Riviera Maya – A Caribbean Paradise
The Riviera Maya or Mayan Riviera has become well-known for its all-inclusive high-end luxury resorts which make this region on the southeast coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula an extremely popular tourist destination.
With Cancún to the north, the Riviera Maya stretches from Puerto Morelos to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. As the region has also become increasingly popular with more wealthy tourists, the number of boutique hotels and up-market fine dining restaurants have grown and as the luxury travel market has developed and increased so has the opportunity to charter yachts and rent luxury villas.
The beautiful Caribbean coastline along the Riviera Maya not only has some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches; many would argue perhaps the best in Mexico, but also the second largest coral reef in the world (The Great Maya Reef or Mesoamerican Barrier Reef), which stretches over 600 miles and is home to over 500 species of marine life. All of this of course means that water sport activities are prevalent. The most popular being scuba diving and snorkelling thanks to the extensive coral reef system that has made it one of the top destinations in the world and where you can even go swimming with dolphins.
Whilst sailing and jet skiing are also popular you might want to take a break from the beach and water on the odd day and explore other parts of the region. For those of you with a head for heights, you may like to have a go at zip-lining or go horse riding. But for a more relaxing day out you may be tempted to play a round of golf on one of the excellent golf courses. On the other hand if shopping is more your thing then a visit to Playa del Carmen is your best bet. The town is also known for its excellent restaurants and vibrant nightlife.
If you have an interest in archaeology, there are a number of archaeological sites such as Tulum on the coast or the ruins at Chichen Itza and Coba further inland.
So when is the best time of the year to visit the Riviera Mayo? Well the rainy season runs from May through to November, however the sea averages a constant and warm 26°C (79°F) in January, going up to around 29°C (84°F in August).
Getting to and from the Riviera Maya is pretty straightforward as the region is served by Cancún International Airport about 50 kilometres or 31 miles north of Playa del Carmen, and is the second largest airport in Mexico. If you are visiting from Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand you do not need a visa to enter Mexico, but you will need a valid passport and preferably a return ticket. Whilst there are plenty of taxis, they tend to be on the expensive side and if you are renting a villa you may choose to hire a car instead, giving you more flexibility during your stay. The main road between Cancún and the Riviera Maya is a modern four lane highway.
In summary there really is just so much to see and do in the Riviera Maya and I have only highlighted some of the main areas of interest. For example you might want to enjoy one of the renowned spas and sweat lodges as the region is a top spa destination or trek into the jungle and interact with the animals and plants in their natural habitat. But whatever you do decide to do you are sure to come away wanting more. So do make sure you allow plenty of time on your holiday to take in some of the wonderful sights this beautiful region has to offer.
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-chief of Luxury Travel Website www.omotg.com