Create an idyllic beach holiday along the shores of the amazing Maya Riviera, where vacation living has been transformed into truly heavenly experiences. With roughly 75 miles of exquisite Mexican Caribbean coastline, this region stretches south from the remarkable city of Cancun to just south of historic Tulum. The entire area is dotted with fine beaches, restaurants and dining as well as direct access to the impressive Mayan archeological sites and eco parks of the Yucatan Peninsula.
You can opt to stay in the convenience of Cancun with its beaches, museums, historic parks, markets, and city luxuries and then travel to the nearest attractions and destinations. Heading south, you enter the more authentic Maya Riviera and can stay in smaller settings like Puerto Morelos, a classic fishing village, upscale Playa del Carmen with its resorts, villas and relaxed atmosphere, Puerto Aventuras with its delightful harbor, or Tulum with its amazing historic sites and waterfront. Offering a perfect balance of cities and charming waterfront villages, it even has the lovely island of Cozumel just offshore.
A region initially mapped out by the government of Mexico as an idyllic holiday destination, their choice has since been proven very wise. With some of the best beaches, swimming and diving, shopping and dining, and natural beauty and historic sites, it is a truly world-class destination to get away from it all, and thanks to the Isle Blue collection of villas, you can enjoy it all in tremendous comfort and style. The beaches are always close by - and scenery is often just outside your window!
From their luxury villa, clients of Isle Blue can enjoy delicious local delicacies and direct access to the white sparkling sands lapped by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Choose resort-style options or entirely private and more remote locations - it is all up to you.
Maya Riviera Summary
Riviera Maya is an area along the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula that stretches from about Playa del Carmen in the north down to Tulum in the south. The beaches on this stretch of shoreline all have beautiful white sand that meets up with the vibrantly colored blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea. There is really good snorkeling in the waters of Riviera Maya because of the coral reef that runs along the coast. Visitors often see sea life from the shore too.
A Riviera Maya vacation can deliver on peace and quiet with relaxation, or on a party atmosphere with upbeat nightlife. Playa del Carmen in Riviera Maya has many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. There are many different attractions within this stretch of coast for visitors to check out like Xcaret, Xel-Ha, and ferries out to Cozumel. Cancun isn’t far to the north either with its tons of the things to do and happening club scene.
Riviera Maya has a lot of ancient history to learn about those who like to discover the secrets of the past. This region was home to the ancient Mayans and there are many areas that still have the ruins of temples and other structures that were built by the people of that ancient civilization. You can book several day trips that will take you to some of the ruins and through some of the area’s cities and villages.
Getting to Riviera Maya is very easy. Those who are traveling from the U.S. can often take direct flights straight from their home airports into Cancun International Airport (CUN). Many of the world’s largest airlines have flights landing at this airport. Once you’re there, it’s a quick drive down Rte 307 to get to Playa del Carmen and the other cities within Riviera Maya. Once you’re there, you can find your Riviera Maya Villa and let your Mexican vacation begin.
Things to Do In Riviera Maya
This part of the Yucatán Peninsula has so much to do that will appeal to just about everyone. There are fun family activities, romantic experiences, fun party places and interesting historical sites to tour. Visitors can either rent a car to get around to the things they want to do, or you can book tours and excursions to most places that will include the transportation to get there.
Spend the Day at Xel-Ha
Essentially, Xel-Ha is a giant natural aquarium. It’s a place where visitors can get up close and personal with different species of fish and other sea life creatures. You can get in the water and snorkel or swim. The land area can be explored also. You can walk the trails or take a ride on a little train. There are restaurants to eat at and gorgeous plantlife to observe. This is a place that the whole family can enjoy.
Discover Rio Secreto
Only recently discovered is this amazing underground river. You can see incredible natural rock formations and a river like you’ve never seen before. Your Riviera Maya trip will be enhanced with a journey of discovery down below the surface of Playa del Carmen. You’ll be taken down 80 feet below ground to explore the series of caverns and tunnels that a river flows through, and that was only discovered not long ago. Those who want to do this on their trip just need to be aware that it’s a pretty physical outing so consider any limitations of those in your party accordingly.
