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MAYAN RIVIERA ATTRACTIONS
The Mayan Riviera also known as The Riviera Maya and Maya Riviera abounds with exciting things to do. These "attractions" are spread out over a vast expanse of jungle and coastal shoreline. Costs for attractions are on par with attraction costs in both the USA and Canada so you can expect to spend the same for a day's outing, as you would there.
Regardless of where you are staying on the Mayan Riviera you will have to travel to any attraction you wish to visit. You can either use the services of a tour company [you can book tours on-line here] or you can travel to the attractions on your own. Scroll to the bottom of this page for transportation information.
We offer on-line booking for many of the attractions listed here. There are some smaller tour companies that do carry some of the destinations we do not, however if you are staying at a resort along the Mayan Riviera then you will only have access to the tours offered by what ever tour companies that are there, that rent space in the resort lobby.
In some cases you must provide your own transportation to some attraction destinations. These are generally the smaller venues and ones less traveled.
Tres Rios Ecopark is located 10 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. Explore nature in this tropical reserve.
Xcaret is like an Eco Maya theme park. We just love this place. It is a paradise for children and you can spend the whole day there. Some of the attractions include a re-enactment of a traditional Maya ballcourt game, butterfly pavilion, traditional Mexican dance and music, small zoo and much more. The swimming here is excellent and the water theme parks rival Disney World; in fact we think they are better.
Xel-Ha is a great place to go snorkeling or swimming. It is a fresh water bay that meets the ocean. Many sea creatures make their home in the bay and its tributaries and a snorkel around the bay will simply blow your mind if you are not an avid diver or snorkeler. It is well worth the price of admission and a great place for kids. There are many well-trained lifeguards on duty.
Aktun Chen: Beautiful underground dry caves with stalactite and stalagmite formations and a spectacular fresh water cenote. You might even be lucky enough to see spider monkeys. Poisonous and non-poisonous snakes can be seen at the serpentarium. Located in the jungle between Akumal and Xel-Ha.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve: Just south of Tulum, the reserve has an abundant amount of flora and fauna and several distinct natural ecosystems. The reserve contains unexcavated Maya ruins, freshwater canals, cenotes, mangroves, lagoons and inlets. The fishing village of Boca Paila is within the reserve. The town of Punta Allen is the end of the Maya Riviera found at the southern tip of the reserve.
NOTE: The roads in and out of Sian Ka'an can sometimes be treacherous [road repairs are infrequent]. When you rent a car, quite often the clerk will ask you where you are planning on taking the car. Some car rental agencies will not let you take a car to Sian Ka'an because of the possibility of damage being inflicted on the car due to the rough road conditions.
HOWEVER, the road is sometimes no worse than some country roads in the US or Canada. Just tell the car rental guy you are going to Tulum, which is not a lie. Make sure you have a full tank of gas, take food and water with you and do not bring any valuables. Or take a tour.
Xaman-Ha Aviary: Home to exotic birds including scarlet macaws, flamingos and herons. Xaman-Ha is in Playacar which is [south] right next to Playa del Carmen.
Punta Laguna: Spend time with spider monkeys and howler monkeys in their natural habitat. You can trek in the jungle and travel Punta Laguna by boat. Birds, deer, turtles and crocodiles are among the other wildlife to be seen. Punta Laguna is northwest of Coba. There is also a Mayan ruin site here.
Nohoch Jungle Crossing: Snorkel into one of world’s largest discovered subterranean river systems. In this ancient natural miracle, you will experience its spectacular geological formations and crystal clear fresh water.
Jardin Botanico del Dr. Alfredo Barrera: Beautiful botanical gardens located a few minutes south of Puerto Morelos on the east side of highway 307. Experience exotic species of tropical fauna displayed in the natural settings of the tropical rainforest.
MAYAN ARCHEOLOGY SITES
In order to assist you with developing your itinerary for visiting Mayan Archeology Sites we have created a page that presents information regarding all sites opened to the public located within driving range from anywhere in the Mayan Riviera.
There is also a page with tips for people taking tours to sites and we also have an entire section on traveling to Mayan Archeology Sites in the Yucatan Peninsula.
