Riviera Maya Destinations
Riviera Maya Overview
The coastline Eden called the Riviera Maya stretches from the world-famous paradise of Cancun to the only Mayan seaside city, Tulum. The warm, aquamarine waters of the Caribbean lap against this 81 mile strip of flat land and sun-kissed beaches. Low tropical jungles and wonderful towns, both big and small, dot the landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula’s Easternmost edge. Magical honeymoon spots such as Playa del Carmen, Playacar, Puerto Morelos, Tulum and the tiny islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are just a few of the places that are ideal honeymoon havens. Much of this beautiful area is still undeveloped and vast tracts of unspoiled terrain separate some of them. You’ll soon discover that the entire area is a nearly perfect choice for a beautiful honeymoon getaway.
Ecological parks and preserves, Mayan ruins and sites, pristine white sand beaches that won’t burn your feet, countless exotic animals, rare plants and an endless supply of activities surrounded by some of Mexico’s most clear waters are just a few of the amazing attractions that you can enjoy every honeymoon day.
The beautiful area between Cancun and Tulum, the only Mayan seaside city, is a wonderful place to explore on your own. Until a few years ago, a bumpy, partially paved road led to the archaeological site of Tulum, the only Mayan seaside city. Today, it is a broad highway lined with ultra modern hotels and resorts, bustling towns like Playa del Carmen, and tiny Mayan villages where the ancient Mayan language and culture is on display. The area is filled with ancient ruins and sprawling nature preserves. A beautiful beach is never farther than one kilometer away. You may want to stop the car and try them all!
- SHOPPING: Seeking out that perfect gift or memento will certainly be one of the highlights of your Riviera Maya honeymoon. You’ll find plenty of luxury items as well beach and summer wear created by local designers and beautiful arts and crafts hand made by regional artisans. The Yucatan peninsula is famous for its semiprecious stones like amethyst, onyx, opal, turquoise, and lapis lazuli that are transformed into one-of-a-kind jewelry. So where do you go? Start with your concierge. He or she will point you in the right direction, which most likely will be Playa del Carmen, the biggest town in the region. There, La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) is the main pedestrian walkway with lots of great dining and shopping options as well as the popular Wayan Village. In the heart of Playa del Carmen, Wayan Village is a one-stop-shopping paradise to find locally-made gifts and clothing as well as enjoy spa treatments, restaurants and cultural activities. But wherever you go, you’ll have great opportunities to browse and buy such as at Galeria Lamanai in Akumal or at the Puerto Morelos Flea Market.
- FEEL THE SAND IN BETWEEN YOUR TOES: Wherever you go in the Riviera Maya, the winding coastline is filled to the brim with gorgeous vistas and sandy bays. Many are protected by an outer reef, the world’s second largest, which creates a gentler surf and abundant soft sand. So, no matter which Riviera Maya honeymoon spot you choose, you’re in for the pinnacle of relaxation.
- GO BENEATH THE SURFACE: The water sparkles as blue as the sky above, while below the warm waves is a world of startling beauty. The crystal clear water, incredible reefs and colorful tropical aquatic animals are simply begging you to explore by snorkeling or scuba diving. Riviera Maya is prime location for some of the best underwater adventure around. Chances are your resort offers lessons and guided tours. If you want to stay dry, you can’t go wrong by visiting the caves at Aktun Chen, just south of Akumal along the highway. Be prepared to see an incredible amount of stalactites—and monkeys, too.
- ENJOY THE SPORTING LIFE: If you and your new spouse are active, you’ve come to the right place. Scaling the steps of ancient Mayan ruins, driving a ball on world-class golf courses and literally all types of water fun from snorkeling and diving to sailing and deep sea fishing is right at your fingertips. The low-lying jungles provide excellent hiking and tropical wildlife-spotting as well. The options are as endless as your imagination: swim with dolphins at Marina Puerto Aventuras, horseback ride on the beach, play tennis at virtually every resort or soar above the jungle on a zip line tour in Selvatica. Perhaps one of the most unique features of the Yucatan is its cenotes, which are deep pits or sinkholes that expose underground rivers and caves. A snorkeling or swimming tour at one of these cenotes is truly a one-of-a-kind Riviera Maya experience.
- EXPLORE A MAGICAL PAST: Spectacular remnants of a bygone civilization are sprinkled all around the Yucatan, and Riviera Maya holds many of the finest. Getting to a Mayan ruin may take a trip of up to two hours, but the majesty of it all is well worth the effort. Some of the best include Chac Mool, which is inside the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve and about 1 and a half hours south by boat from Punta Allen. Coba, about 30 miles west of Tulum has buildings still covered by jungle and the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan, Nohoch Mul; and Chacchoben, which is about 110 miles south of Tulum, boasts incredible, yet seldom seen ruins.
