Mayan Riviera, or Riviera Maya in Spanish, is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico. The Riviera Maya is the official name for a stretch of coastal land from the south of Cancún to Tulum. It includes the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. This area of the coast covers 130 km (81 mi), not including the Reserve. It includes many small towns and hideaways, plus nature parks and large resorts, among which are luxury resorts of 5 or more stars. The largest towns are Puerto Morelos and Puerto Aventuras. These are lesser known but equally worthy vacation spots. Hideaways include Punta Bete, Xpu-Ha, Paamul, and Punta Allen. Major cities in this stretch include Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Tulum. Cancún and the island of Cozumel are only minutes away by car or ferry. As you can imagine there are plenty of things to do for vacationers of all preferences. Whether you want to relax on the beach, snorkel in the clear blue waters, shop for souvenirs, visit historical or nature preserves, or eat at a plethora of restaurants, Riviera Maya will more then fulfill your vacation desire.
Lots To Do
Swimming with the Dolphins – Dolphin Discovery (998/887-0207) is located at Treasure Island on the side of Isla Mujeres, facing Cancun. Up to six people can swim with two dolphins and one trainer. Another option is Xel-Ha (998/883-3293), a theme park in Puerto Juárez. For under $90 US per person, you can swim for 30 minutes in a natural habitat environment called dolphinaria.
Snorkeling – Isla Mujeres is located close to one of many coral reefs, and the area is popular for its snorkeling and scuba diving. The most popular snorkeling area is El Garrafón National Park. Another popular spot is Bahía de Mujeres.
SCUBA Diving – By far, the most popular destination is Cozumel. It ranks among the top five dive destinations. But don’t forget your dive card and dive log. Dive shops will rent you gear but won’t take you out on a boat until you demonstrate some documentation. You can save money by getting a dive package together with hotel stay. Cozumel has a lot of diving locations. Some of the more famous are Palancar Reef, Santa Rosa Wall, San Francisco Reef, and Yucab Reef. The Great Maya coral reef is also breathtaking.
Wildlife – No, not the all night partying kind, but natural Reserves is what we’re talking about here. South of Cancún, near the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, you will encounter the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Here you can enjoy wildlife in their natural habitat. Activities include kayaking, fly fishing, and educational programs. In Isla Mujeres you may want to visit the Turtle Sanctuary, a reserve dedicated to preserving Caribbean Sea turtles and educating the public about them.
Beaches – Playa del Carmen offers same quality of beaches as Cancun with fewer crowds, although it is growing in popularity. Few minutes by ferry will take you to the island of Cozumel which has wonderful beaches such as Playa San Francisco and Playa Palancar.
Swimming – If you’re in Isla Mujeres, then we recommend Playa Norte. Anywhere there is a great beach in the Riviera Maya you’ll find a great swimming experience.
Fishing – Riviera Maya offers great fishing experience. To arrange a day of fishing contact the Sociedad Cooperativa Turística. Alternatively your travel agent can arrange a fishing tour for you. Best months for fishing are April to September.
Museums and Maya Ruins – On rainy afternoons you may wish to check out a museum or two. In Cazumel, Museo de la Isla de Cozumel merits a visit. Mayan ruins are definitely worth a visit when you’re in the Riviera Maya. One notable spot are the Ruins of Tulum, a Maya fortress-city overlooking the Caribbean. These are located thirteen kilometers (8 miles) south of Xel-ha.
There are way too many activities in the Riviera Maya to be able to list them all in a short article such as this one. In the near future look for more articles dedicated to one or few destinations in the Riviera Maya.
If you end up going to the Riviera Maya, we hope you have a fabulous time there.