Mexican Music Adventure: Yucatán Peninsula
Headed to a Music Festival in Mexico? Let us plan your Mexican Music Adventure!
Strings and Sol and Closer to the Sun are both amazing festivals in Mexico, easily accessible from Cancun airport, right on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean Sea. These festivals are wonderful vacations on their own – but we really think you should take your festival to the next level by making it a Mexican Music Adventure!
We often hear that festival attendees want to add on a few extra days to the beginning or end of their trip, but they just don’t know where to start. Don’t worry, fest friends. Festy GoNuts is here to help you make your Mexican Music Adventure go a little more nuts this year!
Exploring the Yucatán
The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico is one of the most vibrant and easily traveled regions in the country. In a few short hours, you could be relaxing on a beautifully secluded beach on a tropical island, or exploring some of the many enticing cenotés that occur throughout the peninsula.
There are several easily accessed towns that are definitely worth a trip (and no, we don’t mean Cancún!). How about chilling in a house by a lake that has at least 7 different shades of blue? Maybe you would like to go swimming in underground caves? Or explore ancient Mayan ruins? Do you like sailing? Fishing? Snorkeling?
You can do it all!
And do it affordably, too.
We know that a destination music festival can be a financial splurge – yet, we keep going back, year after year!
So, how can we justify spending so much money to go back to the same resort over and over? After our first year at Strings and Sol, we decided we needed to make our music festival trip more of an adventure through Mexico. Each year we go back, we find a new place to explore before or after the festival.
Did you know that once you leave the resort and get out on your own, extending your stay in Mexico is way more affordable? Don’t get us wrong, we book days at the resort before and after the festival – we find them pretty necessary- but beyond that, you could make your pesos go much further and see so much more of Mexico!
The Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico
Some of our favorite areas of the region to explore are highlighted on the map.
Keep reading to learn more!
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Check out some of our favorite and most easily accessed destinations in the Yucatán:
Isla Holbox is a small island located in the Northern part of the Quintana Roo province. It’s a fairly unknown destination in the Yucatán, making it a very special place to visit now before the tourists take over. Getting to Isla Holbox is surprisingly simple – it’s about a 2-hour drive from the Cancun airport, and then a 20-minute ferry. You’ll be greeted by golf cart taxis right at the pier who will escort you directly to your hotel. Even though it’s close to Cancun, it feels like a world apart from the tourist-filled beaches and commercialism you see near the city.
Isla Holbox is blessed with gorgeous beaches and insanely blue waters. Spend hours walking the long sandbars, relaxing in hammocks and experiencing the amazingly soft sand. Enjoy the wide variety of excellent restaurants and bars – from chill, local taco stands to upscale rooftop bars, you’ll find something to match your budget and your style. If you dare venture from your beach chair, you’ll discover a plethora of adventures awaits you – snorkeling, fishing, kayaking and more!
Traveling to Isla Mujeres is one of the simplest options for extending your trip for a few days before or after the music festival. Often a day-trip for tourists staying in Cancún, Isla Mujeres is set up to tailor to English-speaking travelers who are not looking to step too far out of their comfort zone.
There is plenty to do around the island: swim and relax on the beaches at North Shore, snorkel the nearby reefs, spend a day drinking on a party boat, or rent a golf cart and explore the island. Choose to stay at North Shore if you want to be in the heart of the action, or opt for a quieter experience by staying towards the middle of the island. There are a variety of options available to suit your needs and your travel style.
If you are ready to get away from the coast and truly experience Mexican culture, Valladolid is the perfect option.
Less than a 2-hour drive from the Cancun Airport and a great jumping off spot for exploring cenotes and Mayan ruins, the colonial city of Valladolid offers an authentic experience. Stroll the colonial streets, take a morning dip at the cenote, and indulge in local cuisine. Mayan culture abounds in Valladolid, from the traditional Mayan attire to the local handiwork and crafts for sale.
A visit to Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, two of the Yucatan’s impressive archaeological sites, is just a short drive away from Valladolid.
Rio Lagartos is a sleepy town located on the Gulf of Mexico, about an hour and a half drive from Valladolid. Be ready to relax on the upper deck of a restaurant serving the freshest fish and tastiest margaritas while watch flamingos fly by over the water. That’s right – flamingos. Explore the area by boat with one of the locals, and they’ll take you through the waters to see mangroves, crocodiles and hundreds of varieties of birds – including beautiful, pink flamingos.
