The Mayan Riviera, in the Mexican Caribbean, has so much to see that sometimes when travelling there you can feel lost with so much on offer, not knowing where to begin! Here we’ll put together a list of ‘essentials’ but don’t worry if you can’t see everything. It will give you an excuse to arrange a second trip to the Mayan Riviera in the future!
Chichén Itzá is the most famous Mayan city in the world. Located in the state of Yucatán, 128 km from Mérida on the way to Cancun, it is visited by over a million tourists every year. In 1988, UNESCO included Chichén Itzá on the World Heritage List. In 2007 it was included among the Seven New Wonders of the World.
Not to be missed: undisputedly the most important event at Chichén Itzá is the Spring Equinox. The Pyramid of Kukulcán is built in such a way that on March 21, when the sun rises, its rays shine on the edge of the stairs and the shadow that is projected on the main stairwell is the figure of a descending snake, which eventually meets the plumed head at the lower part of the building. This is also visible during the Autumn Equinox, on September 21, and also a couple of days before and after these two dates.
Cenotes are natural formations, profound, flooded caves that receive sunshine from the outside and appear as impressive natural swimming holes. They are ideal for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving. They seem to be magic and were sacred places for the Mayas. The waters are crystal clear and you can dive in the underground waters and enjoy the magnificent visibility. There are nearly 7,000 cenotes on the Mayan Riviera, a phenomenon that is exclusive to the Yucatán peninsula.
Tip: the most impressive cenote might be the Multun Ha. It is not openly visible but must be accessed via a spiral staircase taking you underground. A true experience!
Xel Há is an impressive water park on the Mayan Riviera. It is known as the world’s largest aquarium, thanks to its cenotes, caves and lagoons.
At Xel Há park you can swim with dolphins, go scuba diving or snorkeling, use the Snuba Cenote, work up your adrenalin on the zip glides or simply enjoy the beach.
Tulum is another Mayan city, being the only one on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. It is a rather small archaeological site and yet it is the third most visited destination in Mexico. Here you can see beautiful landscapes thanks to the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and the green of the forests. The ruins are located on a cliff facing the sea. Tulum has great beaches with turquoise waters and fine, white sand. They are renowned for their tranquility, extension and because they are virtually untouched.
These are only some of the places you should not miss. We have left a few out in order not to make this too long! A second part will soon follow. The Mayan Riviera has so much more to offer!
“IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts has 7 hotels on the Mayan Riviera, distributed between Playa del Carmen and Playa Paraíso, two of the most beautiful settings in the area.”