WHAT TO DO IN THE RIVIERA MAYA: 2020 UPDATE
The Riviera Maya is one of our favorite places in the world. While Cancun may be the most popular destination in the Yucatan Peninsula, the Riviera Maya is our pick for the most beautiful must-see places. Full of alluring nature and cultural experiences, put these destinations on your list of places to visit next time you visit Mexico!
- Captivate yourself with the beauty of Chichen Itza
You can’t go to the Riviera Maya without visiting Chichen Itza. Fully deserving of its title of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it is one of the most important relics left by the ancient Mayans. The Pyramid of Kukulcán is the most prominent edifice, but the other structures in the area are well worth a visit too. This spectacular site, lost to nature, is deserving of a visit and should be on your list of things to do in the Riviera Maya. Take a break from the beaches and discover a new world by exploring the Old World.
- Explore the area’s cultural heritage
Several cities in the Riviera Maya have an interesting and unique cultural heritage for you to explore. We highly recommend immersing yourself in the authentic local culture of cities such as Merida, Valladolid, and Izamal.
- Visit the Ruins of Tulum
Tulum is one of the most well-preserved historic sites in the Riviera Maya. About 60 structures in the archaeological complex remain standing to this day, some of which date back all the way to the 12th century. This was one of the most important cities for the ancient Mayans since it served as both a major commercial hub and defensive fortress for the ancient Mayans.
Tulum stands as a testament to the deeply religious nature of the ancient Mayans. The castle, Temple of Frescoes, and Temple of the Descending God are just a few examples of the ceremonial sites which had a principal role in the lives of the city’s inhabitants.
- Tour the Mayan Ruins of Coba
About one hour from Tulum is another significant ancient site. The Ruins of Coba are an impressive site spreading out more than 25 square miles! Composed of 6,500 separate structures connected by dozens of roadways, Coba gives us an idea of the splendor and reach of the Ancient Mayans during the height of their power.
Relax on the Beaches
- Punta Maroma: One of the Best Beaches in the World
Located nearby Punta Bete and Xcalacoco, Punta Maroma is a unique experience. This beach is regularly chosen as one of the best beaches in the world by travel magazines and publications. Besides the white sand and crystal-clear water, what really makes this beach special are the coral reefs. The shore is part of the Mesoamerican Reef System which is the second largest reef in the world. This is our choice for the best beach in the Riviera Maya
- Bask on the Shores of its Island Paradises
The Riviera Maya might be known for the shores of its mainland, but don’t sleep on its islands (or do). These postcard-worthy island paradises are some of the best places for disconnecting and relaxing. Take a visit to Cozumel, Isla Contoy, Isla Mujeres, or Holbox and live in paradise.
- Spend a day on Playa del Secreto
Like its namesake would suggest, this secluded and quiet beach is one of the best kept secrets in the Riviera Maya. Just a half an hour from Playa del Carmen, Playa del Secreto is a virgin beach surrounded by white sand and turquoise water. This is one of the best places to relax.
- Sunbathe on Playa Paraiso
While you’re visiting Tulum, make sure to also pay a visit to Playa Paraiso. This long stretch of beach located in Playa de Tulum is just minutes away from the ruins. Spending a few hours here is the perfect way to unwind after exploring the ancient sites. You’ll love the convenience as it is very easy to get there by bus and it is usually much less crowded than other beaches in the area.
Activities That are Sure to Please
- Bring the family to eco-friendly theme park, Xcaret
One of the most famous family-friendly attractions in the Riviera Maya are its eco-parks. These amusement parks specialize in providing a fun and informative experience paying respect to the natural ecology of the area. Your kids and family are sure to love the water and adventure activities provided and these are some of the best tourist experiences the area has to offer.
Within Xcaret you will find multiple parks to enjoy, but our favorite is Xelha, which has it all from nature to culture, and most of all, fun. This park is located within a coastal jungle and has a network of waterways for you to swim and dive in. Attractions include wildlife exhibits such as Jaguar Island where you will be able to see the intimidating namesake feline. The butterfly farm and the coral aquarium are just a few other examples of what they have to offer. Most importantly, as an aquatic park, you will also have the opportunity to swim with marine wildlife such as dolphins, rays, and even sharks in a controlled and safe environment.
- Snorkel with Whale Sharks in Holbox
We mentioned Holbox above, but wanted to add another reason to visit this unique town. This is one of the only areas in the world where you can snorkel with whale sharks. Albeit only for the adventurous, this is a can’t miss experience for those who are brave of heart.
- Snorkel with Turtles in Akumal
A much more relaxing experience than snorkeling with whale sharks, you can also snorkel with turtles in Akumal. When you go, you’ll see exactly why the name Akumal translates to “Place of the Turtles”. For centuries, this area has been used as breeding grounds for sea turtles.
Another attraction of the area are the rivers found within its intricate cave systems. With over 200 caves, Akumal offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for those with desire for exploration. The Yal-ku Cove serves as meeting point of two ecosystems where the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean feed into the subterranean waters of the cave systems.
- Explore Sian Ka’an and Muyil Biosphere Reserve
The Sian Ka’an Reserve was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. It serves as a protected nature preserve that includes beaches, dunes, coral reefs, cenotes (sinkholes), and a tropical forest. This area has a high level of biodiversity where you will see unique flora and fauna.
Have any of these places piqued your interest? If so, reach out to us to help plan your next trip! One of our agents is just a phone call away at (212) 947-3131.
Interested in where to stay in Mexico? Check out The Best Hotels in the Riviera Maya. Make sure you are up-to-date on all the new Safety Measures being taken there as well.