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All about Riviera Maya

Shopping Guide - Tours & Attractions - Restaurants Guide - Night life - Riviera Maya Weather - Resorts and Hotels

Riviera Maya is a geographical area located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, along the coast of the Yucatan peninsula, which stretches from the south of Cancun, starting from Puerto Morelos, going down through Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum, up to Punta Allen.  

Riviera Maya has nothing to do with its vibrant neighbor Cancun, frequently associated with spring breaks and partying. It is mostly a destination for families, friends and romance. Riviera Maya is considered a protected area by the government, full of culture and ecological activities.

With more than 130 km, the area is blessed by white sandy beaches touched by the gorgeous turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean and framed by the thousand green shades of the jungle. Moreover, this spot on Earth is considered home for thousand of species and it also keeps one of the most cherished treasures of Mexico: the Great Mayan Barrier, the second largest coral reef in the world.

The area is a place for adventure: diving, snorkeling, jungle walks, underground rivers, cenotes, caverns, coral reefs and other nature pieces of art, together with the mystical archaeological sites of Riviera Maya. These wonders are waiting for all “quicksilver” travelers, to explore them.

  • Population: Cozumel (73,200), Puerto Morelos (4,000), Playa del Carmen (110,000), Puerto Aventuras (360) Akumal (1, 200) Tulum (30,800).
  • Location: North 20º 45’. South 190º 46’, East 86º 57’.
  • Language: Spanish is the official language, Mayan the local language, but others like French, Italian, English and German are highly spoken.
  • Electrical Outlets: 127V 60Hz
  • Time Zone: Central (GMT -6) Riviera Maya also observes Daylight-Saving Time in winter.
  • Weights and measures: Metric
  • Climate: Semi-tropical
Locations

On the coast of Riviera Maya there are several locations with their own magic and beauty. The heart of Riviera Maya is the city of Playa del Carmen, which can be considered specifically as a destination by itself. This city has the higher rate of growth in the country. Moreover the commercial pier of Playa del Carmen is the place where ferries transport people to and from the Island of Cozumel.

We encourage you to program a visit for the day to Playa del Carmen. At sunset, walk by the fifth avenue, look around its stores, and choose a restaurant to have a superb meal, this is something you cannot miss.

Tulum is the second most important town in Riviera Maya, denominated just as the famous archaeological zone on a cliff facing the Caribbean. Although, Tulum is also a small town of just a few streets but always amazing for ecotourism in rustic cabins. In Tulum you can find basic services that are no longer available in other coastal settlements of the southern part of the Riviera Maya.

You will see for yourself that the inhabitants share the characteristics of an eclectic Caribbean village in their architecture, music, sports, gastronomy and arts. It won’t be strange to find people wearing their own traditional Mayan clothes offering handcrafts that they have learned to create from their ancestors. You will also be able to witness some traditional activities like the “Voladores de Papantla” (Papantla Flying men as in Spanish), or “Bird-men” in Tulum. 

There are other small towns and settlements, like Chemuyil and Akumal, the last, an old port with a small town. Hotels and residential areas can be found in this place. Excellent for a relaxing vacation and to enjoy the beauty of the Mexican Caribbean, offering different options for aquatic activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling.

Transportation

The main point of arrival is Cancun International Airport, a two-hour flight from Mexico City. From here, Riviera Maya can be covered via the coastal highway which links the city of Cancun with Tulum and continues southwest, and another which links the cities of Tulum and Coba. Available transportation from the airport includes buses, rental cars or taxis which depart from the terminal. Playa del Carmen has an airport for small aircrafts that make short hops to the more distant places. Ferries also depart from Playa del Carmen and Calica, linking the continent with the islands. There are also local bus lines which service different locations along the highway.
Aiport Transfers, Info and Reservations

Riviera Maya Shopping Guide

The Riviera Maya is also a shopping lovers’ paradise. You will find galleries showing typical Mexican articles as sombreros, hammocks, colorful blankets, and similar items. Products that are sold at the hotels come from different rural regions and you could find them outside at lower prices, try flea markets or local shops always.

The Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen is a shopping heaven for those who know about the finest things in life. This pedestrians avenue can give you beautiful hand-made articles and at the same time glamorous boutiques. There is something for every budget. Remember that this area still belongs to the exclusive duty free zone

Riviera Maya Nightlife

This paradise on Earth is not only filled with beautiful beaches, the nightlife has also its place in Tulum and specially the heart of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen. In the evening, after a great day at the beach, enjoy the different places to dance, have dinner, a few drinks and live music.

