Visiting the Riviera Maya is an unforgettable experience.
There is no earthly paradise like this one; one where you can enjoy beautiful beaches, interesting Mayan ruins, lots of culture, incredible cenotes, delicious food, a good atmosphere, and a lot of other things.
In short: there is always something for everyone, whether you prefer the entertainment and bohemian atmosphere of Playa del Carmen, or you prefer the connection with the nature of Tulum.
So - to help you make a list for your next vacation - here is a list of the best things you can do on the Riviera Maya.
When you visit any of the cities or beach towns on the Riviera Maya it is essential that you spend a day at the beach, as the most beautiful beaches in Mexico are found here.
The Mexican Caribbean is distinguished by its crystal clear waters, with coral reefs, and being home to animals such as sea turtles, dolphins, and a great variety of fish and migratory birds.
And you're probably wondering which beach to visit.
This will depend on whether you are in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, but no matter where you are, you will end up being delighted.
In Playa del Carmen you can visit Playa Mamitas, one of its main beaches -and one of the closest ones- where you can sunbathe, swim and play beach volleyball.
And what if you want to visit a beach away from the crowds to connect with nature? In that case Punta Maroma is the perfect beach, as it is one of the most beautiful virgin beaches in the Riviera Maya.
In Tulum you can spend the day at Playa Paraiso, one of the favorite beaches thanks to its beauty, because it is not a public beach and it is close to several tourist attractions.
If you are planning a tour of the entire Mayan Riviera then Puerto Morelos should be your first stop, because it is at the beginning and because it has so much to offer.
Some of the things you can do in Puerto Morelos are swimming in its quiet beach, diving, going to the botanical garden, visiting the crocodile captivity, horseback riding, biking, shopping at the handicraft market, buying fish, among others.
Playa del Carmen has become a very popular tourist destination because it is a cosmopolitan city, with lots of style, nightlife and many amenities, all this near the beach.
However, much of the popularity of this place is due to the 5th Avenue, the main tourist attraction just steps from the beach and where you will find a lot of shops, restaurants, cafes, and even art areas.
Usually, tourists arrive at the beach during the day and then walk along 5th Avenue to go shopping, have a coffee or an ice cream.
At night you can enjoy the wide variety of night clubs in a very lively and colorful atmosphere, as well as taste the Caribbean drinks and dishes in the bars and restaurants.
Without a doubt, this is must-visit place while you are in the Riviera Maya.
Cozumel is an island just 18 kilometers from Playa del Carmen, and is a very lively place and one of the best tourist destinations in the Riviera Maya.
What makes Cozumel so special?
One of the main characteristics of this island is the good atmosphere that unites the bohemian parties with the sea and the moonlight. This is why the bars and restaurants on the beach have been booming.
If you really want to experience adventure, you should take a tour of Rio Secreto, near Playa del Carmen.
In this place you will have the opportunity to get to know a very interesting underground cave system. These caves are semi-flooded, and you can swim and snorkel in them just like in the closed cenotes.
In addition, several tours include a bicycle tour of the dry trails, rappelling, refreshments, all the necessary equipment, an expert guide, and a buffet lunch.
There are countless cenotes in both the Riviera Maya and Yucatan and many connect with each other. These are very popular tourist attractions among tourists.
Cenotes are natural formations in the form of water deposits that can be open, semi-open or closed.
According to the Mayan culture, the cenotes are the connection to the spiritual world, as portals to the Xibalbá - the Mayan underworld - and that's why different ceremonies were performed in them.
Some of the must-visit cenotes are:
The Xcaret theme park is located only 5 kilometers from Playa del Carmen, one of the most popular attractions in the area in the Riviera Maya.
Besides that you have access to different types of shows related to the Mayan and Mexican culture, the ceremony of the Voladores de Papantla, and a visit to the museum of popular art.
If you have already visited Xcaret and you still feel like having fun in this kind of theme park, then you are in luck, because Xelhá is another place you have to visit.
