Riviera Maya is the coast of Mexico with several resort towns. There is a fertile tropical climate here, the sea is warm all year round, you can swim in January and August. Winter and spring are traditionally considered the best seasons, but summer is no worse here either, you just need to stock up on sunscreen.
These places are paradise for divers: along the coast of Yucatan stretches the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world. Beautiful corals start here almost at the very shore, so you can dive and snorkel. In addition, there are places where ocean waves rise and winds blow, you can go surfing and kiting. And there are also quiet coves, where there are no waves, and they are great for families with children.
Riviera Maya areas
The Riviera Maya is a long chain of beaches and resort towns, interspersed with national parks and entertainment areas, that stretches for miles along the coast. Looking from south to north, the following main resorts can be distinguished:
- Puerto Aventuras;
- Playa del Carmen;
- Punta Maroma;
- Puerta Morelos.
Tulum is the southernmost resort on this coast. Further south lies the vast territory of the Sian Kaan National Park with backwaters and lagoons, but there are no hotels in the park itself. Tulum is perfect for fans of ecological tourism and relaxing holidays: there is no noise and crowds of people, the beaches are so long that there is enough space for everyone, and bright greenery and shady corners save you from the scorching sun. Hotels here are simpler and more budgetary than in the center of the Riviera. Almost all beaches are free municipal. Tulum has more than ten beach areas with their own names, but in general they are not very different from each other. Pools with water activities are very rare; beaches are cleaned of algae mainly near hotels.
The best beaches of this resort are located not in the city at all, but in a national park. But Tulum is separated from it by about two kilometers of rocky territory, where it is difficult to swim, but the local population fish in secluded bays. The park and its beaches can be reached on foot or by the highway along the coast.
The main attraction of these places is the ruins of the Mayan times. A huge port-fortress was located here, surrounded by powerful walls: the remains of fortifications and several temples-pyramids have been preserved.
- Advantages: near the national park and Mayan ruins, inexpensive, quiet.
- Disadvantages: Deserted, no nightlife.
Shel-Ha National Park
It makes sense to choose hotels in this part of the coast if you are interested in ecological tourism. Here is the Shel-Ha Park with a cable car over the lagoon and jungle.
A little to the north are the famous cenotes of Yucatan - the main natural pearl and at the same time the main natural attraction. Cenotes are karst sinkholes, often of perfectly round shape, filled with water. They were considered sacred by the pre-Columbian population of America. Often, Mayan cities grew up just around such wells. The huge system of Sek-Aktun cenotes stretches for almost 300 kilometers along the entire coast - it is considered the longest cave in the world. Many of the caves are accessible for inspection and not only: you can go for cave diving in them, and this is a unique opportunity in Yucatan, there is no other such thing almost anywhere else in the world. One of the sections of this cave system is called the Rio Secreto, the secret river is about 600 meters of underground river, which can be crossed by boat. Other cenotes can be scuba diving.
A huge dolphinarium is located here on the coast. Its specificity is that dolphins do not live in special pools, it is just a fenced off part of a natural lagoon. You can swim with dolphins - apart from the show, this is one of the main services provided by the dolphinarium. And besides dolphins, there are sea lions, and the opportunity to immerse them in an aquarium with stingrays.
There are a variety of hotels here: both small villas near cenotes, and large chain hotels on the very coast.
- Advantages: ecological tourism, cenotes and underground diving.
- Disadvantages: no evening life, not cheap.
The smallest, most closed and most prestigious area of the Maya Riviera. It is guarded round the clock, so this is the safest resort, no crime.
The town is built around two closed bays Fatima Bay and Chac-Halal. The most elite beach is considered to be Chan Yu Yum - it occupies the third, separate, very small cove. There are large five-star all-inclusive hotels, and small cozy villas designed for individual and family vacations.
The harbor of this town itself is considered a landmark, as it is picturesque. Many excursions depart from the port. Especially often they go fishing from here - this is one of the centers of sport fishing in Mexico.
It has its own golf club and tennis club with huge fields and courts, its own diving center Dive Aventuras. Puerto Aventuras is a great place for diving, just a hundred meters from the coast there is a coral reef. It starts at a depth of only 20 meters, visibility is excellent here, so you can do underwater photography. The town has its own museum - the Museum of Shipwrecks.
- Advantages: ideal for family holidays: clean, safe and beautiful, lots of fun.
- Disadvantages: expensive, isolated from other resorts.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is the main resort center of the Maya Riviera, a large city right in the center of the coastline that lives almost exclusively on tourism. There is a huge marina with a terminal for cruise ships, the city center is always noisy and crowded. All major life is concentrated along its "Fifth Avenue".
This is the only place on the Riviera where you can fully engage in shopping: several interesting shops are concentrated on the main street, and in the heart of the city there is also its own market, designed for the local population. Market prices are quoted in local currency, while souvenir shops in the city center are quoted in dollars. The city has a well-developed infrastructure - there are ATMs, supermarkets, pharmacies, there is a large shopping center MEGA.
By the way, keep in mind that the security is monitored here by the police, and it is forbidden to drink alcohol on the streets, even beer. However, this does not mean that there is no crime here. Be careful in the evenings, especially in areas farther from the city center.
Playa del Carmen is the center of the evening and nightlife. There are quite a few discos and nightclubs here, such as Coco Bongo and Blue Parrot. The advantage of the city is that from here you can easily reach any of the attractions of the Riviera: Playa del Carmen is located in the very center of the coast. You can take an excursion, or you can use public transport - there is a bus station in the city, from here you can go south to Tulum and north to Cancun. The second advantage for our tourists: there is a Russian-language diving school here.
Nearby is the huge Xcaret theme park. There is a large amusement area, a butterfly park, a botanical garden, and a daily show about the history of the conquest of America.
The tourist center of the city is the Playacar hotel system. Many major hotels offer free transfers to all of the coast's theme parks. But there is housing in the city for every taste. There are coastal five-star hotels, there are inexpensive accommodation in the city itself.
- Advantages: Shopping, entertainment, nightlife, variety of accommodation options.
- Disadvantages: noisy, crowded.
The next resort area north of Playa del Carmen. The town is located on a promontory, with strong winds and high waves, so it is here that the main centers of surfing and kiting on the Riviera.
This territory is also considered elite and expensive: hotels have huge green areas, more like parks, they are networked, not fenced off from each other. You can just walk here all day, watching the life of various exotic animals that live on the territory. It has its own golf club, its own water park, and many evening entertainment at large hotels. So this place can be chosen by lovers of comfortable sports recreation.
The main attraction of this town is Croko Cun Zoo - a crocodile park. In fact, this is a rather large zoo, there are not only crocodiles, but also turtles, iguanas, monkeys, many birds, and everyone can be fed and communicated with everyone.
Puerta Morelos is the same resort town as the previous one, except for a little cheaper: it has a variety of hotels and many options for diving, surfing and kiting. This part of the coast is no longer protected from high waves and winds by the island of Cozumel, so it is better to go here for sports fans.
- Advantages: prestigious, beautiful, conditions for sports, surfing and kiting, there is something to see in the vicinity.
- Disadvantages: Not cheap, big waves and wind, not suitable for normal swimming.