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Riviera Maya Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated February 2023

Riviera Maya Visitors Guide
Riviera Maya Visitors Guide

Welcome to the Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya is full of treasures waiting to be explored, offering sparkling turquoise waves, picturesque cenotes and incredible ancient ruins. The region sits on the Yucatan Peninsula and stretches for nearly 100 miles of coastline through the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Riviera Maya begins just south of Cancun in Puerto Morelos and runs south through Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum and Sian Ka’an. Keep reading for everything you need to know to plan a trip to the Riviera Maya.

The Riviera Maya is full of treasures waiting to be explored, offering sparkling turquoise waves, picturesque cenotes and incredible ancient ruins. The region sits on the Yucatan Peninsula and stretches for nearly 100 miles of coastline through the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

Riviera Maya begins just south of Cancun in Puerto Morelos and runs south through Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum and Sian Ka’an. Keep reading for everything you need to know to plan a trip to the Riviera Maya.

Island Life Mexico Mexican Caribbean Map Riviera Maya Map

Mexican Caribbean Map

Where is the Riviera Maya?

Playa Del Carmen On A Map

The Riviera Maya sits on the eastern edge of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and stretches for nearly 100 miles of coastline through the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Riviera Maya begins just south of Cancun in Puerto Morelos and runs south through Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum and Sian Ka’an.

The Best Time to Visit the Riviera Maya

The tropical climate in the Riviera Maya is fairly predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83° F) it’s the rainy season that visitors should pay attention to.

The tropical climate in the Riviera Maya is fairly predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83° F) it’s the rainy season that visitors should pay attention to.

January – April

The weather is picture perfect, but “peak season” means lots of tourists and higher prices. The ocean, cenotes and swimming pools (that aren’t heated) can still be a little chilly for some.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy months of the year still offer plenty of wonderful sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. The hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean fewer crowds and lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

Many consider the autumn-winter months to be the best time to visit the Riviera Maya. The hurricane season has passed by this time, and the humidity is low. It can be a little “cool” in the evenings so bring a warming layer.

January – April

The weather is picture perfect, but “peak season” means lots of tourists and higher prices. The ocean, cenotes and swimming pools (that aren’t heated) can still be a little chilly for some.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy months of the year still offer plenty of wonderful sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. The hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean fewer crowds and lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

Many consider the autumn-winter months to be the best time to visit the Riviera Maya. The hurricane season has passed by this time, and the humidity is low. It can be a little “cool” in the evenings so bring a warming layer.

 When Is The Riviera Maya Hurricane Season?

The Riviera Maya hurricane season begins in late May and lasts until early November, with the peak in September and October. The odds of a hurricane hitting Riviera Maya are low (five hurricanes have hit the Yucatan in the past 40 years), but hurricanes traveling near Riviera Maya can still cause severe weather. Be sure to check weather reports ahead of time and get travel insurance during these months just in case.

Hurricane Season

How to Get to Riviera Maya & Around

There are a few ways to get to the Riviera Maya and around the area.

Mexico Airport

Arrival by Air

There is currently no international airport in the Riviera Maya so visitors must first fly to Cancun and then travel south to reach the Riviera Maya (see below for transport options). Cancun International Airport (CUN) is the largest airport in the region and hosts more than 20 million visitors a year.

  Search for great deals on flights to Cancun here.

Island Life Mexico

Airport Shuttles to Riviera Maya

Group or Private Shuttles can be pre-arranged to pick you up at the Cancun Airport and take you to your Riviera Maya accommodation. Group shuttles may stop at numerous hotels before yours, so this method could take a bit longer than a private shuttle (while being a bit cheaper). We recommend getting a private shuttle if you are in a group of 2 or more people.

  You can easily book ground transportation from the Cancun airport to your Riviera Maya hotel here.

Island Life Mexico

Rental Cars In Riviera Maya

Renting a vehicle in the Riviera Maya or at the Cancun airport may be the most convenient choice depending on how much exploring you plan to do on your own. It is an easy and affordable option. Rental cars can be as inexpensive as $15/day at the Cancun airport.

If you rent a car at the Cancun airport, head down the only highway southbound.

  Search for great deals on rental cars at the Cancun airport here.

Buses In Mexico

Buses in Riviera Maya

One of the most affordable transportation options to Riviera Maya is taking the ADO Bus (Autobuses de Oriente), which is easily the slowest option. You can check out the ADO bus schedule here. Busses do not stop at hotels, only at central bus stations.

Taxi In Mexico

Taxis in Riviera Maya

Taxis in the Riviera Maya are an easy way to get around. Flag them down on the road or have your hotel call one for you. Prices are around $4-$7 dollars locally. Traveling outside of town or between towns can add up though.

If you want to take a taxi to Riviera Maya from Cancun, they are everywhere on the street in Cancun and will take you straight to your accommodation. Be sure to discuss the prices in advance so you don’t get overcharged. Taxis from Cancun to Riviera Maya are convenient but can be quite expensive.

Destinations In The Riviera Maya

From North To South

There is so much to do in the Riviera Maya. It’s really easy to make each day a special experience. Here are the main cities and towns you can enjoy!