As well as in Xcaret, you can do different activities - mostly water - such as snorkeling, going down the river, swimming in the cenotes, practicing zip-lining in the river, going over the floating bridge, riding your bike, visiting the nursery, visiting the Mayan ruins, among others.
And one of its most recognizable areas is the 40-meter high lighthouse, where you can go up to admire the park -and the jungle-, take pictures, and slide as many times as you want down one of the 4 30-meter slides.
In different areas of the Riviera Maya you will have the opportunity to observe the sea turtles in their natural habitat and one of those is Akumal.
This place is located halfway from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, and here you can not only observe the turtles but also swim with them.
After swimming you can try the delicious Caribbean food in one of the nearby restaurants.
The Mayan civilization developed in the Yucatan Peninsula, and that is why a great effort has been made to preserve the ruins, so that you can learn a little more about their history.
And one of the most interesting -and popular- ruins of the Riviera Maya is the archaeological site of Tulum.
Tulum was an important Mayan city that was characterized by its strategic location in front of the Caribbean Sea, and for being completely walled.
Destino Hunab, one of our developments in the Riviera Maya, is located very close to the ruins of Tulum
Sian Ka'an is one of the most important nature reserves in southern Mexico, covering some 625,193 hectares and home to a great flora and fauna, underground rivers, petenes and several vestiges of the Maya.
Jaguars, tapirs, manatees, monkeys, pumas, crocodiles, turtles, and jabirus, are some of the protected species in Sian Ka’an.
Currently, a great deal of conservation and research work continues to be done, and tours with specialized guides are allowed, so that you can learn a little more about their ecosystems.
In Sian Ka'an Reserve you will be able to explore the hidden ruins of Muyil.
Muyil is named after the lakes surrounding Muyil and Chunyché, which played a very important role in the livelihood of the Mayan community that lived here several years ago.
The main building is called "el Castillo" - a name similar to Tulum Castle - which is about 17 meters high.
The archaeological site of Coba, is well known for being hidden in the jungle.
Unlike other ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, in Coba you can climb the 120 steps of the Mayan pyramid -Nohoch Mul-, and marvel at the landscape from above.
We have already told you about beaches, theme parks, Mayan ruins, cenotes, diving, among other things, but we cannot forget the traditional experience: eating in a palapa.
Although it sounds simple, this is one of the things you have to do in the Riviera Maya, because not only would you be enjoying your food, but also an incredible view of the white sand beaches and turquoise waters.
Among the dishes you can find are traditional Caribbean seafood, as well as traditional foods such as cochinita pibil, enchiladas, salbutes and -of course- tacos.
Throughout the Riviera Maya you will find a lively nightlife, whether you prefer moonlit nights in Tulum, or bar and restaurant nights in Playa del Carmen.
The great advantage of both places is that these night activities are very close to the beach, which adds a very special and bohemian touch.
Also depending on the time of year you are, you will have the opportunity to enjoy different nightly celebrations, such as the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, the Carnival of the World, among others.
Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Tulum and Coba are the places in the Riviera Maya, and each of them has a lot to offer.
In fact, there are so many things to do that it takes a very long vacation to be able to do at least half of them.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't also tourist attractions worth visiting in the surrounding area, such as the Yucatan and Cancun.
So, below we list some of the things you can do in places near the Riviera Maya:
When you get to know all the things to do in the Riviera Maya you realize how incredible it is, and how much this earthly paradise is worth visiting at least once in your life.
The experiences are unforgettable; thanks to its incredible nature, the exclusive services, the diverse sources of entertainment, its vast culture and history.
That is why many people decide to invest in a home in the Riviera Maya, and keep enjoying the benefits of this place.
The Riviera Maya is a place that you are sure to fall in love with for an endless number of reasons once you get to know it.
If you want to continue learning about the Riviera Maya -and investment- we invite you to read our article Playa del Carmen or Cancun: Which place should I choose, as well as the others articles in our blog.