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Mexico

Riviera Maya Holidays

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Sun, Sea, Sand? Sorted.

One of Mexico’s most popular holiday destinations, Riviera Maya unfurls down the Caribbean coast from Puerto Morelos – just south of Cancun – to the history-rich town of Tulum. It’s a tapestry of sugary white sand, lush tropical jungle and scenic ruins. And in amongst it all are tucked heaps of high-end hotels, complete with tranquil spas, upscale restaurants and even swim-up suites. But wherever you choose to stay during your Riviera Maya holiday, you’ll find the area to be easily navigable. Covering just 135 kilometres, all of its main attractions are within daytripping distance.

While Riviera Maya is ripe for a road trip, much of your time here will likely be spent at the beach. They’re many and varied in these parts – some are home to swanky beach clubs and others offer up family-friendly activities – but all are brushed by the bright blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Take a boat out to the Mesoamerican Reef and spend the day snorkelling among the corals, or go diving in the world’s longest underwater cave system. Wildlife lovers should head to Akumal Beach – a known feeding ground for green sea turtles – or, if your holiday to Riviera Maya falls between May and September, there’s a chance you’ll even be able to swim with whale sharks. And there are yet more aquatic adventures to be had at the hidden cenotes or at this region’s two fantastic eco-parks – Xcaret Park and Xel-Há Park.

However, holidays to Riviera Maya aren’t all about the water. Trendy Playa del Carmen offers loads in the way of shopping and dining, while Tulum, Cobá and Chichen Itza pack in plenty of well-preserved archaeological ruins. Popular tourist hotspots, they draw crowds keen to see the towering pyramids and learn about ancient Mayan culture. If you fancy venturing a little further afield, though, you could always visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, or head to Cancun for the evening to check out its legendary nightlife.

Xcaret Park and Xel-Há Park

Playa del Carmen

Things to do

Best time to go

Xcaret Park and Xel-Há Park

Part aquatic theme park, part ecotourism development, Xcaret Park and Xel-Há Park are two of the biggest attractions in this part of Mexico. So they should certainly be on your Riviera Maya holiday itinerary.

Just along the coast from Playa del Carmen, Xcaret – which means ‘small cove’ – is set amongst the Mayan jungle and has a beach, a lagoon and various underground rivers where you can swim and snorkel. There’s also a coral reef aquarium and sea turtle centre, plus a butterfly garden, aviary, rainforest trail, and orchid museum – all of which make it an excellent spot to learn about local flora and fauna. There’s even a chance you’ll see jaguars, manatees, flamingos, spider monkeys, bats, deer or tapirs in certain parts of the park.

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Xel-Há Park is closer to Tulum and packs in waterslides, zip lines, swings and rope bridges. But, as at Xcaret Park, there are also rivers and coves teeming with tropical fish and other exciting marine life.

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Playa del Carmen

This coastal town is the biggest resort in Riviera Maya. Although nowhere near as wild as its northern neighbour Cancun, it still delivers a decent helping of shops, eateries and all-inclusive hotels – plus plenty of nightclubs for those looking to party.

But besides being a party hotspot, Playa del Carmen’s also known for its incredible snorkelling and diving. So if you’re keen to spot rays, eels and turtles, it’s a great place to base yourself on a Riviera Maya holiday. Plus, it’s conveniently located if you fancy exploring more of the region. Cozumel, Tulum and Cancun, with its international airport, are all less than an hour away.

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However, the resort’s biggest draw is the vanilla-white sand that lines its shore. The beaches here cater to almost everyone – there are some offering watersports and boat trips, while others have glamorous beach clubs where DJs spin tunes and a waiter will bring you cocktails as you laze on a sun lounger.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do in Riviera Maya

A Riviera Maya holiday to-do list is generally long and varied. Obviously there are the beaches – where you’ll no doubt spend a large chunk of time – but there’s far more to this part of Mexico than just palm trees and powdery sands.

For starters, there are some incredible diving opportunities. The rich corals that lie just offshore are part of the Mesoamerican Reef – the world’s second-largest barrier reef – and from Tulum you can access Sistema Sac Actun, the longest known underwater cave system on Earth. Akumal, meanwhile, is a particularly popular snorkelling spot. That’s because it’s a feeding ground for giant green sea turtles, and sightings are common all year round.

Show More
Show Less

Back on dry land, there are further sights to be seen. Anyone with an interest in history should make time to visit the Mayan city of Cobá, with its natural lakes and jungle-covered ruins – the most notable being its temple pyramids and ball courts. There are more ancient treasures to discover at Chichen Itza, and you’ll also find plenty of them presiding over Tulum’s rugged coastline.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to visit Riviera Maya

Mexico’s Caribbean coast enjoys a tropical climate, so stays warm throughout the year. December and January are the coolest months, but even then average temperatures hover around 24°C. At the peak of summer, though, it’s usually closer to 28°C, and on occasion can even get into the low thirties.

