Destinations Homepage - Links & information for the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
The Riviera Maya — Where is it?
The Riviera Maya, also known as the Mayan Riviera is a 130 kilometer long stretch of Caribbean coastline that runs between the resort city of Cancun to the north, down to the Mayan ruins of Tulum at its southern end. The Riviera Maya is in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico's most eastern state on Mexico's most eastern body of land—the Yucatan Peninsula. The Riviera Maya is part of the Mexican Caribbean which describes the entire Caribbean coast of Mexico from Cancun down to Quintana Roo's capital city of Chetumal, and the southern border with Belize, Central America. The island of Cozumel, Mexico's largest island, is also part of the Mayan Riviera.
Carretera (highway) 307 traverses the length of the Riviera Maya with roads shooting off at right angles to various beach side resorts, vacation communities, undeveloped beaches and lagoons. The highway continues south through road-side Quintana Roo towns and the access point to the coastal town of Mahahual and Xcalak [La Costa Maya]. From the highway a few roads go inland, west, to rural town, Mayan ruins, cenote freshwater pools and the state of Yucatan or Campeche where Spanish Colonial towns wait to be discovered by the more adventurous traveler seeking the deeper culture of Mexico and the Maya. Yucatan state and Campeche comprize the western part of the Yucatan Peninsula and in many ways are a world apart from the Riviera Maya. The Riviera Maya and the entire Yucatan Peninsula are world class tropical destinations providing history, adventure and tropical luxury.
Riviera Maya road map Yucatan Peninsula road maps
Towns and Destinations
Akumal is known as The Place of Turtles, but could just as easily be called The Place of Magic because of its ability to make all your worries and stress disappear. "Las Bahías de Akumal" or "The Akumal Bays" are a series of six bays starting at Yal-Ku Lagoon to the north and ending at Aventuras Akumal to the south.
Laguna Bacalar, a turquoise ribbon winding through the jungle, is a gateway to some of the Yucatan's most fantastic archaeological sites. Visit the Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar in Bacalar town, built in 1729 to protect the pueblo from pirates. During the War of the Caste the fort was used as a point of defense against Maya who besieged the village, massacred the local population and left the fort in ruins. Since then it has been restored and now has a museum.
Celestun Wildlife Refuge is a 146,000 acre biosphere reserve spans the border between the states of Campeche and Yucatan on the west coast of the Yucatan peninsula. It is one of few places in the world where you can see thousands of pink flamingos en masse, in the wild. The road to Celestun goes through lots of small villages that never see tourism but if you follow the Celestun and Campeche signs it's easy to find.
Chichen Itza was one of the greatest Maya centers of the Yucatan during the 10th Century A.D., today it is the most visited ruin site in Mexico. It includes one of the new 7 wonders of the world; the Kukulkan Pyramid. The site exhibits both Maya and Toltec architectural styles as well as their knowledge of astronomy.
Shake off society's restraints and set your sail for the Gulf of Mexico, if you dare. Travel light because Isla Holbox is a little tricky to get to. Isla Holbox harkens back to the old days of sandy streets, cool accommodations (a few with AC) and warm people. It's not for everybody and that's just fine. But for the adventurous, this could be paradise found. Don't miss the seasonal trips to see the whales sharks!
No, Mahahual is not in the Riviera Maya. It is the Costa Maya's newest tourist town on the Mexican Caribbean. Mahahual is at a fledgling stage of development but growing rapidly as more interest is focused on nearby natural assets. The center of town is actually quite small but beaches stretch north to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve and south to the coastal town of Xcalak, last stop before Belize, C.A.
Mérida, nicknamed "The White City", was founded in 1542 by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Montejo, after marching across the peninsula from the Mayan port of Xel-Ha. Mérida has the one of the largest centro historico districts in the Americas. Large and small colonial homes line the city streets to this day, in various states of disrepair and renovation. Points of interest in Mérida are its zocalo central (central square), museum, markets, churches, many stores, and nearby haciendas, Mayan ruins. Progresso is the nearest beach on the Gulf of Mexico.
Playa del Carmen is one of the fastest growing, most fun towns in the Caribbean. An international mix of fun loving travelers come here to party, enjoy the beach and just generally immerse themselves in the tropical splendor. To the south of Playa and right next door is Playacar, with beach houses, all-inclusive resorts, golf, Xaman-Ha Aviary & Plaza Playacar.
Puerto Aventuras is a gated luxury marina community offering condominiums, hotels and luxury Caribbean front villas to vacationers. It has a wonderful beach and a wide selection of restaurants, gift shops, several dive centers, fishing boats, a couple sailboat tours and day adventure land tour operators.
The name Uxmal means 'thrice-built' in Mayan, referring to the construction of its highest structure, the Pyramid of the Magician. The Maya would often build a new temple over an existing one, and in this case five stages of construction have actually been found. Uxmal was one of the largest cities of the Yucatán peninsula, and at its height was home to about 25,000 Maya.