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Pool, Gran Bahia Principe Tulum, Riviera Maya

Gran Bahia Principe Tulum, Riviera Maya

What is Riviera Maya?

New tourists to the east coast of Mexico often wonder – what is Riviera Maya?  Today it’s a stretch of coastline filled with all inclusive resorts from Cancún to Tulum.  Some people will argue that Cancún isn’t part of Riviera Maya, but you won’t be able to tell the difference.  Cancún is much larger than the other towns south of it, though.  The Riviera Maya covers more than 2 hours of driving along the coast.

Cliff Jumping, Xel-Há Tulum Tour, Riviera Maya

Cliff Jumping, Xel-Há Park

The town of Playa del Carmen is in between Tulum and Cancún.  From Playa del Carmen you can catch a ferry to Cozumel.  Check for travel advisories though, because there was a bombing on the Cozumel ferry in 2017.  The Sian Ka’an Biosphere marks the southern end of the Riviera Maya.

Beach, Tulum Ruins, Xel-Há Tulum Tour, Riviera Maya

Beach, Tulum Ruins

Theme Parks

Riviera Maya has several large theme parks.  You can buy tickets including bus transportation from most major hotels and resorts or pre-book online with the links here.  In the Playa del Carmen area, Xcaret, Xenses and Xplor are popular theme parks.  Xcaret, Xenses and Xplor theme parks are right beside each other.  In the Tulum area, try the Xel-Há Park.  Read the Xel-Há Tulum Tour blog for more information.

Riviera Maya Weather

Riviera Maya weather is humid and warm on a year round basis.  From May to September average highs are 91 (33 C) and average lows are 77 F (25 C).  In the winter months from December to February, the average highs are 83 F (28 C) and average lows are 70 F (21 C).  Rainfall is very slight from February – April and is heaviest in September and October.  The excellent Riviera Maya weather in February makes it extremely popular.  Christmas and spring break are also very popular.  The best rates for this area are from August to October, but there’s a reason for this – hurricane season.

Kukulkan Pyramid, Chichén Itzá Tour, Riviera Maya

Kukulkan Pyramid

Mayan Ruins

The Tulum Mayan ruins are right along the highway on the waterfront in Tulum.  You can see them on a Xel-Há Tulum Tour that includes bus transportation from your hotel.  The more impressive Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá will take a full day bus tour to visit.  Read our Chichén Itzá blog for details on a visit there.

Zip-line, Xel-Há Tulu Tour, Riviera Maya

Zip-line, Xel-Há Park


A cenote is a freshwater pool naturally set in a cavern of limestone.  Cenotes are very common in the Riviera Maya and many theme parks have small cenotes.  Some of the major cenotes in along the east coast are Cenote Dos Ojos, Rio Secreto and Cenote Chaak Tun.  Check with your hotel for a cenote near you.  You will also find lots of cenotes around Chichén Itzá if you visit the Mayan Ruins there.

Swim Up Bar, Gran Bahia Principe Tulum, Riviera Maya

Swim Up Bar

Riviera Maya Hotels

Gran Bahia Principe Tulum Beach

Gran Bahia Principe Tulum Beach

Riviera Maya Tours

Theme Park & Cenote Tours regularly pick up at all the hotels along the Riviera Maya.  Tours are easily booked at hotels and resorts, so most people don’t rent cars for their vacation.  For the adventurous, colectivos (shared taxi vans) operate all along the main Riviera Maya highway and are very inexpensive.  Be prepared to speak some Spanish if you want to reach your destination in a colectivo.

Get to Riviera Maya

Cancún International Airport (CUN) is the way people get to the Riviera Maya.  The airport has grown in size to deal with the steady stream of winter visitors from Canada, the United States and even Europe.  Vacation package resort buses are the most common way to get to hotels.  These can be full size motor coaches that deliver resort guests as far as 2 hours from the airport.  The buses typically stop at a series of hotels, which makes the trip lengthy.  Be careful to get on the correct bus, because timeshares sellers will load you on their free shuttles.

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