If you were looking for paradise on the Yucatan Peninsula, Riviera Maya or the Mayan Riviera, are probably going to be right up your alley. Although admittedly not set in stone, the area that the Riviera Maya encompasses starts about 10 miles south of Cancun, around the village of Puerto Morelos, and ends in Carrillo Puerto. In between, are famous spots like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum, all just waiting to be explored.
Right at the centre of the Riviera Maya is of course the gorgeous Playa del Carmen. This coastal resort town offers relaxation, lots of small accommodation options in a more boutique market, and a remarkably European kind of atmosphere. Popular activities in the area are mainly focused around water sports, and there are a number of operators in the area that specialize in providing these for visitors. Offshore you’ll find part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral system in the world. Thanks to this, snorkeling, diving and of course fishing very popular.
Another popular activity that one can find all over the Riviera Maya area is that of cenotes exploring. Cenotes are freshwater sinkholes, varying in size but overwhelmingly having unparalleled water clarity. Some of them are open air, while other more interesting cenotes can be found in cave areas under the ground. There are a large variety in the Riviera Maya available for visitors to have a look around in, and either swim, or try their hand at cenotes diving.
For those who like the ideas of cenotes, there’s yet another activity that will no doubt impress: exploring the Rio Secreto. This underground river is one of the most amazing natural wonders of the Riviera Maya area. A veritable maze of passageways created over time due to the movement of the water and other geological processes. Visitors can explore the area with guided tours, which provide wetsuits as much of the tour involves swimming in the shallow water. Most impressive of the entire area though is just how clear the underground water is, with amazing visibility that makes the entire experience seem very magical.
While we’re celebrating the incredible natural wonders of the Riviera Maya, it is also worth mentioning about the many eco theme parks in the area. These parks might be privately owned, but they are an amazing location for visitors to go, offering sheltered bays with very clear water, in which a variety of wildlife can be seen.
One of these parks, Xel-Ha, calls itself a natural aquarium. Visitors there can swim with dolphins, see sea turtles, snorkel, scuba and even cliff-dive. With the park fee you get free drinks, and there’s a buffet restaurant perfect for lunch.
Another, Xplor, features a number of limestone caves and grottos, as well as incredible underground river systems that can be explored with rafts, on foot, by swimming or on amphibious transports. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also aboveground adventures in the form of nearly 2 miles of zip-lines allowing you to fly through the trees.