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Remarkable Riviera Maya

The mind-blowing beauty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Chichen Itza and the Belize Barrier Reef are only the start of it. With its coveted beach resorts and magical beaches, Riviera Maya is the top destination in Latin America.

Divers and snorkelers will feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven at the Riviera Maya. Take the Mesoamerican Reef, for example – it’s the second largest reef in the world. There’s also Cozumel, where the famous Santa Rosa Wall can be found. Or if you’re after something even more outlandish, go for a cenote dive at Angelita or Dos Ojos.

You can’t visit Riviera Maya without seeing Mayan ruins (well, you can – but it would be a crying shame) and one of the best places to explore the mystery of Mayan civilisation is in Tulum. This pre-Columbian walled city is found atop 12m cliffs and looks out over the Caribbean Sea. The highlight is El Castillo, a large pyramid that you’re actually allowed to go in or climb on (unlike at Chichen Itza).

Striking Mayan ruins, hedonists who down shots of tequila and diving spots that will take you to an underworld wonderland… Riviera Maya can really blow your mind.

Riviera Maya's Top 10

10. Isla Mujeres Take a ferry to this island where you can enjoy yourself at Garrafon, an ecological water theme park and an underwater world.

5. The Jungle Place Play with endangered spider monkeys, which are targets of the illegal pet trade. Appointments essential.

9. Doliphinaris Riviera Maya Swim with the dolphins. Nuff said.

4. Rancho Baaxal Horseback riding in the jungle and on the beach! There’s also a full-moon tour if you want to go horseback riding at night.

8. Xcaret Eco Theme Park Discover Mexican biodiversity at this park of natural wonders. It’s got everything from cenotes and exhibitions to marine turtles.

3. Belize Barrier Reef:One of the biggest coral reefs in the world. Take your pick from diving and snorkelling!

7. Crococun Zoo Started out as a crocodile farm, but now has spider monkeys, snakes and deer among its animal attractions.

2. Chichen Itza Officially one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Don’t miss.

6. Coba More ruins of a pre-Columbian Maya civilisation. Includes Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula.

1. Rio Secreto An underground river and natural reserve cave. You can walk and swim through it to explore.

Riviera Maya History

  • Xcaret – This eco-archaeological park has a Mayan culture theme with an archaeological site and a re-enactment of a Mayan village.
  • Coba – City from a pre-Columbine Mayan civilization with several temple pyramids.
  • Tulum – Offers popular archaeological sites on the coast.
  • Xel-Ha – A beautiful park with an ecological theme and ruins from Mayan civilizations.
  • Chichen Itza – A large archaeological site from the pre-Columbine times, built by the Mayans and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Riviera Maya Art & Culture

  • Museum of Mayan Culture – A great place to take a peek into the culture and history of the Riviera Maya.
  • CEDAM Museum – This shipwreck museum is a fun place to visit for a little history of the area.
  • Cancun Underwater Museum – The world’s biggest underwater museum.
  • Cedam Maritime Museum – Offers a one-of-a-kind display with artefacts from shipwrecks along the coast.
  • Hacienda Isabela – A lovely recreation of a typical Mexican hacienda.

Riviera Maya Shopping

  • Avenida Quinta – A walking street along the Riviera Maya lined with small stores and malls.
  • Cozumel – Home to many unique shops that offer everything from jewellery to hammocks.
  • Tulum Ruins – Features a great crafts marketplace.
  • Mexico Maya Gift Shop – A place to find an assortment of jewellery, local arts and more.
  • Akumal Mara Open Air Markets – A market area along the coast full of small kiosks offering local handcrafted items.

Gay & Lesbian Riviera Maya

  • Picante Bar – Riviera Maya bar open since the ’80s, with theme nights and drink specials.
  • Karamba Bar – The largest disco club in the area in which the partying starts after midnight.
  • Play 69 – Home to a lot of cruising and a mix of trance and hot music beats.
  • Adonis Tulum Riviera Maya – An all-inclusive gay resort and spa along the lovely coast.
  • Playa Shangri-la – A popular gay beach not far from Cancun, great for chilling in the morning and busy in the afternoon.

