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25 Best Day Trips from Merida Mexico in 2022 [Locals’ Guide]


Looking for the best day trips from Merida, mexico?

You’ve come to the right place because I live in Merida — and I’ve done quite a few day trips from Merida! I know first-hand that while there’s seemingly no shortage of things to do in Merida itself, there’s also no end to the number of amazing Merida day trips.

Centrally located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Merida’s location makes it the ideal home base for all the amazing day trips highlighted in this article.

From swimming in cenotes to climbing Mayan ruins, strolling the streets of colonial cities to exploring UNESCO World Heritage Sites — and even crossing one of the Seven Wonders of the World off your bucket list — you won’t run out of day trips from Merida Mexico!

Ready to discover the 25 best Merida day trips? Let’s get to it!

Day Trips From Merida

Day Trips from Merida Map

Each Merida day trip mentioned in this article is located within 2.5 hours (or less) of Merida. For your convenience, they have been pinned to the Merida map below for you ⤵

As you venture to the more rural parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, your cell signal will go in and out. A Mexico SIM card will help here; however, if you’re driving a rental car, download an offline map via Google Maps or Maps.me before you embark on any Merida day trips.

✈️ First Merida Trip? Check out my Ultimate Merida, Mexico Travel Guide [Written by a Local] to help plan the ultimate vacation!

Day Trips From Merida

Merida Car Rental

The easiest, most convenient way to go on Merida day trips? A rental car from Discover Cars, of coursethe company I use! If you’re wondering about the whole rental process, head to Merida Car Rental: Everything You Need to Know + 10 Driving Tips.

Find Your Rental Car

If you’re wondering Is it safe to drive in Mexico? — the answer is yes! As a general rule, the Yucatan Peninsula is considered safe for both visiting and for driving. However, there’s the obvious caveat to that: You’ll be driving in a foreign country where you’re unfamiliar with the laws!

Since you will be driving in Mexico, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with Mexico driving laws, or ask the agent at your car rental for quick tips. You can also and check out these 10 Mexico Driving Tips to help you with how to drive in Mexico.

Merida bus travel

If you’re not renting a car in Merida, no worries! You have plenty of day trip options using Mexico’s public transportation system. From buses to colectivos (shared vans), rest assured you can get to every place in this article — even if you’re not driving to them.

Mexico’s main bus company is ADO, with big, luxury-class busses that have AC, large comfy recliner seats and outlets at each one to charge your gadgets. They have daily trips to and from the majority of places listed here. You can buy your tickets online, or at the bus station.

Day Trips From Merida: MERIDA TO valladolid

Best Colonial Cities Near Merida, Mexico

1. Valladolid

Igesia de San Servacio Valladolid church in downtown. (Photo: Rafael Cisneros Méndez via Unsplash)

Valladolid is an increasingly popular Merida day trip destination. It is also one of Mexico’s 135 or so pueblos magicos, or magic towns, and known as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico — so get your camera ready!

There are many gorgeous buildings to photograph, especially on Valladolid’s prettiest street, Calle (or Calzada) de los Frailes. When you’re hungry, head to the famous La Casona de Valladolid restaurant, and walk to the back to photograph the large talavera tile fountain after your meal.

Don’t miss the town’s impressive colonial churches — the Convent de San Bernardino de Siena and Iglesia de San Servacio. The Iglesia de San Servacio is Valladolid’s main church; find it in Valladolid’s Zocalo (Main Square).

Calzada de los Frailes (AKA Calle de los Frailes), the most beautiful street in Valladolid, Mexico.

Just outside of the Convent de San Bernardino de Siena, you’ll find another photo op. This is where you’ll see the large, colorful letters spelling out Valladolid, and just one street over from Calle de los Frailes.

Love art? Head to the Casa de los Venados, a private home-turned-gallery. Owners John and Dorianne Venator open their home once a day at 10am for a tour to see their 3,000-piece collection of Mexican folk art.

If you want to buy some folk art or artistic souvenirs in Valladolid, head to Kuxtal Cafe & Mexican Art. They sell many styles of folk art, handmade by artists from all over Mexico, at one of the best cafes in Valladolid.

Best Cenotes Near Valladolid

Cenote Zaci, located just minutes from Downtown Valladolid.

Ready to cool off with a swim in one of Mexico’s famous cenotes? In case you’re wondering, What is a cenote? They are swimmable sinkholes containing freshwater, with the largest concentration on Earth located in the Yucatan Peninsula.

