Welcome to Riviera Maya

If it's partying you want, you'll find serious hedonism in boomtown Playa del Carmen. Playa still trumps fast-growing Tulum as the Riviera's wildest city, but it's got nothing on Tulum's spectacular Maya ruins perched high above the beach.

Whether traveling by car or bus, getting from one town to the next is a breeze – after all, the Riviera is basically 135km of coastline that stretches south from Puerto Morelos to Tulum. Everything's so close that you can go diving in Puerto Morelos by day and still have time for a candlelit dinner in Tulum.

Top experiences in Riviera Maya

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Starting at $38.99

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Riviera Maya activities

$48 Cultural & Theme Tours

Chichen Itza VIP Early Access from Playa del Carmen with Guide

Start your day trip with an early morning departure, making sure you don’t miss the chance to be one of the first visitors of the day to explore the wonders of Chichen Itza, the ancient capital of the Mayan Empire. With essential background knowledge provided by a specialized archeologist guide just for you and your group, you’ll easily imagine how the Mayans once inhabited this city. As you wander through the well-preserved ruins in relative peace and quiet, learn how Chichen Itza played a pivotal role in Mayan society from around 600 to 1200 AD and endured as a base of worship and pilgrimage until the Spanish landed. The Maya people of the Yucatan Peninsula today still regard Chichen Itza, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, as a sacred place. Listen to your guide about how archeologists unearthed the abandoned site, buried over time by the jungle, and how their discoveries provided Chichen Itza with UNESCO status. With your guide’s presentation of Mayan mythology, philosophy and cosmology, gain a deep understanding of the meaning behind the stone carvings, platforms, ball courts and staircases. Then see the famous ruins with a new perspective. Make your way through the observatory and the Temple of the Warriors. You’ll of course visit the legendary Kukulcan Pyramid, also referred to as El Castillo, a four-sided structure constructed with a keen knowledge of astronomy. Your guide will explain that during equinox on a clear day, a snake slithers down the pyramid stairs, which is actually a shadow created by the setting sun.  As you peer into the sacred cenote, your guide explains how archeologists delved into this pilgrimage site and pulled out wood, shells, cloth, jewelry and the skeletons of men and children, confirming that the natural sinkhole indeed was once used as a human sacrifice site. Stand on one of the platforms at the colossal ball court where Mayans played sports, and have another person from your group whisper from 150 feet (46 meters) away. You’ll be surprised to hear every word. This acoustical engineering feat of the Mayans is not entirely understood even today. After your tour, ride back to Playa del Carmen and return mid-afternoon. With this Viator Exclusive, your early morning visit to Chichen Itza allows you to explore the site before the crowds so you can enjoy the rest of your day on the beach.

$129.99 Day Trips & Excursions

Cancun to Xcaret Day Trip with Light and Music Show Option

Travel in air-conditioned comfort from your Cancun hotel to Xcaret, meaning ‘small inlet’ in the Mayan language. Inside the history-filled eco-archaeological park, there's something for everyone in your family or group. Explorers and budding archaeologists can head beneath the Riviera Maya jungle to underground caverns, where the Mayans once engaged in cleansing rituals before boating to Cozumel island to pray to the goddess of fertility and childbirth. Stumble upon rivers and perhaps spot macaws, monkeys and deer along the way. Once you make your way out of the underground labyrinth, find yourself at Mayan Village. Learn about family traditions and village infrastructure at exhibits; visit archaeological sites; or marvel at the beauty of the orchid garden. For more wildlife wonders, head over to the aviary, butterfly pavilion and coral reef aquarium. Meanwhile beach lovers can snorkel in crystal blue waters to spot sea turtles, take a dip in the inlet lagoon, and then soak up the sun on a natural beach.At the end of the day, you can get dropped off at your hotel or stay for Xcaret México Espectacular, a popular night show featuring more than 300 performers in traditional costumes. Through drama, music and dance, learn about Mayan and Mexican history and culture from pre-Columbian times to present day.After the show concludes, enjoy easy bus transport back to your Cancun hotel.Xcaret Plus option:Includes a buffet lunch with orange juice and lemonade, snorkeling gear and the use of the Plus Area, a more private shower and changing room facility.