La Riviera Maya has centered all its nightlife at Playa del Carmen’s 5th. Avenue and surrounding areas, where several Bars feature Live Bands. Discos that offer a medley of Rock, Reggae, Salsa and other Rhythms for all kinds of musical tastes. Be prepare to dance among the stars and on the beach since the discos are located at beachfront locations.

You can find jazz groups or if you prefer a Caribbean ambiance, try tropical music or the traditional mariachis. For example, Bali club is one of the newest of the area that offers modern music, Viva Margarita is a bar in different parts of the Riviera Maya, Frida Bar with a totally Mexican theme or discover the best DJ’S in Cocomaya Beach Club.

Brahma

If you want to dance the latest hits, then this is the place to go. This large club can hold up to 1200 people and has a huge bar in the center. Along with the fantastic DJ’s they also have spectacular shows and the atmosphere is sizzling hot!

Blue Parrot

The Blue Parrot is a landmark in Playa. Where by day or by night, swings by the bar welcome you to a beach oasis where palm trees, tanned bodies, and delicious drinks move to the rhythm of reggae and the most popular 70’s, 80’s and 90’s hits.

Coco Bongo

Best technology and show production can be found on high resolution big screens, impressive acrobatics, excellent performances, the best DJs and an all night open bar. Together, all the elements create a true classic each time you visit Playa del Carmen.

Deseo

Deseo is one of the coolest bars. It is an open-air, second-floor lounge. You have to see it for youself: big mattresses among flowing curtains, old-time movies projected on the wall, and cadence lounge music chosen by a popular DJ.

Diablito Cha Cha Cha

Pass by this retro style bar and you’ll instantly be drawn into the lively atmosphere, where outstanding DJ’s mix, scratch and cut an incredible blend of funk, house and hip hop.

Mandala

Three areas with an attractive Asian and huge Hindu statues. If you’re in the mood to dance then head to the ground floor and the mezzanine, where there are DJs mixing the latest pop and techno tunes. There is an open-air terrace on the top floor with a cozy lounge area and a DJ.

Kartabar

Located in the heart of Playa del Carmen’s nightclub district. Kartabar is an excellent option for dining or just for an exotic cocktail with friends. From your vantage point at your table, you’ll get an excellent up close and personal look at Playa’s nightlife. Don’t forget to stop by in the day, when the restaurant serves delicious Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine.

La Santanera

La Santanera is an eclectic establishment that defies the norms with its laid back “anything goes” atmosphere. The club features an incredible sound system, a distinctive Mexican essence, and a DJ who seamlessly mixes a blend of retro salsa, cumbia and meringue!

Om Lounge

You’ll feel the cosmic vibration at the entrance to OM. This lounge bar reflects house sounds on a large Indonesian mirror right after midnight, something you’ve got to see. It specializes in fruit-juice cocktails.

Coco Maya

With an impressive oceanfront location, this club offers two different settings and entertainment provided by performs and world famous DJs.

Los Danzantes

Features an open air terrace overlooking the ocean and has a great atmosphere. You can enjoy an array of mescals from different parts of Mexico, as well as an extensive list of other drinks and cocktails.

Fusion

Modern oceanfront hotel that is famous for its bar with incredible dance performances and groups. Spend a romantic evening at the cozy candlelit tables or dance barefoot on beach to the rhythm of reggae, salsa, rock, or bossa nova musica, played by the live band.

Reina Roja

Modern hotel with a very original concept and daring décor featuring life-size mannequins. The lobby bar is lit completely by red lights, which helps set the mood, and there is also a pool on the rooftop terrace, known to have some of the best pool parties in town.

Mezcalinna

Located on the 12th Street, Mezcalinna is a very popular local bar. Renowned for the excellent DJs who play here and the great vibe. It is attracts a younger crowd. Along with the vibrant atmosphere, another of the main attractions of “La Mezca” is the excellent selection of Mescal served here.

Tequila Barrel

Great selection of drinks, including over 70 different kinds of tequila. And a hot dance contest where daring participants can win free shots of tequila. It’s a really lively place, popular with tourists, and has authentic Mexican décor with comfortable furnishings where you can relax and enjoy the show!

Tours and Attractions in Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya region offers many great attractions, flora and fauna, jungle tours, archaeological sites, isolated beaches, a turquoise-colored sea with crystal-clear waters, the fantasy and warmth of the tropics, the mystery of the millenary culture which lives on in the Maya people. These are just some of the qualities which have turned the Riviera Maya into a destination of the Caribbean.