In fact, some of the best cenotes in Yucatan are located within 30 minutes of downtown. The best Valladolid cenotes include Cenote Ik Kil, Cenote Oxman, Cenote Suytun and Cenote Zaci; though there are certainly others.

Merida to Valladolid Tours

Best Valladolid Hotels

If you’re thinking it sounds like there’s a lot to you in Valladolid — you’d be right! In fact, if you wanted to make Valladolid an overnight or weekend trip, instead of a day trip from Merida, here is a list of all the best hotels in Valladolid, Mexico.

Day Trips From Merida: MERIDA TO Campeche

2. Campeche City

A UNESCO World Heritage Site — Mexico has an impressive 35 of them — the walled city of Campeche is known as one of the most colorful Yucatan towns. Its historical significance, however, comes from its fort walls.

Located right on the Gulf of Mexico, centuries ago, San Francisco de Campeche’s location made it vulnerable to pirate attacks. Nowadays, with pirates posing less of a threat, you can take a leisurely walk along the walls atop the Fuerte de San Miguel (Saint Michael’s Fort).

There, you’ll see the old cannons pointed directly at and the Gulf of Mexico, and get some amazing city and water views. It costs about $25 pesos ($1USD) to walk atop the fort walls along the ramparts, but it’s money well-spent.

Now, back to these colorful Campeche buildings! While most Mexican colonial towns follow a color scheme, the entire downtown Campeche City is painted in every color of the rainbow. 

Though not large at only about 30 square blocks, leisurely stroll the entire downtown before stopping at one of the Instagram worthy Campeche cafes, Altagracia Cafe or Chocol’Ha Cafe, for a sweet snack.

A few of Campeche’s downtown streets are pedestrian only, and restaurants have tables set up outside so you can dine and enjoy the colors. The most picturesque of these is Calle 59, where you’ll enjoy La Recova Cincuenta y Nueve, La Choperia, and others.

After eating, head to the Zocalo (Main Square) and hop on one of the tranvias (trams) for a Campeche tour of the city. At the end of the day, head west to the Malecon (walkway) to catch the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.

Merida to Campeche Tours

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO izamal

3. Izamal

Izamal has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, and is one of Mexico’s 135 amazing pueblos magicos (magic towns). These two draws make Izamal a very popular Merida day trip.

Known as “The Yellow Town,” Izamal is, well — yellow! The word yellow is in italics because every single building in downtown is painted the same shade of bright yellow 💛

Downtown Izamal’s small “pueblo” size means you can stroll the whole area in about two hours. Don’t feel like walking? Take a calesa (horse-drawn carriage) tour to see all the sights, including the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, in town’s Zocalo (Main Square).

When you work up an appetite, head to Kinich Restaurant or Mercado Municipal De Izamal (market) to try authentic Yucatecan food. At the mercado, be on the lookout for one of the area’s most interesting dishes, dzik de venado (shredded venison), a local delicacy.

If you have extra time after seeing the city, head to the Izamal Mayan archeological sites just outside of downtown — Zona Arqueologica de Izamal and Kinich Kakmo Pyramid.

Merida to Izamal Tours

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO CHICHEN ITZA

Best Mayan Ruins Near Merida, Mexico

4. Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza’s El Castillo (The Castle/Temple of Kukulcan), the most photographed of the site’s structures.

As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, does Chichen Itza even need an introduction!? A Mexico bucket list travel destination, Chichen Itza is one of the most popular Merida day trips, and best Mayan Ruins in Mexico.

Chichen Itza is also one of Mexico’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and one of the most important Mayan archeological sites on Earth. Chichen Itza shares the title of most visited archeological site in the country with Mexico City’s Teotichucan — the both averaging 2.75 million visitors a year!

With so many visitors, you’ll want to get to Chichen Itza as close to 8am when they open as you can, so you can beat the crowds. Getting there early also means you’ll beat a lot of the midday heat.

When visiting Chichen Itza, head to see its iconic El Castillo (The Castle/Temple of Kukulcan), the one in most Chichen Itza photos. There’s also the Temple of the Warriors, Sacred Cenote, Grand Ball Court, Group of a Thousand Columns and Wall of the Skulls.

The Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins in Yucatan.

