Yucatán Road Trip Itinerary
We only had six days and I wanted to see the best variety of places- beaches, wildlife, small towns, cities, and ruins. So I planned a roadtrip. Renting a car is easy in Mexico, and the roads are all safe and well marked. I saved everywhere we were going to Google offline maps and starred all the things I wanted to see to make it easier. We didn’t get lost once (to be fair, there was usually only one road).
Cancun (only flew into) > Rios Lagartos (saw some flamingos) > Los Coloradas (nothing here but an amazing pink lagoon) > Valladolid (finally a city, and some delicious food) > Ek Balam (ruins!) > Coba (more ruins!) > Tulum (doing nothing on the beach)
Total hours driving: about 10
Day 1: 3 hours driving
We flew into Cancun and rented a car at America Car Rental. If you search for car rentals online, you’ll see a lot that are under $5 a day…this isn’t real. You are required to get the Mexican car insurance, which will bump your rental up to the more normal price of about $15-30 a day depending on the car. Most of the lowest-priced cars were hatchbacks, which are terrible for traveling with luggage as your luggage is exposed and begging to be stolen. We upgraded to a cute little Volkswagon Gol (the ‘f’ is reserved for the Golf, which is a much nicer car). If you can’t drive stick (like me), make sure to request automatic.
We got on the road around 5pm and set out to Rios Lagartos. The road was a nice two lane highway the whole way, no traffic or surprises other than a $20 toll. It’s not super scenic, the entire way you are enclosed in dense greenery.
We stopped in a tiny town called Temezon for some delicious smoked meat dinner, which was a good thing as everything in Rios Lagartos was closed when we got there. After so many trips of not knowing where to eat, this time I did my research. It was so much easier, we just picked from several recommended restaurants that I had saved on my offline google map.
This smoked meat place was very highly recommended: Carnes Concepcion, Calle 10, Temozón, 97740 Temozón, Yuc., Mexico. It is right on the main road, so easy to stop. There is a market and a restaurant. It was so good!
Day 2: 3.5 hours driving
The next day we were on the road again after a boat trip around the lagoon. We drove to an isolated beach then to Las Coloradas (about 30 min from Rios Lagartos), a tiny fishing village with a salt mine and the pink lagoons I wanted to see (aka have photoshoot). There was nothing in this town and we were hungry.
We headed to Valladolid late in the day, it took about 3 hours to get there from Los Coloradas, back on the same road we came in on. This time we stopped at some of the tiny towns on the way. For some reason they all had basketball courts. If anyone knows why please comment, I couldn’t find out from google (gasp!). They had some very old cathedrals (built in the 1500s) also, and pretty town centros with people everywhere.
Day 3: 3 hours driving
We headed to Ek Balam, which is about 30 minutes from Valladolid, retracing our steps from yesterday. The road passes through Temezon, aka delicious-smoked-meat town, so if we hadn’t already stuffed ourselves, this would have been a good stop.
After Ek Balam we stopped back in Valladolid for lunch and a cenote viewing, then drove down to Coba ruins (about 1 hour from Valladolid). After Coba we continued down to Tulum (another hour driving) to our final destination (phew!).