There are a number of great snorkeling locations along the Mayan Riviera. Xcaret, Xel-Ha and Ya Kul Lagoon all have snorkel equipment for you to rent so you do not have to bring your own. Also most of the cenotes have snorkel gear for you to use and some have diving as well.
The best diving is closer to Cozumel so most divers generally stay on Cozumel Island when diving although there are numerous dive shops and tours that will take you out from anywhere on the Riviera. Dive shops are located all along the Mayan Riviera and at most hotels/resorts.
Skydiving is available at "Sky Dive Playa" located at Plaza Marina by the dock, behind Señor Frog's.
Golf at Playacar which boasts an excellent golf course. It is a little pricey, but well worth the fee, as it includes food and a cart. Worth trying once.
The Cedam Maritime Museum in Puerto Aventuras houses an interesting display of various artifacts and wreckage from shipwrecks along the coastline. The museum can be found at the northern end of the marina.
ATV & Speedboat Maroma: This is an exciting journey riding through the jungle, the mangroves, a lake and a private beach on 4 wheelers. Later you will ride in a speedboat to visit the reefs and actually snorkel there.
Deep Sea Fishing: Sport fishing boat charters for day or half day.
Rancho Loma Bonita: Horseback ride through the jungle mangroves, lakes and the Caribbean Sea. You can also ride a 4-wheeler, snorkel, bicycle or kayak around lagoons or swim in the pool. There is also a restaurant. Located at km 45 on the Cancun-Tulum highway.
Pac Chen: Enjoy a traditional meal cooked the Mayan way at an authentic Mayan community tucked away in the jungle.
Crococun Crocodile Park and Regional Zoo: Located on Hwy. 307 just south of Puerto Morelos. Similar to the crocodile parks in Florida. This one features regional animals as well as some imported ones. Guides speak English. It is an interesting place to visit if you have never been to a crocodile farm.
SHOPPING & NIGHTLIFE
Playa del Carmen is where you go for nightlife if you are staying anywhere on the Mayan Riviera. There are lots of clubs and restaurants offering an eclectic array of party possibilities.
Playa del Carmen is an excellent hopping off spot for all the attractions found on the Riviera Maya. The bus terminal in Playa is serviced by several bus companies and you are able to get buses to almost every destination in Mexico from here. The 45 minute ferry trip to Cozumel leaves the dock every hour.
Shopping has to be Playa's biggest attraction. Avenida Quinta is a pedestrian mall lined with little shops and malls. Bargaining is expected here.
Cozumel is a short ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen. Renowned for its excellent diving and snorkeling Cozumel also has a large number of interesting shops selling everything from hammocks to jewelry. You can find items in Cozumel that you do not find on the mainland.
Cozumel has lots of restaurants and a few clubs to party in. Due to the fact that the ferries do not operate all night people tend not to stay late partying in Cozumel but tend to go for the day.
There are also some minor Mayan ruin sites and a nice Eco Park on Cozumel.
Tulum Pueblo is the last town before Hwy 307 turns into a desolate jungle road. There is good shopping in Tulum. Prices are generally cheaper here for the same stuff as in Playa del Carmen. There are lots of restaurants and convenience stores here. Most of the partying at night is done on the beach here.
Tulum Ruins also has a good crafts market. If you are planning on going to Tulum ruins then you may want to consider looking around the shops here.
Hacienda Isabela is a re-creation of a traditional Mexican hacienda. A number of stores are inside selling crafts and typical stuff found in Playa del Carmen. On Thursday night is "Mexican Fiesta Show" which is an okay show put on by a troupe of entertainers from Cancun.
The Mexican Fiesta Show costs $15 USD and lasts about two hours. We enjoyed it and thought it was worth it, especially if you are in the area on a Thursday night.
Hacienda Isabela is located on the East Side of Hwy 307 at Bahia Principe Resort, which is 6 km north of Xel-Ha.
To get around you have four options:
NOTE: After 7:00 you cannot take a collectivo on Hwy 307.
For information see the Transportation section of this site.