As you might have gathered, Chichen Itza is big — as in 740 acres big! With a site of this size and historical significance, you’ll want to take a Chichen Itza tour with a knowledgeable guide to explain all of the site’s secrets and significance.

You can also hire an onsite guide; though during busy times, you might not be able to. Upon arrival, you’ll see many guides by the entrance selling day tours for about $1,000-1,500 pesos ($50-75USD). If you want to hire a guide onsite, remember to bring enough pesos to pay them.

Merida to Chichen Itza Tours

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Uxmal

5. Uxmal Mayan Ruins

tall stone mayan pyramid of Uxmal, near Merida, Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula
El Adivino (Pyramid of the Magician), the largest pyramid at Uxmal.

Though overshadowed in name by Chichen Itza in name recognition, Uxmal, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is just as impressive. It is also much less crowded and touristy, seeing only about 10% the amount of annual visitors as Chichen Itza.

Besides the obvious of smaller crowds at Uxmal (pronounced yoush-mall), you won’t be approached by souvenir vendors, deal with endlessly searching for parking, and all the other perks that come with visiting Mexico hidden gems over popular destinations.

If you’re wondering, Do I visit Chichen Itza or Uxmal? — there is one reason below that might convince you to pick Uxmal ⤵

Yes, you can climb the pyramids at Uxmal!

Can you climb the Uxmal pyramids?

The top reason to choose Uxmal over Chichen Itza? You’re actually allowed to climb the structures and one of the pyramids at Uxmal. 🗿 Merida Travel Tip: Chichen Itza does not allow visitors to climb any of the pyramids or structures at the site — but Uxmal does.

While visitors aren’t permitted to can’t climb the large El Adivino (Pyramid of the Magician), you can climb the nearly-as-tall Great Pyramid right next to it. From the top, you’ll have amazing views of the entire Uxmal site.

You can also get up close and personal with the intricate carved stone on Uxmal’s buildings to see the beautiful design esthetics the Mayan Puuc sites are famous for.

Merida to Uxmal Tours

Best Hotels in Uxmal, Mexico

Booking a hotel in Uxmal means you can leisurely explore this underrated part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula! Pair your visit to Uxmal with a visit to the other four Mayan archeological sites on the Puuc Route, as well as the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum and Uxmal Mayan Planetarium.

Prefer an Uxmal tour of the whole area? Book the Two Cenotes, Uxmal & Chocolate Museum Tour!

Puuc Route

Uxmal has several buildings in the Puuc style — but it’s not the only with this esthetic. There are actually five archaeological sites along what is called the Ruta Puuc, or Puuc Route, a 36-mile drive (58km), which you can visit on a Puuc Route Tour, if you don’t have a rental car.

large stone building at mayan archeological site - day trips from Merida
Sayil Mayan Ruins
tall, large mayan pyramid - day trips from Merida
Kabah Mayan Ruins
mayan ruin site made of carved bricks - day trips from Merida
Xlapak Mayan Ruins

Besides Uxmal, the other four sites on the route, Labna, Kabah, Sayil and Xlapak, all feature the same stone carving esthetics and Puuc-style elements. As lesser-known, off the beaten path Mayan ruins, there’s a good chance you’ll have these sites all to yourself.

🚕💨 Merida Travel Tip: Unless you have a rental car, or hire a taxi for the day to drive you on the Ruta Puuc, you’ll need a tour, like the Loltun Cave and Puuc Route Full-Day Tour.

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Coba

6. Coba Ruins

The Coba ruins site is in Quintana Roo state, home to Tulum, Cancun and Bacalar Lagoon, “the Maldives of Mexico.” Coba is a complete Mayan city with many Yucatan ruins, and visitors can rent a bike at the entrance to see the whole place, or hire a taxi trike guide to take them around.

🦟 Merida Travel Tip: Bring eco-friendly insect repellent, as Coba is deep in the jungle!

The entire Coba site is about five miles in total, which is a bit of a trek. Combine this walk with the climb up Coba’s largest pyramid, Ixmoja (AKA Nohoch Mul), and you’ll definitely get in your steps for the day.

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Mayapan

7. Mayapan Ruins

old mayan archeological site with stone pyramid building - day trips from Merida

Prefer an Mayapan tour? Book the Mayapan and Mayan Cenotes Adventure Tour!

