The Riviera Maya
The Riviera Maya is comprised of the area west coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It stretches along 75 miles from Puerto Morelos, a seaside village south of Cancun to Punta Allen. It includes places like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum.
Mexicans refer to the Riviera as "Riviera Maya" while foreigners call it the "Riviera Maya" and is one of the most fascinating destination spots in the world. Tropical beaches, ancient mayan ruins, abundant marine and wildlife abound.
As you drive along highway 307 you are usually around a kilometer away from the beach, there are lots of resort entrances. On the shoreline there are numerous privately owned rental cabanas, golf courses, fishing and diving operations and beaches. The most popular travel destination in the Riviera Maya is Playa del Carmen which is where you get the ferry to go to Cozumel. After Playa del Carmen the next town of any great size is Tulum.
Along the Riviera Maya you will find several world famous Ecological Theme Parks. These parks are excellent places to spend a day during your vacation, you can drive by yourself or book one of the several tours available. Tours are a great option, they usually pick you up and drop at the door of your hotel either in Cancun or the Riviera Maya:
- Xcaret. Set in a beautiful bayside location, this eco-archaeological park focuses on Mayan culture, with a restored Mayan archaeological site, traditional dance shows and a recreation of a Mayan village. The park has a host of other attractions as well, including a jaguar exhibit, a deer refuge, a regional wildlife farm, butterfly breeding facilities, a coral aquarium, a marine turtle conservation program, a wide range of flora, and opportunities for swimming and snorkeling.
- Xel-Ha. Ecological theme park or natural aquarium. Here you can swim with dolphins, see sea turtles, bicycle, snorkel, cliff-dive, and scuba.
- Xplor. This nature park has a number of limestone caves, grottos and underground rivers for exploring on foot, on rafts, in amphibious vehicles, or by swimming. There are also some above-ground adventures to be had, including a 1.8-mile-long adventure whizzing you through the trees on 11 ziplines.
- Aviario Xaman-Ha. This is a beautiful Aviary where you will find different species, not just birds, other animal species like the butterflies, iguanas, turtles and other small mammals. The animals and plants that live here are in their natural habitat and they live in semi-captivity. They have endemic, threaten and in extinction danger species.
Destinations in the Riviera Maya
Puerto Morelos was a small fishing village that has grown to become a quaint tourist destination, close to Cancun. There are nice beaches here, Internet, restaurants and all the amenities you would expect.
Playa del Carmen
Playa is the regional capital. It is a bustling beach town filled with excitement and unique experiences. You can enter one of the many beautiful restaurants for a healthy delicious sampling of Mexican or international cuisine.
There are numerous jewelry stores and arts and crafts stores where many great deals can be had if you know how to bargain.
The beaches at Playa are excellent and perfect for children or you can catch the ferry to Cozumel where the snorkeling and diving is world famous. Lifeguards are on duty on the main Playa beach. If you wish to snorkel there are some coral reefs just north of Ave. Contituyentes. More Playa del Carmen Information..
South of Playa del Carmen just a short walk is Playacar, an upscale development garnishing many five star all-inclusive resorts, a world class golf course, shopping mall and International restaurants. The beaches are beautiful and totally suited for children. There is also an extensive variety of condominiums and villas to rent.
Paamul has a deep bay that rests on the shoreline making it quite a choice spot. The reef is right out front and excellent for snorkeling. There are dive and fishing boats here as well. Backpackers, Mexicans and general bohemians use this destination and many clean affordable cabanas and private homes can be found here. There are also restaurants and of course amazing beaches. This is a great place to meet people!
Puerto Adventuras is an exclusive resort community. Fully modern luxury facilities abound here as well as quaint bed and breakfasts. You also find private homes, villas, condos and apartments for rent or sale.
Cozy restaurants and interesting shops line the marina's edge. Sailboats, fishing charters and yachts anchor in its deep blue water. Cigar stores offering Cuban brands and experienced personnel to assist you sit amongst the many unique shops. There are also many beautiful restaurants for a delicious samplings of Mexican or international cuisine.
There are all the beach activities one would expect like windsurfing, snorkeling and ski-jets. You can also visit the Cedam Museum, which houses various artifacts from sunken ships along the reefs.
This is a rustic beach community for adventurous travelers. The beach is excellent; there is a cenote on the north side and restaurants on the main beach. This is a great place for backpackers.
Akumal is in the heart of the Riviera Maya. Because of its location and beautiful beaches it is a perfect place to either stay local or use to launch numerous adventures. You are close to many things. There are a number of large resorts and lots of rentals, condos, villas and apartments. There are many small convenience stores and many local shops and restaurants. Many of the beaches are natural beaches however many have white sand areas for children and swimmers.
This is a great place for snorkelers especially if you want to see sea turtles. Activities in the area include diving, snorkeling, game fishing and the Akumal Ecological Center.
There is Tulum Ruins and there is the town Tulum. The town Tulum is around 5 kilometers south of the Tulum Ruins. The town is small but has many restaurants, bars and hotels. There are some nice hotels in the area and many miles of white sandy beaches.
There are of course villas, cabana, apartments and houses to rent by the day or week. Much of the stuff you will find in the shops in Playa can be found here but not in quite as abundance. Also the beach resorts are secluded and not as busy as Playa del Carmen.