This coastal area of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, typical of the Caribbean Sea, receives millions of tourists to enjoy a dream vacation every year. In addition to relaxing on the beach and exploring its fantastic coral reefs, you can enjoy several of the best sites of the ancient Mayan civilization and one of the most exquisite cuisines in the world. Here is a list of the top ten places you must visit in the Riviera Maya.
Tulum is one of the favorite vacation destinations and one of the most beautiful places to explore in the Riviera Maya. Here you can see the archaeological site of a Mayan city located on top of a cliff on the transparent waters and the intense turquoise color of the Caribbean Sea. The complex of the ruins of Tulum can be visited in about two hours, and you can finish the visit by going to the beach located on the bottom of the site. Definitely one of the most spectacular sites in the world.
In addition to visiting the Cenotes and entering its caves to take photos, we recommend taking a relaxing swim or even diving. The cenotes, such as Chac Mool or Dos Ojos, are formed by caverns connected through underground rivers. Diving is always allowed with a guide. Open-sky cenotes, such as the Cenote Azul and the Gran Cenote, are perfect for snorkeling. Other Cenotes worth visiting are Samulá, X’kekén, Palomitas, Agua Dulce, Xcanahaltun, Hubiku, Suytun and Il Kil, located next to Chichén Itzá.
Visiting Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the modern world and one of the most famous places to visit in Mexico, is a must-do in the Riviera Maya. This impressive city of the ancient Mayan civilization still keeps some of its most important buildings, such as the Pyramid of Kukulkán or the Ball Game court, among others. The duration of the visit to the entire complex is around 4 hours and can be completed with a swim in the cenote Ik Kil, one of the most impressive natural sites in the Riviera Maya.
Beaches Xcacel, Xpu-Há and Akumal
The beaches of Riviera Maya, located 60 miles between Puerto Morelos and the Sian Kaan nature reserve, are among the most beautiful in the world. The beach of Akumal is the most famous of the three, and between April and October, its peak season with the arrival of sea turtles to breed. It also has several resorts with hammocks on the beachfront, and you can spot turtles while snorkeling.
Xpu-ha is another beautiful beach in the Caribbean Sea with shallow waters where you can practice a good snorkel in a quiet environment surrounded by nature. And in Xcacel, you will find a paradise of virgin beaches, without hotels, surrounded by vegetation, a cenote, and a protected area of turtles, which make it one of the most spectacular places to see in Riviera Maya.
The island of Holbox is a paradise located just over two hours from the big cities of the Caribbean coast and another of the places to visit in Riviera Maya. On this small island that you can explore on foot or by golf cart, it still gives a quiet atmosphere on its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters even though it receives many tourists every day more. Another of the best things to do in Holbox is to watch the incredible sunsets from Punta Coco, walk along the beach to Punta Mosquitos, or tour the center of town in search of fantastic graffiti that flood its streets.
The ruins of Coba are one of the most extensive archaeological sites of the Mayan civilization in Mexico, with several structures and monuments scattered throughout the jungle. However, it is perfectly feasible to explore the entire site on foot. You can rent a bike to see all its most interesting points, such as the Nohuch Mul pyramid, the highest in the Yucatan Peninsula, over 137 feet tall. From the top of the most outstanding pyramid, which is allowed to climb to its top using support ropes for its steep slope, you will have panoramic views of the ruins and the jungle.
Bacalar, which means in Mayan “place where the sky is born,” lives up to its name with the different shades of blue that water acquires throughout the day and although it may seem an optical illusion. The water has so many shades for the different cenotes distributed throughout the lagoon, which produce a variety of depths, and with the sun’s rays change color. Also known as The Seven Color Lagoon, Bacalar is located over two hours from Tulum and has become one of Mexico’s trendiest destinations and one of the places to visit in the Riviera Maya.
Izamal, located between Merida and Valladolid, is one of the most beautiful villages in Mexico and another place to visit in the Riviera Maya. This Magical Town of the Yucatan Peninsula has beautiful iconic yellow-color buildings of the center in this color. The unique places are the temple of the Immaculate Conception and the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, built on a pre-Hispanic platform. The best thing you can do in Izamal is a stroll through its photogenic old town, where you can see beautiful colonial houses and Mayan pyramids.
Isla Mujeres, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and located 8 miles from Cancun, is another place to visit in the Riviera Maya and one of the best excursions in Cancun. This island is perfect for scuba diving or snorkeling, thanks to the clarity of its waters and the magnificent coral reef. You can also rent a motorcycle or golf cart to visit the El Garrafon marine park or one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, such as Playa Norte.
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected natural area in the Caribbean and our last recommendation from the list of places to see in the Riviera Maya. In this area, you can see almost virgin beaches of white sand, mangroves, freshwater springs that spring from the bottom to a half-submerged Mayan temple. There is a great diversity of fauna such as birds of all kinds, crocodiles, manatees, turtles, dolphins, spider monkeys, pumas, and even jaguars.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com