Mayan ruins, Caribbean beaches, delicious food and cocktails – not surprisingly, there are hordes of tourists coming. Yucatán is very well developed for tourists, but still, you can find quiet places, if you wanto to.
Trip to Belize & Guatemala from Yucatán
Belize and the north of Guatemala are slightly more ‘off the beaten path’ but also with decent tourist infrastructure. We totally wanted to snorkel near Caye Caulker and see the Tikal Temples. This way our trip was a perfect combination of backpacking with some luxury, beach and jungle as well as culture and relaxing. Our itinerary was kind of packed, but we managed to have enough time to relax.
Bus, ferry, rental car & co
We rented a car in Mexico. It wasn’t cheap for 17 days, but you gain so much comfort and flexibility and you are quicker and more spontaneous. For our trip to Belize and Guatemala as well as on Isla Holbox we parked the car at a guarded parking lot – secure and cheap.
Here, we switched to backpacking style and used buses and ferries (see more details below).
Cancún – get away as fast as possible!
We chose the following itinerary based on our flights to and from Cancún International Airport. We would definitely recommend not to stay too long in Cancún. The beach might be great, but Yucatan is just so much more than huge hotels, mass tourism and fast food!
Data by OpenStreetMap.
You’ll find information on our accommodation here and, as always, more photos and information in the respective posts.
1. Riviera Maya, Mexico – Akumal, Tulum and Gran Cenote
You’ll reach Akumal from Cancùn in about 1.5 hours. The motorway is free and in great condition. Tulum and the Gran Cenote are close and easy to reach with your own car.
2. Caye Caulker, Belize – ‚Go Slow‘ and snorkelling the Belize Barrier Reef
There are different ways to get to Caye Caulker from Akumal. You can take the bus to Belize City and then the water taxi or you go to Chetumal and take the speed boat from there. We chose the latter option, which is more expensive but quicker and more comfortable.
Getting to Chetumal is easy – take the tourist bus or your own car. Near the port, there is a guarded parking lot (around 5 USD per day). The ferry terminal is brand new with a restaurant on the roof top. After the departure process (be aware of the MX$ 500 departure tax) and customs (including dogs!) the boat leaves at 3.30 pm to Ambergris Caye. Here you pass the immigration procedure to Belize (5 BZD terminal fee) which is not at all efficient but without further problems. After a second, shorter boat ride you reach Caye Caulker just after sunset.
The speed boat is USD 55 and can be booked online. In our case it was fully booked, that’s why we recommend booking it in advance.
3. Guatemala – Tikal und Flores
Getting to Flores from Caye Caulker is quite easy. Ferry and bus tickets are sold everywhere on the island and cost 25-30 USD. You will leave the island at 8:30 am and reach Belize City one hour later. After a 30 minute stop in the modern and convenient ferry terminal (including restaurants, cafes and ATMs) the journey continues by bus. The distance is not far, but, of course, you won’t be very fast.
We reached the Guatemaltecan border after three hours, where we had to pass emigration and immigration on foot. Don’t forget the departure fee (20 USD) in Belize. By the way, you can leave your luggage in the bus and Guatemala surprisingly doesn’t charge any fees neither for immigration nor emigration.
Finally, by 4 pm, we reached El Remate where the road to Tikal branches off. We got out the bus and had to realise there were no busses this day. By lack of alternatives, we had to pay 50 USD for a taxi to the National Park. Very expensive, but we had no other choice. Still, we would do it again this way because the night in the jungle was an amazing experience. By 5:30 pm we arrived at our hotel!
From Tikal, you can choose between several buses which usually cost 5-8 USD and bring you to Flores in about an hour. Try to negotiate a bit but it won’t change too much.
4. Laguna de Bacalar, Mexico – ‚Laguna de los siete colores‘
There is one direct bus daily from Flores to Chetumal. It’s operated by San Juan Travel and costs 35-40 USD. All other connections require changing the bus at least once, so you should make your reservation in advance. We started at 8:30 am and crossed the border to Guatemala on foot (and with luggage this time) again. After a short stop in Belize City, we headed back to Mexico.
When leaving Belize you have to pay the departure fee again: ‘only’ 15 USD this time as we were in the country for less than 24 hours. After the immigration to Mexico, on foot and with luggage again, we arrived in Chetumal after an exhausting 9 hours.
The trip was really long and exhausting. Luckily, after Belize City, we had more space to relax. San Juan Travel has a bad reputation online but we can’t complain. It just took a really long time!
After a short taxi ride from the bus terminal to the parking lot, we finally had our rental car back!
5. Valladolid, Mexico – Chichen Itza, Las Coloradas and Colonial Buildings
You’ll need three hours to get to Valladolid from Bacalar. The roads are boring but in good condition. After the long bus rides, it truly felt like nothing.
6. Isla Holbox, Mexico – Welcome to paradise
After a two hours drive, you’ll arrive in Chiquilla from Valladolid.
Tip: Don’t take the toll motorway! It’s very expensive and will only save you some minutes.
In Chiquilla there are several guarded parking lots. Just ask around to get the best offer. We paid less than 5 USD per day.
Ferries leave the port every 30 minutes and are very comfortable. By beginning of 2017, they raised the price to 140 MX$ per person (from 80 MX$ last year; you will still find this price in most guidebooks).
When we arrived, one ferry had just left the pier. We were asked if we wanted to take a private boat and leave instantly for the same price. We did but wouldn’t recommend it to you. It’s just less comfortable and the next ferry departs in less than 30 minutes.
The perfect itinerary – but more expensive than expected!
The trip was partly exhausting but always great. What you shouldn’t underestimate and what has significantly changed the last years: fees for border crossing and transport costs. We had to pay departure fees for Belize and Mexico twice each which summed up to around 100 USD per person alone.
All in all we loved our itinerary. We experienced so much and more than ‘just’ beaches and Yucatán’s main sights.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’ll have any questions!
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