I started this article with a list of places to go and things to do, cenotes, Folk Art Museums, archeological sites, eco parks, all areas that matter in the Riviera Maya. These places and things to do are what define the Riviera Maya and have put it on the map.
But when thinking about what really matters, I had a very different thought. What really matters in the Riviera Maya are the people, not the places and the things to do. What makes this area different are the people who come here, live here, and make up local communities.
Places that really matter are the where people connect.
My list has changed from places to go, to places that have made a difference in the lives of those who live here. That is what matters, the connections, the friendships, the neighbors that truly define the Riviera Maya.
If you are familiar with the Riviera Maya you know this coastal area in Mexico is an incredible melting pot. People from all over Mexico have settled in the area making this a wonderful cultural haven of everything you can find in Mexico.
Additionally, foreigners from all over the world have laid roots in the area. Europeans, Canadians, Americans, Cubans, Africans, and Chinese have set up businesses or retired to this beautiful part of Mexico.
What we love about this cultural mix is the variety of community service organizations that have been built either by the federal government, church missions or locals who want to fully participate in their communities. These are the places that matter. These are the places where real, true connections are made in the various communities that line the Caribbean Coast.
El Mundo Para Puerto Morelos – This organization was formed after the 2005 Hurricanes swept through the area. Local schools were out of water, and their bathrooms did not function. The local community asked one question: what will it take to have bathrooms and running water at the local school. The answer was time and money. Leveraging the close network of Puerto Morelos, the money was raised, the work was completed and the organization El Mundo de Puerto Morelos was born. To this day schools, essential services, sustainability projects and cultural programs are supported by volunteers, financial donations and gifts in kind.
Seaside Rotary Club Playa del Carmen – This international organization facilitates meaningful and productive service. With over 40 active members, and more volunteers, the SRC works closely with two local community projects and donates money to many more initiatives. Kicks4Kids, Red Cross, KKIS (Keep Kids in School) and Casa Yoliguani are just a few of the initiatives supported by this group. Their fundraising events provide a charitable and social outlet for local English speaking residents who want to be involved in thier new community. Their impressive track record of assisting community-based, non-profit, volunteer, public service, or charitable organizations with programs that benefit children, youth and families, through education, improvement of infrastructure, and access to health benefits within the communities makes this a place that matters.
Tulum Limpio (Clean Tulum) – This organization focuses on the environment. Through education, community participation and local action committees, Tulum Limpio is balancing the delicate interaction between the environment and a thriving economy. Their mission is the following: To have a positive impact on the economy, tourism and quality of life while maintaining a cleaner city and protecting the environment. This is done through a collective awareness of the national heritage and value of local lands. Their latest project was the creation of city garbage cans that were painted by local artists.
Hebak Be Library Akumal – This community library is more than just books. Hekab Be is a community-based library that serves locals and visitors alike. It aims to educate, nurture and support through community events and the love of reading. This library is solely supported by the generous donations of library friends and visitors. Their fundraisers are truly community events and their ongoing dedication to both the Spanish and English speaking communities a true blessing.
What places in the Riviera Maya matter to you? Have a look at our Giving Gringos page to find more community organizations in the area.