$138.99 Cultural & Theme Tours

Tulum from Playa del Carmen with Cenote Snorkeling, Ziplining

Enjoy convenient morning pickup from your hotel in Playa del Carmen, and travel with your guide to Tulum, the Walled City that boasts an enviable location. Mounted on the edge of a bluff, Tulum towers above the Caribbean Sea and a flawless white sandy beach. At the ruins, learn about the now-abandoned city that was only inhabited by Maya nobles, high priests and prominent citizens, and then enjoy free time on the nearby beach. Afterward, visit Rancho San Felipe, a Maya community of 30 residents; part of your tour proceeds goes to the sustainable development of local Maya communities. Meet a shaman during a traditional purification ceremony. Afterward, take a short trek into the jungle and enter Sac Actun ("White Cave") and Nohoch Nah Chich ("Giant Bird Cage"), the Yucatán region’s second and third longest cave systems.Follow your guide’s lead inside the caves, and learn about the discovery and ongoing exploration of the extensive underground river network that included passageways to Tulum. Arrive at a cenote (natural underground pool) and snorkel in clear waters, surrounded by dramatic rock formations like stalactites and stalagmites.Next, travel within the lush forest aboard a Mercedes-Benz Unimog, a massive 4x4 vehicle. You'll stop to rappel your way down 40 feet (12 meters) to Yaxmuul, another cenote. Enjoy thrills through the treetop canopy along three ziplines; be prepared for a splashy ending. Wrap up your day with a satisfying buffet lunch of homemade classic Maya fare. Then board your air-conditioned transport and relax during the ride back to Playa del Carmen. Your full-day tour concludes with drop-off at your hotel in the evening.

$119 Cultural & Theme Tours

Chichen Itza from Riviera Maya

This famous archaeological site is one of the most impressive examples of the Mayan civilization. The site is dominated by the large central pyramid called El Castillo and the surrounding buildings include the Temple of the Warriors or 1,000 Columns, the Ball-court and the well or cenote from which Chichen Itza takes its name.This site is surrounded by underground rivers, natural wells, and limestone that the Mayans used to construct their magnificent buildings. Discover an entire city that is only just beginning to reveal the secrets of their founders' glorious past!After a comfortable ride in our air-conditioned buses, the guided visit to the site will start, it usually lasts about 60 minutes, followed by 45 minutes of free time to explore on your own or to give the more energetic, the opportunity to bargain with the locals for some of the handicraft items for sale.

$77 Shows, Concerts & Sports

Cirque du Soleil® JOYA Show Ticket at Vidanta Riviera Maya

After pickup from a central meeting point in Cancun's hotel zone, head to Cirque du Soleil’s theater, located in the Riviera Maya tropical forest north of Playa del Carmen. Enter the custom-built semi-amphitheater with a thatched roof, exclusively built for JOYÀ, opening in November 2014, the first permanent Cirque show outside of the US. The different seating packages are outlined in the Itinerary below. If you opted for seating with dinner, please note the dinner service begins an hour before the performance. As the lights dim, settle in and prepare to lose yourself in a surreal wonderland that only Cirque du Soleil can bring. Inspired by the migratory journey of the monarch butterfly in which life is passed from one generation to the next, JOYÀ reveals a world inhabited by entrancing characters who work hand in hand to perpetuate the love of life. Follow the adventures of rebellious teenage girl Joyà, who is whisked away to a mysterious jungle by her alchemist grandfather. They uncover a hidden gem in the mangroves, after which Joyà must face a series of outlandish challenges that her mischievous grandfather has secretly set out for her in his fantastical world.After the 75-minute show ends, blink your eyes back into reality and then enjoy return transport to Cancun. To view the seating chart select View Additional Info.

$110 Cultural & Theme Tours

Chichen Itza, Ek Balam and Cenote Hubiku Tour

After boarding the transportation at your hotel and a technical stop of 10 minutes, you will begin the route towards the first destination, Chichen Itzá. This sacred city of the Itzáes marvels you every time the k’in Ahau (sun in the Mayan language) sets on March 21st and September 21st, during the spring and fall equinoxes.The main building is the Kukulkan Castle, known as The Pyramid. It is an icon of the astronomical, architectural, mathematical and engineering knowledge and, together with the platforms, they tell us about the past, with their many sculptures and representations of feathered serpents and Chaac masks, the majestic god of rain that lives in the sacred cenote, the entrance to the underworld.Its monumental ball game represents with its engravings and glyphs the very important ceremony established by the gods themselves, according to the sacred pages of Popol Vuj (the sacred book of Mayans). The Astronomical Observatory, also known as The Snail and the area of The Church are worth admiring, thanks to their masks from the Mayan classic period.The second stop of the day will be the majestic Cenote Hubiku, after getting to know the history of Chichen Itza. Here, you will be able to cool off in its water and have a relaxing time that you will surely remember forever. The cenote is subterranean, and we will enter it through its stone stairway. Thanks to its opening at the top, with the entrance of the sunlight, the water achieves a beautiful blue color.In this type of cenotes, the water is usually 20-21 degrees Celsius.You will finish the tour at Ek’Balam, where you will be able to climb the Acropolis and see the monumental entrance to the underworld, represented in the Uk’it Kan Lec Tok’ grave before being reborn as the mythical god of corn. The grave shows the jaws of a jaguar, and they found an offering consisting of more than 7,000 pieces of jewelry in it, made by the best goldsmiths of the time. That allows us to compare such wealth with the ones from Egypt and China. The main palace and the contrast of the lines of buildings that complete the main square from the top provide it with a unique mysticism in the Mayan world.The sculptures remind us of winged beings, and the comparison with beings from other cultures such as the Indian invites us to appreciate and compare it with other archaeological sites. Getting to know the kingdom of Talol in the city of the Jaguar Star after the refreshing waters of the cenote is a unique combination.