Puerto Morelos

click to see more images

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a charming beach town and quaint fishing village south of Cancun at the northern edge of the Riviera Maya. While Puerto Morelos is a smaller town, it’s known for its many luxurious all-inclusive resorts. With warm and welcoming locals, Puerto Morelos offers an off-the-radar beach experience that is just as beautiful as the more extensive resort towns. Puerto Morelos is also full of adventure opportunities like snorkeling and exploring ancient cenotes.

For more detailed information including things to do, where to stay and more, check out our Puerto Morelos Visitors Guide and our Puerto Morelos All Inclusive Resorts Guide.

Playa Del Carmen

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Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen is a jewel along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Just 30 minutes south of Puerto Morelos, the bustling town center, golden beaches, incredible amenities and nightlife are just a few of the things that make Playa del Carmen a top destination. Visitors delight in strolling down the vibrant 5th Ave, gathering souvenirs, dancing to live music and enjoying a meal at one of the countless restaurants. Want to take a day trip to Cozumel? Playa del Carmen is where you’ll find the ferry for your day trip. With proximity to nearby Mayan cultural centers and offshore islands, there’s a little something for everyone in “Playa.”

For more detailed information including things to do, where to stay and more, check out our Playa del Carmen Visitors Guide.

Cozumel

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Cozumel

What was once a secluded island hideaway, has now become one of the most recognized tropical locales in Mexico’s majestic Riviera Maya. This is Isla Cozumel. It will take around 45 minutes to get from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel by ferry. Boasting white sand beaches, coral reefs, modern amenities and an enormous swaths of wild areas, it is an island paradise in every sense of the term. If you’re looking to scuba dive and snorkel, Cozumel is the place for you, as it’s one of the top diving destinations in the world. With countless activities, both below and above the waves, your Cozumel visit will surely be one you brag about for years to come.

For more detailed information including things to do, where to stay and more, check out our Cozumel Visitors Guide.

Puerto Aventuras

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Puerto Aventuras

Puerto Aventuras is a secret that locals have been trying to keep for years. It’s easy to see why ‘Adventure Harbor’ is an off the beaten track hidden gem. This gated community has its own golf course and a beautiful harbor lined with hundreds of yachts and sailboats. You’ll also find gorgeous beaches, stunning marinas, quirky restaurants and upscale accommodations. The town is divided by Highway 307, and you’ll find most of the restaurants, resorts and entertainment east of the highway on the beachfront.

Akumal

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Akumal

For those looking for a laid-back beach town on the beautiful Caribbean Sea, Akumal is a perfect choice. Only 15 minutes from neighboring Puerto Aventuras to the north and 25 minutes from Tulum to the south, Akumal is a great place to relax and take in the natural beauty of the Riviera Maya. The name “Akumal” comes from the Mayan word for “place of the turtles,” and this town has gained notoriety for being one of the best places in Mexico to spot and swim with sea turtles. Come to Akumal if you want fantastic beaches and turquoise water without the crowds. You may never want to leave!

For more detailed information including things to do, where to stay and more, check out our Akumal Visitors Guide.

Tulum

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Tulum

Breathe it in… the salty air, the wafting of floral incense, the deep sweetness of tropical flora and fauna…exhale slowly. You have arrived in Tulum. Around 25 minutes south of Akumal and 1 hour from Playa del Carmen. The magic of Tulum lies in its ruins, laid-back vibe and its high-end accommodations, making it an extraordinary destination on the Riviera Maya. You’ll discover not only the history of the nearby Mayan ruins of the same name but also the energetic pull the city and sea have over those who come to visit.

For more detailed information including things to do, where to stay and more, check out our Tulum Visitors Guide.

Sian Ka’an

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Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an, or “the place where the sky is born” in the Mayan language, is a biosphere reserve about 20 minutes from Tulum and 2 hours and 45 minutes from Puerto Morelos. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is like taking a journey back in time where you’ll be surrounded by lush, untouched nature. The reserve consists of ancient tropical canals, a rainforest, 120 km of coastline, an abundance of wildlife, and coral reefs to delight your adventurous spirit. This extraordinary biosphere does collect an entrance fee of $5.00 USD, but it’s worth it to explore this impressive natural wonder.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When planning an international vacation, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Since your health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country, travel insurance makes sure if you accidentally break a bone or get food poisoning, your medical needs are covered. Travel insurance also typically covers you for trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), Covid issues, flight delays, missed connections and more. We think it’s a no brainer and should be factored into any international trip budget. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

Where To Stay In Riviera Maya

There are all types of wonderful accommodations in Riviera Maya. From all inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For information about all inclusive resorts in the area, check out our Riviera Maya All Inclusive Resorts Guide.

Isla Mujeres Hotel Guide, The Best Hotels In Isla Mujeres

For the best Riviera Maya all inclusive resorts, check out our Riviera Maya All Inclusive Resorts Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Mexican Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a list to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Mexico Vacation Guide.

What To Pack For Your Mexican Vacation

Check out our Packing List For Beach Vacation!

Find The Best Riviera Maya Flights

Finding the best flights to Riviera Maya (via Cancun or Cozumel) shouldn’t be hard. We think the Kayak travel search engine is the best way to start. We’ve put together a quick guide to searching for the best flights using Kayak. Check out our Finding The Best Flights Guide.

Kayak Flights

Check out our Finding The Best Flights Guide!

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