- XCARET: Located just south of Playa Del Carmen, Xcaret is one of the largest and perhaps best eco-park in Riviera Maya. You’ll want to set aside a full day to experience the underground river, aquarium, jaguars and pumas, sea turtles, ruins, Mayan village, beach, dolphins and much more. Then, the night comes alive with firelight Mayan sports, and ceremonial dances and wonderful regional music from all around Mexico.
- BE IN GOOD HANDS: Take care of your mind and body while surrounded by the serenity and beauty of the Riviera Maya. World-Class Spa centers can be easily found in virtually every resort and town along the corridor. Indulging your senses can be done together as well with a relaxing couples massage in Akumal, Puerto Morelos and Cancun, but they are not always advertised so you may need to ask the spa itself if it’s offered.
- Snorkel almost anywhere. Just put on a mask. Often, you don’t even have to swim. The colorful tropical fish will swim around you!
- Visit Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest ecological preserve. The flora and fauna will amaze you!
- Xacaret is a Mayan version of Disney World based on water related activities. Linger over a "café" on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. You can watch the local world go by. After dark, it revs up into action packed merriment. Everything from mariachis to salsa music fills the air, and the fun is contagious.
- Visit at least one of the amazing archaeological sites such as Tulum or Coba to get a feel of the ancient past.
Tips and Advice
- AIRPORT CODE: CUN. Cancun International Airport is your gateway to the Riviera Maya.
- CURRENCY: The Mexican peso. Rather than changing money at your home bank or at the airport, wait until you find an ATM in Mexico. They offer the best exchange rates!
- ELECTRICITY: 110 volts, same as the USA and Canada.
- WEATHER: The average annual temperature is around 80 degrees F. However, evenings can be cool, so pack a sweater, jacket or scarf.
- DRESS: Riviera Maya is a land of adventure, relaxation and fun, so what you wear will generally be relaxed and activity appropriate. Some of the finer resorts may require casually elegant resort attire but you’ll never need a jacket or tie.
- DRINKING WATER: Water is potable throughout the area.
- TIPPING: Here are a few guidelines in US dollars. Airport porters and taxi and colectivo drivers: 50 cents to $1 per bag. Hotel bellmen $1 per bag; Hotel maids $1-$2/day; Waiters 10-20% of the bill before tax; Fishing charter captains $10-$25/person. It’s also a good idea to have loose change - 5, 10, or 20 peso coins - ready at all times to offer anyone helping with small tasks such as grocery store baggers and parking lot attendants.
HELPFUL HONEYMOON HINTS
- TELL THE WORLD: You’re celebrating your love on this trip. Mentioning you’re on your honeymoon to just about everyone can open the door to perks that make it even more special.
- DOCUMENTATION: You’ll both need passports. Immigration and Customs forms will be distributed on the plane. Fill them out completely and be sure to sign where indicated (Firma).
A Tourist Card is your Immigration form. Part of it will be returned to you at Immigration. Do not lose this piece of paper! Put it with your passport. It must be turned in when you depart.
At customs, each piece of luggage will go through a screener. After surrendering your Baggage Declaration to officials, you must press a button. Green lets you go. Red means that customs officials will inspect your bags.
- SMOOTH ENTRY: Pre-planning will help you navigate the busy airport. Once you have passed customs, chaos reigns. You can avoid it by contacting your hotel or travel agent before you leave home to arrange transportation to your hotel. The person who will greet you should carry a sign with your name.
To arrange transportation on the spot, buy a taxi ticket at an official kiosk or arrange to board a colectivo, a bus that carries other passengers.
- Here are a few approximate distances, travel times and costs to your destination:
Akumal – 63 miles, about 60 minutes, $80 USD
Cancun- 20-30 minutes depending on your hotel, about $35 USD
Cozumel – about 5 miles from Playa del Carmen; from Cancun airport it’s about 2 hours (including the ferry, which costs about $15 USD per person). Flying from Cancun to Cozumel takes 20 minutes.
Mayakoba – 35 miles, $55 USD
Puerto Aventuras – 60 miles, about an hour, $70 USD
Puerto Morelos – 22 miles, $40 USD
Playa del Carmen – 42 miles, about 50-60 minutes, but the ride can take from 1 ½ to 2 hours with all the stops, $65 USD.
Playa Mujeres - $45 USD
Tulum – 81 miles, 1 ½ hours, $85 USD
Xcaret – 44 miles, $65 USD
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