As an off the beaten path Mayan ruins, you may have this whole place to yourself to explore uninterrupted! When visiting Mayapan Yucatan Ruins, combine it with a swim in the nearby cenotes — Cenote Nah Yah, Cenote Telchaquillo, Cenote Suem and Cenote Noh-Mozon.

Merida to Mayapan Tours

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: Merida to Dzibilchaltun

8. Dzibilchaltun Ruins

Dzibilchaltun (pronounced zee-bee-shall-tune) is the closest Mayan ruins to Merida. Though small, there’s also an onsite museum with Mayan artifacts and Cenote Xlacah to swim in. It is a popular site to visit on Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, to see the sunrise at the Dzibilchaltun pyramid.

Cenote Xlacah

When planning to visit, make sure you factor in some time to swim in Cenote Xlacah at Dzibilchaltun — the closest cenote to Merida. This open, swimming pool style cenote is very popular with locals, so head there early to beat the crowds.

Merida to Dzibilchaltun Tours

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: Merida to Las Coloradas

Best Nature Near Merida, Mexico

9. Las Coloradas: Mexico Pink Lakes

Las Coloradas (The Blush) are Mexico’s famous pink lakes in the Yucatan Peninsula. These pink lakes gained popularity after a viral Instagram photo a few years back, but because of their remote location, the pink lakes remain an off the beaten path Mexico destination.

In fact, if you’re not driving, visiting Las Coloradas isn’t easily accessible by public transport and will take 1-2 buses and a taxi to get to. For this reason, the best way to visit is by booking a tour of Las Coloradas — See Las Coloradas tour options below ⤵

Las Coloradas Pink Lakes FAQ

Why is the water pink at Las Coloradas? 

Las Coloradas has pink water because of the red algae, plankton and brine shrimp that live in this salty water. The salt content in this water is so high, this area has been used as a natural salt mine by the Mayans for centuries.

In fact, the flock of wild Yucatan flamingoes that live in this part of Mexico drinks this water, which in turn keeps their feathers pink!

What is the best time to see the pink lakes in Mexico?

The pink color of the lakes shows brightest on very sunny days. Keep this in mind if you plan to make the trip from Merida. On overcast, non-sunny days, the water will not be vibrant pink.

For photography, the lakes show brightest during (approx.) 11am-1pm, when the sun is directly overhead. The lakes are pink year-round, so the real factor is the sun… meaning definitely check the weather report before heading there.

Can I swim in Las Coloradas? 

A few years back, the Mexican government stopped allowing swimming. The reason for this is that the salt content can actually be toxic on the skin.

While there’s no one around monitoring if you go in or not, there’s also not a hospital too close to Las Coloradas, so don’t risk your health and safety for a photo.

salt crystals collecting on a pole at a Las Coloradas pink lakes in Mexico

Merida to Las Coloradas Tours

It’s not super easy to get to Las Coloradas unless you have a rental car. In fact, even after you arrive in the closest town, Rio Lagartos, you’ll need to coordinate a boat to take you over to Las Coloradas. The easiest way to see these pink lakes?

On a tour, like the Chichen Itza & The Pink Pools Tour. This tour goes to both Las Coloradas and Chichen Itza, so you can cross two places off your bucket list in one day, and the Live the Pink Sea & Exotic Beaches Tour, which goes to Las Coloradas, Rio Lagartos, and Cancunito beach.

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Celestun

10. Celestun Biosphere Reserve

flock of over 100 pink flamingoes in Celestun, one of the Best Mexican Beach Towns
A sea of Yucatan flamingos in Celestun, Mexico.

Located in the small fishing village of Celestun, you’ll find the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve. This large nature preserve is the best place to see flamingos near Merida. Besides the Celestun flamingos, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is one of the best places in Yucatan for bird watching.

However, most people go to kayak in the mangroves and see the flock of Celestun flamingos, which some say is as many as 35,000 during their November to February mating season.

🦩Best time to see Celestun Flamingos

This large flock of feathered Yucatan residents travels throughout the peninsula during the year, so they move between a few places. The best time of year to see them in Celestun is from November to February, though they do live in the area from November to April.

Besides flamingos, this is the best place to kayak in the Yucatan. The secluded beaches of Celestun are also beautiful, so head to one of the thatched-roof restaurants for some fresh Mexican ceviche after a long kayak ride.

