The Riviera Maya (or Mayan Riviera) is, as one expert explained, an area stretching “over nearly 100 miles of coastline with beautiful white-sand beaches and brilliant turquoise colored water just south of Cancun. This world-renowned paradise is home to mangroves and lagoons, ancient Mayan cities, ecological reserves and adventure parks, and the world’s second largest coral reef.”
Clearly, it is an ideal spot for a holiday at any time of the year, but even more so during the spring season. Whether you are considering a visit during the “shoulder season” that comes just before the beginning of peak travel, or you want an alternative spot for spring break, it is difficult to match the amazing beauty and tranquility that the Riviera Maya promises.
While it is home to some of the best resorts, it is also home to amazing luxury rentals that tuck you right into the gorgeous jungle or beachfront setting. If you head to the southern part of the Riviera Maya, you encounter the area known as Tulum that has some of the finest white sand beaches and ancient Mayan sites. You can find world-class shopping in the Playa del Carmen area or you can get into lots of watersports in areas like Akumal or Puerto Aventuras.
It is important to note that lots of divers and snorkeling enthusiasts head to this region at any time of year, and the Riviera Maya is also home to Xel-Há, the world’s largest natural aquarium.
Before we start pointing you towards all of the things you can see and do during your visit to the Riviera Maya, let’s just revisit the geography so you get a good portrait of it in your mind’s eye. The area begins around 20 miles, or so, south of the world-famous area known as Cancun, Mexico. The first town considered to be within the Riviera Maya is Puerto Morelos, and though many think of it as a gateway alone, it has a lot of appealing villas and destinations to enjoy.
From there you head all of the way down to Punta Allen, where the famous Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve awaits those who might want to spend a holiday doing some hiking and exploring. The Riviera Maya ends here, and the Costa Maya begins.
The location and pristine nature of the region make it a popular choice among eco-tourists who want to see the biodiversity of the area as well as its historical sites.
Top Spots to Visit
If you are planning your spring break to the region, we suggest you consider looking for your luxury villa in the following areas:
Playa del Carmen
Once a fishing village, it is now the largest town in the entire Riviera Maya region. Don’t worry, though, because it is not a city. It is a walker’s paradise, as well as a shopper’s haven, and it delivers great access to excellent beaches.
Equally famous, it is an island just offshore from Playa del Carmen and noted for its watersports, particularly its diving and snorkeling. You can see clear down 200 feet in most areas, and it is home to a jungle and lagoons offering home to many endemic species. It is also where Chankanaab National Park is found.
Once a secret in the world of luxury travel, it is now a noted spot of beauty and historical significance. The former Mayan trading port, and ceremonial complex, retains a lot of its ancient mystery thanks to the presence of actual pyramids that seem to hover at the ocean’s edge from the cliffs above. The town was once a budget destination that is now a favorite of the world’s jet set and celebrities.
If you are eager to enjoy luxury travel, all three of these regions promise lots of options in luxury rentals and resort accommodations.
What to Do During Your Riviera Maya Holiday
One of the most highly enjoyable activities during a visit to the region (and something you rarely find elsewhere) is to go and visit at least one cenote. A cenote, according to one expert, is “a deep, water-filled sinkhole in limestone that is created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses,” and then fills with rain and water flowing in from above and underground.
The word is Mayan in origin and means simply “well”. While some are water-filled shafts, many others are caves with underground passages and pools to swim in. The cenotes were important to the ancient Mayans and there is a particularly notable one at Chichen Itza in the Riviera Maya region.
If you want to experience the very best of them during a visit to the Riviera Maya, we suggest:
- Cenote Dos Ojos, Tulum
- Grand Cenote, Tulum
- Cenote Chaak Tun, Playa del Carmen
- Cenote Ik Kil, Chichén Itzá
- Cenote X’Canche, Valladolid
- Cenote Jardin del Eden, Puerto Aventuras
- Cenote Samula, Valladolid
- Cenote Suytun, Valladolid
If diving in caverns is not your thing, but you want to see all of the amazing natural landscape or preserves, there are many parks in the Riviera Maya. They include the Xcaret Eco Theme Park which is ideal for families on a spring holiday as it has plenty of natural and man-made areas to enjoy. There is the Xel-Ha Park which has lots of water themed activities, and even a dolphin experience.
If you want out of the man-made settings, Aktun Chen has authentic rainforest acreage, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (mentioned earlier) is one of the “largest protected areas in Mexico and has 2500 square miles of unspoiled natural beauty with unexcavated Mayan ruins, fresh water canals, mangroves, lagoons and inlets”, and the Xaman Ha Aviary is also a great spot for seeing wildlife.
There is much to see and do in the beauty of the Riviera Maya. You will want to book your spring getaway early and choose the best luxury rentals in the region. Whether you choose Playa del Carmen, Tulum or another area, you won’t regret heading to this exotic, accessible, and truly unforgettable part of the world for your next spring break.