Riviera Maya, Mexico: beaches and attractions

Top 5 Wonders of the Riviera Maya

The Mexican resort Riviera Maya is located in the southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. The capital of this resort area is the town of Playa del Carmen, or, as the locals call it, just Playa. It is famous for its magnificent beaches, upscale hotels and excellent infrastructure.

But the Mexican Caribbean is not only a delightful vacation, it is also a great opportunity to see numerous monuments of ancient history and experience the magic of the amazing local nature.

Tulum – the history of the ancient Mayan tribe

Tulum can be divided into three parts: a modern tourist town with numerous restaurants, entertainment areas, souvenir shops; a coastal area with luxury hotels and beaches; and an archaeological area. All these areas are close to each other and are one of the main attractions of the Riviera Maya coast.

Tulum was built by the Mayans in the late first millennium A.D. and flourished until the 14th century. The Spanish conquistadors who came to America in the 16th century saw a city already dying, but even then the Spaniards compared Tulum to Seville for its vibrancy and splendor.

The word Tulum itself means “wall” in Mayan and, in fact, what remains today is a fortified wall with temples and a tower, which may have been used in the city’s heyday as a lighthouse for arriving merchant ships. Some experts believe that the wall was built to protect against the enemy, while others suggest that it separated the aristocratic part of town from the settlements of commoners. The beach offers a magnificent view of the ruins of the ancient walls and towers of ancient Tulum.

Tulum is about 60 km from Playa. Here you can take great photos, combining views of the beautiful modern Caribbean beaches and the ruins of the ancient city.

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Akumal – swimming with turtles

Akumal is a Native American word meaning “turtle place. Since time immemorial, thousands of sea turtles come to the beaches of Akumal from all over the Caribbean Sea to lay their eggs in the coral sand between April and June each year. Turtles are especially abundant at this time, but you can also see them at other times of the year.

Local residents offer tourists to rent or sell masks and snorkels, with which you can not only swim with turtles, but also enjoy contemplating the other underwater inhabitants of coral reefs – the water here is crystal clear. The depth of the bay is on average no more than one and a half meters, so swimming is quite safe. Experienced swimmers can order a scuba tank and all the necessary equipment for diving of any complexity from the local scuba club.

Those who don’t risk going scuba diving on their own can order a boat with a glass bottom, from which you can comfortably and safely observe the underwater world.

Freshly caught fish and seafood can be enjoyed in the local restaurants at the end of the boat ride.

Entertainment and nightlife in Playa del Carmen

During the day, the resort life of Playa del Carmen, the “entertainment capital” of the Riviera Maya, is not much different from other resort centers of the Yucatan. Traditional coffee at all hours of the day and night, the famous Caribbean cocktails, local cuisine, exotic fruits, shopping. However, tourists who have been to Cancun note that although prices in Playa del Carmen are somewhat lower, but the level and variety of famous brands also does not reach the level of Cancun.

However, they also say that the nightlife in Playa del Carmen is more diverse and incendiary than in Cancun. At night, the city fills with music of all styles, countries and trends. The best DJs from Mexico, Latin America, and the United States come here. Of course, the most popular clubs are those that feature salsa, rumba, bachata and other Latin American tunes. Many establishments are located right on the beach, under palm trees, they play “live” music. Mambo Cafe is especially popular with tourists from around the world. If you are not a big fan of music and dancing you can visit one of the cafes where, conveniently lying down, you can watch the tropical night starry sky or watch a movie on a huge screen. When your evening is over, we recommend that you don’t get to your hotel on foot or by public transport, but order a cab – it’s always safer for a relaxed tourist.

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Adventure Day at Shel-Ha Water Park

Shel-Ha Nature Park is not our usual water park, but a huge natural and recreational complex occupying the territory of a huge lagoon at the confluence of one of the rivers into the Caribbean Sea. Here, of course, there are traditional for other water parks attractions, such as “lazy river”, playground with a recreation area, etc., but the main attraction Shel-Ha – is a huge natural aquarium, which is home to over 90 species of fish and sea animals. You can swim with them, watch them, renting a mask and snorkel, or travel to the bottom of the lagoon, wearing a special suit. There are natural rivers and lakes (cenotes) in the park. During your visit you can visit a dolphin show, see a traditional Indian apiary, ride a bike through the park, admire exotic birds, have a delicious breakfast and lunch. On the territory of the park are preserved ancient Mayan structures.

The park operates on an all-inclusive basis. Paying 70 dollars, you can stay in the park all day, visit all the rides, free diving equipment, life jackets, towels, etc. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and unlimited drinks are also included. Only swimming with dolphins, bungee jumping off a cliff into the sea, spa treatments are extra.

Encounter with wildlife in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The UNESCO-protected Sian Ka’an Biosphere Park stretches 120 kilometers along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It showcases the diverse nature of the Caribbean. Mangroves and areas of grasses and reeds make up the bulk of the area. There are more than 300 species of animals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.

One of the protected species in the park is, rare in our time, the wild cat. Excursions through the park are only accompanied by experienced guides. You can move around the land part of the reserve on foot or in special smart cars. For movement on the water part you will be offered to use a motorboat or canoe. You can swim in the clear water of the mangroves. Adventurous travelers can go on foot or swim. The park contains ruins of buildings of the ancient Indians who lived here before the Maya tribe appeared on the Yucatan.

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Caution! The use of traditional protective cosmetics is forbidden in the park, but here you can buy eco-friendly protective cream and other necessary means, which will protect the skin and not damage the nature.

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