Riviera Maya is the kingdom of ecology, culture and archaeology: all melted in one. You will find eco parks that will red efine your senses if you let yourself immerse in the miracle of nature just as it is: full of colors and life. In Xcaret, the most famous park of the region that encloses culture and ecology, will offer you with pride its underground rivers, a butterfly pavilion, exhibitions, manatees, huge turtles and a spectacular show with the best of Mexico. Xelha, a natural aquarium and a wonderful amulet for our country, will give you the opportunity to explore creeks, natural wells, caves and have an aquatic adventure inside a river that flows directly to the Caribbean Sea.

The privileged geographical location of the Riviera Maya and demanding tourism searching for natural environments, have boosted the development of the area formed by a multicultural community that lives together with the blessings of nature.

Popular Tours and Attractions in Riviera Maya

  • Swim with Dolphins From Riviera Maya
  • Tour Plus from Riviera Maya
  • All Inclusive Tour from Riviera Maya
  • Limo Tour from Riviera Maya
  • All Tours list

Adventure Tours

Discover Tak Be Ha through unimogs, or Dos Ojos cavern, the world’s largest system of underground caves that are waiting for all explorers to discover strange and amazing natural miracles that are only visible in this part of the world. There are also interactive swim with dolphin programs that will give you the experience of a lifetime, or if you prefer, you can also practice windsurfing, snorkeling and diving in the thousand Cenotes or “sinkholes” and different geological formations of this territory that still belongs to the ancient Mayan spirits.

Parks and Ecology

Xcaret Eco-Park

Xcaret, Natural park. Enjoy of an array of more than 25 attractions and activities included in your entrance, among others: Swim and snorkel in the underground rivers, visit the butterfly pavilion, the archaeological sites, lagoon, beach and natural wells the Coral Reef aquarium and much more!

Xel-Ha Park

Come enjoy the world's most spectacular aquarium: Xel-Há, a nature lover's paradise. Embark on an aquatic adventure. Explore creeks, lagoons, natural wells and ancient caves fed by subterranean rivers flowing to Mexico's beautiful Caribbean Sea.

Siaan Kan Biosphere

Largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean , natural reserve and home of 103 mammals, 336 birds and nesting site for two endangered sea turtles. The lagoon is perfect for kayaking and fly fishing.

Swim with Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins is one of the most exciting experiences you will be able to do during your vacation in Cancun and Riviera Maya. This zone has specialized in this activity. Make your dreams come true! Swim with dolphins in paradise, learn, enjoy and kiss them. Programs for all ages. Available in different locations as Isla Mujeres, Puerto Aventuras (Riviera Maya) and Cozumel.

Snorkel & Dive

Cavern Dive

The Yucatan Peninsula, site of the Dos Ojos Cavern Dive, contains the most extensive system of under-water caverns and caves in the world; a place where much of this natural phenomenon is yet to be discovered!

Cavern Snorkel

Come and experience the thrill of a truly unique adventure deep in the virgin ecology of the Yucatan jungle. A "jungle mobile" will take you 2.5 kms through the lush jungle and then our guide will lead you on a short walk down the Mayan trails to the entrance of Tak Be Ha (The Place of Hidden Waters).

Cenotes and Underground rivers

A visit to the local geological formations (cenotes and their caves) may be of particular interest to tourists. Many are found near Xel-Ha Park, in the middle of the jungle.

Hidden Worlds

A world of adventure and thrilling activities like Avatar Rollercoaster, an entirely new type of jungle ride; Cenotes Diving, ZipLines and Rappeling straight down into a cave opening; and the incredible SkyCycle, that is a unique bicycle ride on the top of the Riviera Maya trees!

Xcaret Eco-Park

Xcaret, Natural Park. Enjoy of an array of more than 25 attractions and activities included in your entrance, among others: Swim and snorkel in the underground rivers, visit the butterfly pavilion, the archaeological sites, lagoon, beach and natural wells the Coral Reef aquarium and much more!


Mayan Archaeological Sites

For those in search of archaeological sites, the Yucatan peninsula is world famous as the cradle of the great Maya civilization. Numerous vestiges spread throughout the area have survived, many which have remained unexplored while other archaeological sites are open to the public.

Chichen Itza and Tulum are breathtaking archaeological sites known around the world for their special beauty and mysticism. You cannot lose the opportunity to contemplate these proudly Mexican wonders that display the majesty of one of the ancient civilizations that created Mexico’s essence: The Mayans.

