8 Must-See Places in the Riviera Maya (A Quick Guide)

 8 Must-See Places in the Riviera Maya (A Quick Guide)

If you’re coming to Cancun, don’t stop there. Why? Because there’s SO much more to experience.

If you truly want to experience Mexican culture, do you really want to limit yourself to a “Hotel Zone”?

Think about it.

It’s not where Mexican residents eat, sleep, and live life.

The bottom line? To find the true Mexico, you must venture outside of Cancun.

The question is: what places to visit outside of Cancun? To answer that question, we’ve created this quick guide of Must-See Places in the Riviera Maya.

This guide will act as if you started from Cancun (makes sense because Cancun has the only international airport) and then traveled southward.

Must-See Places in the Riviera Maya

1.    Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres- Places in the Riviera Maya

Ok. I lied. =)
Technically speaking, Isla Mujeres is north of Cancun. But not by much though.

This slender island has quickly become one of the top things to do in Cancun.


Because at Isla Mujeres you can…

  1. Swim with Whale Sharks from May-September
  2. Snorkel/Scuba at the world’s largest underwater Museum (MUSA)
  3. Rent a golf-cart and explore the small island seaside
  4. See ancient Mayan Ruins
  5. Go bar-hopping downtown

2.   Puerto Morelos

puerto morelos-Places in the Riviera Maya

This tiny fishing village has become a must-visit destination for everyone in the Riviera Maya.

It’s perfect for…

  • Snorkeling in the “Parque Nacional Arrecife de Puerto Morelos”
  • Getting your adrenaline rush with ziplines, ATVs, bungees, and skywalks
  • Visiting the interactive Croco Cun Zoo
  • Enjoying a relaxing time at Ojo de Agua Beach

3.   Playa del Carmen

playa del carmen quinta avenida-Places in the Riviera Maya

Located smack in the middle between Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Tulum and Cozumel, Playa del Carmen is close to…well just about everything.

It’s about one hour south of Cancun, and one hour north of Tulum. Hop on a ferry and head eastward for about 30 minutes, and you’ll end up in the island of Cozumel.

It’s no wonder that Playa del Carmen was recently named one of the fastest growing cities in ALL of Latin America.

What can you at Playa del Carmen?

  • Head to the world-famous 5th Avenue, Downtown.
  • Visit the very popular theme parks in the area like Dolphinaris and others.
  • Go skydiving over the beach
  • Live like royalty at the Kool Beach Club

4.   Cozumel

cozumel-snorkel-cielo-Places in the Riviera Maya

Located a brief ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba-diving experiences on the planet.

Here you can see sea turtles, sting ray, nurse sharks, groupers, sea horse and so much more.

Interested? Check out this article that lists the top 8 places to scuba dive in Cozumel.

5.   Akumal

Akumal-Bay-Places in the Riviera Maya

Ever have the desire to swim alongside sea-turtles?

You’ll get exactly that chance at Akumal!

Where is Akumal? Akumal is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

This small, low-key beach offers a quite beach experience. But more than that, you get to see sea-turtles up –close!

6.   Tulum

Tulum Ruins with ocean backdrop-Places in the Riviera Maya

Tulum offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a bohemian hippy, or a celebrity jet-setter like Leonardo di Caprio , you’re going to love Tulum.


For starters, its turquoise-colored beaches have been ranked in the top 5 in the entire world.

Not to mention there’s the seaside Mayan Ruins of Tulum as well.

7.   Bacalar

bacalar-Places in the Riviera Maya

Not many people have heard of Bacalar. Even though, it’s 2.5 hours south of Tulum, that’s quickly changing.

Why are people making the road trip to visit Bacalar?

IMAgE 7 colores lagoon

Does that answer your question? You know who else loved that lagoon?

The real pirates of the Caribbean!

That’s why in 1725 a fort was built to stop them from looting the area. Till this day the fort stands, and is an excellent museum to learn about Bacalar’s history.

8.   Mahahual

mahahual-Places in the Riviera Maya

Located about an hour east of Bacalar, Mahahual offers you a host of things to do.

But maybe the best, is the most simplest of all: walking down the Malecon, or, boardwalk.

Here you’ll find a bevy excellent seafood eateries, and it’ll connect you with all of the available tours in the area like deep-sea fishing and Jeep tours.

You a history buff?

Then you’ll want to check out these 4 Mayan Ruins:

  1. Chacchoben
  2. Kohunlich
  3. Dzibanché
  4. Ichkabal

You see? There’s so much more to do on your Cancun vacation than JUST Cancun. By visiting these 8 Must-See Places in the Riviera Maya you will be experiencing the TRUE Mexican culture.

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