10 Epic Excursions in Riviera Maya for Your Dream Vacation

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In today’s post, 10 best excursions in Riviera Maya, I will help you complete a trip to one of Mexico’s most famous jewels, which I’m sure you will fall in love with as soon as you arrive.

In this marvelous part of the Quintana Roo coast, you can enjoy white sand beaches and turquoise waters, cenotes, coral reefs, ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization, hotels with all the amenities, and one of the best cuisines in the world.

With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant culture, this enchanting region offers an array of unforgettable experiences.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a history buff, or someone who loves to relax and soak in natural beauty, the Riviera Maya has something special for you.

Where exactly is the Riviera Maya?

The Mexican Riviera Maya is located along the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the eastern part of Quintana Roo.

It stretches from the town of Puerto Morelos in the north to the village of Punta Allen in the south, covering approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) of coastline.

The region includes popular tourist destinations such as Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel Island.

The area is known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs, cenotes (natural sinkholes), and Mayan archaeological sites.

10 Top Excursions in Riviera Maya

1. Excursion to Chichen Itza

best excursions riviera maya

Visiting Chichen Itza, the most famous Mayan ruin and one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is one of the best Riviera Maya excursions.

This archaeological complex has several buildings and structures such as the Pyramid of Kukulkan or the impressive Ball Game, which will take you back to the greatest splendor of the Mayan civilization.

As it is the place that receives most tourists in Mexico, it is advisable to arrive early in the morning, taking into account that they open at 8 am, to enjoy the site more quietly and to take pictures without many people.

Secure your spot in Chichen Itza!

The duration of the visit is usually between three and five hours, depending on the time you spend at the site, and can be completed with a swim in one of the most spectacular cenotes: Ik Kil, which is very close to the archaeological site.

To get to Chichen Itza, you can take a bus from the ADO bus station in Cancun or Playa del Carmen if you don’t have a rental car.

2. Excursion to Tulum

best excursions riviera maya

In Tulum, you will find the typical postcard of the Caribbean where you can see the castle of an ancient Mayan city, located on the edge of a cliff, on a white sand beach and turquoise waters.

Visiting the Mayan ruins of Tulum will take you about 2 hours. It is advisable to bring your swimsuit to finish with a refreshing swim on the beach below the ruins, one of the most famous in the world.

If you have extra time you can walk to one of my favorite beaches in Riviera Maya, the spectacular Playa Paraiso, and have lunch or a drink at one of the restaurants on the seafront.

To get to the ruins, if you are not staying in Tulum, you can take a bus to the city and catch one of the vans (Colectivos) that will take you in a few minutes to the ruins.

Another more comfortable way to get to Tulum is to book a tour with a bilingual guide, which will pick you up directly at your hotel.

3. Excursion to Coba in the Riviera Maya

top excursions to riviera maya
Coba Ruins

The ruins of Coba are one of the largest Mayan sites in the Yucatan Peninsula, with several structures and pyramids scattered throughout the jungle, which can be easily explored on foot or by bicycle.

Its most outstanding place is the Nohuch Mul pyramid, the highest in the Yucatan at 43 meters high, where you can climb to the top using support ropes because of its steep slope, and from where you will have magnificent views of the area.

This archaeological complex is little reconstructed and fewer tourists arrive than in Chichen Itza or Tulum, so it is a great excursion in Riviera Maya and one of the best things to do in Yucatan.

To get to Cobá, if you don’t have a rental car, you can take an ADO bus, which will drop you off near the entrance.

Another option to learn more about the history of the archaeological complex is to book a tour.

4. Holbox, one of the best excursions in Riviera Maya

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Holbox is a small paradise and another of the must-see places in Riviera Maya.

Its white sand beaches, transparent waters of an intense turquoise green, and sunsets are to be remembered.

All the points of interest can be visited on foot or by renting a golf cart, since motor vehicles are not allowed in Holbox, making it a very pleasant destination for relaxation.

Note that depending on the season you can swim with the great whale shark, see the turtles nesting on its beaches or take the bioluminescence tour, where you will be amazed by the luminous plankton in the sea.

The only way to get to Holbox is by ferry from Chiquilá.

There are parking lots next to the ferry area if you bring your car, where you can leave it for about 100 pesos a day. Another option is to arrive by bus or book a day trip.

5. Explore Xel-Ha Park

riviera maya excursions

The Xel-Ha Park is a true paradise for nature lovers and another must-do excursion in Riviera Maya.

In this great natural aquarium of transparent turquoise waters from the Xel-Ha River and the Caribbean Sea, you can do several water activities, one of the most popular is a ride on a floating tire, in which the current of the river will take you to different points of interest in the park.