Merida to Celestun Tours

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Rio Lagartos

11. Rio Lagartos

boat tour to las coloradas pink lakes mexico

Besides Celestun and Chelem, you can also head to Rio Lagartos to get your Yucatan flamingo fix. Since it’s right next to the Mexico pink lakes of Las Coloradas, most tours combine a visit to Rio Lagartos with Las Coloradas.

They stick around this area in large numbers from March to June, though some stay year-round. The Rio Lagartos natural area is known for having some of the best bird watching in the Yucatan, with more than 300 species calling it home.

Besides birding, many take a boat tour on the Rio Lagartos (Alligator River), where like the name implies, you’ll likely see some alligators. The boat tour also goes to an area where you can cover yourself in natural clay for a baña Maya (Mayan bath).

Merida to Rio Lagartos Tours

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: Merida to Progreso

Best Beaches Near Merida, Mexico

12. Progreso Beach

The Progreso Malecon is a great place to stroll along the beach and enjoy the ocean breeze. (Photo: Thomas Andersen via Flickr)

Puerto Progreso is the closest beach to Merida, and also one of the best places to windsurf and kitesurf in Mexico. It is one of the best beach towns in Mexico, of those that sit on the Gulf of Mexico.

As the “puerto” in the name might have cued you in on, this is a cruise port. On days when a ship docks, expect thousands more people than usual in this beach town. If you’re looking to have Progreso all to yourself, check to see if there’s a cruise docking before you visit.

Once you arrive in Progreso, stroll down the Malecon (walkway) for a bite to eat and to get a better feel for the town. Find your favorite spot to rent a beach chair from (about $100 pesos/$5USD), or head to one of the best Progreso beach clubs, Silcer Beach Club and El HaGuay.

El HaGuay is located next to the giant Progreso letters sign, on the east end of the beach. They let you have a beach chair for the day for free, as long as you order food and drinks. Silcer Beach Club is located closer to the center of town, and generally more of a party atmosphere than El HaGay.

For a sunset dinner, head to the western end of the beach to eat at one of the best restaurants in Progreso, Eladio’s Bar. For a fancier atmosphere, check out Almadia and Crabster Seafood & Grill, both located on the Malecon.

day trip from merida to progreso beach, mexico

Auto Progreso: Merida to Progreso Bus

Don’t feel like driving to Progreso from Merida? No worries; there’s an easy way to get to Progreso from Merida — the Auto Progreso bus.

Auto Progreso has a private bus terminal, and departs about every hour or so from Merida to Progreso Beach. The drive is one hour, and AutoProgreso tickets cost just $25 pesos ($1.50USD) each way.

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Sisal

13. Sisal Beach

The pier in Sisal, Mexico. (Photo: José Angel Vera Félix via Flickr)

Looking for quieter, more relaxed beaches? Look no further than Sisal, one of Mexico’s 135 (or so) pueblos magicos (magic towns)! Sisal has a cute pier to walk down, a few places to eat and drink — but little else. It is where Merida locals head for an alternative to the livelier Progreso Beach.

🏖 Merida Travel Tip: Rent a beach chair under a palapa outside of the Muelle de Sisal restaurant. Rentals are about $50 pesos ($3USD) for the day, and if you’re ordering from the restaurant, you can also use their bathroom all day.

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO San Crisanto

14. San Crisanto Beach

Sac-ha Balnario in San Crisanto, a Merida Mexico beach.

San Crisanto is among the prettiest beaches near Merida, and a great off the beaten path Yucatan destination. It is a coconut grove, and there’s usually more coconut trees than people at San Crisanto beach, so this is the place to relax and enjoy beautiful, uninterrupted nature.

You can enter the Sac-ha balnario (beach club) to use their palapas, restrooms and showers for about $150 pesos ($7.50USD) per car. Be sure to pack a cooler with lunch and drinks, as there’s nothing besides nature on San Crisanto beach!

Ojo de Agua & Mangrove Tours

You can also make this more of a complete day trip with San Crisanto Mangroves EcoTour, a boat ride through the mangroves and a stop at the Ojo de Agua cenote to swim. You can see them both in the video above (beginning at the 0:14 mark), and you’ll find tour operators near the beach.

DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Telchac Puerto

15. Telchac Beach

Located right next to the Telchac Fishing Pier, there’s some swings and several restaurant options.

Telchac Puerto is a small fishing town. The boats pull right up the sand on the area’s not-at-all crowded beaches. There’s also a Malecon (walkway) along with beach and an also small downtown where you can buy snacks and drinks.

