Where is the Riviera Maya?


September 2, 2020

The Riviera Maya is a famous vacation destination that you have surely heard of. It is one of the most well known tourist areas, and is the favorite of nationals and foreigners alike.

This area stands out thanks to the great diversity of options for all tastes.

This development perfectly combines ecotourism activities with exclusive luxury hotels, as well as a bohemian and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

If you want to live an adventure surrounded by beautiful beaches, enjoy the best in international food and drinks, the Riviera Maya is the perfect place for you.

Read on to find out where it is located, how to get there and about some of the main attractions.

What is the Riviera Maya?

The Riviera Maya is a tourist area located in Mexico, specifically south of Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo, east of the Yucatan Peninsula.

This tourist development extends about 140 kilometers along the best beaches of the Mexican Caribbean.

Its territory extends from Punta Brava south of Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen within the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

As you travel south of this area through its idyllic cities you will discover more deeply the Mayan roots that characterize it.

The Mayan Riviera is made up of:

  • Puerto Morelos.
  • Playa del Carmen.
  • Akumal.
  • Tulum.
  • Coba.
  • Sian Ka'an Reserve.

In all the above mentioned points you will find excellent options to enjoy nature and hotels with all the amenities.

In a few years, the Riviera Maya has become one of the main destinations to visit internationally.

How is this possible?

This is thanks to the fact that its territory includes spectacular Mayan ruins, abundant jungle, impressive cenotes and caves, dream lagoons, paradisiacal beaches and world class tourist attractions.

It is considered an ideal setting for romance, making it a favorite for those who want a beach wedding or a honeymoon.

Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya
It is a destination that offers family theme parks, romantic locations, world class golf clubs, best class hotels and the best shows.

History of the Riviera Maya

Do you know the history of the Riviera Maya? This place has a history as interesting as its tourist attractions.

During the time of the Mayas, it was an important commercial and religious center that extended to the time of the viceroyalty being one of the most important commercial routes in the area.

Later, for more than three centuries, the Riviera Maya and a great part of the peninsula saw its development slowed down and was virtually abandoned due to factors such as the jungle, its difficult access and pirates.

It wasn't until the mid 90's that the area's tourism infrastructure began to have greater importance.

In 1999, under the impulse of ex-municipal president Miguel Ramón Martín Azueta, the Riviera Maya became a tourist destination, becoming, together with Cancun, one of the most visited on an international level.

Despite the improvements in tourism infrastructure, the Mayan heart of this area is palpable in all senses. You will be surprised to find that the Mayan culture is still alive through the inhabitants of the area where the Mayan language survives.

The Riviera Maya has created a concept that perfectly combines the past and the present.

How do I get to the Riviera Maya?

The Riviera Maya offers several options to visit it, among which you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

By air

To reach the Riviera Maya you must arrive at the Cancun International Airport, which is located 25 kilometers from Puerto Morelos.

This airport has flights from Mexico's main cities and from many cities abroad. Flights arrive from the most important international airlines in the world.  

This is an excellent option for saving travel time and enjoying the view from the heights.


From Cancun you only have to take the road to Chetumal. If you are traveling from the center of the country you can choose to take the road to Chetumal or the road to Merida, both are excellent options but we highly recommend the Cancun - Chetumal road.

For a road trip don't forget to pack snacks and your favorite songs to make the trip more enjoyable.

Boat or yacht

You can also reach the Riviera Maya and enjoy the impressive turquoise waters during the trip.

The most recommended marina for docking is Puerto Aventuras, which is an excellent starting point for your tour of the paradisiacal beaches of the Riviera Maya, where you can also enjoy its excellent golf course.

Banner of real estate developments in Playa del Carmen.

Transportation in the Riviera Maya

Moving from one place to another in the Riviera Maya is very easy. You just have to take the main road which is the free highway that goes from Cancun to Chetumal and covers all the extension that comprises the Riviera Maya.


The ideal means of transportation is the bus, because you can find luxury bus terminals with all the amenities in Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum (Town) and Felipe Carrillo Puerto.


Another form of transfer is car rental. There are car rental companies with a wide range of luxury vehicles. These are adjusted to the type of car you need for the days you will stay in these wonderful beaches of the Mexican Caribbean.

Cab service

If you prefer to take a relaxed tour, without having to worry about driving, then you will be happy to know that the cab service in the area is very good.


Among visitors' favorite options is to hire tours that offer rides that include round trip transportation.

This is very practical since most of them also include the entrance tickets to the different attractions and events that you can enjoy during the tour.

What makes the Riviera Maya such an attractive tourist destination?

The answer is very simple, the Riviera Maya offers -among many other things- white sands, turquoise blue waters, archeological sites, cenotes, recreational centers, fresh water lagoons, subway caves, cenotes, picturesque towns and a great variety of lodging options that range from rustic cabins to grand tourism hotels.

We will briefly mention the most attractive aspects of the Riviera Maya.

 Beach wedding
The Riviera Maya has achieved a tourist image that is difficult to match. This has made it one of the favorite destinations for Caribbean cruises, study trips, family trips or weddings.

The Weather

One of the attractions that characterizes the Riviera Maya is its tropical climate that makes it possible to enjoy its beaches at any time of year, averaging 24º.

During the spring you will find a very pleasant temperate climate for vacationing in spite of the occasional rain and temperatures that are around 20º due to the cold.

It is a destination that offers theme parks for families, sites for couples, excellent golf courses, the best quality lodging and first class shows.

