Gran Cenote in Mexico
Discover the clear blue depths of the Gran Cenote.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Your Guide to Fun in the Riviera Maya: 8 of the Best Attractions & Activities

Find Sun, Sand and Holiday Perfection in the Riviera Maya

The word “riviera” typically conjures up images of dazzling water, gorgeous beaches and refined culture. All of these things are perfectly accurate if the riviera in question is the Riviera Maya.

This long stretch of Caribbean coastline encompasses some of the best locations on the Yucatan peninsula. From Playa del Carmen to Tulum, the Riviera Maya is best summed up by its pristine beaches, bright-blue water and deliciously relaxed pace of life that lends itself perfectly to enjoying the finest Mexican cuisine and tequila.

An abundance of resorts and attractions in the Riviera Maya make it the perfect holiday destination for couples, families and travelers of all ages!

Here are the top things to do in the Riviera Maya.

Gran Cenote

Cenotes are ideal spots to visit on day trips. The limestone sinkholes are justifiably popular attractions — they are perfect spots to cool down and escape the bright Mexican sunshine. A short drive or bicycle ride from the center of Tulum, Gran Cenote is one of the most beautiful and swimmable cenotes in the Riviera Maya.

Gran Cenote is an unfathomably deep pool of the richest azure. It is fringed by lush jungle and made accessible by pretty wooden walkways. The water is exceptionally clear, which is why this is one of the top diving spots in the Riviera Maya. It’s also fantastic for snorkeling and several shallow areas mean it is great for kids as well.

Si'an Kaan reserve in MexicoSi'an Kaan is a coastal reserve teeming with fascinating plants and animals. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sia’an Kaan Park

Sia’an Kaan means “origin of the sky” in the language of the ancient Maya. This biosphere reserve on the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula is a UNESCO site celebrated for its diverse flora and fauna. It is one of the largest protected areas in Mexico and the coastal wetlands and glorious lagoons within the park are exceptionally beautiful.

A visit here will take you well off the tourist path, as it is still relatively unknown. This can be wonderfully refreshing for anyone who tires of the resorts and nightlife that dominate the towns along the coast of the Riviera Maya.

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Xel-Ha Park in the Riviera MayaXel-Ha is a stunning natural wonder that has become an eco-tourism park. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Xel-Ha Park

Xel-Ha is a natural water park and aquarium. A fabulous escape for nature lovers, astoundingly beautiful water complements the many sustainable tourism activities and eco-attractions you can find here.

Snorkel with schools of colorful fish in the coves and cenotes dotted around the park, find yourself a hammock to relax in, dine in restaurants with spectacular views of the watery wonderland, or simply splash around in the cerulean swimming spots. There are plenty of activities for the kids — they’ll love exploring every corner of this park!

Tulum ruins in MexicoTulum is a wonderful combination of photogenic scenery and history. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Tulum Ruins

Set in a town of the same name, Tulum might be the most picturesque Mayan ruins anywhere in Mexico. The structures are modest in size but perched on cliffs overlooking a slice-of-paradise beach and some of the bluest water you’ll ever see.

Tulum was once a walled Mayan city — one of the last to be built and inhabited by the Maya in the pre-Columbian era. It’s well worth visiting to discover more history in the Riviera Maya, as well as to shoot that iconic photograph of the ruins on the hill!

A cocktail in Playa del Carmen, MexicoEnjoy a margherita or two on a night out in Playa del Carmen. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Playa del Carmen Nightlife

Playa del Carmen is a hot spot for poppin’ nightlife. There is a plethora of bars and clubs on offer, so whether you want to have a classy cocktail at sunset or dance the night away in a no-frills salsa bar, there will be something for you.

Energy practically fizzes from the clubs. Check out Coco Maya or Coco Bongo for a chance to join in the fun and strut your stuff on the dance floor.

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Lion headed monkeyMake some new furred friends at the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Akumal Monkey Sanctuary

The Akumal Monkey Sanctuary gives animals rescued or donated from circuses, hotels or private homes a new chance at a happy life. As well as being committed to providing a safe and caring home for primates and other rescued animals such as brightly-colored macaws, the sanctuary is a center for conservation education and community empowerment.

For a chance to meet some adorable little monkey friends and go on a tour of the Mayan jungle, you can’t miss a visit to this sanctuary.

Woman zip-lining through jungle.Spend an afternoon flying through jungle canopies.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park

What’s the most exciting way to explore the jungle in the Riviera Maya? Hitch yourself up to a zip-line! Whizzing through the canopies, you’ll get adrenaline and great views in equal doses.

As well as zip-lines, you’ll also find hanging bridges, a climbing pyramid and the chance to rappel down into a cenote! After discovering your inner Tarzan and swinging through the jungle, you can relax with a refreshing swim in the same cenote.

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A whale shark feeds close to the surface.Swimming with the biggest fish in the world is bound to give you a thrill. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Swim with Whale Sharks

Getting into the water with sharks might be the exact opposite of what most people want when they are on a beach vacation, but seeing mighty whale sharks up close is one of the most incredible activities you can do in the Riviera Maya. The giant aquatic creatures are gentle and harmless, so there is no danger in swimming with them.

Snorkeling alongside a 32-foot shark is guaranteed to give you a shot of adrenaline and might end up being the highlight of your entire trip. Whale sharks gather in the warm waters off the coast of Cancun, so this is one of the best places in the world to swim with them.

For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can don your mask and snorkel and join a boat tour out to the sharks — make sure you take your underwater camera with you!

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