The Ultimate Guide to Riviera Maya (part 2)

Is it safe to travel to the Riviera Maya?

The Riviera Maya, nestled on the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is a sought-after destination for travelers globally. With breathtaking beaches, lively culture, and ancient Mayan ruins, it’s hardly surprising that this tropical paradise has a universal appeal. However, safety concerns can often surface when discussing travel to this region. This article examines if it’s indeed safe to journey to the Riviera Maya.

Safety in the Riviera Maya

When discussing safety, the Riviera Maya enjoys a positive reputation. A heavily touristed region, the Mexican government has invested significantly in ensuring visitor safety. The area is recognized for its low crime rate and the ubiquitous presence of police and security forces. While theft and petty crimes can occur – as they can in any tourist destination – instances of violent crime are rare.

Tourist attractions

A plethora of tourist attractions await in the Riviera Maya, catering to various tastes. Whether you prefer diving in the crystal-clear cenotes or exploring ancient Mayan ruins, there’s something for everyone. The globally acclaimed archaeological site, Chichen Itza, is particularly appealing to history and culture aficionados. This well-preserved site exhibits the remarkable architectural achievements of the ancient Maya civilization.

For adventure seekers, the Riviera Maya offers ample opportunities. Discover the underwater realm by snorkeling or scuba diving in the vivid coral reefs of Cozumel, or feel the adrenaline rush of zip-lining through lush jungle canopies. Several eco-parks, such as Xcaret and Xel-Ha, allow you to swim in cenotes, interact with dolphins, and learn about local fauna and flora.

Merida vs. Playa del Carmen

While most associate the Riviera Maya with popular spots like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it’s crucial to remember that the region is more diverse. Merida, the Yucatan state’s capital, offers a different experience altogether. Those seeking authentic and cultural immersion will find Merida particularly appealing.

Merida boasts a rich history and Mexican heritage, noticeable in its colonial architecture, bustling markets, and traditional festivals. Known for its warm and welcoming locals, visitors are always received with open arms. Playa del Carmen, on the other hand, is more tourism-focused, with a vibrant nightlife, plush resorts, and a larger international community.

Both Merida and Playa del Carmen possess unique charm and attractions. Merida offers a slower pace and insight into local culture, while Playa del Carmen presents a lively beach scene and a vivacious party atmosphere. The choice between the two ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the kind of experience you desire.

Ultimate Guide to the Riviera Maya

Considering a trip to the Riviera Maya? Do check out our Ultimate Guide to Riviera Maya series. This comprehensive guide covers everything from the optimal time to visit, top activities and attractions, and practical tips for an enjoyable and seamless trip.

Popular Activities in the Riviera Maya

Make your trip to the Riviera Maya truly unforgettable by participating in some of the region’s popular activities. Whether you’re an adrenaline enthusiast seeking adventure or a leisurely traveler looking to unwind, there is something for everyone. For inspiration and ideas, check out our article on Popular Activities in the Riviera Maya.


In summary, traveling to the Riviera Maya is generally safe. The region has heavily invested in visitor safety and maintains a low crime rate. Nonetheless, as with any tourist destination, it’s crucial to exercise common sense and take necessary precautions.

The Riviera Maya offers a broad range of attractions and activities, from uncovering ancient ruins to thrilling jungle adventures. Whether you opt for popular destinations like Playa del Carmen or prefer the authenticity of Merida, you’re guaranteed a memorable and enjoyable trip.

For further information on the differences between Merida and Playa del Carmen, refer to our detailed article on The Difference between Merida and Playa del Carmen. This will help you comprehend the unique characteristics of each destination, enabling you to make an informed decision for your upcoming trip.

So, pack your bags, soak up the sun on the picturesque beaches, and immerse yourself in the Riviera Maya’s rich culture and history. It’s time to embark on an unforgettable adventure in this tropical paradise.

What is the best way to experience the local culture in the Riviera Maya?

The Riviera Maya in Mexico is not just famous for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, but also for its rich and vibrant local culture. If you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in the spirit of the region, there are several unique ways to experience the local culture beyond the typical tourist attractions. Here are some of the best ways to dive deep into the soul of the Riviera Maya.

1. Get Lost in the Magic of the Ancient Mayan Ruins

The Riviera Maya is home to some of the most well-preserved Mayan ruins in the world. A visit to sites such as Tulum, Coba, or Chichen Itza will transport you back in time and offer a fascinating glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilization. Explore the intricate architecture, learn about their fascinating history, and marvel at the breathtaking views from atop ancient pyramids. Don’t forget to hire a knowledgeable guide who can bring the ruins to life with captivating stories and local legends.

