Yucatan (state)

Regions and States

Yucatan crestThe state of Yucatán is part of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula Region, along with the states of Campeche and Quintana Roo. This region is the ancestral home of the Maya. The state’s capital city is the colonial city of Mérida, known as the “white city.”

The state of Yucatán was important, historically, for sisal production. Several former sisal haciendas have been turned into luxury boutique hotels.

The state has a diversity of fauna and flora in habitats ranging from rainforest to coral reefs and coastal wetlands.

The state of Yucatán is perhaps best known internationally for its numerous important Mayan sites, including Uxmal and Chichen Itza. Tourism is a very important part of the state’s economy.

Here are select articles and recipes related to Yucatán:


Folkloric Dance, Mérida © 2022 Jane Simon

The multi-faceted charms of the city of Merida

Despite two delayed flights and a later than expected check-in to Hotel La Nacional By Kavia, the colorful and charming place where I spent the night, I’m buzzed for my first day in Mérida after a breakfast of chilaquiles verdes o rojos and endless cups of coffee topped with warm cream at Casa Maya Restaurant. […]

Atrium of San Antonio de Padua Convent © 2020 Jane Simon Ammeson

A fun afternoon in Izamal, Yucatan: a Pueblo Magico in Shades of Yellow

I’m traveling along narrow cobblestone streets flanked on both sides by rows of adobe buildings washed with bright yellow and accented with white trim and large ceramic pots brimming with colorful blooms. My mode of transportation is a white “coche Victoria” (or calesa) pulled by a mule named Dolly, garlanded with flowers and a hat […]

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whale shark

Swimming with whale sharks in Cancun: An underwater safari

About 25 miles off Cancún’s northeastern coast, past Isla Mujeres and far into the Caribbean waters, some of the largest known sea creatures loll their summers away. They are whale sharks, a gray-and-white spotted fish that can measure up to 40 feet long and weigh more than 15 tons. That’s bigger than many dinosaurs.

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Photo by David McCollam

The cuisine of the Yucatan: a gastronomical tour of the Maya heartland

The Mexican state of Yucatan, located on the peninsula of the same name, is the home of one of the most distinctive regional cuisines in the country. A long tradition of fine dining, going back to the ancient Maya and incorporating sophisticated European dishes, is very much in evidence in the cities, towns and villages […]

This unrenovated home on Paseo de Montejo is for sale -- a wonderful opportunity to live in a historic mansion. © John McClelland, 2007

Devil of a good time in Merida, Mexico’s white city

It is pushing midnight on a Thursday, but you’d never know it by the looks of Maternity Park in the central historic district of Merida, Mexico. Cafes on the square are jammed, shops bustling, the streets electric with energetic life. In this open-air setting, young sweethearts sip cocktails and entire families gather for late al […]


Yucatan Fish Panuchos: Panuchos de Pescado

Combining the classic Yucatecan ingredients of achiote seasoning, black beans and pickled red onions, true panuchos need to be made with fresh tortillas that will inflate when placed on the comal or griddle, so that the thin top layer (called the “pancita”) puffs up while it is heating up. If you do not have access to […]


Steamed turkey in Mexican achiote sauce: Pavo al vapor en recado colorado

Achiote paste, a characteristic seasoning of the Yucatan, where it is known as recado rojo, has been discussed before in this column. Made from the seed of the annatto tree ground with cumin, cloves and peppercorns, it is found in the Hispanic food section of supermarkets north of the border, or can be ordered through […]


Cooking in the Yucatan: bright flavors and unique ingredients

One of the regions of Mexico most indelibly fixed in my mind is the Yucatan, probably because the sights, sounds, flavors and aromas are so sensual that they create truly visceral memories. When my husband and I reminisce about our journeys throughout Mexico, especially the long road trips taken in our trusty old Ford pickup, […]


Yucatán Style Baked Marinated Salmon: Salmón Pibil

Ingredients 2 banana leaves, passed over a flame to soften 2 pound piece salmon filet 1 brick achiote paste (100 grams, about 2 ounces) ¾ cup bitter orange juice (or use half sweet orange juice and half vinegar) ¼ teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon crumbled, dried oregano pinch cinnamon 2 whole allspice, ground 2 garlic […]


Jicama and mandarin orange salad: Ensalada xec

This refreshing Yucatecan-style salad uses winter fruit in season. It comes to us courtesy of Chef David Sterling of Merida’s Los Dos cooking school. Ingredients 1 ½ pounds jicama, peeled and cut into julienne strips 1 lime ¼ cup naranja agria (sour orange) juice or substitute 2 parts lime juice, and 1 part each grapefruit and sweet orange juice 1 […]

