Imagine a palm-fringed shoreline adorned by soft white sand formed over millennia from the coral reefs that embrace Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Imagine ancient Mayan pyramids and temples, and a sea that seems to display all possible shades of turquoise. Imagine a place where you can dive and snorkel in freshwater caves and stunning sinkholes called cenotes as well as in the ocean, and even explore an underwater museum. The Riviera Maya is more than a world-class beach destination on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is a delightful hub of unique experiences waiting to happen.
White Sandy Beaches
Geographically, it is hard to accurately define the Riviera Maya. Generally speaking, it refers to the 70-80 km stretch of delicious coastline running south-west from Cancun airport. For most people, Tulum’s famous Mayan ruins on the edge of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere mark the Riviera Maya’s southern border, though, some communities located further south are also worthy of the distinction.
Playa del Carmen
The Riviera Maya is perhaps most commonly associated with the beachfront destination and vacation hotspot of Playa del Carmen, a town bustling with restaurants, nightlife and colourful stores and boutiques. Walking the destination’s Fifth Avenue is somewhat of a rite of passage. Love it or loathe it. You’ll be grateful for the street’s designer stores when you realize you left your sunglasses at home!
Exclusive Communities and Private Villas
However, the Riviera Maya is much more than Playa del Carmen. All along the “golden corridor”, you will find the most breath-taking exclusive communities and private villas, many of which enjoy secluded surroundings and awe-inspiring beaches and golf courses. If you are looking for exclusivity, the Riviera Maya certainly delivers.
Adventures and Cultural Treats
Finally, besides its sheer natural beauty — and we mean jaw-dropping — what makes this destination such an exquisite playground for visitors of all ages and persuasions is the volume and variety of adventures and cultural experiences on offer.
You can find yourself exploring the vestiges of the ancient Mayan civilization — including the pyramid at Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World. You might take in a show at the Cirque du Soleil. Sample mouth-watering gourmet cuisine. Swim with whale sharks. Explore freshwater caves. Or take your little-ones to one of the many quality outdoor theme parks. If you’re not careful, you will need another getaway to recover!
- Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea
- Roughly 45 mins to 1hr from Cancun airport
- Borders the Sian Ka’an Biosphere
- Roughly 45 mins to Tulum Mayan Ruins
EXPERIENCES ON THE RIVIERA MAYA
- Ancient Wonders — Ideal location for visiting a number of Mayan archaeological sites. Visit the famous Chichen Itza, Tulum or Cobá.
- Beaches — White sand beaches with laid-back beach clubs.
- Cenotes —Extensive underground cave systems and sinkholes known as cenotes are a unique feature of the Yucatan Peninsula. Fabulous for diving, snorkelling and river wading.
- Whale Sharks —The official whale shark season runs from June to September when tours can swim alongside the harmless whale sharks in their natural habitat.
- Island Hopping —Why not visit local islands such as Cozumel, Holbox, Contoy and Isla Mujeres?
- Water Sports – The Riviera Maya offers just about every water sport imaginable: jet ski, parasailing, diving, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and sailing.
- Boat Trips – Book one of the many boat cruises offered in the area and see some spectacular scenery.
- Fishing – You can enjoy all types of fishing expeditions here. Angling is particularly popular.
- Snorkelling and Diving —The Mesopotamian Reef is the third largest coral reef system in the world. It offers some amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities. There is also an underwater art museum, MUSA, with several dive sites along the coast populated by sculptures commissioned and donated by artists.
- Theme Parks —The Riviera Maya is a hub for tropical jungle adventures with many high-quality theme parks packed with zip lines, wading rivers, animal sanctuaries, pre-Hispanic rituals, classic Mexican dancing and more.
- Gastronomy– Besides Mexican cuisine being one of the best in the world, the region attracts some of the best chefs from all over the world.
- Tequila Tasting and more — Try the local libations that include tequila, mescal and a local liqueur called Xtabentún.
- Golf — The Yucatan Peninsula is home to many of Mexico’s best golf courses, some of which have holes with a sea view.
- Cirque du Soleil — Watch a breath-taking show as you have dinner.
- Yoga —There are several yoga studios in the region and many top instructors available for private lessons.