Tulum

Come and visit Tulum, take a tour and take a visit to the only know walled Mayan city. Overlooking one of the most picturesque views, anywhere on this magnificent coast and then continue with a visit to Xel Ha, the world’s largest natural aquarium.

Chichen Itza

Only two and a half hours away from Cancun is one of the most impressive of all Mayan vestiges, Chichen Itza, ancient and marvelous archaeological site that once was known as one of the most important cities of Mayan civilization. As a religious, political and commercial metropolis Chichen Itza has the most amazing building as an example of architecture and art of Mayan society.

Golf Courses in Cancun and Riviera Maya

Pok ta Pok - Cancun, Mexico

Nestled between the Nichupte Lagoon and the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea, lies one of the first built and most prestigious golf clubs. Designed in 1976 by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Cancun's Golf Club at Pok-Ta-Pok artistically incorporates hundreds of meters of dramatic shoreline and ancient Mayan vestiges into a truly enjoyable experience for golfers of all levels.

Melia Cancun Golf Club - Cancun, Mexico

Eighteen hole, par 54 course, total length of 1,818 yards. Features a putting green. Located at the Melia Hotel at km. 16 in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

Hilton Golf Club - Cancun, México

Hilton Cancun offers Cancun's a Par 72 Resort Hotel Golf Club and it's a golfer’s paradise! The Golf Club on beautiful Nichupte Lagoon, has hosted devotees of the sport for years in Mexico's Most Popular Resort Destination. This 18-hole full service complex invites registered Hilton hotel guests, non-registered Cancun visitors and groups to experience this remarkable facility.

The Golf Club at Moon Palace - Cancun, Mexico

This 7,165-yard, par-72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course is a true championship course. Its dynamic layout requires golfers to navigate through native Mayan vegetation as well as numerous wetlands and strategically placed bunkers.

The Golf Course Mayan Palace - Riviera Maya, Mexico

Our creative, innovative and avant-garde personality is reflected in the Executive Golf Course of the Mayan Palace Riviera Maya, Nicklaus Design. Located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the 18-hole, par 54 golf course features traps of radiant, white sand, lakes surrounded by natural rocks and the intense color of the greens and the vegetation of the wastes.

The Golf Club at Playacar - Riviera Maya, Mexico

Located just 35 minutes from Cancun’s Hotel Zone in Playa del Carmen, the heart of the Riviera Maya. This 7202 yards, par 72, championship golf course was designed and built under the watchful eye of renowned architect Robert Von Hagge

Cozumel Country Club - Cozumel, México

Nested in the heart of Cozumel’s Hotel Zone, designed by Nicklaus.

Riviera Maya Restaurants

There are a lot of great restaurants in the Riviera Maya. You will be able to find restaurants for all budgets and of a variety of cuisines: from Yucatecan regional food to the finest international dishes; for example, the “Little Buenos Aires” is an Argentinean restaurant in the middle of the growing town of Tulum that offers the finest meat cuts. Small rustic restaurants could surprise you along the less expected roads.

We specially encourage you to discover the intense flavors of the Mexican cuisine that will give your palate a new delicious taste. The array of ingredients, sauces, tortillas, seem to taste better in Mexico than anywhere else, perhaps because locals know how to give that special touch.

Weather in Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya has an ideal weather envied across the globe! With a tropical personality and a sunny sky, the area lives an eternal summer, with very nice warm days decorated by the cool marine breeze. 

According to weather standards, the warmest season to travel to Riviera Maya is between March and September; however, be aware that this is also a high season for vacations in Mexico. If you want to avoid high temperatures choose the months between October and February to visit Riviera Maya, weather is wonderfully cool and beaches are not very crowded.

There might be some rainy moments in summer, but usually they don’t last all day long.

  • Average temperature: Annual – 80ºF/ Summer – 95ºF/ Winter – 68ºF
  • Annual Rainfall: 800 to 1600 mm.
  • Water temperature: consistently around 76° F

Helpful tips about the weather, consider these when you travel to Riviera Maya:

  • Drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration, apply sunscreen thoroughly and dress lightly. Slight headaches, feeling dizzy or weak are common warnings of heat stroke; sit immediately in the shade and drink more water.
  • Pack casual clothes and sandals for the day, a light sweater for winter season is advisable. Use a cap or hat to protect yourself from the sunrays.
  • During the day, the climate is hot and light clothing is recommended. For trips into the jungle, you should wear pants, long-sleeved shirts and insect repellent for mosquitoes. The temperature drops at night and a light sweater or bush jacket is suggested.

Weather can't be forecast more than a week or so in advance, but weather averages are good indicators of what to expect any month.