Visit Akumal Beach
On a visit to Akumal Beach, you can get in the water and swim with the sea turtles. You will get to see these amazing creatures as they are in their natural habitat. The beach is gorgeous too. There are palm trees to lay under for some shade.
The beach is backed by some shops and restaurants and places to enjoy a cold beverage. You can stop in for some delicious chilaquiles at Lol-Ha restaurants and take in the beautiful view of the sea.
See the Ruins of Tulum
Tulum is in the southernmost part of Riviera Maya. The town is home to some Mayan ruins that are amazingly preserved from the days of when Tulum was a port city for the Mayan civilization. When you go to see the ruins, you’ll want to wear your swimsuit because they are so close to the water. You’ll have to go to the beach to get to them. She main structure is impressively perched on a cliff. It’s called El Castillo and is in amazing shape considering it’s over 600 years old.
Riviera Maya Points of Interest
The history of this area includes the ancient Mayan civilization. There are several different sites where you can go and see the ruins of cities that these people built from stone. There are descendants of the Mayan people still living in this region. You’ll see parts of their culture exhibited in some of the area’s food, clothing, artwork, and cultural traditions.
Cenotes are basically sunken lakes that exist under the surface of the land. The waters are cool and beautiful hues of green and blue. There are some that are quite big like some that are around Chichen Itza, but most of them are small bodies of water. There are many cenotes strewn throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. If you want to go see one, there are plenty of excursions you can take that will have stops at one of these amazing underground lakes.
There are many spas in the Riviera Maya region. If you want to add some relaxation and wellness to your Riviera Maya vacation, you can plan a visit to one of many spas around the area. One that will give visitors a different kind of spa experience is Los Colibries Mayan Jungle Spa. Treatments are performed in a hidden spa in the jungle where you can enjoy the sounds of the outside world, smell the flowers of the jungle, and relax in total privacy. Some spas can be booked to bring the treatment specialists to your Riviera Maya vacation rental too.
There is some truly amazing food in Riviera Maya. You can actually schedule a food tour that will take you on a culinary journey that lets you get to know this area through its cuisine. You’ll be taken to local markets, local kitchens and to restaurants and cantinas to taste some of the best food that you’ll find on your Riviera Maya trip.
Riviera Maya’s Best Restaurants
This restaurant is located in Playa del Carmen and gives guests a dining experience that feels comfortable and friendly with incredible international cuisine served from the kitchen. Oh lala! is small with only 9 tables and has some seating outside. You can do a wine and hors d'oeuvres tasting while you decide on your entrée and enjoy a very personal dining experience on your night out of your Riviera Maya Villa.
Frida is a fine dining restaurant that serves Mexican food. This is a four-diamond establishment that has taken some traditional Mexican dishes and elevated them to an upscale level with little twists here and there. The inspiration for the restaurant comes from a famous artist from the area, Frida Kahlo. Guests should dress in nice clothes that are still casual.
For foodies or just those who want a unique dining experience that includes fantastic food, Le Chique is a good choice. The food and the venue are both different than anything else you’ll find on your Riviera Maya vacation. Traditional dishes are rethought and presented in very unique ways. The food looks like artwork when it’s served. It’s a dining experience you’re certain to never forget.
Cocina de Autor
This restaurant is for guests that are 12 years old or above. The food is a fusion of Mexican and Caribbean and will wow you with its beautiful presentation and lively flavors. Have your meal in the elegantly decorated dining room out on the outdoor patio looking out at the water. You’ll find all kinds of creative interpretations of traditional native foods on the menu. This restaurant is located in Playa del Carmen and is a great choice for those traveling without small children.
Where to Stay In Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya has some good options for locations to stay on your Riviera Maya trip. The major towns included in this area are Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, and Tulum. There isn’t a lot of distance between any of these. The whole area only spans about 75 miles along the coast so no matter where you choose to find a Riviera Maya holiday rental, you’ll be able to visit all of the other places easily too.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen would be our highest recommendation. We have a lot of beautiful Riviera Maya Villas in this city. The beaches are incredibly gorgeous and the entertainment in this city is equally incredible. Visitors who stay in this town can hang out on 5th Avenue in the city. It’s a stretch of road for pedestrians to wander through that has tons of shops, restaurants, and bars to check out.
