Things to do in the Riviera Maya in One week
You’ve arrived in the Riviera Maya, ready to explore, but you’ve only got one week to enjoy it all. Here’s are the top 6 things to do during your time here.
You can’t visit the Riviera Maya without enjoying its beaches! From its clear blue turquoise waters, to the delicate, soft, white sand, to the picturesque palm trees that gently slope towards the ocean, the Caribbean Sea is made of dreams, and surely not to be missed. You can easily spend two or three days enjoying the different beaches here, from Maroma Beach in the tourist center of Playa del Carmen, to Paraiso Beach in the sleepy town of Tulum.
2. Snorkeling and scuba diving with the turtles in Akumal
Home to the second largest reef system in the world, the Great Mayan Reef is home to more than 65 species of coral, 350 species of mollusk and over 500 species of fish. The turquoise waters line the entire coast and entices locals and tourists alike to come take a dip in the stunning Caribbean Sea. Whether you’re interested in snorkeling or scuba diving, the opportunities are endless and rental gear is available everywhere. There are numerous dive shops that offer rentals and tours alike, and regardless of your level of expertise, you should definitely take advantage of being able to explore the aqua blue sea.
Two great spots within Akumal are:
– Akumal Bay. Translating roughly to “the place of the turtles”, Akumal Bay doesn’t disappoint. Turtles can be seen grazing all around the bay, and there’s a high chance you’ll bump into one on your trip here. Other things you might see are the abundance of marine life that hides in the beautiful coral reefs.
– Yal-ku Lagoon. About 1.25 miles down the road from Akumal Bay, this small lagoon costs $186 pesos (15USD) and is a beautifully tranquil location. With the calm waters being protected in the bay, the underwater landscape is simply spectacular. We’d say its worth the entrance fee.
Connect with another underwater world by taking a trip to the many cenotes that are found in the area. Beneath these majestic natural pools that once provided fresh water to the Mayans, are some of the longest underground cave systems in the world that are still being discovered today. Explore these crystal clear waters by snorkeling, diving, or simply swimming through and look in awe at the incredible rock formations created simply by water! Special certifications are needed to dive in cenotes, but if you have the time and the money, it’s certainly worth the wait!
4. Chichen Itza
A trip to the Riviera Maya isn’t complete without going a bit inland to see one of the most visited sites in the world — the ruins of Chichen Itza. These remains are easily accessible by either renting a car or taking a tour, and it’s a sight most tourists are thankful they saw. Dating back to around 600 – 900 AD, the ruins showcase one of the largest Mayan civilizations in the world. Don’t miss out on your chance to see one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Take a trip to Tulum and visit the ancient cliff-top Mayan ruins that overlook the Caribbean sea. Being the third most popular archaeological site in all of Mexico, just after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, the ruins are simply spectacular. After exploring this ancient walled city, spend the afternoon soaking up the sun on the white sand beaches below. Tulum welcomes the lover of nature, sand and sea, and most definitely should not be missed.
6. Isla Cozumel
If you love diving, and you want to see more than the turtles in Akumal Bay, head over to the island of Cozumel, just a ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen. Teeming with hundreds of tropical fish, turtles and other sea life, it’s truly a diver’s dream. But even if you don’t explore down into the depths of the Caribbean Sea, there is much to see for snorkelers too. With beaches all around, relax and spend a day enjoying the year-round sun on Isla Cozumel.
Two weeks or longer
So you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, and after you’ve done all the other 6 things we suggested you’re still left wanting more. Here’s some more things we think you should try.
1. Sian Kaán
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is home to over 1,400 species of plants, 103 species of mammals and 345 species of birds; it is covered by mangroves, lagoons and wetlands. There are pumas, ocelots and jaguars, as well as tapirs, spider and howler monkeys, white tailed deer, manatees, dolphins, crocodiles and several species of sea turtles. Kayak through the narrow canals between mangroves, climb an ancient pyramid, float in a crystal clear cenote, or try your hand at salt water fly fishing—all within a lush protected environment just south of Tulum. Recognized as a UNESCO Heritage site, there are more than 20 archaeological ruins within the biosphere, that date back as far as the 5th century AD. Stay the night in one of their humble, but clean cabins and watch a sunrise here to truly understand what Sian Kaán means, “where the sky is born”. Undoubtedly, a visit to Sian Ka’an is one of the most memorable things you can do on your trip to the Riviera Maya .
Imagine stunning natural landscapes where the green jungle combines with the turquoise of the ocean, soft white sandy beaches, ancient archaeological sites and hundreds of exotic animal species — this is the eco-archaeological park of Xcaret. From visiting the cove where you can go snorkeling and admire the colorful fish surrounding you, to diving into beautiful natural cenotes, to watching the giant turtle pond where you can feed the turtles, everything is possible in Xcaret. Even if you don’t want to dive into the water, there are many activities in which you can participate, such as touring the
underground river on a giant inflated tire, walk along the Tropical Jungle Path and interact with the local wildlife such as deer, monkeys, and macaws, and see the plants from which chewing gum, cinnamon or vanilla are harvested. Take a ride on a raft, visit a replica of a Mayan village, go into a cave full of bats, visit the island of jaguars and many other activities. In addition to all of these adventures, you will be able to see some of the mystical traditions of Mexico, such as the rite of the Papantla Flyers and the Day of the Dead Festival. This eco-archaeological park is a place to spend an entire day and leaves visitors with a truly unique and unforgettable experience.