2. Indulge in Traditional Mayan Cuisine

One of the best ways to connect with a culture is through its food, and the Riviera Maya is no exception. Explore the local culinary scene and indulge in traditional Mayan cuisine. From mouthwatering dishes like cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork cooked in a traditional underground oven), to refreshing beverages like xtabentĂșn (a liqueur made from honey and anise), the flavors of the Riviera Maya will tantalize your taste buds. Visit local markets, street food stalls, and traditional restaurants to savor authentic dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

3. Embrace the Vibrant Local Festivals and Celebrations

The Riviera Maya is known for its lively festivals and celebrations, which are deeply rooted in the region’s cultural heritage. From the vibrant Day of the Dead celebrations to the colorful Carnival parades, these events showcase the rich traditions, music, dance, and costumes of the local communities. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, join in the traditional dances, and learn about the significance of each celebration. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with locals and experience the true essence of the Riviera Maya’s cultural heritage.

4. Engage with Local Artisans and Craftsmen

The Riviera Maya is home to a wealth of talented artisans and craftsmen who create beautiful handcrafted items using traditional techniques passed down through generations. Take the time to visit local workshops and markets, where you can interact with these artisans and learn about their crafts. From intricate pottery and vibrant textiles to delicate jewelry and traditional artwork, the craftsmanship of the Riviera Maya is truly impressive. You can even try your hand at a traditional craft under the guidance of a skilled artisan, allowing you to create a meaningful souvenir to take home with you.

5. Explore Ecotourism and Conservation Efforts

The Riviera Maya is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, and the local culture is deeply intertwined with a strong sense of environmental stewardship. Engage in ecotourism activities that allow you to experience the region’s stunning biodiversity while also supporting conservation efforts. Snorkel or dive in the Great Maya Reef, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, where you can witness the incredible marine life and contribute to coral reef conservation. Explore the region’s cenotes, natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear water, and learn about their ecological importance. By participating in these activities, you not only appreciate the natural wonders of the Riviera Maya but also contribute to its preservation for future generations.

6. Connect with the Local Community

To truly experience the local culture, it’s essential to connect with the local community. Engage with the people who call the Riviera Maya their home and learn about their way of life. Seek out opportunities to volunteer or participate in community projects that aim to uplift and support the local residents. This could involve taking part in beach clean-ups, assisting in local schools or community centers, or even joining a cultural exchange program. By actively getting involved in the community, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the local culture and make meaningful connections with its people.


Experiencing the local culture in the Riviera Maya goes far beyond lounging on the beach or visiting tourist hotspots. It means connecting with the depth and richness of the region’s heritage, traditions, and people. Whether it’s exploring ancient ruins, indulging in traditional cuisine, immersing yourself in local festivals, engaging with artisans, supporting conservation efforts, or connecting with the local community, the possibilities for experiencing the vibrant culture of the Riviera Maya are endless. So go ahead, venture beyond the beaten path, and let the soul of this incredible destination embrace you.

What are some family-friendly attractions in the Riviera Maya? is here to guide you in exploring the best family-friendly attractions in the mesmerizing Riviera Maya. Known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and ancient Mayan ruins, the Riviera Maya is a paradise for families seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural exploration. Whether you are traveling with toddlers or teenagers, this awe-inspiring region has something for everyone. Let’s dive into some of the most captivating family-friendly activities you can enjoy in the Riviera Maya!

1. Explore the Enchanting Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park is an ecological theme park that offers endless fun-filled experiences for the entire family. Discover the vibrant marine life as you snorkel in crystal-clear cenotes or float down a tranquil river through an underground cave system. Explore a butterfly pavilion, marvel at the flamingos, or meet unique animals at the wildlife exhibits. Don’t miss the breathtaking evening show, showcasing the rich Mexican culture through dance, music, and acrobatics.

2. Embark on an Epic Adventure at Xel-Ha Park

For an unforgettable day of aquatic adventures, Xel-Ha Park is the place to be. This natural aquarium offers a range of activities that guarantee a memorable experience for the whole family. Begin your day by snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of the inlet, where you can witness an array of colorful fish and fascinating marine life. Take a relaxing float down the lazy river, explore hidden cenotes, or climb towering cliffs and jump into the refreshing water below. With zip lines, a children’s world, and even a floating bridge, Xel-Ha Park has something for every age and adventure level.