Xcambo Ruins & Pink Lakes

Besides the beach, there’s also a Xcambó Mayan Ruins, and nearby Xtampú Laguna Rosada (Pink Lagoon) in Telchac Puerto. In case you didn’t know, there are Mexico pink lakes 💗 You’ll find info about the more famous ones, Las Coloradas, above; but know they are quite far from Merida.

If you want to see the pink lakes near Merida, head to the Xtampu pink salt flats just minutes from Telchac Beach. Now, they are only show bright pink on very sunny days and around midday, but if you catch them at the right time, they are spectacular.

Xtampu is the closest pink lakes to Merida — though Las Coloradas is the more famous.
Xcambo is one of the best Mayan Ruins near Merida — and one of its closest archaeological sites.
DAY TRIPS FROM MERIDA: MERIDA TO Chelem 

16. Chelem Beach

Chelem, Mexico, is a calm, beautiful beach town, with large populations of expats. (Photo: Jorge Zapata via Unsplash)

The final beach town is the most up-and-coming for expats moving to Yucatan’s beaches. Chelem is still on the quiet side, but you’ll find a few amenities here, like stores and restaurants. It is another Yucatan fishing town, so life here revolves around boating and the beach.

However, Chelem is a stop for birdwatchers looking to see some of the area’s wind flamingos. The large Yucatan flamingo flock, which is in the thousands, usually hangs out around Chelem from about June to December.

🦩 Want to see the flamingos in Chelem?

Head to the beach where you’ll find many boat operators offering tours to the Ria Chelem river to see the flamingos and many other bird species.

MERIDA DAY TRIPS: Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche

Best Haciendas Near Merida, Mexico

17. Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche

Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche combines two great Merida day trips — as you’ll see a Merida hacienda and swim in two Merida cenotes. (All photos: Doug S via Flickr)

The grounds of this 18th Century hacienda have been left in semi-ruin, but that’s all part of the effect. Hacienda Mucuyche and its cenotes are gorgeous, and kind of look like the Garden of Eden meets the Blue Lagoon!

💦 You must book a tour in advance to visit Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche. They are offered Monday-Sunday from 9am-3pm.

In addition to the rustic Mexican hacienda vibes, there’s two cenotes onsite, Cenote Carlota and Cenote Azul Maya. They are super refreshing to jump in for a swim after your guided tour of the grounds.

best haciendas near merida

18. Hacienda Santa Cruz

best hotels in merida mexico | hacienda santa cruz | yucatan merida hacienda, pool area
One of the top Yucatan Merida Mexico haciendas, you’ll love staying at Hacienda Santa Cruz. (All Photos: Expedia)

Looking to have a spa day in Merida? Look no further than Hacienda Santa Cruz and Mauyl Spa. This gorgeous, restored 17th Century hacienda is the perfect place to relax all day in a beautiful setting — at one of the best Merida spas.

🏰 Want to stay in a Merida hacienda? Book your stay at Hacienda Santa Cruz!

Stroll the grounds to see the gardens and eat some brunch. Then, head to the Mayul Spa for treatments that range from honey facials and hydromassage to a traditional Mexican temazcal (sweat lodge) purification ceremony — all at one of the best haciendas in Merida.

best hotels in merida mexico | hacienda santa cruz spa
From the room and the ground to the restaurant and the spa, Hacienda Santa Cruz is the perfect oasis. (All Photos: Expedia)
best haciendas near merida

19. Hacienda Yaxcopoil

vintage mexican hacienda in the yucatan peninsula

Hacienda Yaxcopoil (pronounced yash-coh-poh-eel) was built way back in circa 1650. It has been fully restored, and is incredibly gorgeous. In fact, it’s known as one of the prettiest haciendas in Merida.

As with most of the best Merida haciendas, this one is mostly rented out for private parties and events. When not rented out, you can visit and tour the grounds.

The inside of the house itself is basically a museum. From the outside, you can tour the beautiful grounds and see all the old machinery used to make Merida’s main export — sisal, a thick, sturdy agave-plant fiber used to make twine.

Merida to Hacienda Yaxcopoil Tours

Merida day trips: Merida cenotes

Best Cenotes Near Merida, Mexico

The final section of this guide is all about visiting Merida cenotes. These amazing natural treasures are some of the best things to do in Merida during your trip — but before we get to the best cenotes near Merida, let’s first clear a few cenote FAQs up.

