Favorite Activities in the Riviera Maya – Insiders Guide

We have some favorite things to do in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan that we would love to share! Some of these favorites are new, some of these favorites are old. No matter where you live in the world, neighbourhoods and cities have events and areas that become a local favorite and the Riviera Maya is no exception. What we do have to say is this. There is so much to do we find it hard to choose what to do. Sounds a bit crazy but there is so much to do in the Riviera Maya, we need a week’s vacation to fit it all in.

Our schedules are filled with family, work and house obligations so our time is limited during the week. We love to build the illusion that we have all this time on our hands to do what we want when we want, but sadly that is not true. So we looked at what we did on a regular basis that were our top favorite things to do in the Riviera Maya!

Insiders Guide to favorite activities in the Riviera Maya

playa del carmen sunday market in the colosio

1. Sundays are fun days and we try to combine a few activities into one day. One place we regularly go is Playa del Carmen where there is a local market in the residential neighborhood called the Colosial. On 56th Street, local residents put up make shift market booths and sell hardware, movies, breakfast, clothing, housewares and second-hand clothes. It is quite the ordeal and though we don’t buy something every week, we like to roam the 5 blocks of this market, grab a bite to eat and just see what is up for sale. When we are done, we hi-tail it to the beach and go for a long walk, taking in the fresh breeze and just loving being outside!

sian kaan beach on a sunday afternoon

2. If we need a break, or find we have a few hours, we take off to the Sian Kaan, the UNESCO biosphere just south of Tulum on the Tulum Beach road. We have found quite a few little beaches that are people-less, and quiet. We found then by ‘taking a left; of the main road and ending up on the beach. If you are lucky you may end up at a great snorkeling location, or a stretch of beach where no one is to be found. Bring water, a snack and make sure you have lots of gas in the car. There are no amenities in the Sian Kaan, part of the reason why we love it so much.

vallidolid cenote and restaurant

3. We have been known to hop in the car for a lunch break and take off to Valladolid for a break. Valladolid is a small colonial town in the Yucatan that has a few great restaurants, a town cenote and great little artisan shops. The restaurant at the cenote is typical Mexican fare, our favorite with some nice restaurants on the main square and a great restaurant by the Convent. You can not go wrong by just stopping at a random place and testing out their food. That is our favorite thing to do. Where ever there is a parking spot, we stop. The restaurant closest to where we parked is where we eat. If you are in the city before 1 pm, stop by the local market and have lunch there. Great local flavors that are hard to find elsewhere.

rio lagartos in the yucatan the town of rio lagartos

4. If we have a weekend, off to Rio Lagartos we go! We have friends that live in this small fishing village so we have a bit of an incentive, but we love this small village on the Gulf of Mexico. It is north of Valladolid and right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. A trip to Rio Lagartos would not be complete unless we had a boat tour to see the flamingos, something we never get tired of. Each boat trip we see a new bird species, meet a new boat captain who shares just a bit more local knowledge. We are sad to go home after a weekend but we know we will be back. The trip to Rio Lagartos through the small Mayan villages is as exciting as the village itself. It comes as a package and we love it!

riviera maya jazz festival in playa del carmen mexico

5. Our final favorite thing to do is to be spontaneous and check out local events held throughout the Riviera Maya. This is a luxury we have as a resident of the area, and love that we can easily plan attendance at the event. The Akumal Comedy Fest just ended in April 2013 and we had a great time. 4 days of laughing, hanging with friends and eating some great food. Other local events are the Riviera Maya Film Festival, The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival and Taste of Playa. If we can make it, we do. It is a great way to see what is happening, meet up with friends and make some new ones!

Our list could go on and on but these are our top 5 things to do as a local in the Riviera Maya. As the urge comes, we may take off to a local Mayan Ruin, travel to see friends up or down the coast, take off to see something that has been on our bucket list or participate in a seasonal activity like the Whalesharks in Isla Holbox. Enjoy our local favorites and see if you can join us at any of the events, locations or cities that we have fallen in love with. Check it all out here!

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