Riviera Maya Outdoor

  • Xplor – Nature park that includes grottos, limestone caves and underground rivers for exploring.
  • Aviario Xaman-Ha – Lovely aviary with many species in their natural habitat.
  • Tres Rios Nature Park – Located where three rivers come together and flow into the nearby Caribbean Sea. Enjoy snorkelling, swimming, kayaking and biking.
  • Rio Secreto – An incredible natural marvel of underground passageways that has been unexplored until recently.
  • Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System – Explore this nearby reef.

Riviera Maya Sport

  • The Cancun Tigers play in the Cancun Baseball Stadium.
  • To check out great kite surfing, try some of the local beaches, such as Playa Paraiso and Playa del Carmen.
  • Cancun is home to the Inter Playa del Carmen, a soccer team that plays in Quinatana Roo.
  • You can find a wide selection of beautiful golf clubs along the Riviera Maya.
  • To catch great tennis games, try the Excellence Riviera.

Riviera Maya Local

Cancun

Known for its resorts and crowds of tourists, it’s worth checking out the beaches in Cancun. The turquoise waters and white sands look like they belong on a screensaver, so be sure to salute the sun at Playa Chac Mool and Playa Ballenas. If you’ve had enough of relaxing by the beach, pay a visit to the Interactive Aquarium, where you can pet stingrays.

Once you’ve had your fill of slimy sea-dwellers, head on over to the markets where you can bargain down the prices of some souvenirs for your jealous friends back home. There are also many golfing opportunities, plus spa treatments to truly get you into the luxurious way of life. Spas offer modern techniques as well as ancient Mayan healing rituals.

Akumal

One hour from Cancun, this cute town is perfect not only for its beaches, but even more so for its snorkelling. You can go on a snorkelling tour or just go by yourself. Rent (or buy) some snorkelling gear and head out to the reef, which isn’t far from the shore. Note: stay away from the ‘fire reefs’ – they’re red in colour and are marked with buoys. They sting, and excessive contact can even be fatal. Yikes! The Ecological Center is a great place to find out more about Riviera Maya’s ecosystems and environmental sites.

Playa del Carmen

With its relaxed ambience, European feel and smaller boutique hotels, Playa del Carmen is perfect for Riviera Maya travellers who are less concerned with partying and more interested in unwinding or venturing out to ecological parks. The Xcaret Eco Theme Park is here, but there are also other ecological theme parks like Xel-Ha. It’s a natural aquarium, where you can go snorkelling, cliff-diving, scuba diving or even swim with dolphins.

Otherwise there’s also Aviario Xaman-Ha, an aviary. You’ll see beautiful birds, butterflies, small mammals and plants in their natural habitat. Also make a stop at Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), the main tourist pedestrian street. Cobblestoned and about 20 blocks long, you can browse or have a break at restaurants, bars and shops.

Riviera Maya Eats

Foodies will be very happy at Riviera Maya. From tacos to seafood and Argentinean grill to traditional Mayan cuisine, you’re in for a world of culinary joy.

Cocina 38 A unique European menu in a stylish, intimate restaurant proves a fantastic dining experience.

Origenes Prime rib tacos or shrimp tacos in an inviting restaurant. You gotta have the tacos!

El Bistro at La Tortuga Hotel offers international cuisine in a romantic atmosphere. The specialty is local seafood.

Mezzanine is a restaurant and bar that serves Thai fusion food. This place is oh-so-stylish, and it’s even got a Martini bar.

La Casa del Agua A lovely international menu with a focus on seafood. Playa

Sur Steakhouse:This is where you can enjoy an Argentinean grill. The steakhouse also has a wine bar, and steak of course!

Yaxche Fancy a taste of traditional Mayan cuisine? This is the place.

Que Fresco! Featurea colourful, rustic décor and great Mexican food with Caribbean and Mayan flavours.

Los Gauchos Italian and Argentinean fare to satisfy even the biggest appetite.

El Fogon Authentic tacos al pastor (pork) that you absolutely must try if you’re in town.

Riviera Maya Events

Mayakoba Golf Classic is Mexico’s only PGA Tour. It’s held in Cancun in February, so golf enthusiasts should plan a trip. Like, now.

