It’s no secret that Mexico is a big favorite when it comes to vacationing; the Riviera Maya has something for every type of traveler, whether you want full relaxation at a luxurious all-inclusive resort (like the adults-only place we stayed for Noah’s 30th) or a fun filled day out. Itchy feet are bound to happen after hanging around at a resort day after day, and therefore Mexico is an ideal vacation spot: you can relax one day and spend the next day exploring. My kinda trip! There really is so much to see and do in this region of of Mexico, and I promise you’ll never be bored with all the things to do in Riviera Maya!
Join me and Monica from We Travel Together as we dive into our favorite things to do in Riviera Maya! Start packing your swim suit and sunscreen – we know you’ll be booking a trip there soon. 😎
Best Things to do in Riviera Maya
Things to do in Riviera Maya: Activity Parks
Around the Riviera Maya region of the Yucatan there are several activity parks to choose from, and they are fun for all ages.
- Xel Ha
This was one of our favorites as it’s an all-inclusive park where you can eat and drink during your time in the park. You can go snorkeling, float down the river in a tube, explore a cave, jump from a cliff, go zip-lining, and so much more, and the best part: they are all included in your ticket.
There are also some optional activities too, as swimming with dolphins, walk on the bottom of the sea (Sea Trek), go snuba in the sea or in a cenote, stingray or manatee encounter, enjoy some relaxing spa time, or experience a full-speed adventure in the sea. Like we said – so much to do.
Here you get the option of paying for the admission or a plus ticket where you get some extras such as food, drinks and you can also enjoy the plus facilities. It’s quite similar to the Xel Ha, with the same optional activities, but here you can swim with sharks too!
They also have an evening show; Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, which you shouldn’t miss out on. It does cost extra and you can also choose to enjoy it with dinner that combines the flavors and aromas of Mexico. It’s an action filled show and a great way to learn more about Mexico and the Mayan history.
Another fun-filled park is Xplore, where you can enjoy six incredible activities: zip-lines, amphibious vehicles, rafts, swimming in underground rivers, spelunking and hammock splash. Lunch buffet and unlimited beverages are also included. Since you will be walking in caves all day you’ll be wearing a helmet – how fun and stylish (and safe!)
- Jungle Maya
This is a bit different from the other parks, as you are a part of a group. There are so many experiences to bbq had during your time in the Jungle Maya Park! You’ll rappel down and swim in a natural underground pond filled with crystal clear water and beautiful and awestruck rock formations. Here you can also zip-line over the forest, snorkel in a cavern, ride through the rain-forest on an all-terrain Mercedes Benz, meet a local shaman and witness a Mayan purification ceremony, and enjoy a traditional meal.
Doesn’t it seem like you could spend weeks just exploring the Nature Parks?! But that won’t leave time for all of the other things to do in Riviera Maya!
Things to do in Riviera Maya: Mayan Ruins
While visiting Mexico and the Riviera Maya you should see more of the history and the Mayan people. There are some great Mayan ruins that really deserve a visit. You can rent a car and drive on your own, join a bus tour, or go on a private tour (beat the crowds!)
- Chichen Itza
This is probably the most well known ruin in Mexico and one of the most fantastic things to do in Riviera Maya! The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen-Itza (known as “El Castillo”), is listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World! Join a guided tour or go explore on your own (you can rent simultaneous translation equipment if you prefer that). Note that climbing the ruins at this site is not allowed anymore.
- Ek Balam
Ek Balam is another Mayan ruin located on the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s less crowded than the famed Chichen Itza and you can climb the ruins here. Some of the ancient buildings at this place are downright amazing. See it for yourself.
Each Mayan city had a specific purpose, and Tulum was no exception. It was a seaport, trading mainly turquoise and jade, and is the only Mayan city built by the sea. Bring your swimwear and head down to the beach for a refreshing dip in the ocean after exploring the ruins. You’ll encounter one of the most beautiful beaches I can guarantee it!
Things to do in Riviera Maya: Cenotes and Diving
The Riviera Maya is the perfect destination for divers looking for various dive sites. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, also popularly known as the Great Mayan Reef is located right off the coast. It’s the second largest barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef). In addition to the reef you have the cenotes in Mexico: large natural sinkholes, underground rivers, and cave systems – a unique experience that attracts divers from all around the world!
If diving is your thing, you’ll want to experience an underground dive at least once in your life! Non divers don’t fret! You still have the option of going for a refreshing swim or snorkeling – the water visibility is breathtakingly clear, so you should not skip this when visiting this beautiful part of the world.
Things to do in Riviera Maya: Shopping
If you’re looking for designer and luxury brands then Cancun is the place to be. Hunting for a bargain or two? Take a look at Playa del Carmen and it’s 5th Avenue – the main shopping road in Playa del Carmen. Here you’ll find hundreds of restaurants, bars, shops and clubs.
For other local markets ideal for shopping for souvenirs consider visiting Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, or Tulum.
Things to do in Riviera Maya: Nightlife
Mexico is a popular destination for spring break, and ever year thousands of American students escape to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, so we know this is a great place if you want a night out. Don’t miss out on Coco Bongo – we should probably given it a chance. Maybe next time! If you’re not in the mood for partying, sunsets are always a pretty fantastic alternative. 🙂