The gorgeous Riviera Maya region has been one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Mexico over the past decade, and it's easy to see why. Stretching over 100 kilometers along the Caribbean Sea from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, the region offers the best of the Mexican Caribbean, from pristine white sand shores to exhilarating outdoor adventures to majestic relics from the Mayan civilization. With mild temperatures and plenty of sunny days, Riviera Maya beckons newlyweds, families, business groups and more all year long.
Long before it became the developing resort area, Riviera Maya was an important part of the extensive Mayan empire, one of the most highly-developed of all the Mesoamerican civilizations. Though over the Mayans were overtaken by the Spanish in the late 17th century, the Mayans made their mark on the region, and visitors can still visit a number of the historic ruins that remain today. Journey south to Tulum, where ruins of this former port city sit atop cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Or visit Chichen Itza, the 2nd most-visited archeological site in Mexico and home to the Temple of Kukulkan, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Visitors can also immerse themselves in the wonders of this ancient civilization by visiting one of the local villages or sacred cenotes, or sinkholes filled with groundwater. Tour group Dos Palmas even offers a Mayan Ceremonial Night experience during which guests participate in temascal, a pre-Hispanic purification ritual in a steam bath. Or, visit Xcaret, an eco-park that offers unique shows at its re-created Mayan village, including a nighttime ball game like the one played over 3,500 years ago.
One of the most popular attractions in Riviera Maya, Xcaret is also a haven for outdoor recreation, offering everything from dolphin swims to jungle walks to snorkeling tours to raft rides along Paradise River. Visitors can also take in the stunning scenery at Xel-Ha, a large open-sea aquarium where guests can swim, snuba and snorkel with dolphins, turtles, sting rays and more. Or take a kayak tour through the Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an, Mexico's largest preserve and home to more than 100 mammals and over 330 bird species.
Some of Riviera Maya's best scenic views can also be found right from a comfy seat in the dining room of one of the region's many restaurants. Enjoy Yucatán specialties such as papadzules, or warm tortillas filled with hard-boiled eggs and topped with pumpkin seed sauce, and cochinita pibil, or slow-roasted pork, all washed down with a cool cerveza. Or take advantage of Riviera Maya's coastal location and enjoy one of the fresh snapper or lobster dishes prepared with local spices and chili peppers. Casa del Agua, Cocina 38 and Playasia Restaurant and Wine Bar are among the top eateries to enjoy the best dishes the region has to offer.