Welcome to our travel guide to the Riviera Maya! This beautiful region of Mexico is the perfect place for those looking for a combination of beaches, history, adventure, and relaxation. We hope this guide will help you make the decision of where to spend your next vacation, no matter if you are taking a family trip, a group trip with friends, a couple, or even a solo trip.
Riviera Maya is synonymous with beach
First, let’s talk about the dreamy beaches with crystal clear waters and white sand that characterize the Riviera Maya. With over 100 kilometers of coastline, there is something for everyone, from quiet and secluded beaches to beaches full of life and animation. Some of the most popular beaches include Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Xpu-Ha. These beaches are ideal for relaxing, sunbathing, and water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving.
To help you plan your next trip, we’ve created a list of the top 5 beaches in the Riviera Maya. From quiet and relaxing beaches to places with a great atmosphere and water activities, these beaches offer something for everyone:
The best beaches in the Riviera Maya
- Playa del Carmen: Known for its crystal clear waters and relaxed atmosphere, Playa del Carmen is the perfect place to enjoy a day at the beach in the Riviera Maya. The beach has a wide variety of water activities, such as scuba diving and snorkeling, and is also famous for its bars and restaurants on 5th Avenue.
- Tulum: With its impressive Mayan ruins and beautiful white sand beach, Tulum is a very popular tourist destination in the Riviera Maya. Travelers can enjoy a day at the beach in the public section or at one of the many luxury beach hotels.
- Playa Paraiso: This beautiful beach with crystal clear waters is located near Tulum and is an ideal place to enjoy a relaxing day. It is a quiet and beautiful beach, with a great variety of services such as umbrella and sun lounger rentals.
- Akumal Beach: Known for its great variety of marine life, this beach is an ideal place for snorkeling and diving. Travelers can enjoy a day at the beach while watching sea turtles and other marine life.
- Playa Xpu-Ha: With a beautiful stretch of white sand beach and turquoise waters, this beach is an ideal place to enjoy a day at the beach in the Riviera Maya. It is a quiet and relaxing place, with a laid-back atmosphere and a great variety of services.
Where to stay in the Riviera Maya
To stay in the Riviera Maya you don’t need to do an exhaustive search, since both the coast and the urban areas are full of hotels for all tastes, preferences, and budgets. Mainly, you can find three types of accommodations: accommodation only (also known as European plan), accommodation with breakfast, or all-inclusive.
Below you will find the most important differences so that you can decide which one best suits your travel needs:
- Accommodation-only hotels offer a basic lodging option for travelers. These hotels tend to have lower rates than all-inclusive hotels, as they only offer a room for sleeping. Guests will have to pay for any additional services, such as food, beverages, and recreational activities. This can be a good option for travelers looking for a place to stay during their trip who want to spend their money on other things.
- Bed and breakfasts are an intermediate option and, as the name implies, breakfast is included in the price. They are usually the most strategic option for travelers, as they allow them to enjoy the hotel’s facilities for longer and plan the day’s activities with more peace of mind.
- On the other hand, all-inclusive hotels offer a complete package of services for travelers. The room rate includes all meals, beverages (including alcohol), recreational activities, and entertainment. Guests will not have to worry about spending additional money on these services during their stay. These hotels tend to be very popular in tourist and vacation destinations, especially in the Caribbean, and tend to be more upscale and luxurious. It is a good option for travelers who want to have a complete vacation experience without worrying about additional expenses and many times in almost private beach areas.
History through archaeological sites
The history of the Riviera Maya dates back more than 2,000 years when the ancient Maya built impressive cities and temples in the region. Many of these archaeological sites can still be visited today and are popular attractions for tourists. The region is rich in Maya history and archaeology and its sites offer a unique opportunity to learn about Maya history and culture while enjoying the breathtaking views and natural beauty of the region.
Here are just a few of the most popular sites to visit in the region. Each of these sites has a unique history and architecture, which makes them worthy of being visited and known.
- Tulum – One of the last Mayan cities built, Tulum is located on the Caribbean coast and is known for its impressive walls and ocean views.