3. Step into the World of Mayan Culture at Tulum

A trip to the Riviera Maya would not be complete without a visit to the magnificent Mayan ruins of Tulum. With its stunning coastal setting overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Tulum offers a unique glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilization. As you explore the ruins, marvel at the well-preserved structures, including El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. Don’t forget to take a dip in the breathtaking beach below, making this cultural excursion an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

4. Dive into Adventure at Xplor Park

If your family is craving adventure, look no further than Xplor Park. This adrenaline pumping park offers a variety of thrilling activities for all ages. Fly through the treetops on ziplines, drive an ATV through lush jungle trails, and navigate underground rivers on a raft. With opportunities for swimming, exploring caves, and even experiencing nighttime adventures, Xplor Park ensures a day of excitement and memorable moments for the entire family.

5. Discover the Wonders of the Coba Ruins

Unleash your inner Indiana Jones and venture into the ancient Mayan city of Coba. This archaeological site is unlike any other, allowing visitors to climb the towering Nohoch Mul pyramid, which offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding jungle. Take a guided tour and learn about the history and significance of this ancient city, or rent a bicycle and explore the site at your own pace. Coba is not only rich in history but also provides a sense of adventure that will captivate the entire family.

6. Unwind on the Stunning Beaches of Playa del Carmen

While the Riviera Maya is renowned for its archaeological wonders, its beaches are equally breathtaking. Spend a relaxing day at the beautiful beaches of Playa del Carmen, where you can soak up the sun, build sandcastles, and take refreshing dips in the crystal clear waters. Playa del Carmen offers a vibrant beachfront with an array of amenities, including beach clubs, restaurants, and water sports activities. Take a leisurely stroll along Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), a bustling street lined with shops, cafes, and entertainment options that will keep the whole family entertained.

7. Immerse Yourself in Nature at Xcacel-Xcacelito

For a peaceful and ecologically rich experience, Xcacel-Xcacelito is a hidden gem along the Riviera Maya. This protected area is home to a pristine beach, a cenote, and a sanctuary for endangered sea turtles. Explore the jungle trails, swim in turquoise waters, and learn about the importance of sea turtle conservation. Witnessing baby turtles making their way to the sea is a magical experience that will leave a lasting impression on your family.

8. Encounter Wildlife at Croco Cun Zoo

Perfect for animal-loving families, Croco Cun Zoo offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of species. Take a guided tour of the zoo and interact with friendly crocodiles, hold colorful parrots, and meet adorable monkeys. The knowledgeable staff ensures a safe and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

9. Experience the Magic of Underwater Rivers at Rio Secreto

Delve into the mystical beauty of Rio Secreto, an underground river system that takes you on an unforgettable journey through intricate caves and crystal-clear waters. Equipped with a helmet and a wetsuit, your family can explore this hidden wonderland, marveling at stunning stalactites and stalagmites. With knowledgeable guides leading the way, learn about the history and geology of this underground wonder, creating a unique and educational experience for the whole family.

10. Enjoy a Day of Fun and Adventure at Aktun Chen Natural Park

Aktun Chen Natural Park is a nature lover’s paradise, offering a range of activities suitable for families. Embark on a guided tour through stunning caverns, witness the beauty of the rainforest on a canopy walk, and cool off in the refreshing waters of natural cenotes. Take the opportunity to observe exotic wildlife, including spider monkeys and jaguars, in their natural habitat. Aktun Chen provides an immersive experience that highlights the natural wonders of the Riviera Maya.

With its abundance of family-friendly attractions, the Riviera Maya promises an unforgettable vacation for the whole family. From exploring ancient ruins to swimming in crystal-clear cenotes and encountering captivating wildlife , there is no shortage of adventures to be had in this tropical paradise. Whether you seek exhilarating outdoor activities or a chance to relax on pristine beaches, the Riviera Maya caters to all ages and interests.

Remember to plan your itinerary in advance and check the operating hours and availability of each attraction. Additionally, make sure to pack sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, swimsuits, and plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your adventures.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your family getaway to the Riviera Maya and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. With its blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and thrilling experiences, this destination is sure to captivate and delight both young and old alike. Get ready for an unforgettable family vacation in the Riviera Maya!

What are the most popular Mayan ruins in the Riviera Maya?

The ancient Mayan civilization left behind a rich heritage in the form of remarkable ruins scattered across the Riviera Maya. As a traveler seeking to explore the mysteries and wonders of this captivating region, you might be wondering which Mayan ruins should be at the top of your bucket list. Fear not, for we have curated a list of the most popular Mayan ruins in the Riviera Maya that are sure to leave you awe-inspired.

