Riviera Maya, Mexico is a coastal region on the Peninsula of Yucatan, stretching from Cancun to the Sian Ka’an marine park. Its shores are washed by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. The shoreline boasts the most luxurious resorts in Yucatan, Mexico.
Riviera Maya spans on 230 mile (350km) and follows the coral formation named the Great Mesomerican Reef. It is the second longest in the world.
From north to south, they are Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Playacar, Porto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum. The most populated part is between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve is mostly uninhabited.
On the east coast of the peninsula are located great attractions such as eco-parks around underground rivers, sinkholes, natural pools, snorkeling inlets and Mayan pyramids. There are several adventure and theme parks – Xoximilco, Xcaret, Xplor, and Xel-Ha.
One of the most popular adventure parks is Xcaret. Learn more about this world of fun here.
The second most popular spot in Riviera Maya is Xel-Ha. 400 species of plants and animals inhabit the Hel-Xa`s eco system. The landscape features inlets, lagoons and sinkhole.
This natural park offers more than 35 refreshing activities – swim with dolphins, manatee and stingray encounter, cliff climb and exploring a sea plant nursery.
In the crystal clear waters you can come closer to different types of sea creatures. Yet here you will face one of the strongest underground rivers currents in the peninsula. In the area of Xel-Ha there are thousands of protected sea turtles. The tour to Xel-Ha is often paired with a Tulum’s archaeological site visit.
Among the most popular activities are tropical jungle trails, zip-lines, as well as snorkeling the Mesoamerican reef, the island of Cozumel, and Akumal bay. On Yucatan the best examples of Mayan heritage are Uxmal, Chitchen Itza, Coba and Ek Balam.
Thravel.net contributors have dedicated special articles to two of the major Maya archaeological sites.
We have not visited yet the tallest pyramid in Yucatan – Coba. The enigmatic site is definitely worth visiting and next time we will definitely include Coba in our travel itinerary. The Nohoch Mul pyramid is considered to be the tallest building among the Maya ruins. It is 137 feets in height. The ancient complex is surrounded by tropical jungle and sinkholes.
Riviera Maya Hotels
The Cancun hotel zone is the closest to the international airport. The luxurious beachfront accommodations appeal to people looking for fun, exciting nightlife and vicinity to the shopping Mecca. Yet, the nature is not as abundant as the vegetation covering the southern parts of the peninsula.
In Cancun you can find the best hotel deals. Compared to other resorts in Riviera Maya, this zone offers best prices for an all-inclusive vacation.
Playa del Carmen is probably the most popular tourist spot on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. It features many hotels, charming restaurants and cafes. Hundreds of traditional and brand name shops are located mostly on the Fifth Avenue. Twenty years ago, Playa del Carmen was a small town with a hundred houses and a few shops. Since then it has become a major tourist destination and a hub for ferry and boat trips to Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Isla Contoy. Playa del Carmen is also a shopping Mecca for tourists. We found the prices of cosmetic and beauty products considerably lower than in Europe. For example, a MAC lipstick that costs 20 euros in Europe, could be bought for 16 USD in Playa del Carmen.
Hotel prices in Playa del Carmen are better than those in Akumal and Tulum. Probably it is better to book a room in Playacar hotel zone and go for daily trips around Riviera Maya.
Playacar is a condominium consisting of luxurious resorts and private houses. It includes hotels such as Viva Windham Azteca, Occidental Allegro Playacar, Occidental Royal Hideway, RIU Playacar, Viva Windham Maya, Iberostar Quetzal, Iberostar Tucan and Sandos Playacar.
South of Playacar is Porto Aventuras. The main hotels in this zone are the HardRock hotel, Omni Puerto Aventuras, Barcelo Maya Beach, Bel Air Collection Xpu-Ha, Catalonia Royal Tulum, El Dorado Seaside, Grand Palladium, Grand Sirenis and Las Casitas Akumal.
Puerto Aventuras features central location on the Maya Riviera. It is close to almost all interesting spots like sinkholes, eco-adventure parks and Maya ruins. This resort is for nature-loving persons and people looking for a peaceful vacation. If you are looking for things to do at the evening then opt for the more lively resorts such as Playa del Carmen or Playacar.
Akumal is a town, which is 20 km north of Tulum. It is famous with its vicinity to the coral reef. There are guesthouses and great hotels such as Club Akumal Caribe &Vila Maya, Akumal Beach, and Vilas Akumal. On the way to Tulum Oasis Tulum, Grand Bahia Principe Riviera Maya, Tulum Vilas, Dreams Tulum and Papaya Playa are located.
All-inclusive complexes in Akumal are almost one third more expensive than in the rest of Riviera Maya.