Cenote FAQs
  • Cost: Cenotes have entry fees, though they are minimal. The more popular ones that provide amenities like restrooms, on-site restaurants, etc., should still cost no more than $300 pesos ($15USD) to enter. Most are closer in price to about $50-100 pesos ($2.50-5USD).
  • Cash Only: Bring cash to cover both your entry and food. Most cenotes are in rural areas, and won’t have WiFi or the ability to take credit cards.
  • Accessibility: Different cenotes have different levels of accessibility. Many will have well-maintained stairs with handrails, especially the more popular ones. Some have make-shift stairs, and some have ladders.
  • Water shoes: Water shoes really help! As cenotes are natural pools, most have slippery rocks, muddy ground, etc. Water shoes also help you not slip in general, especially when walking down any staircase entryways. (I see this a lot!)
  • Waterproof Phone Holder: If you want to take photos in the cenotes, and don’t have a GoPro, you’ll want to bring your waterproof phone holder.
  • Life Jackets: I have never been to a cenote that didn’t provide or rent life jackets; but if you can’t swim, you might want to do additional research on the cenote(s) you’re visiting.
  • Sunscreens and lotions: Don’t apply sunscreen, lotion, insect repellent — anything — before getting in a cenote. Many require you to rinse off before entering, so even putting anything on will be a waste.
  • Photos: Want those people-less Instagrammable cenote photos? Go on a weekday, and arrive early! You also might want to bring one of those waterproof phone holders that go around your neck.

What is a cenote?

To make a long story short, cenotes are underwater sinkholes containing crystal-clear, freshwater. They are only found in a few places on Earth, with the largest concentration in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where there are close to 6,000 cenotes.

We can see and swim in them because the limestone once covering the water has collapsed and eroded away. ⁠After the limestone fell into the water below, we’re left with either a completely exposed, above-ground cenote, or an underground cenote that you access by going into a cave.

Merida Cenote Tours

Merida day trips: Merida to Cenote Ik Kil

21. Cenote Ik Kil

cenote ik-kil swimming hole with vines hanging down into it, in Valladolid, near Merida, Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

Cenotes come in all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of convenience for visitors, meaning some have onsite bathrooms, some won’t; some have restaurants or sell snacks, some don’t; some have stairs leading into the cenote, some ladders, etc.

Ik kil Cenote is one of the best cenotes in Yucatan because it has everything you’d need, a restaurant, bathrooms, and even bar 🍻 As you might have noticed, Cenote Ik-Kil is also stunning, and because of this, it’s one of the most popular cenotes to visit.

Best time to visit Cenote Ik-Kil

As one of the most Instagram worthy cenotes in Mexico, combined with its proximity to Chichen Itza, makes Cenote Ik Kil the one on everyone’s radar. During peak hours and days, expect as many as 100 people swimming with you in that beautiful blue cenote water.

If you can, visit Cenote Ik Kil on a weekday. If you only have the weekend to go, try to arrive by 9am. Cenote Ik Kil is open daily, 8am-5pm. 

MERIDA DAY TRIPS: MERIDA TO CENOTE Oxman

22. Cenote Oxman

Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman natural swimming pool, in Valladolid, near Merida, Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

Considered one of the best cenotes near Valladolid, Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, is a great option if you want that Cenote Ik Kil look, but less of its crowds! Cenote Oxman has a fun rope swing to enter its bright blue water with, and live out your Tarzan fantasies.

This cenote is located on the ground of Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman, so you can even get in a little hacienda tour before or after your swim.

MERIDA DAY TRIPS: MERIDA TO CENOTE Zaci

23. Cenote Zaci

Cenote Zaci natural swimming pool, in Valladolid, near Merida, Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

This cenote is located only a few blocks from downtown Valladolid. With such easy access, this one is a favorite for both locals and visitors alike. In fact, locals seem to treat Cenote Zaci as the town swimming pool!

As Valladolid is a relatively small pueblo, there aren’t too many locals to compete with for space, though of course, weekends are much busier than weekdays.

🍽 Merida Travel Tip: There’s an onsite restaurant and if you spend $100 pesos ($5USD) on your Yucatan food and drinks, you can swim in the cenote for free; otherwise, it’s $30 pesos ($1.50USD) to enter.

