The Riviera Maya is a touristic region located very close to Cancun, starting in the town of Puerto Morelos all the way to the Biosphere of Sian Ka’an, in the Yucatan Peninsula, and it is a must-visit destination for everyone. From stunning beaches and amazing cenotes to incredible nightlife or archaeology, there are plenty of things to do in the Riviera Maya. Here is our guide to the top 5 ‘must do’ when visiting the Riviera Maya to make it worthy.
Riviera Maya Attractions
1. Get in the sea
From taking a dip in a cenote to snorkeling in the deep sea, you must take a soak in the water at least once during your visit to Riviera Maya.
Scuba diving is often listed as the number one thing to experience when visiting the area, and we highly recommend it to everyone. Riviera Maya is famous for having the second largest coral reef in the world, so take advantage of it while you’re there! If you’re a complete novice, diving lessons are available but, if you’re snorkeled before and earned your PADI diving certificate, you can take the opportunity to do some two tank diving.
If scuba diving isn’t your thing, there are other ways you can immerse yourself in the beautiful Riviera Maya waters. Why not try taking a dip in the incredible surroundings of a cenote? Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with fresh filtered water, so you’re safe in the knowledge it will be pure and clean. Or, you could even seize the once in a lifetime opportunity and swim with dolphins.
2.Things to do in the Riviera Maya: Visit Tulum
If you’re looking for a taste of traditional Mexico with the ultimate laid back vibe, Tulum is the place for you. The picturesque coastal region has some of the world’s best beaches, where you can sunbathe to your heart’s content and get that perfect golden tan, or you can even find your zen with a relaxing beachside yoga session.
If you’re looking to do something a little more exhilarating, try kitesurfing in the azure ocean or even spend an afternoon alligator spotting in the nearby Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve.
3. Experience the nightlife
No trip to Mexico is complete without a cocktail or two, and while you’ll find them everywhere any time of the day, the nightlife is for sure one of the most enjoyable Riviera Maya attractions. And though you can, it’s not even necessary to get all dressed up to enjoy it! Spend at least a night on Playa del Carmen, it has some excellent options open to you.
While Cancun is known for its spectacular nightlife, neighboring Playa del Carmen also has a lot to offer in the way of fantastic nightclubs and cocktail bars. The city has a trendy sophisticated vibe, with lots of Western-style bars and more traditional Mexico inspired hangouts. It’s often considered more relaxed and affordable than older brother Cancun, but with the same vibrancy and sense of fun. Some of the most highly recommended bars include:
- Wah Wah Beach Bar – a vibrant beach bar with live music. A favorite!
- Caguameria – a casual trendy Mexican bar often missed by tourists but with great food and drinks
- La Perla Pixan – one of the few places where you’ll find real traditional (and organic) prehispanic specialties.
- La Santanera – The best club for those in search of after partying. Some of the most prestigious DJ’s play here every night
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4. Absorb the culture: Ruins near Playa del Carmen
Mexico’s idyllic beaches and phenomenal cocktails are some it’s biggest selling points – but, make no mistake, there is far more to the country than just clear blue oceans and fabulous night time tipples. The whole country is steeped in a vast and fascinating past that grips and intrigues more than just history nerds, and the Riviera Maya is no exception.
The area is full of beautiful historical and cultural landmarks. Tulum, Muyil and Coba are Mayan archaeological sites with ruins near Playa del Carmen, well worth a visit for anyone interested in Mexico’s culture and history.
Although a fair journey outside of the Riviera Maya, Chichen Itza, in particular, is a cultural site worth visiting. The pyramids were given UNESCO world heritage site status in 1988 and even made it onto the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ list compiled in 2007. Although it will take a 2 and a half hour journey out of Riviera Maya, you can easily explore them for yourself, and discover why the Mayans were the most advanced ancient civilization in the world.
5. Kick back and relax
There are plenty of places to visit in Rivera Maya Mexico but always remember: The most important part of any vacation is that you kick back, put your feet up, and relax as much as possible. The Riviera Maya has everything you could possibly need to help you unwind on the perfect vacation in whatever way you may choose to do it – so there are no excuses for not letting go and chilling out!