Newsletters  | Mobile

Things to do in Riviera Maya

Beyond the beaches (those in Playa del Carmen are the most beautiful, while those in Tulum tend to be more quiet), there are lots of nature- and history-focused things to do in the Riviera Maya. Coral reefs are a major draw here; so is Xel-Há, a private park where you can swim with parrotfish and manta rays. Nature lovers will want to also consider making a phone reservation with the office of Flora, Fauna y Cultura to watch turtles lay eggs on the sand (July through September). Wildlife spotting is equally on the itinerary at Laguna Yal-Kú, which runs inland all the way to the sea. You can rent snorkel gear and life jackets to get a better view of the colorful fish, but keep in mind that park rules forbid the use of sunscreen to protect the lagoon's delicate ecosystem. Ancient ruins abound in the Riviera Maya (consider renting a bike to get around). One highlight: The Cobá Ruins, which are extensive, so be prepared to walk a lot. Local Rivera Maya culture is just as vibrant—it's worth stopping by the fisherman's cooperative, which operates four-hour fishing and snorkeling trips; the funds go back to the community.

  • 1.5 Tequila Lounge

    Between the international pier and Punta Langosta, this good-looking bar (with a crowd to match) sits right on the waterfront and is named for the ... More
  • Ah Cacao Chocolate Café

    Get your fix of Mayan criollo chocolate—bitter and complex, with hints of fruit, smoke, and vanilla, a “food of the gods” that’s exponentially rich... More
  • Alltournative

    Run by a group of Playa del Carmen adventurers dedicated to sustainable tourism, this company works with Mayan communities to preserve their herita... More
  • Alma Libre Bookstore

    Snap up beach reads, bestsellers, classics, tomes on Maya culture, and local guidebooks and maps—the largest selection of (mostly used) English-lan... More
  • Alux Restaurant & Lounge

    Bargoers here, a short taxi ride from Mexico’s Playa del Carmen, descend by candle-lined stairs into a subterranean lounge, trying to recall the li... More
  • Aquanauts Dive Adventures

    Divers shouldn’t miss an excursion to see the first phase of artist Jason de Caires Taylor’s underwater sculptures series, a collection of 400 sunk... More
  • Blue Parrot Beach Club

    The Blue Parrot dates to 1984, making the club one of Playa del Carmen’s elder statesmen. What started as a casual hotel and bar now includes the 5... More
  • Bodegas Pérez Cruz

  • Cenote Escondido

    Many cenotes—sinkholes in the subterranean rivers that riddle the Yucatán—are either limited to divers or overrun with crowds, but not this 15-by-1... More
  • Cobá

    Once the most powerful Mayan city-state in the northeastern Yucatán, this 26-square-mile site, crisscrossed by raised limestone roads called sacbéo... More
  • Colors Collection Boutique

    On an unassuming side street, this little shop run by two sisters—owner Beatriz Urtuzuastegui and Victoria Lemus, the attentive but unobtrusive man... More
  • Croco Cun Interactive Zoo

    Tangle with a snake, feed a peccary, walk through a crocodile den, and be accosted by an affectionate spider monkey at this 150-acre nature reserve... More
  • Darlene Mulkewich

    Special Booking: A couple requesting a fun adventure were chauffeured to the top of Haleakala at dawn, and then coasted down on bicycles that had b... More
  • Discover Mexico Park

    Cozumel's new "culture park" provides an intriguing window into the Mexican Republic. In the screening room of the eye-catching modern building, yo... More
  • Diving the Waters of Cenote Taj Maja

    Where It Is: The limestone bedrock that underlies Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is pocked with freshwater-filled sinkholes called cenotes. For divers,... More

Explore things to do in Cancún + The Riviera Maya for more options.


Sign Up

Connect With Travel + Leisure
  • Travel+Leisure
  • Tablet
  • Available devices

Already a subscriber?
Get FREE ACCESS to the digital edition