My first visit to Riviera Maya, Mexico was back in 1984. The world was just starting to discover Cancun and the surrounding areas.
During my last year in college, it was time to escape the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. We needed to check out this new Mexico travel destination.
We sure are glad we made this trip.
Cancun and the area just south called Riviera Maya. This stretch of Caribbean coastline was barely on the map 30+ years ago.
There were no hotels south on Riviera Maya and Cancun was a small fishing village.
Today, this 80 mile stretch of beautiful beaches, all-inclusive resorts, and great dining and activities make the Riviera Maya one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
We would like to share with you some fun & adventurous things to do during your next trip to the Riviera Maya.
Located 100 miles to the south of Playa del Carmen and 80 miles from Cancun, the ruins of Tulum are walled into the west and face the Caribbean Sea to the east. Tulum was the only Mayan city built on a coast.
Built in the late thirteenth century, this seaport traded mainly in jade and turquoise. We took the self-guided tour but you can also take a guided tour. It takes about 2 hours to see everything.
Make sure you take in the view of the water because it is the bluest you’ll ever see.
If you are interested in learning about the culture, history, and people of the places you visit, then this is the place to go visit.
Listed in 2007 as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, it’s no surprise the Chichén Itzá ruins are one of Mexico’s top attractions.
Built in 600 AD, Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have been one of the mythical great cities.
As the towering El Castillo gets most of the attention, we were surprised by the additional things to visit: the Great Ballcourt, sacred cenotes, intricate stone carvings, sprawling temples, and Temple of the Warriors.
Chichen Itza is located 125 miles from Cancun and 75 miles from Mérida. Visit it as a day trip from either location.
There are also a few hotels nearby in case you would like to arrive the previous day.
You can get an early start visiting the ruins before the heat of the day sets in and the crowds begin to arrive.
Xel-Ha Park is located only 8 miles from Tulum. The admission to Xel-Ha Park includes swimming & snorkeling with tropical fish, a river tour, 98-foot water slide, cliff jump, zip-lines, rope swing, bike rides, and kite flying.
For an additional price, you can swim with the dolphins, snuba, and a manatee and stingray encounter. Plan on spending a full day at Xel-Ha. It is well worth the trip.
Playa del Carmen is the heart of the Riviera Maya. The beach is lined with palm trees and the town has blocks filled with restaurants, shops, and lots of bars and dance clubs.
We choose to visit during the day for some quality shopping and people watching. The local spider monkeys were quite playful and found a great viewing spot.
Playa del Carmen is also one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world.
One of our bucket list items was to swim with the dolphins. Riviera Maya has multiple locations to do just that. We visited the Dolphin Discovery Playa del Carmen Maroma.
It was interesting to learn about the dolphins’ diet, activities, behavior and more. During our tour, we did the belly ride, which consists of you holding on to the dolphins’ fins as they swim backward.
Riviera Maya is a truly unforgettable place to visit. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is turquoise blue.
There is plenty of action for the adventure seekers. The all-inclusive resorts are some of the best in the world.
We’re looking forward to our next visit.
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David Kluge is the founder of the Global Travel Boss blog. He loves helping Empty Nesters & Midlife Adventurers create more freedom, travel more, travel smarter, explore destinations, and for less money. He is a travel activist, small business advisor, avid Green Bay Packer fan, and has a Caribbean soul he can barely control.
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