The heat that characterizes the summer is mitigated by the occasional rain that turns out to be refreshing. If you want to enjoy the beaches and get a good tan, this is the best time of the year to do so.

The autumn is the season with less tourist affluence but the best opportunity to travel without having to deal with the tumults in airports, hotels and restaurants.

It is also considered the season of hurricanes but you should not worry because all staff are prepared to deal with such contingencies and can take security measures well in advance.

During the winter, as we mentioned in article 15 mexican traditions will surprise you, you can see a great influx of people looking to spend the holidays enjoying the beautiful beaches and the best of the nightly entertainment in the area.

In this season the temperature drops but it is still very pleasant, without being an impediment to fun.

The gastronomy

The great variety and richness of flavors presented by the delicious gastronomy of the Riviera Maya can undoubtedly seduce you. This is not for less since you will find the regional cuisine inherited from the Mayan culture, as well as the best gourmet dishes that are suitable for all tastes.

Local people and people of all nationalities gather in the extensive variety of bars, restaurants and discos, many of which are located at the edge of the beach, to enjoy the delicious food and drinks of the area.

If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, there are hotels that offer an all-inclusive gourmet experience to enjoy the best regional and international food. Best of all, you can order for lunch at the restaurant or have it delivered to your room for more privacy.

Incredible tourist attractions

These are some of the main activities you can do in the Riviera Maya, so you can organize your visit to this wonderful place.

If you want to know more about it, read our article about 15 things to do in the Riviera Maya.

1. Archaeological sites

Along the coast, Mayan populations had very important ceremonial and religious centers. The ruins of Tulum are the first to be visited, as they are the most important archaeological site in the beach town.

The Mayan culture is an important part of the state of Quintana Roo, and that is why they have worked on the conservation of the archeological sites. Thanks to those efforts, we can now know a little more about the history.

Near Tulum, you can also visit the archaeological site of Coba which is only 45 minutes away. Do not forget to visit the archaeological site of Muyil within the Sian Ka'an Reserve.

2. Cenote tour

As in the state of Yucatan, there are countless cenotes to visit in the Riviera Maya. These are one of the greatest tourist attractions among tourists due to their mysterious caves and clear waters.

These are the cenotes that cannot be more popular among tourists:

3. Ecotourism in theme parks

Visiting a theme park while on the Riviera Maya is a must. Xcaret and Xelhá, located near Playa del Carmen, are the most popular.

Ecotourism and different water activities such as diving in the coral reefs, swimming in the subway rivers and cenotes, as well as enjoying the beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, are some of the activities you can do.

Do you want to know other parks? You can also visit Xplor and Xenses in the same area.

 Xcaret theme park in the Ribiera Maya
During your visit, you will have access to different Mayan and mexican shows, to the Papantla’s flyers ceremony as well as being able to visit the popular art museum.

4. Tour Playa del Carmen's 5th Avenue

Playa del Carmen is located in the heart of the Riviera Maya, so it is impossible not to walk along the 5th Avenue.

You may wonder what Playa del Carmen's 5th Avenue is famous for?

Playa del Carmen is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in recent years, thanks to its white beaches, nightlife and cosmopolitan vibe.

This place has managed to captivate Mexicans and foreigners to spend their vacations, or even to move.

5. Enjoy the paradisiacal beaches

The Riviera Maya is known worldwide for its beautiful beaches with clear waters, so when you visit any of the beach towns in the Riviera Maya, it is essential to go to the beach to sunbathe, swim and enjoy a refreshing drink by the sea under a palapa.

Puerto Morelos

It is a fishing village and among its attractions are an old lighthouse, a botanical garden and several cenotes of clear water.

That is why we suggest that Puerto Morelos be your first stop in the Riviera Maya. It is one of the most important ports. You will be able to relax on the quiet beach.


The great attraction that Playa Akumal has is the ease of swimming near many marine species such as turtles and multicolored fish.

Don't forget to pack your dive gear to make the most of this experience. If you don't have one, don't worry, you can rent it at the businesses by the beach.


In addition to the archaeological sites, you can't miss the beautiful beaches, considered by many to be the best in the Caribbean Sea. The beach of the fishermen, Santa Fe and the beach of the Ruins are some of the popular ones.

Also if you enjoy slow tourism to relax during your vacation, this is the ideal place. You will find peace and harmony in some of the yoga and meditation centers, spas and temazcal services.


Cozumel is one of the largest and most populated islands in Mexico. It is a paradise in the Mexican Caribbean, only 18 kilometers from Playa del Carmen.

You will be able to spend many hours of fun in the diving areas, and observe the beautiful coral reefs and many marine species such as colorful fish, matarrayas and dolphins.

Cozumel island
This island is popular for its beachside bars and restaurants with an atmosphere that combines the bohemian with nature.

6. Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

If you prefer adventure plans, the Riviera Maya hides natural corners that are worth visiting. This is the case of the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve.

You will find incredible virgin beaches, coral reefs to dive and snorkel, cenotes to explore, wonderful landscapes of mangroves and jungles with an extensive variety of flora and fauna.

The Riviera Maya, a great place to live

Now that you know where the Riviera Maya is and all the activities to do, you can't help but fall in love with the beaches, archaeological sites, cenotes, theme parks, gastronomy and culture.

It is not surprising to see foreigners who have decided to invest in a residence and move to one of the cities within the Riviera Maya.

If you want to know more about this topic you will be interested in knowing the 5 reasons to invest in the Riviera Maya.

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