Just a short drive from Rio Lagartos is the ecological park La Playa del Coloradas, and perhaps one of the best reasons to visit this area. There are few places on the planet where the water is hot pink – and this is one of them thanks to the high-concentration of salt in the lagoon. It’s a pretty amazing sight to see pink flamingos walking through and soaring over vibrant pink waters.
The town of Bacalar is located about 4-hours south of Cancun, near the Belizean border – but well worth the longer drive. The stunning, fresh waters of Laguna Bacalar are simply incredible. It is hard to believe that these waters are a lake, and not the Caribbean ocean.
Spend your days enjoying this fresh-water phenomenon in a variety of ways – swimming, kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, or simply floating off the pier at your hotel. This “Lake of Seven Colors” is fed with the water from underground cenotes, and you’ll find several of them nearby to explore and swim in, as well.
Akumal translates to “Land of the Turtles” in the Mayan language, which gives you an idea of how good the snorkeling can be in this beach town. While the main beach in town can be overwhelming with large groups of tourists, it’s easy to get away from the crowds in Half Moon Bay.
Just an hour from Now Sapphire, Akumal is also a terrific home base for getting out and exploring the area. With 3 cenotés within a 30-minute drive, you could easily spend a day exploring and swimming and be back by dinner to enjoy the many restaurants Akumal has to offer.
Playa del Carmen
Playa, as it’s known locally, is a relaxed beach town built around the town square, making it a very pedestrian friendly destination. It is also one of the best spots to access the amazing diving and fishing the area has to offer.
It’s proximity to the nearby large adventure parks, the local golf course and the monkey sanctuary provide something for the whole family. Playa also works as a home base for exploring the rest of the region, easily accessed by car.
Puerto Morelos is just a short walk down the beach from Now Sapphire Resort, and is certainly worth a visit while you are at the festival. With several restaurants and shops, you’ll get a little taste of life outside the resort!
If you don’t have the time or funds to plan a trip around Strings and Sol, at the very least take a stroll to Puerto Morelos. Grab a drink or a bite, and experience something outside of an all-inclusive resort and the Cancún airport while you’re in Mexico!
Mexican Music Adventure Itineraries
Choose an Island Adventure. Take 3 relaxing days on the quiet island of Holbox, swimming in some of the most beautiful ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico; or choose Isla Mujeres if you are looking for something a little more lively and loud.
Explore Mayan Ruins, beaches, and cenotés. Tulum is a short drive from Cancun (approximately 1.5 hours) and is a great location to get a quick overview of all the highlights of the Yucatán. You can easily spend 3 days swimming in cenotés, walking pristine beaches and visiting the ancient ruins – all while staying in a lively town.
Get off the Beaten Path. Head to Valladolid for an authentic, local experience. Take a dip in a cenoté, stroll the cobblestone streets and relax in the colorful city square. From Valladolid, spend a day or two exploring the nearby epic ruins of Chichen-Itza and Ek Balam. After you’ve satisfied your taste for “city life”, head to the northern edge of the Yucatan Peninsula to visit the sleepy coastal town of Rio Lagartos. There’s nothing cooler than watching pink flamingos fly by while you sip on margaritas as the sun sets over the water. Head out to the Ecological Reserve of Las Coloradas to see lagoons filled with spectacularly pink waters.
Relax Lakeside. It’s time to freshen up with some freshwater swimming! Head south to Bacalar, where you can relax by one of the clearest, freshwater lakes. Go for a dip off the pier in front of your hotel, or rent a kayak and explore the lake’s coast. Discover why they call Laguna Bacalar the Lake of Seven Colors! You can easily spend five days embracing all that Bacalar has to offer – but for those that want to explore another area, head over to the remote town of Xcalak. Known for its world-class fishing, this town in the Costa Maya region is rustic and relaxing. Be prepared to unplug while you experience an incredibly unique fishing village that is certainly off the beaten path.
Days or More!
Are you looking for a longer adventure after the festival? There are a variety of ways to combine the 3- and 5-day suggested itineraries that will suit your travel dreams!
Drop us a line if you need some suggestions!
Check out our “Packing Tips for a Music Festival in Mexico” article. It’s a useful guide to make sure you are prepared for your trip to Mexico and for the music festival!
Get in touch…
Drop us a line and we’ll give you more advice if you need it.
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