The Riviera Maya is a section of Caribbean coastline along Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula that stretches from Puerto Morelos to as far south as Punta Allen. Some of the country’s most impressive Mayan archaeological sites, pristine beaches, snazzy resorts and amazing natural wonders dot the region, which is fast becoming one of Mexico’s favourite places to visit.
Many visitors start their journey along the “Mayan Riviera” in the resort town of Playa del Carmen, where you’ll find excellent restaurants, nightlife and beaches. It’s just a short hop on a ferry from here to the island of Cozumel – rich in history, unspoiled jungles and world-famous dive sites.
Dolphinaris, just a 3-minute drive from the ferry port, is a popular attraction that offers you a unique opportunity to swim and play with trained dolphins. The Museum of the Island of Cozumel (Museo de la Isla de Cozumel) in the island’s biggest town of San Miguel will teach you everything you want to know about the fascinating history of the Olmec and Mayan civilisations on Cozumel, as well as how the marine park which surrounds the island developed.
The Chankanaab National Park in the south of the island is home to amazing scenery, huge botanical gardens and numerous health spas while Palancar Beach has waters so clear that you can spot fish from the shore. On Cozumel’s southern tip, the outstanding Punta Sur Ecological Park is a natural wonderland that houses a marvellous mixture of native animal species including crocodiles, giant turtles and a couple of hundred species of bird.
If you want to see some of the Yucatán’s famous Mayan ruins then head back to the mainland for some of most inspiring sites in the whole of Latin America. The dramatic Tulum Mayan Ruins, perched high on a beautiful piece of Caribbean coastline are a truly unforgettable sight while the 1,000-year-old Chichen Itza site is one the most celebrated archaeological sites in the world, containing lovingly restored pyramids and temples.
The Riviera Maya has a year-round tropical climate with temperatures averaging 34 C. Getting around is easy with a wide range of transport available, ranging from private buses to limos and the mini-van “colectivos” popular with the locals.