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Stretching nearly 100 miles along pristine Caribbean coastline on the Yucatan Peninsula, you’ll find Mexico’s premier tourism and resort district, Riviera Maya.

This region takes in exciting destinations from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, including the archaeological wonders of Tulum and resort mecca of Playa del Carmen. It is a place of natural beauty mixed with exceptional service all which add up to an incredible getaway.

The area is home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the world’s second largest barrier reef at nearly 600 miles long. It is home to several sea turtle species, crocodiles, manatees, and an incredible variety of fish. But the reef is just one of many reasons why tourists continue to flock here every year.

Guide to Mexico in a Riviera Maya Resort

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Attractions (What to Do in Riviera Maya)

Riviera Maya Vacations are filled with adventure, culture, and beauty. There are so many activities and attractions to keep you busy throughout your visit.

You’ll find thousands of magical cenotes (revered by ancient Mayans) hidden throughout the Yucatan peninsula. These natural swimming holes caused by the collapse of limestone bedrock allow you to literally dive into another world. Be sure to check out LabnaHa Cenotes Eco Park or Grand Cenote in Tulum

Xplor Park offers an incredible array of adventurous activities including zip lining though jungles, driving amphibious vehicles, or rafting though underground caverns of stalagmites. Pay the park a visit at night for a more dramatic experience filled with fire.

Xcaret offers something for the whole family and centers on eco-tourism. You can swim with dolphins, sharks and rays as well as visit aviaries and butterfly pavilions. Experience Mayan and Mexican culture as you visit archaeological sites, chapels, cemeteries, and cultural shows.

You’ll find staying in the Riviera Maya also gives you the perfect base to see three of Mexico’s top archaeological wonders including Chichen Itza, Coba, and Tulum whether it be by tour or private drive.

You’ll find staying in the Riviera Maya also gives you the perfect base to see three of Mexico’s top archaeological wonders.

You’ll find staying in the Riviera Maya also gives you the perfect base to see three of Mexico’s top archaeological wonders.

Beaches and Water Recreation

The beaches are one of the main draw cards for visitors as Riviera Maya boasts some of the world’s best with their pure white sand and seemingly photoshopped turquoise waters.

Nearly all of the hotels in Riviera Maya offer exceptional beaches and whether you are into jet skiing, snorkeling, sailing, or scuba diving, Riviera Maya’s beaches have it all.

Besides water sports, you’ll also discover incredible wildlife. Akumal Beach which means “place of the turtles” is a favorite of sea turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs. Its incredibly clear waters makes it perfect for snorkeling.

And just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean you have to let your beach fun end. Head to Mamita’s Beach Club where the party is just beginning. The venue hosts the Jazz and BPM festivals as well as hosting acts like David Guetta. It’s nightlife at its best.

Gastronomy (Where to Eat)

You’ll definitely work up an appetite with the above incredible activities, and Riviera Maya’s food scene will definitely not disappoint.

For an all out exceptional dining experience head to Oh lala offering 5 star service and incredible atmosphere. You’ll be hard pressed deciding between their filet mignon, sea bass, tuna, or rack of lamb. For lunch head to Kaxapa Factory for some incredible Argentinean cuisine and natural juices.

Hartwood Tulum goes eco-friendly using solar panels and wood burning stoves, going deep into the interior of the Yucatan peninsula to seek out the freshest ingredients from local farmers for its daily changing menu.

Riviera Maya Resort (Where to Stay)

You’ll find your Riviera Maya Resort to be an attraction in its own right. World class service is just the beginning.

You’ll find resorts offering nearly anything you could ask for and including all inclusive options, amazing on-site restaurants, in room hot tubs, water parks, kids clubs, and babysitting services.

Whether you are looking for a romantic adults only getaway or want to spend some time with the whole family, Riviera Maya has you covered. You could not ask for a better base to explore the best of the Yucatan Peninsula.



Walant Women’s Halter Bikini

Seaview 180° GoPro Compatible Snorkel Mask

GoPro Hero4 Black (Underwater Camera)


Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Yucatan’s cenotes & diving with Turtles by James Kelly.


  1. I love the idea of diving in those denotes. The water always looks so stunning,

    • Cenotes were one of the highlights of our time in Mexico – really unique experience – very cool!

  2. The Riviera Maya is so beautiful. We’ve been a couple of times and really like Tulum the best. Swimming in the cenotes is so much fun and snorkeling with the turtles. Of course the ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum were awesome too. Will need to try the Hartwood Tulum restaurant next time, it sounds like a great place.