While there’s not much likelihood of being cold on a Riviera Maya holiday – whatever time of year you go – there is a far higher chance of getting wet. Like many tropical destinations, this part of Mexico experiences distinct wet and dry seasons. The rainy season – and also hurricane season – runs from May to November, with October being the wettest month of the year.

Show More
Show Less

Winter’s peak travel season, as holiday goers swap freezing temperatures back home for sunny days on the beach. Although the weather’s good, things are generally more crowded at this time, and costs can sometimes soar. You should also be aware that January and February bring with them strong northerly winds, called El Norte, which can make things feel particularly chilly and have you reaching for your jumper. By March, though, things are more settled and you should be able to enjoy pleasant weather right through spring.

Show More
Show Less

Xcaret Park and Xel-Há Park

Xcaret Park and Xel-Há Park

Part aquatic theme park, part ecotourism development, Xcaret Park and Xel-Há Park are two of the biggest attractions in this part of Mexico. So they should certainly be on your Riviera Maya holiday itinerary.

Just along the coast from Playa del Carmen, Xcaret – which means ‘small cove’ – is set amongst the Mayan jungle and has a beach, a lagoon and various underground rivers where you can swim and snorkel. There’s also a coral reef aquarium and sea turtle centre, plus a butterfly garden, aviary, rainforest trail, and orchid museum – all of which make it an excellent spot to learn about local flora and fauna. There’s even a chance you’ll see jaguars, manatees, flamingos, spider monkeys, bats, deer or tapirs in certain parts of the park.

Show More
Show Less

Xel-Há Park is closer to Tulum and packs in waterslides, zip lines, swings and rope bridges. But, as at Xcaret Park, there are also rivers and coves teeming with tropical fish and other exciting marine life.

Show More
Show Less

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

This coastal town is the biggest resort in Riviera Maya. Although nowhere near as wild as its northern neighbour Cancun, it still delivers a decent helping of shops, eateries and all-inclusive hotels – plus plenty of nightclubs for those looking to party.

But besides being a party hotspot, Playa del Carmen’s also known for its incredible snorkelling and diving. So if you’re keen to spot rays, eels and turtles, it’s a great place to base yourself on a Riviera Maya holiday. Plus, it’s conveniently located if you fancy exploring more of the region. Cozumel, Tulum and Cancun, with its international airport, are all less than an hour away.

Show More
Show Less

However, the resort’s biggest draw is the vanilla-white sand that lines its shore. The beaches here cater to almost everyone – there are some offering watersports and boat trips, while others have glamorous beach clubs where DJs spin tunes and a waiter will bring you cocktails as you laze on a sun lounger.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Riviera Maya

A Riviera Maya holiday to-do list is generally long and varied. Obviously there are the beaches – where you’ll no doubt spend a large chunk of time – but there’s far more to this part of Mexico than just palm trees and powdery sands.

For starters, there are some incredible diving opportunities. The rich corals that lie just offshore are part of the Mesoamerican Reef – the world’s second-largest barrier reef – and from Tulum you can access Sistema Sac Actun, the longest known underwater cave system on Earth. Akumal, meanwhile, is a particularly popular snorkelling spot. That’s because it’s a feeding ground for giant green sea turtles, and sightings are common all year round.

Show More
Show Less

Back on dry land, there are further sights to be seen. Anyone with an interest in history should make time to visit the Mayan city of Cobá, with its natural lakes and jungle-covered ruins – the most notable being its temple pyramids and ball courts. There are more ancient treasures to discover at Chichen Itza, and you’ll also find plenty of them presiding over Tulum’s rugged coastline.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Riviera Maya

Mexico’s Caribbean coast enjoys a tropical climate, so stays warm throughout the year. December and January are the coolest months, but even then average temperatures hover around 24°C. At the peak of summer, though, it’s usually closer to 28°C, and on occasion can even get into the low thirties.

While there’s not much likelihood of being cold on a Riviera Maya holiday – whatever time of year you go – there is a far higher chance of getting wet. Like many tropical destinations, this part of Mexico experiences distinct wet and dry seasons. The rainy season – and also hurricane season – runs from May to November, with October being the wettest month of the year.

Show More
Show Less

Winter’s peak travel season, as holiday goers swap freezing temperatures back home for sunny days on the beach. Although the weather’s good, things are generally more crowded at this time, and costs can sometimes soar. You should also be aware that January and February bring with them strong northerly winds, called El Norte, which can make things feel particularly chilly and have you reaching for your jumper. By March, though, things are more settled and you should be able to enjoy pleasant weather right through spring.

Show More
Show Less

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Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

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Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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