- Coba – Located deep in the jungle, this ancient Mayan city is known for its great pyramids, including the Great Pyramid of Coba, which is one of the largest in the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Chichén Itzá – One of Mexico’s most famous archaeological sites, Chichén Itzá is known for its impressive El Castillo, a large stone pyramid with 91 stairways on each side, and its complex of ceremonial buildings.
- Ek Balam – A lesser-known but equally impressive site, Ek Balam is known for its large acropolis, which is one of the largest in the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Uxmal – An ancient Maya city located deep in the jungle, Uxmal is known for its impressive ceremonial buildings, including the Governor’s Palace, one of the most impressive structures on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Ecotourism, a sustainable option for travel to the Riviera Maya
Ecotourism is another great attraction of the Riviera Maya. With a wide variety of ecosystems, from tropical rainforests to crystalline cenotes, there is a great variety of outdoor activities for nature lovers.
Visitors can enjoy ecological activities such as bird watching, snorkeling, and scuba diving in coral reefs, ecotourism in jungles and national parks, and wildlife watching. Also, there are a large number of organizations and companies that offer guided ecological tours, allowing visitors to learn about the fauna and flora of the region while enjoying its natural beauties. With the growing awareness of the importance of protecting the environment, eco-tourism in the Riviera Maya is an excellent way to enjoy the natural wonders of the region while contributing to its conservation.
An amazing adventure in the Riviera Maya
Last but not least, the Riviera Maya is the perfect place for those looking for a little adventure. From the thrill of flying on a zipline over the jungle to the tranquility of paddling a kayak through the jungle rivers, there is something for everyone. These activities are a great way to experience the natural beauty of the region while having fun. Here are the five most popular activities:
Top 5 most popular adventure activities
- Ziplining: This is an exciting activity that consists of sliding down a cable from one high point to another, usually over a natural landscape. In the Riviera Maya, visitors can enjoy this thrilling activity while flying over the jungle and cenotes, enjoying breathtaking views and a sense of freedom. This is an excellent way to experience the natural beauty of the Riviera Maya while enjoying the adrenaline rush.
- Rappel: Rappel is another exciting activity that consists of descending down a waterfall or cliff using a system of ropes. In the Riviera Maya, visitors can enjoy this exciting activity in the middle of the jungle, enjoying breathtaking views and a sense of adventure.
- Diving and snorkeling: The Riviera Maya is known for its beautiful coral reefs and underwater cenotes, making it an ideal place for diving and snorkeling. Here you can explore the coral reefs and underwater cenotes, discovering marine life and impressive coral formations.
- Kayaking and paddleboarding: The rivers and cenotes of the Riviera Maya jungle are ideal for kayaking and paddleboarding. These activities consist of paddling through the rivers and cenotes aboard a surfboard or a personal watercraft, in order to enjoy the natural beauty of the region and the tranquility of the water.
- Quad and ATV: The jungle and beaches of the Riviera Maya are ideal for exploring by quad or ATV. Visitors can tour the jungle and beaches on an exciting quad or ATV ride, enjoying the natural beauty of the region and the thrill of driving on difficult terrain. Remember that in order to do this activity, tour operators will require a valid driver’s license.
Additional tips for your trip to the Riviera Maya
All in all, the Riviera Maya is a wonderful place to visit, with so much to offer, from beautiful beaches and water activities to Mayan archaeology, ecotourism, and exciting adventures. With a wide variety of accommodations and all-inclusive options, it’s easy to plan the perfect vacation. We hope our travel guide has given you some ideas on how to make the most of your trip to the Riviera Maya! Remember that there are many more things to do and see in this beautiful region, so don’t be afraid to explore and try new things.
Some additional tips for your trip:
- Be sure to bring sunscreen and insect repellents of natural origin, so you will not lose protection and you will be taking care of the local nature.
- Cool clothes will be your best ally to withstand the hot weather and, above all, the humidity.
- Book your tours and activities in advance to make sure you get the best prices and schedules available.
- Explore some of the small villages and towns near the coast for a more authentic and less touristy experience.
Enjoy your trip to the Riviera Maya! We are sure it will be an unforgettable experience.