© John McClelland, 2007

Henequen and its role in the Yucatan’s shifting fortunes

There is a beautiful, tree-lined boulevard in Merida, Yucatan called Paseo de Montejo. It provides four lanes for traffic separated by a wide median planted with shrubs and flowers. The sidewalks are wide enough for two further lanes of traffic each way and are interspersed with statuary, benches, conversation chairs and trees. Notwithstanding its charm, […]


Yucatan style chaya empanadas: Empanadas de chaya

Here the chaya, a leafy green used throughout the Yucatan, is incorporated right into the corn dough, a common technique in this region. The chopped hard boiled egg filling is complemented by the chile-laced tomato salsa, integral to this dish. Chard or spinach can be substituted for the chaya. The salsa that tops these chaya empanadas […]


Yucatecan-Style Beans: Frijoles Estilo Yucateco

Since pre-Hispanic times, the Maya people of the Yucatan have eaten either the black beans known as buul or the larger, light-colored beans called ibes, usually cooked in water in which chiles have been steeped. This chile broth is the basis for many traditional Yucatecan dishes. In the following version, the chile-tomato puree is added […]

The Pyramid of Kukulkan, Chichen Itza. Photo by Tony Burton

Did you know? Mayan architects built world’s oldest sound recordings

Modern sound recordings usually involve tiny disks which can hold dozens of tracks, specially designed to be easily portable and convenient. The Maya may have had different priorities. David Lubman has proposed that the earliest sound recording so far discovered on the planet may well be the main pyramid at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan. […]


Cenote daydreams, Yucatan, Mexico

Recollections of stunning ruins, fantastic snorkelling, exquisite food and friendly people. The Yucatan is unlike any other region of Mexico. It has unique terrain, climate, cuisine and people. The entire peninsula once lay as a giant coral reef underneath the warm Caribbean Sea. The formation of this unusual rocky landscape can be witnessed by a […]


Touring Mexico’s Yucatan ruins

We took an early morning ferry from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen. The warm wind and sea spray felt good on our frost bitten faces, fresh from Northern California. We had previously toured the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio on Cozumel. They are special in that Mayan girls came to the island as part of […]

Traditional Maya house in Yucatan © John G. Gladstein, 2008

Tricksters, avengers and guardian spirits: Mexican Ghosts

The child, they said, was old enough to collect leña — kindling — from the rugged Chiapas hillsides and to mount and ride a burro. His peasant parents called him “hombrecito” — “little man” — and trusted him to care for the few chickens and goats that provided the family with sustenance. One moonless night, awakened by the barking […]


Yucatan State, Mexico – Resource page

Principal articles for the State of Yucatan, Mexico – Touring Mexico’s Yucatan Ruins – Touring the Yucatán by motorcycle – Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya – Exploring the Yucatan – A Traveler’s Anthology – The Cuisine of the Yucatan: A Gastronomical Tour Of The Maya Heartland – Honey: A sweet Maya legacy – Cooking in […]


Yucatecan Salbutes: Salbutes Yucatecos

These delicious antojitos, sold in markets in Merida and other peninsula towns, are small, thick tortillas with a variety of toppings, including the local versions of moles, made with ground spice mixtures called called recados. The most popular topping of all is shredded, cooked turkey or chicken, a pure white, heat-resistant breed of which the yucatecos eat in abundance. Salbutes, like just about any other […]


Yucatecan Baked Fish: Tikin-Xic

This visually appealing dish calls for achiote paste, a classic Yucatan spice paste made from the hard, orange seed of the annatto tree, blended with cumin, cloves and pepper. The market in Merida has a huge section devoted to spice pastes, in colors ranging from bright orange to green to black. The women who sell […]


Mexicasa: The Enchanting Inns and Haciendas of Mexico by Gina Hyams and Melba Levick

Cogan’s Reviews I’ve been heard a couple of times lately saying out loud: “What an absolutely amazing country this is!” We were in Patzcuaro a short time ago one Sunday morning when the town’s market was in full swing. An incredible variety of goods were on display. And with all that colorful activity around us, […]


Scenes from the Yucatan – a photo gallery

Published or Updated on: January 1, 2000 by Marian Jane Sanders © 2000  

Merida, Yucatan

Merida: the white city of the Yucatan

The early inhabitants of Merida “discovered” a plant that had been a well-known staple to the indigenous Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula: henequen (Agave sisalana). A versatile, spiky, cactus-like bit of green that yielded valuable hemp, it soon earned the name “green gold” (verde de oro) because of the wealth it lavished upon the millionaire hacendados who farmed […]


Salmón Pibil: Filete de salmón marinado y horneado al estilo Yucatán

Esta es una idea de mi amigo el Dr. Tim Knab de la Universidad de las Américas. Un antropólogo y dotado chef, el Dr. Knab tuvo que hacer un cambio radical en su dieta después de años de cocinar y comer comidas ricas. Pero nunca ha tenido que sacrificar el sabor. Esta es una de […]