    • So glad you had a fabulous time in Riviera Maya on your last trip Cindy! Isn’t Tulum incrdible – can highly recommend stopping by Hartwood Tulum on your next trip :)

  3. Those underwater pics look really stunning. The water is just crystal clear. Akumal beach seems like a great place to watch the turtles.

    • Thanks Gokul! Those are from a trip our friend James Kelly took – Riviera Maya is such an incredible spot for natural wonders / wildlife and water activities :)

  4. Love the Mayan Riveria … great post!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Aaron – thanks for stopping by :)

  5. An excellent property so near to Mayan ruins! I have always had a deep fascination for the Mesoamerican civilizations since childhood (although it got a bit confusing after I watched Apocalypto).

    I also loved the underwater shot with that turtle. I am sure we have them in India too but I can’t imagine such transparent water in our shores!

    Is that Chichen Itza in the picture?

    • Hi Jitaditya, yes that is Chicen Itza in the header image, it’s an incredible place to visit, I can highly recommend!

      And yes, the snorkeling in the Maya Riviera is incredible – some of the best in the world, the water is so clear with amazing visibility!

  6. I didn’t know that the second largest barrier reef is in Mexico. It is appealing to know that in one place in Riviera Maya, there is other attraction to take notice of like these Chichen Itza, Coba, and Tulum, I am more particular of the beach since I am a water lover and it amazed me knowing the beauty of Riviera Maya, those photos are really fantastic. And having these attractions and adventures to do, I agree when you say various places to stay in.

    • Learn something new every day right! Glad you enjoyed the post – if you love the water and the beach, the Riviera Maya is most definitely the place to be. And yes, you can throw some fascinating visits to places like Chichen Itza, Coba, and Tulum into the mix. Can’t go wrong really!

  7. I didn’t realize Riviera Maya has the second largest barrier reef system. Now that we’ve got our open water dive certifications, I’m thinking we definitely need to dive here. Plus the cenotes are so unique! And tacos. Tacos are enough reason to go.

    • Agree that tacos are a good enough reason on their own :D! Can’t beat authentic Mexican!

      But yes, if you’re a fan of diving, this is a great place to be. Hope you have the chance to travel soon :)

  8. What an amazing spot huh. We visited this part of Mexico a few years ago but didn’t make it to Xcaret – is it as gorgeous as it looks?

    • Sounds like you have a great excuse to plan a second trip – can highly recommend it if you have the chance to get back, truly is a beautiful spot :)

  9. The wildlife would be a chief draw for me Meg. Seeing sea turtles, fish and other beautiful animals is reason enough for a trip. This is why I love Costa Rica so much; the wildlife is a prime character in the country’s culture. It is strange that I have not visited Mexico yet; too busy spending time in SE Asia I suppose ;)

    • Mexico is a great spot, especially for it’s range of marine life, and the water is so clear, the visibility for encounters with wildlife is second to none :)

      Love Costa Rica for their wildlife too, only starting to scratch the surface of SE Asia. But I can highly recommend Mexico :)

  10. This is an amazing spot for a vacation and this is the first time I got to know that Mexico has second largest barrier reef. Water is so clear and those underwater pictures are really stunning. I Loved your post.

    • Definitely one of the best spots in the world for underwater experiences – the visibility is second to none, you can get some great photos because of how clear it is!

      Hope you have the chance to travel soon, glad you enjoyed the post!

  11. Hello,

    I would like to know if travelling to Riviera Maya from 23rd September to 7th October is a good time to visit this magnificent place?

    I will be marrying on 8th September and it’s complicated for us to go after marriage, so this is the timing that we have to go.

    I would like to know your opinion.

    Best Regards.

    • Hi Filipa, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Yes, late September – October is a wonderful time to visit the Riviera Maya, I was there last year around the same time.

      September is one of the hottest times of the year so be prepared for an average of 28°C, though this means that the ocean water is amazing to swim in, like a bath! And you can comfortably go swimming at night too. Might be very romantic for your honeymoon.

      But do keep an eye on the storm watch as you can get some big storms here during fall. I would recommend knowing your cancellation policy when booking and purchasing Travel Insurance just in case there’s a hurricane. But I wouldn’t let that put you off, and because it’s a couple of months before peak season (December – April) you’ll benefit from less crowds, and usually the prices are cheaper too.

      Have an amazing trip!

    • Hello Meg,

      Thank you very much for your tips.

      I’ll see our travel insurance policy in case of a hurricane or something like that. :)

      I’m very thrilled to go to Riviera Maya for my honeymoon.

      Once again, thank you very much for your information.

      Best Regards,
      Filipa Cunha

    • You’re welcome – have a wonderful trip!

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