Twenty years ago-- maybe less--
few tourists had even heard of the Riviera Maya and
even fewer had ever been there. Then it was the rural
Mexico of Indian villages and tiny isolated fishing
villages along the turquoise Caribbean Sea between Cancun
and the border with Belize. The villages still exist,
but many are no longer so tiny. Instead, the Riviera
Maya was created just for you, the North American and
European tourist, so you could come and enjoy Mexico's
own bit of paradise.
and beach at Tulum.
The 100 km stretch known as the
Riviera Maya is in the middle of the northern coast
of the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo.
Here the towns are smaller and there are fewer tourists
with miles of solitary virgin beaches, sparkling white
sand and crystalline turquoise waters. The second largest
reef system in the world, the Great Maya Reef, runs
along the coastline and an unrestrained "jungle"
surrounds the towns and beaches. In this part of the
Mexican Caribbean, full of exotic tropical animals peering
or flying through the branches, there are many places
to explore. A unique and complex underground river system
flows beneath the surface and surprises visitors with
magical caverns, caves and cenotes (sinkholes). There
are also hundreds of archaeological sites, remnants
of the incredible and timeless Mayan civilization, and
a spectacular and plentiful marine life.
The Riviera Maya begins 32 km
south of the Cancun International Airport and ends at
Punta Allen. The Riviera Maya is comprised of four main
- Playa del Carmen
- Puerto Aventuras
You can get to the Riviera Maya
from many North American and European gateways, often
on nonstop flights to Cancun. From there, it is a scenic
drive south to the fascinating Riviera Maya, with its
unspoiled beaches, turquoise waters, tropical jungles
and Mayan ruins. Playa del Carmen's quiet ambiance is
found after a short 45-minute drive south of the Cancun
Airport. Thirty miles further down the coast lies Puerto
Aventuras, a perfect backdrop for a leisurely vacation.
Continue south to Akumal, a nature lover's paradise.
Enjoy incredible values under the sun at a vast array
of fabulous resorts! With its close proximity to Cancun,
Cozumel and the most popular sites of the Yucatan, it's
no wonder that the Riviera Maya is a favorite of North
Time to Visit
If you want to pick the best
month for going to the Riviera Maya, it is likely to
be November. The weather is at its best and the prices
are "low season" because there are fewer tourists
The best weather for visiting
the Riviera Maya is November through February. Temperatures
tend to be in the low to mid 80s, and the humidity is
not too bad. It is the "dry season" for this
part of Mexico, with rain only falling on 6-12 days
of each month and then maybe only an inch of rain per
month. Precisely because those are the best weather
months, they are also the months with higher prices
and some of the biggest crowds of northerners escaping
the cold weather of the US and Canada.
The worse months for going to
the Riviera Maya are March through May when the discomfort
from heat and humidity is extreme. The average daily
temperature is in the low 90s, and temperatures of 106°
F are not unknown. It only begins to cool off a bit
as the rains start in May (expect rain on 10 days that
month for a total of more than 3 inches in the month).
Despite the weather, those months are also some of the
most crowded as "spring breakers" descend
on the Riviera Maya for major party time.
In the "summer months"
of June through October, the discomfort level is not
quite as bad although the heat and humidity are high
and it will be rainy quite often. Expect significant
rain on 20 or so days in each of those months. And those
are the months when hurricanes may strike in the Western
Caribbean and put a real "dampener" on a beach
See tips for dressing.
- The Riviera Maya is in the
Central Time Zone.
- Electricity is 110v, just
like in the US and Canada.
- English is widely spoken.
- US dollars are accepted in
most places. But if you want pesos, you can get them
from ATMs and banks. Banks are open Monday to Friday
from 9 am to 3 pm, some until 5 pm. A few open on
Saturdays from 10 am to 1:30 pm.
- Tipping is expected for excellent
service; in restaurants and bars, 15% is typical.
Tipping hotel maids is a very nice thing to do as
they work for low wages and your tips will be very
much appreciated. A couple of dollars per day can
make a difference in their lives and hardly break
your bank. Tipping of taxi-drivers is not expected.
