Things to Do in Riviera Maya & the Yucatan
Whether it’s riding the wave pool’s serious 3-feet swells, soaring down the crazy Twister waterslide or floating down the Lazy River, Wet’n Wild water park offers visitors a chance to escape the heat, enjoy the sun and really splash around.
The speed slide Kamikaze thrusts riders over a seriously steep drop, while the Bubble Space Bowl launches guests down a 49-feet pass at 31 miles per hour. Those less inclined to a white water adrenaline rush can navigate bumper boats or even schedule a swim with friendly dolphins.
This historic Catholic church located in the center of the city is surrounded by peaceful gardens that are sometimes used for open-air services. Its uniquely modern design is unlike any other religious structure in Cancun. The church’s good-natured priest, known for his humorous homilies and energetic services, makes Iglesia de Cristo Rey a popular stop for travelers seeking a Sunday Mass or a quiet moment of reflective contemplation in the middle of otherwise bustling city streets.
Cozumel's only city (really, a large town) is San Miguel, surrounding a natural port with easy access to the mainland, which has been used since the Mayan era at least. As in most traditional Mexican cities, civic life is centered on the zocalo here called the Plaza del Sol.
The plaza is surrounded by shops and restaurants, which tend to be a bit pricier than those farther from the city's heart. But with its breezy ocean views, a fine gazebo and watchtower, and 5-star people watching, it's well worth spending some time right here.
As evening nears, the street scene really starts to sparkle. Locals coming out to the plaza to mix and mingle, and perhaps enjoy live music, dancing, and less formal As evening nears, the street scene really starts to sparkle. Locals coming out to the plaza to mix and mingle, and perhaps enjoy live music, dancing, and less formal entertainment. During fiestas and holidays, this is the spot for enjoying cultural activities.
More Things to Do in Riviera Maya & the Yucatan
One of the premier dives in all of Cancun and Cozumel, Tormentos Reef offers vibrant coral, Spotted Moray Eels, Toadfish, and a wide variety of smaller fish, including blennies, wrasses, and gobies. If you’ve come to Cozumel to get a good experience underwater, Tormentos Reef is a great spot. Divers head out over sandy waters and eventually come to purple and orange coral outcroppings upwards of 30 feet in height. Tunnels make for resting places for nurse sharks, sea turtles, and large groupers, while rays nestle in the sand.
One of Cozumel’s signature dives, the Santa Rosa Wall, is the dive site that many come to Co-zumel to visit. Diving the beautiful Santa Rosa Wall, with a depth of 50 to 120 feet (15.24 meters to 36.6 meters), is a bit like diving into a great, colorful abyss. This amazing dive spot features 30-to-40-foot-tall (9-to-12-meter-tall) red, green and orange coral outcroppings; huge rock over-hangs in which to explore; narrow tunnels full of life; and hundreds of species of tropical fish to discover. On this dive, whether you want to go deep is up to you, but those that choose to will enjoy the sensation of flying along an underwater skyscraper filled with life. This sensation alone is why many choose to dive Santa Rosa. If you’d like to beat the crowds, consider diving this spot in the afternoon, when most other divers have moved on.
Playa Norte (North Beach) is a gorgeous, relaxing beach located on Isla Mujeres, a small island off the Yucatan Peninsula. Isla Mujeres means the “Island of Women,” but both women and men will love lounging at Playa Norte.
Known for its many palm trees and white sand beach, Playa Norte stretches along the northern end of Isla Mujeres, where beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rental. Though its water is shallow, swimmers need to be aware that there can sometimes be a strong undertow; swim with caution. Experienced swimmers and snorkelers will enjoy paddling around to see the underwater sea life, and onsite shops have snorkeling gear to rent along with kayaks and stand up paddle boards.
In addition to water activities, Playa Norte is also home to a slew of fun beach bars and restaurants. Take a minute away from the beach for a tropical drink or some fresh seafood.
Helping to define Cancun as more than just a tourism spot for dedicated beach lovers, the Cancun Underwater Museum is an attraction unlike any other in the world. While almost all of us have, invariably, at one point or another, been to a museum, few if any of us have been to an underwater museum. Until now, that is.
Essentially a bountiful series of sunken sculptures, the Cancun Underwater Museum is an ongoing project aimed at inspiring a love of art as well as Cancun’s magnificent coral reefs. Soon over 400 original sculptures will lie between depths of 9 to 20 feet, and so make for excellent viewing when either snorkeling or diving.
How does something this wonderful and unique come about? By simple artistic inspiration. Jason deCaires Taylor was the artistic brains behind the operation, and people have responded well to the idea.
The Coba Ruins, built long ago—sometime between the years 500 and 900—lie deep in the heart of the Yucatan jungle. Visitors can rent bikes or hire rickshaws to travel among the knobby paths and thick forest that link the groupings of ancient pyramids and historic sites to one another.
A climb to the top of the Nohuch Mul pyramid, the tallest in the Yucatan, affords visitors a spectacular (if nerve-wracking) view of the jungle, as well as the astronomical observatory and game courts that surround it. From this vantage point, travelers can also check out the Mayan’s version of an interstate highway: elevated roads called sacbeob, that lead from the ruins to other Mayan cities.
Xplor Adventure Park is an exciting, thrill-inducing amusement park in the Riviera Maya that creates its “rides” from the environment around it. At the park you'll get the chance to raft or swim through underground river rapids with cave stalactites hanging above you; jump in an off-roading amphibious vehicle and explore large underground caverns and jungles; and zipline high above tree canopies. Xplor allows visitors to experience the natural habitat of Mexico and all it has to offer in one place, and there's even an after-dark option to explore the land and river once the sun goes down.<//p>
Xel-Há Park is a large aquatic theme park south of Cancún with 22 acres (8.9 hectares) of lagoons and underwater caves for swimming and snorkeling. Named after the Mayan archeological site of Xelha, the theme park offers a variety of land and water activities and ecological attractions. Keep busy by swimming with dolphins, kayaking, crossing the Floating Bridge or diving off the Cliffs of Courage. More daring visitors will want to try Trepachanga, where crossing the rope-joined platforms is a feat of balance and strength to avoid plunging into the water below. The park uses admission fees to fund conservation efforts. Getting around Xel-Há is easy with the jungle train, and bikes are also popular to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
A small beach town between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula, Akumal is known for its wide, white sandy beach. Meaning “land of turtles” in the Mayan language, Akumal to this day remains one of the most popular places in the area to spot sea turtles in their natural habitat. It’s also known as one of the most peaceful spots in the Riviera Maya with its clear waters, shallow bays and secluded beaches that attract visitors seeking a more private experience.
From town there are three local dive shops that will take you snorkeling or scuba diving out on the nearby reef, and there are also some clearly marked private beaches and several palm trees that provide refuge from the sun. While here, be sure to check out Half Moon Bay (famous for turtle sightings) and Laguna Yaiku, a protected snorkeling area.
Things to do near Riviera Maya & the Yucatan
- Things to do in Playa del Carmen
- Things to do in Cozumel
- Things to do in Cancun
- Things to do in Merida
- Things to do in Progreso
- Things to do in Costa Maya
- Things to do in Valladolid
- Things to do in Chichen Itza
- Things to do in Tulum
- Things to do in Isla Holbox
- Things to do in Bacalar
- Things to do in The Cayes
- Things to do in Petén
- Things to do in Central Highlands
- Things to do in Western Highlands