Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico

Things to do in Riviera Maya – Mexico

I guess Riviera Maya is the most visited touristic region in Mexico. Yes, it is touristy and all but it is so for a reason. Riviera Maya has it all. Fantastic nature, cultural heritage, crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches and yummy food. There was no doubt that I’d add Riviera Maya to my itinerary.

I spent a week in Riviera Maya and wrote down my highlights for you to get inspired to make a decision where to travel next.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Tulum Beach

In this blog post:
 Cultural Heritage
 Cenotes - Phenomenal Nature
 Water activities
 Mexican Cuisine
 Where to stay in Riviera Maya
 How to get around in Riviera Maya
 How to get to/from Riviera Maya
 Warnings
 What to pack specially for Riviera Maya?

About Riviera Maya

The coastal highway 307 is from Cancun to Tulum about 130 km. The most popular destinations are Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Isla Cozumel, Isla Holbox, and Akumal. All these places are more or less full with all-inclusive resorts with private beaches. Which kind of sucks. If this is not that appealing to you, you have the choice to stay in lesser known Puerto Morelos. There you can find smaller hotels and family run guesthouses/B&B and the beach is accessible for everyone. Of course it is also a touristic town, but you have more options when it comes to cafés, restaurants, snorkelling tours, grocery shopping, and even souvenir shops. All this allows me to be more flexible and in my eyes it makes the travel experience a bit more authentic.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Snorkelling

Cultural Heritage

The famous archaeological sites Tulum on the coast, and Coba located inland, can be easily visited during your stay in Riviera Maya.

Tulum

Tulum is one of the last cities built by the Maya. The archaeological ruins, situated on 12 meter tall cliffs, along the coastal line are probably one of the most visited Archaeological Maya Cities. To avoid crowds, and the heat, you should arrive very early in the morning!

  • Entrance fee: 64 MXN (3-4 US$)
  • Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm 

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Visit Archeological Maya City Tulum

Coba

47 km away from Tulum you can find another ancient Maya city, located inland. One speciality about Coba is that, unlike Tulum, it is allowed to climb the 42 meters Nohoch Mul Pyramid. But be careful, the stairs can be steep, especially when you climb down.

  • Entrance fee: 38 MXN (3,5 US$)
  • Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Iguanas all over Tulum

Don’t forget to bring!
  • Steady shoes
  • Plenty of water
  • Sun Cream
  • Hat & Sun glasses
  • Swimming suit for the Tulum Beach

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Pack swimwear for Tulum Beach

Read next: How to avoid crowds in Chichen Itza

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Cenotes – Phenomenal Nature

You should not miss the opportunity to swim, snorkel or dive in the turquoise cool waters of one of the cenotes in Yucatan. The water in these natural limestone holes is natural fresh water and totally clear so that snorkelling or diving becomes a marvellous experience for you.
Gran Cenote

This cenote is only 3 km away from Tulum on the way to Coba (Highway 109), on the roadside and very easy to find. Gran Cenote, as its name reveals, is huge, but not on the surface. Gran Cenote is named after its huge cave system. Even if you don’t dive, only by snorkelling you get the idea how big it is after you see the huge stalagmites everywhere. I won’t forget that colour blue.

  • Entrance fee: 120 MXN (6,5 US$)
  • Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm
  • Lockers are available

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Gran Cenote

Cenote Dos Ojos

It means “Two Eyes” and it refers to two pools which are connected by a 400 meter long underground passageway. It is 118 meters deep which is the deepest known underwater cave passage. The whole cave system is ~60 km long.

One pool is half open and filled with blue clear waters which is perfect for snorkelers. The other pool is cavernous which makes it to a favourite diving sites by cave divers.

It is also only 3-4 km away from Tulum on the way to Playa del Carmen (Highway 307).

