Riviera Maya is one of the most complete sun and beach destinations, arousing great interest among those seeking to travel to a paradise with a rich culture.
In the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya stretches along 120 kilometers of the Yucatán peninsula, from Puerto Morelos in the north to Punta Allen in the south, passing by the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka'an.
Throughout this extension the Maya culture is present in all its forms (cuisine, astronomy, music, architecture ...) which, together with the present, form a characteristic idiosyncrasy in the culture and traditions of local cities, touching the heart of anyone visiting the area.
Fun off the beach is also secured with several water parks, Spa and Wellness centers, golf courses and numerous natural cenotes to practice snorkeling and diving.
Riviera Maya is definitely a 'must' in terms of places to visit and leave having fallen in love with all that it offers.
Xama há (in Maya language) or Playa del Carmen, as it is coloquially called by its inhabitants) is actually a former fishing village that over time has grown to become one of the most visited places in the Riviera Maya. Beautiful beaches and a great atmosphere characterize this city. The exclusive and elegant Adults Only resort Blue Diamond is located in one of the most amazing places in the Riviera Maya, between cenotes and water channels.
The ruins of the walled City of Tulum by the sea whose name has echoes of mystery, stands in one of the most beautiful places on the Riviera Maya. Where the white sand glitters under an intense sun, the Mayans chose to establish, on a cliff that defies the waters, a city-fortress, protected on three sides by stone walls, and on the fourth side simply defended by the sea.
Cozumel is the third largest island in Mexico, about 50 km from Playa del Carmen. Formed by powdery volcanic rock, being a less visited area, it still retains its natural charm. The legend claims it was the home of Ixchel, goddess of love and fertility. Therefore, you can visit numerous temples dedicated to her who, in gratitude, sent the Mayan their favorite birds, the swallows. It is an ideal place for snorkeling and diving, and has one of the largest reefs in the world, Palancar, where Jaques Custeau discovered black coral.
8 kilometers from Cancún lies the small and quiet Isla Mujeres, a nice island of turquoise waters. Devoted to Ixchel, the faithful deposited their offerings of mud with female forms on its beaches. When the Spanish conquerors came in the sixteenth century and discovered these figures, they baptized it with the name of Isla Mujeres. Places worth visiting here include the Turtle Protection Center, and the remains of the legacy of the famous pirate Fermín Antonio de Mundaca. Mundaca, who was a feared Spanish pirate and slave trader, plundered the Caribbean for years until he finally decided to settle here. According to legend, he later fell in love with a Mayan Indian who turned him down and he was left heartbroken and depressed for the rest of his life.
Puerto Morelos is the perfect contrast between Cancún and Playa del Carmen. In this still small fishing village, where the people are nice and friendly, you feel you truly are in Mexico. It offers a variety of colorful tropical fish, dolphins, turtles and occasionally whales, in addition to the extraordinary beautiful coral formations of the "Parque Marino Arrecifes de Puerto Morelos" (Reef Marine Park of Puerto Morelos).
Chichen Itzá means "mouth of the well of the Itza" in Maya, and the Itza are a group of Maya Indians, named so after the region they came from, north of the place we now know as the state of Yucatán. Chichen Itzá was the most powerful city in the peninsula between 550 and 900 AD; during that period, the place reached the proportions and urban features it still preserves. As a center of economic, political and religious power, it was characterized by its complex organization and monumental architecture.
Riviera Maya is, in itself, a huge area of pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Still, we would like to highlight several that are considered among the most beautiful in the world.
Undoubtedly, Tulum is one of the beaches that are usually in the rankings of the best beaches in the world. It is rather special as it hosts an archaeological zone, making it a distinct and charming beach. Part of Tulum is Playa Paraíso.
Among the best is the beach of Punta Maroma, north of Playa del Carmen.
If you continue north, a stand out is Akumal beach where turtles come to lay their eggs.
Other names to consider are Xpu- Há and Playa Mamitas.
With a subtropical climate, Riviera Maya has an average annual temperature of 25 degrees, with minimums reached in January and maximums in summer. However, high humidity causes a feeling of greater heat than there really is.
As for rain, quickly-passing heavy rains often occur, so on rainy days it can rain for a short while but heavily.
As in the rest of Mexico, the Riviera Maya cuisine is diverse and particular with the predominance of spices and spicy ingredients.
Its highlights include the habanero chili peppers and xcatic chili peppers, used to flavor various dishes. The Xnipec hot sauce, for instance, is made from tomatoes, habanero chili peppers, cilantro, red onion, orange juice and salt.
With the sea as the protagonist, the fish is one of the most typical dishes. The Tikinxic fish, traditional in Isla Mujeres, is marinated in achiote paste sauce, tomato, onion, garlic and orange. It is later buried in the sand and covered with a banana leaf.
Aside from fish and seafood, papadzules stand out, corn tortillas dipped in a sauce of pumpkin seeds, stuffed with egg and coverd in tomato sauce with chili and onions.
A night out in Playa del Carmen undoubtedly bears the name of Cocobongo, the most popular nightclub in town. It is located between 12 and Tenth Avenue and organizes many events and special occasions within the year.
Another well known disco is Mandala, with a special Asian decor.
If you want to discover the nightlife of Playa, you mustn't miss the BlueParrot, La Santanera or Coco Maya.
The Carnival is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated festivities. The streets fill with dancing and colorful parades of Mayan and Aztec Indians.
Another celebration that attract large numbers of tourists is the Tequila Expo which is held in May, during which visitors can enjoy everything related to this drink, the cuisine, crafts and dances.
In July, honoring the Virgin that gave name to the city, Playa del Carmen markedly celebrates the festivity of the Virgen del Carmen.
The Expocar fair, in which local culture, cuisine and crafts are displayed, is another famous festivity.
During September, national festivals are held throughout the country, so Playa del Carmen also holds celebrations.