Are you planning an all-inclusive vacation to Cancun or the Riviera Maya region of Mexico? Get ready to be dazzled by white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, stunning Mayan heritage (ruins), ecological parks, and more!
Most of the hotels and resorts have a “tour/excursions” desk and will offer various snorkeling trips. Pick a tour that works best for your budget and time.
Visit the island of Isla Mujeres
With beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, magnificent reefs nearby and challenging deep-sea fishing, Isla Mujeres has something for everyone. Book a catamaran/snorkeling excursion that will combine being on the water with snorkeling and some island fun.
Visit the Underwater Sculpture Museum
MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum–home to the largest underwater museum on the planet. The artist, Jason DeCaires Taylor is also the founder and artistic director of MUSA. In collaboration with marine biologists, the sculptures are all designed to counteract the effects of climate change on our oceans and reef systems. The sculptures will change their appearance over time, as coral grows, and marine life establishes itself around the structures.
Snorkeling & Diving
If you are visiting the area, snorkeling in Cancun or the Riviera Maya is a must.This area of Mexico is home to an impressive coral reef, which belongs to the Mesoamerican Reef Barrier System…the second largest in the world! You may want to consider going snorkeling in the early morning as the reef will be less crowded. If you are a certified diver visit https://www.scubatotal.com/ in Cancun, or http://www.diveshopmexico.com/ in Playa del Carmen
Swim with turtles
Turtles are peaceful animals that symbolizes abundancy and longevity. Mexico is one of the best places in the world to dive and swim with these amazing creatures. Great places to visit are Akumal and Punta Allen reef in Sian Ka’an Biosphere. Note – the best time to swim with turtles is between May and August.
Swim with whale sharks
Don’t be afraid of their name – whale sharks are one of the ocean’s gentlest giants, whale sharks are incredibly safe to swim with. Their natural beauty and sheer size make them one of the ocean’s most awe-inspiring spectacles. Anyone can swim with whale sharks, though proper equipment, training, and the supervision of a trained guide are necessary. The best time to swim with whale sharks is between June and mid-September (peak of season is July and August).
Visit Mayan Ruins
Do you love history? This area is also home to many famous Mayan ruins! Discover the archeological remains ancient Mayans left in Mexico. Here is a list of the most famous Mayan ruins to visit in the Riviera Maya:
Chichén Itzá Chichén Itzá is probably the most important city of the Mayan Culture and has the most amazing buildings of any other Mayan ancient cities. Chichén Itzá is also the largest and most impressive of the Mayan ruins, and home to a monument that was declared in 2007 to be one of the 7 wonders of the modern world: The Temple of Kukulkán.
Tulum The Mayan ruins of Tulum are nestled in an idyllic setting on a cliff facing the Caribbean Sea. The city, whose name means “wall,” served as a lighthouse for ships thanks to its strategic location.
Coba Halfway between Chichén Itzá and Tulum are the Mayan ruins of Cobá. This commercial city, the biggest that the Mayans built in the Yucatan area, was home to up to 50,000 people. Of its numerous temples, one that particularly stands out is the Nohoch Mul Pyramid, measuring 138 feet high, almost twice as tall as the Temple of Kukulkán.
Uxmal The small city of Uxmal, declared a World Heritage Site in 1996, is one of the most important Mayan sites in Mexico, along with Chichén Itzá. Uxmal may mean “built three times,” about the effort made during its construction, which thousands of people participated in, as well as the number of times it had to be rebuilt. The crown jewel is without a doubt the pirámide del Adivino, or Pyramid of the Magician
Ek Balam Ek Balam translates to “Black Jaguar” in the Maya language and the imposing size of the buildings demonstrate how significant the city was to the Maya from about 500-900 AD. It is estimated that about 15,000 people lived in the city, which was fortified with three walls as protection from invasions. Most of the buildings are well preserved and display substantial period details. Despite this, Ek Balam is one of the best-kept secrets in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Visit a Cenote!
Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is home to more than 6,000 cenotes—subterranean limestone pools or sinkholes full of crisp groundwater, stalagmites, stalactites, and endemic wildlife. Cenotes can be open, semi-closed or closed. The Mayans saw these cenotes as a connection with the underworld and the afterlife and often used them as burial pits or places of ritual sacrifice. They were sacred and entire Mayan cities, such as Chichen Itza, were built around them.
- Ik Kil: Its sheer vertical walls are lined with vines and flowers and give way to crystal-blue waters at least 135 feet deep and populated by catfish. It is ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
- Dos Ojos: Spanish for ‘two eyes’, is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is a great place for snorkeling as rays of light pierce the clear turquoise waters and illuminate the stalagmites jutting out from the depths. Dos Ojos is also an access point to a flooded underwater cave system spanning over 50 miles, making it a popular destination for diving outlets in the area.
- Oxman: One of the several cenotes in and around the town of Valladolid, this cenote is beautiful and tranquil. The waters are said to be 220 feet deep, so thrill-seekers can head for the surface level and plunge into the waters from a height of 59-75 feet.
- Suytun: The cenote of Suytunis probably the most “instagrammable” and photographed cenote in Mexico but be prepared, the water is cold. With beautiful rock formations looking something like melted candle wax, Cenote Suytun also has a walkway to the centre of its pool, so you can explore without getting your feet wet. TIP: get there at the right time of day (around 9 am or 3 pm) as the light beams pour from the opening on the roof straight down onto the platform.
This is just a small sampling of the fun things to do while visiting Mexico.