Beach House-Playa del Carmen is one of our luxury villas that’s right on the beach. It has 4 bedrooms and houses 8 guests. It’s in a neighborhood known as Playacar. You’ll have your own access to the beach that is just steps off of the back terrace. You’ll have views of Cozumel from the freshwater pool, have your choice of dining inside or outside under the stars, and your stay will be completed with a full house staff that includes a private chef.
If you’re traveling for a family reunion, a wedding, or something else that means you’ll have a lot of people together, then our Villa Quinta Clara might be the perfect option for your Riviera Maya vacation. This is a large 7-bedroom villa that can accommodate up to 14 guests including children. This villa is also in Playacar so it’s close to shops and restaurants. The beach is very close. There is a central courtyard for gathering in, a master suite that has its own terrace and infinity pool, and beautiful outdoor area centered around the pool.
Villa Casa Clara is another good choice for larger parties traveling for a Riviera Maya trip. It has 6 bedrooms and has been renovated very recently. There is a private pool that has shaded areas for relaxing in. The roof features a dining area, outdoor kitchen, and Jacuzzi. Inside there is an incredible large gourmet kitchen. The beach is literally like it’s part of the yard of this villa. Whether your traveling with friends or with family, Villa Casa Clara is an excellent option for a place to stay in Playa del Carmen.
On the other end of Riviera Maya is Tulum. This town has the only Mayan ruins that are built on the water. The area is gorgeous. There are seaside rocky cliffs that are surrounded by greenery that is native to the area. Tulum also has many cenotes for visitors to go see.
Villa Amara in Tulum is one of our luxury Riviera Maya vacation rentals. It can accommodate up to 10 guests with 5 bedrooms. Children are welcome also. The villa features a modern kitchen, media room, formal dining room, and living room. There is a house staff, including a private chef that is part of your booking. The upstairs rooms have their own terraces with beautiful views of the water. Outside there’s a grassy yard area, a pool that leads right up to the beach, sitting areas and a hammock. You’ll understand what beach living on the Caribbean Sea is all about.
Another of our Riviera Maya Villas is Villa Casa Godi in Sian Kaan. This is an area in Tulum that has a lot of historical value. The villa has 5 bedrooms and is situated on the water’s edge of the Biosphere Reserve. This villa gives guests the environment that is perfect for resting and relaxing in tranquility. A pool is located with its own terrace not far from the villa. The villa is set a little further back with decks that wrap around the structure, an outdoor dining area, lots of lounging spaces, tile floors throughout the interior, and tons of living space.
Riviera Maya Beaches
The beaches of Playa del Carmen are very popular. There is a lot to offer in this city so it’s expected that the beaches will be more crowded. The sand is soft and white and the water is warm and beautiful. Visitors can spend all day at the beach and then go out on Fifth Avenue at night.
Akumal has incredible white sand that is sheltered by reefs that aren’t far offshore. This is a place where you can get in the water with some dive gear or snorkeling gear and go swimming with the sea turtles. In fact, that’s what Akumal translates to, “place of the turtles.” Akumal is a must-see beach on your Riviera Maya trip.
Tulum has beaches that have Mayan ruins built right on them. If you want to have a day at the beach that also has some interesting historical structures as part of the backdrop then make sure to make to the beaches of Tulum.
Maya Riveira Beach Guide
Riviera Maya Vacation Planning Tips
When to Travel to Riviera Maya
You can really travel to Riviera Maya at any time of the year, but if you want to avoid the rainy season then don’t go between May and November. The very best time to visit this area is from the end of November to the end of February.
Riviera Maya Weather
Riviera Maya is hot and humid in the months of March, April and May. Then the rainy season begins and runs through to November. For the most part, the temperature in the area will stay around the upper 70s to the mid-80s. Occasionally it will get warmer than that or you might get some 60s for lows at night. There is a hurricane season that runs over the summer but this part of the peninsula doesn’t usually see much of that kind of weather.
Maya Riviera Weather Forecast
How to Get to Riviera Maya
Most people taking a Riviera Maya vacation will land at Cancun International Airport (CUN) on the airline of their choice. Then they will either rent a car and drive to their destination along the coast. Or they take a shuttle through a number of different outlets to get to their Riviera Maya vacation rental. Many places in North America have direct flights to the Cancun airport so the trip is quick and easy.
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Activities and Excursions