The Expo Tequila is held in August at Quinta Avenida. Tequila! C’mon, this is something you can’t miss.

In October, the Riviera Maya Underground Film Festival presents independent short films of all genres in Playa del Carmen.

The Life and Death Festival of Xcaret end is from the end of October into November and displays cultural performances, culinary experiences, and artistic shows.

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in November draws national and international performers to Mamitas Beach.

When To Go

A constant temperature of around 25°C (77°F) all year round is one of Riviera Maya’s many plus points.

The dry season from December to October can get very windy, especially around January and February.

The rainy season is from May to November, when tropical storms can plague the region.

Cenote water temperature is around 25°C (77°F) all year, and coastal water stays between 26°C and 29°C (79-84°F).

Getting Around

Getting around in Riviera Maya is most convenient by car, but there are also collective vans for the budget-conscious, which don’t take direct routes.

The vans also pick up and drop off customers wherever they please, so they’ll be making loads of stops.

For not-so-budget-conscious, the luxury buses go to most major cities.

What To Miss

Avoid swimming at the beach – there are often no lifeguards. You’re better off floating around in the pool. Of course in the eco-parks it’s safe to swim and snorkel.

If you’re out about at night, always take a friend wherever you go – yes, even to the bathroom! Drunk tourists are easy targets for robberies.

Only use ATMs that are located inside bank buildings or your hotel.

Riviera Maya Information

Easily one of the most popular holiday resort destinations on the planet, the Mayan Riviera, or Riviera Maya, is a spectacular area of Mexico. Replete with all-inclusive creature comforts and coastal beauty, the region is also a goldmine of genuine culture and tradition. Needless to say, visitors who venture beyond the beach resort gates of Highway 307 are in for a treat.

The label “Riviera Maya” was the brainchild of a former municipal official who in 1999, took part in efforts to rebrand the Cancún-Tulum corridor of the Yucatán Peninsula. Always ever-popular because of a contiguous chain of all-inclusive resorts on the Caribbean, the region is now the number one destination for foreign tourists in Latin America. People come from far and wide for the gorgeous weather and coastal scenery of course but also for UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Chichen Itza and the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System.

Attractions and Activities

Attractions

  • Chichen Itza
  • Barrier Reef Reserve System
  • Xcaret Park
  • Tulum
  • Coba

Activities

  • Water Sports
  • Cancún Nightlife
  • Mesoamerican Ruins
  • Cenote Excursions
  • Isla Mujeres

Restaurant and Nightlife

Restaurants

  • Los Gauchos
  • Tu Parador
  • El Fogon
  • La Tortuga Bistro
  • Cocina 38

Nightlife

  • La Santanera
  • Diablito Cha Cha Cha
  • Dadyo
  • Congo Bar
  • Sweet

Climate

Warm, even weather throughout the year is the hallmark of Riviera Maya. The region has a mean temperature of 25°C, with a tropical storm season between May and December.


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Recommended hotels

From US$163

1 Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa All Inclusive

5 stars
3.5 / 5 6 reviews

Carretera Federal 387 KM 234 Map

30% off per night

Dreams Tulum Resort Spa All-Inclusive is a luxury resort on one of the most exceptional beaches in the Riviera Maya. Pairing the traditional Mayan with Mexican architecture, this hotel is one of... More

Nice Smaller Resort
We have been to Mexico many times. We typically stay at Moon Palace with our large extended family. My husband and I went to Mexico on our own Feb 21, 2015 and decided to try something new. We...
1 Mar 2015
From US$179

2 Sandos Playacar Beach Resort - Select Club - All Inclusive

4 stars
4.1 / 5

Paseo xaman-ha, lote 1, mza. 1, Map

30% off per night

Set in the residential area of Playacar, Sandos Riviera Select Club - Adults Only All Inclusive is an all-inclusive adults-only paradise perfect for a relaxing Caribbean escape. While in this part... More

From US$233

3 The Royal Playa del Carmen Adults Only - All Inclusive

4 stars
5.0 / 5 1 reviews

Av. Constituyentes 2, Quinta Avenida Map

FREE WiFi,Spa,$50 Credit at Matis+Hacienda Tour

Escape the busy city and travel away to The Royal Playa del Carmen Adults Only - All Inclusive, featuring stylish suites and a host of relaxation facilities, ideal for travellers in Playa del... More