You can also snorkel in different coves, discover cenotes, jump from natural trampolines, jump on a zip line or a liana, hiking or biking through the jungle, among many other activities.

Undoubtedly, it is a privileged place to spend a fun day with the whole family.

The Xel-Ha Park is about 14 kilometers from Tulum and 110 kilometers from Cancun, you can get there by car or public transportation.

The most common way to get there is to book a tour that includes transportation from your hotel, entrance fee, and lunch.

6. Excursion to the Riviera Maya Cenotes

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Diving in Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum

The Riviera Maya displays its wildest part in the cenotes, (limestone caves product of erosion), where you can take a relaxing swim or even go scuba diving.

Although there are hundreds of cenotes in the Riviera Maya, you have to keep in mind that the ones closer to the coast are open sky; while the cenotes around Valladolid are cavern-like in the middle of the jungle, something that in my experience, makes them more spectacular.

Quite a few cenotes can only be accessed by car, such as Samulá, X’kekén, Palomitas, Agua Dulce, Xcanahaltun, Hubiku, and Suytun.

But if you don’t want to drive you can visit some by public transport, taking advantage of the fact that they are close to archaeological sites such as the fantastic Il Kil or take a tour that passes through several cenotes.

7. Excursion to Isla Mujeres

best excursions in riviera maya

Isla Mujeres is another iconic place in the Mexican Caribbean, a beautiful island 12 kilometers off the Yucatan Peninsula, in front of Cancun, and is another of the best excursions in Riviera Maya.

Its calm waters and the incredible coral reefs in the western area are perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving, and you can also rent a golf cart or a motorcycle to tour the island in search of some of its turquoise water beaches and visit the famous El Garrafon marine park.

To get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun you can take a ferry from the hotel zone or from Puerto Juarez, which will take you to the island in about 20 minutes.

If you book a day tour you can combine the visit to Isla Mujeres with Isla Contoy, a small island where you can enjoy one of the largest coral reefs in the world and a walk through the Isla Contoy National Park, which has a great diversity of fauna.

8. Discover Xcaret and Xplor

best riviera maya excursion

One of the best excursions in Riviera Maya for the whole family is the nature park Xcaret and the recreational park Xplor.

These two parks are housed in a beautiful setting of jungle and Caribbean sea and offer fun outdoor activities in hidden caves.

In addition to releasing adrenaline with its many attractions, you can see various shows that reproduce Mexican dances and traditions.

Keep in mind that to enjoy most of the attractions of each park, it is advisable to spend at least one day in each one; they are about 7 kilometers from Playa del Carmen, very close to each other.

If you don’t have a car, you can take public transport in Cancun or Playa del Carmen which will drop you off at the entrance.

But again, the best option is to book a tour that includes transportation from your hotel and a quick entrance to the park.

9. Admire Las Coloradas – Pink Lagoon

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To the north of the Yucatan Peninsula, near the coastal town of Rio Lagartos, is Las Coloradas, very “trendy” lately thanks to the power of social networks.

This area of unique beauty, in which several artificial lakes are dyed in colors, is a product of the concentration of salt and microorganisms.

If you take this excursion to the Riviera Maya, in addition to visiting Las Coloradas, I recommend a tour of Rio Lagartos, where you will pass through an area of mangroves and flamingos.

To get to Las Coloradas, you can take a public shared van called “Colectivo” from Río Largatos.

10. Excursion to Rio Secreto, Riviera Maya

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Rio Secreto, a subway nature reserve with transparent waters and rock formations of stalactites and stalagmites, is another of the best excursions in Riviera Maya.

Located very close to Playa del Carmen and Xcaret Park, this reserve with more than 29 kilometers of tunnels and shallow galleries, offers you the chance to swim and walk through a subway grotto for about 700 meters accompanied by a specialized guide.

To get to Rio Secreto, if you don’t have a car, you can take a bus from Cancun, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen and get off in Akumal.

Top Excursions in the Riviera Maya: Final Thoughts

Embarking on these 10 epic excursions in Riviera Maya is sure to make your dream vacation an unforgettable adventure.

From exploring ancient Mayan ruins and diving into crystal-clear cenotes to lounging on pristine beaches and experiencing vibrant local culture, Riviera Maya offers something for every traveler.

Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or serene moments of relaxation, this tropical paradise delivers beyond expectations.

So, gear up, prepare your itinerary, and get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of Riviera Maya.

Each excursion promises not just a journey, but a collection of memories that will last a lifetime.

Your dream vacation awaits in this stunning slice of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula—get ready to create your own epic story.

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