Day trips from merida: MERIDA TO Santa Barbara Cenotes

24. Santa Barbara Cenotes

Cenote Santa Barbara natural swimming pool, in Valladolid, near Merida, Mexico Yucatan Peninsula
Cenote Chaksikin, one of the three Santa Barbara cenotes. (Photo: liongrrl via Flickr)

The Santa Barbara cenotes are located in the pueblo (small town) of Homun. This is a group of three cenotes — Cenote Chaksikin, Cenote Cascabel and Cenote Xoch. The first two are in caves and the last one is a semi-open cenote.

Prefer to see them on a Merida cenotes tour? Book the Enjoy the Cenotes Santa Bárbara Tour now!

To visit, head to the Santa Barbara Cenotes on the map. At the entrance, you’ll pay either $200 pesos ($10USD) for entrance to the cenotes, or $300 pesos ($15USD) for a meal of your choice at the onsite restaurant after visiting the cenotes.

From there, you can take a rental bike (included in the cost), or take a horse-drawn cart to the first cenote, Cenote Chaksikin, about 1/2-mile away. After that, Cenote Cascabel is the second one, and Cenote Xoch is third. When you’re done, you can ride the bike back, or take the horse carriage.

MERIDA DAY TRIPS: MERIDA TO CENOTE X’Batun

25. Cenote X’Batun

cenote x'batun merida yucatan mexico

This hidden gem cenote is not on many tourist radars, and it’s never very crowded. Located only about 45 minutes from Merida, and very close to the beautiful Hacienda Yaxcopoil, you can combine these two into a Merida day trip, and still be back in the city for a nice dinner.

When visiting Cenote X’Batun, you get the best of both worlds! Here, there are actually two cenotes here — an above-ground cenote, and one underground called Cenote Dzonbakal.

Merida Travel Tip: When going to any Merida cenote, don’t forget your water shoes and waterproof phone holder. Also, don’t apply any sunscreen or lotion before entering any Mexico cenote, as it damages the cenote.

DAY TRIPS from MERIDA, Mexico

Merida, Mexico Travel FAQ

Is Merida safe?

This is the # 1 most asked question about visiting this country — Is Mexico safe for travel? Given mainstream media coverage, Mexico has a bad wrap. However, this is a huge country, and yes, there are parts you should avoid — but Merida isn’t one of them.

In fact, the entire Yucatan Peninsula is considered quite safe, not just Merida. Many opt for not only Merida day trips in their rental car, but entire Yucatan road trips to visit the must see Yucatan destinations in a single trip.

However, given that no place on Earth is 100% safe, have a look at the info below and do consider getting travel insurance for Mexico, especially if you’re renting a car in Merida.

Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?

Want an added level of security and peace of mind while traveling to Merida? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling.

If Mexico and Merida travel safety are on your mind, get your free quote below now!

10 General travel safety tips
  1. Always listen to your intuition — because your intuition is always right.
  2. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away fast.
  3. Don’t walk home alone at night.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors… don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. When in doubt: Get Travel Insurance!
Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the FREE STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

After you’ve registered, the U.S. Consulate in Merida can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.

RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 Ultimate Merida, Mexico Travel Guide [Written by a Local]

Book a Merida Airbnb

As a Merida local since July 2019, I went ahead and used my knowledge of this city to compile a list of the 12 Best Airbnbs in Merida for you. These are all located in the best parts of town, and hosted by Airbnb’s vetted Super Hosts… so all you have to do is book and enjoy your Merida trip.

Book a Merida Hotel

If you’re more of a hotel traveler, here is a list of the 10 Best Hotels in Merida, all located in the most ideal neighborhoods visitors would want to stay in. In the images below you’ll find two of the best boutique hotels in Merida, Rosas y Xocolate and Hotel Casa Azul.

What to pack for Merida

As far as how to dress in Merida, Mexicans tend to dress on the conservative side. However, Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula have a hot, tropical climate — so think flowy, breathable, light-weight clothing.

As Mexico sidewalks aren’t the easiest to walk on, and you’ll want to opt for flats over wedges or heels.

Which of these day trips from Merida caught your eye?

I’d love to hear from you! Please drop me a line via the contact form on this page and let me know where you’ll be traveling around Merida, Mexico.

Merida Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance? 100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Merida? No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Merida? Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Merida? Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Merida accommodation? For Mexico hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb! (Read more)

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights? For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Mexico? Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.

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