Echoes of the Ancients and Glimpses of Traditional Life
Climb towards the sky on stone stairways were painted priests in feathered headdresses once trod. Ponder the mysteries of intricate stone carvings that remain hidden by the jungle for 1,000 years. Snap a beachside selfie that frames the famous Castillo de Tulum. Visit traditional farming and fishing villages to meet the modern-day descendants of the temple builders, who now follow a simpler way of life. Ride deep into the jungle to discover the sacred wells considered the gateways to the underworld. All of this and more can be discovered during a day trip that begins at the beachfront resorts of the Riviera Maya.
- Best for: Everyone, from budget to luxury travellers, spa enthusiasts, to soft and rugged adventureres
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: Tropical, with winter temperatures in the mid70s, and summer highs reaching into the 90s. East trade winds cool beachside locations. May to December sees passing rain showers, while February to early May tends to be drier
Riviera Maya Information
Cultural Activities in Riviera Maya Overview
The Yucatan peninsula is home to some of the most significant ancient Mayan cities in central America. Several of these sites can be reached by day trips from Playa Del Carmen and hotels along the Riviera Maya. Also in this area are several traditional villages that welcome visitors.
Cultural Activities in Riviera Maya Tips
The archaeological sites of the Yucatan are open to individual travelers, but many people find the experience to be more rewarding when they are in the company of a professional guide. The companies represented by Caradonna use knowledgeable guides who are well versed in the architecture and history of each site and can put a human perspective on the cultures that created these lost cities.
Best Places for Cultural Activities in Riviera Maya
The sprawling stone city of Chichen Itza includes intact temples, pyramids and stone altars once used by Mayan priests. Villages such as Leona Vicario and Puerto Morelos provide a chance to experience the region's authentic local culture. Tulum is one of the most popular archeological sites in Mexico, while the less-visited ruins of Coba remain shrouded in the jungle.
What to Pack for Cultural Activities in Riviera Maya
Comfortable walking shoes, plenty of water and a light-weight sun hat for tours of the ancient cities. A few pesos in smaller denominations for craft items in local villages, or treats purchased from street vendor's carts. A Spanish phrasebook or translation app for your smartphone.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry Requirements: All U.S. citizens are required to present a valid, undamaged passport. Visas are not required for stays less than 180 days. One blank page is required in your passport for the entry stamp.
Exit Requirements: All persons leaving the Riviera Maya, pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $30, which should be included in your International ticket.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Mexico. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at cdc.gov.
Culture and Customs
From ancient Mayan cities to strobe-lit dance clubs, and jungle-clad swimming holes to five-star beach resorts, the attractions of the Riviera Maya run the full gamut. Cancun is one of the western hemisphere's most celebrated vacation destinations, with dazzling beaches flanked by luxury resorts, clubs and upscale eateries. A half-hour to the south, the lively avenues and beach clubs of Playa del Carmen are a favorite with both backpackers and jet setters. Along a 50-mile stretch of the coast, roadside entrance gates lead through coastal greenery to exclusive golf and beach resorts, while farther on, the eclectic seaside village of Akumal remains old-school Caribbean. At the southern end of the resort corridor, the village of Tulum and its namesake beach are a favorite winter haunt of East Coast sophisticates, but savvy budget travelers can still find hostels and campgrounds that cater to the wanderers of the world. English, French, Dutch and German are often heard along the beaches, but areas to the left of Highway 307 are pure Mexico, where tacos or a helado treat can still be purchased from a street vendor for a few pesos, and life proceeds at a more relaxed and accommodating pace.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Mexico is 120 volts, 60 cycle, so no adapter will be needed for U.S. visitors. The country code for the Yucatan is 52. Check with your service provider for long distance plans. Internet service is available at many hotels, restaurants, bars and shops.
Most restaurants and bars in tourist locations use purified water. Outside of resorts, be cautious with ice in drinks or vegetables which may have been washed in tap water. Bottled water is available for purchase and is recommended for drinking and brushing teeth.
Language & Currency
Spanish is the official language of Mexico, although English is widely spoken. The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). Due to new regulations, merchants and business can no longer exchange U.S. Dollars for Pesos. That must be done at a currency exchange office. U.S. credit cards are widely accepted. Check the current exchange rate here.
Mexico spans four different time zones. February 15, 2015, the state of Quintana Roo, which includes the Riviera Maya changed to Eastern Standard Time Zone (Zona Sureste). Riviera Maya does not observe Daylight Savings Time which puts it 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-5 GMT),
Location, Size and Population
The Riviera Maya is one of the fastest growing areas in Mexico, located in the state of Quintana Roo. Situated north of Cancun, on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, this area includes the areas north of Cancun City including Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Morelos, and Felipe Carrillo Puerto which is 40 kilometers to the south of Tulum. This region is approximately 86 miles long.
The Riviera Maya encompasses a large area with a population estimated around 150,000, with cities like Playa del Carmen with a population of 118,570 and Tulum with a population of 18,370.