Riviera Maya / Cancun
If you want to enjoy the warmest sun, the waves, the reefs, and the natural wells on the Caribbean coast, then Riviera Maya is where you want to be. Stretching 100 miles, from just south of Puerto Morelos to the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, the area offers endless white sand beaches, lush jungles and ancient Mayan cities including Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba. The region once served as an important commercial and religious center of the ancient Mayas during the post-Classic period (1000-1550 AD) then became an important commercial route when the Spaniards arrived in the XVI Century. The Spanish rule, the wild jungle, pirate raids, and the difficulties to access many areas halted development in the region for many years. It was not until the decade of 1980’s that the region known as the Cancún-Tulum corridor gained in popularity.
Today, Riviera Maya boasts wonderful beaches, turquoise waters and fine white sand, archeological sites, picturesque little towns, recreation centers, freshwater lagoons, underwater caves, cenotes, and ecological sights. You’ve heard it more times than you can count: “endless stretch of pristine beach . . .” “soft white sand caressed by turquoise waves…” and now you will be immersed in this beautiful paradise! The Yucatán’s Caribbean coast reaches 380 km (236 miles) from Cancún to Chetumal, at the Belize border. The northern coast, from Cancún to Tulum and down the Punta Allen peninsula, has been dubbed the Riviera Maya; the southern half, the Costa Maya. The northern stretch—the Riviera Maya—has the most sights and attractions and includes some of the Yucatán’s most beautiful ruins and cenotes.
Things To Do
No matter where you are in the Riviera Maya you’ll find places to satisfy your urge to shop, from pricey hotel boutiques to dusty roadside markets. If you’re really serious about retail therapy in the Riviera Maya, all shopping roads eventually lead to Playa del Carmen. Snorkeling with an expansive coral reef system located just off the coast, Riviera Maya is Mexico’s top destination for snorkeling. The Great Mayan Reef, also called the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, extends for more than 965 km (600 miles) along the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula all the way to Belize. It’s the largest coral reef system in the Northern Hemisphere and the second largest in the world. Scuba Dive the coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula is home to nearly 100 coral species, 350 mollusks and 164 species of reef dwelling fish, making the area a diver’s paradise. More experienced divers may want to try cave diving, which is a specialty of many local dive schools.
Food & Culture
It’s no surprise that Mexican cuisine is recognized as one of the three most popular food styles in the world. The Yucatan peninsula has a style of food all its own which you can find in many restaurants throughout the city. The culinary delights of a typical Yucatecan kitchen come from a mouth-watering mixture of European and Mexican flavors. A lot of the dishes from this region are not spicy yet are absolutely delicious. Cancún offers a variety of tantalizing dishes to appeal to all taste buds. Dine on sizzling fajitas in lively Tex-Mex locales or fresh shrimp and lobster while being serenaded by mariachis in the seafront restaurants in the Zona Hotelera. For an inexpensive snack, graze with the locales at food stalls in Parque Las Palapas.