1. Tulum Ruins

Nestled atop a cliff overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea, the Tulum Ruins are the epitome of Mayan architectural brilliance. This ancient walled city was once a prominent seaport and commercial hub. The breathtaking backdrop of the sparkling ocean makes it one of the most picturesque archaeological sites in the world. Don’t forget to pack your camera, as you’ll want to capture the beauty of Tulum from every angle.

2. Chichen Itza

Prepare to be astounded by the magnificent Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The iconic pyramid known as El Castillo (or The Castle) towers above the sprawling complex, emitting an aura of mystery and grandeur. Chichen Itza was once a thriving center of Mayan civilization and a place of pilgrimage. Exploring the intricate stone carvings and sacred cenotes will transport you back in time and leave you in awe of the Mayan culture’s architectural prowess.

3. Coba

For an off-the-beaten-path adventure, head to Coba and uncover the hidden gems of the Mayan world. Here, you can climb the towering Nohoch Mul pyramid, which offers panoramic views of the lush jungle canopy below. As you wander through the sprawling archaeological site, you’ll encounter ancient ball courts, intriguing steles, and captivating sacbeob (white roads). Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surrounding nature and feel the spiritual essence of this lesser-known Mayan city.

4. Ek Balam

Venture beyond the typical tourist trails and explore the enchanting ruins of Ek Balam. This lesser-known site boasts beautifully preserved structures, including the jaw-dropping Acropolis pyramid. Climb to the top and marvel at the intricate stucco decorations, depicting mythical creatures and gods. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a dip in the nearby X’Canche Cenote, where you can cool off in the crystal-clear waters and feel a sense of tranquility.

5. Muyil

For a more immersive and off-the-beaten-path experience, visit Muyil. This hidden gem is nestled within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a peaceful boat ride through the ancient canal system, known as “El Canal de Muyil,” and witness the remnants of the Mayan’s sophisticated water management system. The main highlight at Muyil is the El Castillo pyramid, which offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding lagoons and lush vegetation.

6. Coba

Located deep within the jungle, Coba is a captivating archaeological site that allows you to connect with nature while exploring the fascinating ruins. Rent a bicycle and cycle through the dense forest to reach the various structures scattered throughout the site. The highlight of Coba is the Nohoch Mul pyramid, standing at a towering height of 137 feet. Climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the jungle canopy, truly immersing yourself in the wonders of the ancient Mayan world.

7. Uxmal

A hidden treasure in the Yucatan Peninsula, Uxmal is renowned for its intricate and detailed architecture. The intricate carvings and impressive facades of Uxmal have earned it a UNESCO World Heritage status. One of the most notable structures is the Pyramid of the Magician, a unique pyramid with rounded edges that adds to its mystical allure. Explore the Governor’s Palace, the Nunnery Quadrangle, and the intricately carved facade of the House of the Turtles. As you wander through this ancient city, you’ll be transported back in time to a world where the Mayan civilization thrived.

8. Palenque

Journey deep into the heart of the Chiapas jungle and discover the awe-inspiring ruins of Palenque. With its ornate temples and elaborate stone carvings, Palenque exudes an aura of mystery and spiritual energy. Explore the Temple of the Inscriptions, where the tomb of the great Mayan ruler Pakal the Great was discovered. Marvel at the intricate hieroglyphics and detailed artwork that adorn the structures. As you tread through the ancient pathways of Palenque, you’ll feel an undeniable connection to the history and spirituality of the Mayan civilization.


The Riviera Maya is a treasure trove of ancient Mayan ruins waiting to be explored. From the cliffside ruins of Tulum to the majestic pyramids of Chichen Itza and the hidden gems of Coba and Ek Balam, there is no shortage of archaeological wonders to discover. Whether you’re an avid history enthusiast or simply seeking adventure, these Mayan ruins offer a captivating glimpse into the rich and vibrant past of the Maya civilization.

As you plan your visit to the Riviera Maya, be sure to include these popular Mayan ruin sites on your itinerary. Each site offers a unique experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the ancient world and marvel at the architectural genius of the Mayans. Whether you choose to explore the well-known sites or venture off the beaten path to discover lesser-known ruins, you’re in for a truly unforgettable journey.

Remember to respect the archaeological sites and follow the rules and regulations in place to preserve these ancient treasures for future generations. Embrace the sense of wonder and adventure as you delve into the mysteries of the Mayan civilization and let the ruins of the Riviera Maya transport you back in time.