  • Entrance fee: 200 MXN (6,5 US$)
  • Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Cenote Dos Ojos

Don’t forget to bring!
  • Swimwear
  • Snorkelling Gear
  • Underwater camera
  • Waterproof Dry bag
Read next: Cenotes in Yucatan Peninsula

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Water activities

The coral reefs of Riviera Maya are part of the second longest Barrier Reef system which is known as Belize Reef System. It begins near Cancun and continues southward to Guatemala along the Riviera Maya.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Snorkeling in Akumal

Snorkelling in Akumal with Sea Turtles

Akumal is the best place to see sea turtles thanks to its sandy ground offering sufficient sea plants. Swimming with these cute animals was one of the best memories I have from Mexico. There is also a very good chance to see rays. There are countless snorkelling tour operators, so choose one wisely, which cares about sustainable tourism and offers tours in smaller groups.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Snorkeling with Sea Turtles in Akumal

Diving in Underwater Museum in Isla Mujeres

MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte)  is one of the most interesting museums I’ve ever been to. In this underwater museum there are huge sculptures of British sculptor, Jason de Caires Taylor. The sculptures are made of materials which enables corals to grow and collect. The statues also feature holes in them, which allow fish to colonise and feed off the coral.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Diving Snorkeling in Underwater Museum in Isla Mujeres Cancun

Parasailing

Well, that was fun! The heights, the views from above… If you’re not afraid of the heights then just do it.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Water activities - Parasailing

Snorkelling with Whale Sharks in Isla Holbox or Cozumel

I missed the chance but if you’re around during June-August, you should consider snorkelling with whale sharks. They are the largest fish specie ever, are super friendly and calm.

© By Feefiona123 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Don’t
  • Don’t swim with Dolphins in some entertainment pools. These animals are kept in captivity against their nature!

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Mexican Cuisine

Well, I don’t need to tell you about how yummy Mexican food is, right?

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - What to eat
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

My favourite “snack” was Guacamole served with tacos, a mixed salad of tomatoes & onions and a nice hot Mexican sauce. My whole life I thought I knew how Guacamole tastes, till the moment I had my first bit in the Beach Bar in Puerto Morelos, near to Wet Set where we booked our snorkelling tour! After that bit I got addicted and now suffer under so called “missing the real Mexican guacamole” syndrome.

I had the best Calamari and Mojitos in the family run super nice restaurant El Merkadito directly at the beach in Puerto Morelos.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - What to ear in Riviera Maya

Read next: 2 weeks Mexico Travel Itinerary

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Where to stay in Riviera Maya

The first three days I stayed at a guesthouse in Puerto Morelos and after touring in Yucatan for a while turned back to Riviera Maya. This time I stayed in a resort in Akumal, which of course is comfortable and easy. Both type of accommodation has its pro and contras. So maybe a mix of both is a good idea. For price worthy accommodation check Booking.com.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Where to stay in Riviera Maya - Best place to stay

How to get around in Riviera Maya

Well, we had rental car and the highway is really good, that you can easily go from one place to another within a day.

But also the bus network is good. From the main road you can catch a bus to go to Cancun, from where you can get in to the ferry to go to Isla Mujeres.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Take ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres

How to get to/from Riviera Maya

The nearest airport is Cancun International Airport. There you can rent a car. But again there are all sorts of options such as bus and ferry. Just be careful with taxis!

Warnings

  • Don’t do drugs. Don’t abuse alcohol consume and most importantly don’t drive when you’re high or drunk.
  • Be aware of fake and/or corrupt police officers. In Mexico they have special forces for tourists. Search for them in case of emergency.

Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico - Staying in Akumal

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What to pack specially for Riviera Maya?

traveler packing listCheck my Pack List for more useful travel items! By buying products or booking accommodation with these links you’ll be supporting my blog without paying anything extra. Thanks already ❤️

 booking-com-logo agoda hotel reservation logo
For more insights from real pros I recommend Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for Riviera Maya. For price worthy accommodation check Booking.com or Agoda.com.

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Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico

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