More then expected
Everything about the hotel was 10 out of 10. It was much better then what we were expecting and the location was second to none. We will definitely be re-booking again in the near future.
6 Apr 2015
From US$110

4 The Reef Playacar - All Inclusive - Playa del Carmen

3 stars
5.0 / 5 1 reviews

Paseo Xaman Ha Sur Map

Save 38% Off per night Book 8 nights or more

The Reef Playacar - All Inclusive - Playa del Carmen promises their guest a cosy ambience, attention to detail, & most importantly, a sense of individuality in a place where you are a name & not a... More

Fantastic Personal Jungle Getaway
The Reef Playacar was an amazing resort to stay at. The resort reminded me of a mini personal jungle. As you walked from the front entry to the beach there were vines hanging above, lush trees,...
23 Aug 2014
From US$181

5 El Taj Ocean Front and Beach Side Condo Hotel

4 stars
4.7 / 5

1st Avenue North corner 14h Street Map

FREE WiFi+$50 Credit-Matis+Hacienda Jalisco Tour

Holidaymakers seeking luxurious accommodations and top-notch leisure facilities in Playa del Carmen find suitable base at El Taj Ocean Front & Beach Side Condo Hotel Playa Del Carmen. This elegant... More

From US$57

6 Eurostars Hacienda Vista Real - Playa del Carmen

3 stars
4.7 / 5 3 reviews

Paseo Xaman-HA, Ret. 3 Lotes 12 y 13 Map

FREE Daily Buffet Breakfast, Wi-Fi & Parking

The Eurostars Hacienda Vista Real Riviera Maya Resort presents a beautiful and luxurious environment with ample facilities to bring you a vibrant holiday experience. GeneralAn extensive tropical... More

Hacienda Vista real
great hotel, just one thing a little dispointing, the pool bar and the pool restaurant was not really open. from 12:00 to 3:00 Pm is a little short. Other than that, service amazing, people always...
16 Jul 2015
From US$177

7 Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa - All Inclusive

4 stars
4.1 / 5

SM 11 MZ9 Lote10 Map

$50 Credit at Matis & Hacienda Jalisco Tour

Blessed with an incredible location, this charming property offers luxurious accommodation, exquisite amenities and unsurpassed service to make your stay a pleasant one. GeneralThe hotel offers... More

From US$188

8 The Royal Haciendas Playa del Carmen - All Inclusive

4 stars
5.0 / 5 1 reviews

Cancun - Playa del Carmen Highway Map

35% off per night

The Royal Haciendas Playa del Carmen - All Inclusive delivers quality accommodations, warm welcome and top-notch service in an idyllic location in a resort complex designed after old haciendas. The... More

Nice family vacation
The royal hacienda resort in Playa del Carmen is a ver y nice place to stay. It is close to the city center if you want to go there for shopping yet quiet enough for relaxation. The jogging path...
12 Jan 2015
From US$96

9 Azulik - Adults Only

3 stars
5.0 / 5 2 reviews

Carretera Tulum Ruinas KM 5 rumbo a Boca Paila, Map

Holidaymakers looking to escape the bustle of city life can book a retreat at Azulik Villas Hotel Tulum Exclusive Adults Only. This clothing-optional Tulum property is a haven of tranquillity and... More

Room in Paradies
The most beutiful hotel over the dschungle. Awesome, romantic and the best experience eber! There is nothing like this in tulum.
11 Aug 2015
From US$342

10 Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun - Adults Only All Inclusive

5 stars
4.8 / 5 10 reviews

Carretera Federal Cancun-Tulum 307, Km. 51, Solidaridad Map

$50 Credit at Matis & Hacienda Jalisco Tour

Pure white sands, crystal clear waters and warm tropical breezes promise a perfect paradise at Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun All Inclusive Adults Only, which caters Exclusively for Adults and... More

One of the best places I've ever been!
My husband and I began our honeymoon at Secrets Maroma and thought it was absolutely perfect. We were unsure about staying in an all inclusive resort, but were so happy we chose Secrets and are...
9 Jun 2014
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