If you’re daydreaming of a south-of-the-border beach break, the Mayan Riviera is just the ticket. With a combination of natural beauty, archeological sites, plenty of shopping, and miles of white sand beaches, the Mayan Riviera has something for everyone. Here are four places to consider for your off-the-resort excursions.
Pronounced “Shell-Ha,” this snorkeler’s paradise is the original “lazy river.” Xel-Ha is a large lagoon inhabited by more than 90 marine species including stingrays, tuna, surgeonfish, and puffer fish. The lagoon depth is appropriate for swimmers of all sizes and abilities. Admission price includes unlimited food and non-alcoholic drink, as well as snorkeling gear, towel and locker use. Visitors are asked to use only all-natural, chemical free sunblock.
Similar to Xel-Ha, Xcaret (pronounced “Ish-car-ett) is an ecological park where you can while away the day snorkeling and exploring the inlet. Unlike Xel-Ha, Xcaret offers boat rides, shows, and natural exhibits that include jungle trails and wildlife such as jaguars and pumas. The standard admission does not include unlimited food and drink or snorkel gear.
Of course, no trip to the Mayan Riviera would be complete without seeing the Mayan ruins. There are many pre-Columbian sites of interest in Mexico, and Tulum is the largest of the sites in the Mayan Riviera. An ancient walled city built on the cliffs overlooking the clear turquoise ocean, Tulum is quite possibly the most picturesque archeological site in the region. Touring the site may take a little more than an hour; but Tulum’s beach is hard to beat. Bring your beach gear and plan to stay awhile.
4. 5th Avenue (Playa del Carmen)
If you’re obligated to bring home some souvenirs (like a great outfit for yourself and maybe a postcard for your neighbor), Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue offers about a mile of shops for souvenirs and clothes. The souvenirs here range from campy to artisan; and the restaurants here range from authentic Mexican to very American. Take pesos and plan to barter – the stores here do accept US dollars, but you’ll get the best prices if you pay in the local currency.
If you’re considering an All-Inclusive vacation to the Mayan Riviera, let your travel agent know if you’d like to explore the area more when you’re booking your trip. Arranging your excursions in advance can save you money and hassle so that you can get the most out of your vacation.