Living in Timucuy, Yucatan © John G. Gladstein, 2008

Living in Timucuy, Yucatan: birth, death and some in-between

The majority of people who visit the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico will visit Cancún, Cozumel or Mérida. All these places have an established tourist infrastructure, are modern and contain every convenience necessary for tourism. However, in close proximity to these well known tourist destinations, exist the villages of Yucatán. In the villages there is almost […]


Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya

Cogan’s Reviews Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya by Jeanine Lee Kitchel Enchanted Island Press, Hawaii, 2004 Paperback, 217 pages Available from Amazon Books: Paperback And also on Kindle from Amazon.com at $9.99 Here’s another of those ‘coming to Mexico to live’  books – but with a difference. It’s not concerned with […]


The Books of Chilam Balam and the Trojan War of Yucatan

In writing of the Persian Wars, Herodotus, our earliest Greek historian of note, declared that his purpose in writing of the attempts by the Persian kings Darius and Xerxes to invade Greece was to ensure that the great deeds – whether of Greeks or barbarians – should not be forgotten in ages to come. He […]


Honey: A sweet Maya legacy

When we first came to Mexico many years ago, a trip to the market was cause for both excitement and apprehension for my then ten-year-old younger daughter. There were beautiful things, like fragrant flowers and bundles of bright green herbs, as well as “yucky” things, like the heads of freshly slaughtered pigs. But one thing […]

This unrenovated home on Paseo de Montejo is for sale -- a wonderful opportunity to live in a historic mansion. © John McClelland, 2007

Merida: fiery mistress, seductive city

They told us she could be a fiery mistress, this city of Merida, and we came to her uneasily. At first, she wooed us gently and seduced us with overcast skies, occasional warm drizzle and pleasing evening temperatures. We walked her beautiful boulevards; admired magnificent hundred year old mansions built for long-dead land barons and […]


The tragic love story of Alma Reed and Felipe Carrillo

One of the great romantic stories of Mexico concerns Felipe Carrillo Puerto, a Governor of Yucatan, and Alma Reed, an American newspaper columnist in San Francisco. Back in the early 1920’s, Alma Reed wrote a column under the byline “Mrs. Goodfellow” that was devoted to answering questions for people who sought legal advice but could […]


The Mayan Civilization Time Line

Based on the ‘Mystery of the Maya’ OVERVIEW B.C. 1000-1000 Olmec 1800-900 Early Preclassic Maya 900-300 Middle Preclassic Maya 300 B.C. – A.D. 250 Late Preclassic Maya A.D. 250-600 Early Classic Maya 600-900 Late Classic Maya 900-1500 Post Classic Maya 1521-1821 Colonial period 1821- today Independent Mexico DETAILED TIME-LINE B.C. 11,000 The first hunter-gatherers settle […]


The Classic Period (300 – 900 AD) Part 3 – The Maya

The Maya make up the largest homogenous group of Indians north of Peru, inhabiting a vast area that encompasses Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and parts of the states of Tabasco and Chiapas, as well as Guatemala, Belize and parts of western Honduras and El Salvador. While not the earliest of the great Mesoamerican civilizations, the Maya […]

Interactive Map of Yucatan, Mexico

Interactive Map of Yucatan State, Mexico

Interactive Map of Yucatán, Mexico The state of Yucatán is part of the Yucatán Peninsula region, along with Campeche and Quintana Roo. This region is the ancestral home of the Maya. Yucatán state has an area of 39,612 square kilometers and a population of 1,945,840 (2010 estimate). The state’s capital city  is Mérida, the “white […]

Interactive Map of the Yucatan Peninsula

Link to Interactive Maps of the Yucatan Peninsula

Clickable interactive map of Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: Cancun, Merida, Chetumal, Cozumel

denis larsen

Massage Exchange With A Traditional Maya Massage Therapist

Night fell and it got dark with tropical quickness just as I was dropped off in a real VW bug at the bone-setter/massage man’s home. On my way inside I almost stepped on a tarantula that seemed as big as my flip-flop. A quick two-step and the spider and I did not meet. Grace Bascope, […]


TAGS – States, Regions, Cities

Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México (State of), México City, D.F., Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán, Zacatecas,

The cool patio of the main residence on a henequen hacienda in the Yucatan. © John McClelland, 2007


Much of the land comprising Mérida was once dotted with lavish haciendas where the henequen plant was grown. From henequen was produced a fiber called sisal, the main ingredient of twine. Today the picturesque, abandoned main hacienda buildings, recognized as architectural treasures, are being bought, restored and turned into luxury hotels and restaurants. Haciendas generally consisted of a main […]


Busing From Cancun to Chichen Itza

Posted by L. Turner on February 22, 1998 On my next tip to Akumal I want to visit Chichen Itza for two days. I will fly into Cancun and plan to meet up with family members at Club Oasis in Akumal for the major portion of my trip. I was wondering what type of bus […]

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