can swim, snorkel or scuba alongside tropical fish, turtles and other marvelous sea creatures.

There are also plenty of opportunities throughout the region for boating, fishing and other seaside activities. Otherwise, even a simple stroll along the water is a rewarding experience in this beautiful landscape.

The animals
From scrub forest and jungle to lagoons and mangroves, there are many different environments throughout the Yucatan. And as a result, there is also an impressive number of intriguing animals. Near the most visited cities such as Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, tourists and other travelers can visit National reserves and adventure parks such as Xcaret or Selvatica.

The area is home to a wide array of insects and birds that produce a cacophony of noises as your trek through the forest. Howler and spider monkeys add to this chorus, while the curious coatimundi - a relative of the raccoon - is a frequent sight along trails. Large predators such as the American crocodile or the fearsome jaguar are also found across the peninsula, but are infrequently a threat to human visitors.

The adventure
The natural beauty and rich history of the area speak for themselves, and a trip to the Yucatan means exploring Mayan pyramids between trips through ancient caves and primeval forest. At the same time, there are more structured activities that promote maximum excitement.

Zip lining is one of the more popular draws for tourists, and can be a fun way to get a unique view of the surrounding area. Renting all- terrain vehicles or wave runners is also an exhilarating idea for anyone looking for adventure. All told, there are simple, natural draws for adventurers, but the Yucatan also offers more modern amenities for thrill seekers.

Whether you want an action-packed vacation or a relaxing trek through untamed nature, the Yucatan Peninsula has it all!