- Traveling with children? Mexico
is very strict about allowing minors in who are not
accompanied by both parents. Minors traveling
with only one parent or adults other than their parents
must have a notarized letter from the absent parent(s)
authorizing them to be taken out of the country. If
the parent is deceased, a copy of the death certificate
will be required for check-in at the airport. Don't
even think about going into Mexico without this documentation.
If in doubt, ask Carole
about it when you talk to her about arranging your
travel to Mexico.
There is a two day waiting period,
and couples must present a passport or driver's license
and original raised-seal birth certificate, certified
copies of both parents' birth certificates or valid
passports, four witnesses, and blood tests not older
than 15 days. Divorced people must meet other document
requirements as well.
Resorts that offer wedding packages
may have additional requirements and typically ask couples
to be at the resort at least three business days before
the day of the wedding (e.g., check in by Tuesday for
a Friday wedding). Be sure to ask Carole
for the specific requirements in your case.
The Riviera Maya offers an 18-hole
course in Playa del Carmen, and a 9-hole course in Puerto
Golf Club is
located just 45 minutes south of Cancun, and was designed
by Robert Von Hagge. This 7,202-yard course is rated
73.1, and has plenty of tee boxes for every level
of play. It features long narrow fairways and undulating
greens that are protected by very large snow-white
sand bunkers. This course is situated next to Playa
del Carmen, in the exclusive Playacar development.
Approximate green fees are $100 - $120 for 18 holes.
Aventuras Golf Club is
a beautiful Par 36 jungle course designed in 1991
by Thomas Leman. One of the best kept secrets in the
area, the fairways and greens are covered by a smooth
carpet of Bermuda grass, and surrounded by Palm trees,
bugambilias, tropical ficus and lush foliage.
There are a wide variety of resorts
on the Riviera Maya, from ultra luxury to pretty basic
to you-would-have-to-be-desparate-to-go there ones.
Here is a selection to choose from, but there are many
others. Ask Carole
to help you pick the ones just right for you.
1 Ikal Del Mar
2 Paraiso de la Bonita Resort & Thalasso
Spa Palace (All-Inclusive)
Dorado Royale - A Spa Resort by Karisma (All-Inclusive)
5 Gala Beach Resort Playacar (All-Inclusive)
6 Grand Xcaret by Occidental (All-Inclusive)
7 Paradisus Riviera Cancun (All-Inclusive)
8 Royal Hideaway Playacar by Occidental (All-Inclusive)
9 Secrets Capri (All-Inclusive)
10 Secrets Excellence Riviera Cancun (All-Inclusive)
- Opening Fall of 2004
12 Omni Puerto Aventuras
13 Allegro Playacar by Occidental (All-Inclusive)
14 AZUL Hotel and Beach Resort (All-Inclusive)
15 Desire Resort and Spa (All-Inclusive)
16 Gran Porto Real Resort and Spa
17 The Hidden Beach Resort (All-Inclusive)
18 Oasis Akumal (All-Inclusive)
19 Royal Maeva Tulum
20 Sunscape Tulum (All-Inclusive)
21 Playacar Palace (All-Inclusive)
22 Viva Wyndham Azteca (All-Inclusive)
Dorado Resort - A Spa Resort by Karisma (All-Inclusive)
24 Viva Wyndham Maya (All-Inclusive) Soft Eco-Tourism
25 The Explorean Kohunlich (All-Inclusive)
The Rivera Maya offers an abundance
of fun in the sun activities and a more relaxed pace
than Cancun. But there is nightlife, too, in the resortsmany
of which are all-inclusive with multiple bars, alcoholic
beverages included in the price, and nightly entertainment
provided. And, you can find a good time in the small
beachside bars in the quaint fishing villages. Larger
towns, such as Playa del Carmen, have a lively bar scene.
See Riviera Maya
Activities for ideas of tours and other things to
do while vacationing in this beautiful area.
here for information on Riviera
Maya vacation package departure
dates and pricing.