Fun in the Sun
The Riviera Maya is all about the sun, sand, and sea. You'll find just about everything you ever wanted to do.
Beautiful white powdery beaches are the Riviera Maya's chief attraction. Bathed by warm sunshine and gentle sea breezes, miles of uncrowded talcum-like sandy beaches backed by palm trees await you. Here, you'll find peace and relaxation, along with enough activities to keep your family from becoming bored.
Playa Paamul, Playa Tankah, and Playa Xcalacoco offer gentle sloping sands that the Maya used as embarkation points to nearby islands. All are places to relax in the sun, dive, or snorkel over the nearby reef. From May to July, turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs. If you like interacting with nature, you just might want to stay in one of the rustic cabins nestled between the turquoise sea and the jungle.
Due to the whiteness of the sand and the clearness of the water, it's imperative that you use a sunblock that's stronger than you normally use. If you're going to be walking or playing in the sun, be sure to also wear a wide-brimmed hat.
The focus along the Riviera Maya is ecology. While huge resorts have sprung up along the coast in recent years, there seems to be an effort to preserve the beauty of this area, to separate it ideologically from overdeveloped Cancún. Punta Allen makes an ideal place to admire Mother Nature's gifts. Here, you can observe crocodiles in the lagoons or manatees below the water's surface. Herons and other water birds flock to estuaries within the Sian Ka'an Biosphere. Another idyllic spot in the biosphere is Playa Boca Paila. This secluded beach, far from the developed areas, is the best place to fish.
There are several lesser-known beaches in the area that are worth a visit. Powder-soft sand and turquoise sea with swaying palm trees characterize Playa Chemuyil. A reef just offshore brings the waters to a quiet calm by the time they meet the shoreline, making for excellent swimming conditions. The beaches at Xcacel are no less spectacular. Turtles prefer this strand for its calm waters. Any number of privately owned seaside bungalows offer you a place to stay close to nature.
Kayak tours of the coastline are a great way to experience the coral reefs. Sailing the calm clear waters is a favorite pastime along the Riviera Maya. You can hop aboard a thirty-six-foot catamaran for a fishing trip or just a sailing excursion with Kantaris Catamaran at the Akumal Dive Shop on the beach in Akumal (984-875-9032).
Snorkel, Scuba, Fish
But one place that stands out is Xel-Ha, a natural aquarium just below Akumal, considered to be one of the biggest in the world. Ten acres of stunning lagoons, coves and inlets naturally carved into the area's soft limestone terrain are home to countless species of tropical fish. Xel-Ha offers you a chance to explore underwater caves,
Although there's good diving up and down the coast, you'll find the best in the clear waters off Akumal, especially drift diving on the reef.
• Community Tours Sian Ka'an (984-114-0750,
• Pesca Maya (998-883-4204,
• Cuzan Guest House, Punta Allen (983-834-0358,
Experience the jungle riding an ATV at Punta Venado Eco Park just outside Playa del Carmen (998-898-1331,
If you like to golf while on vacation, you'll currently find five courses along the Riviera Maya to test your skills, with more to come. Each is a different design by a top designer, so you'll find challenges on every green:
• Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club: An eighteen-hole course, located thirty minutes south of Cancún. Facilities include clubhouse with changing rooms and showers, putting green, lighted driving range, nine-hole chip-and-putt course for families, and full-service pro shop where you can rent equipment (984-877-2800,
• El Camaleon Mayakobá Golf Club: Located forty miles south of Cancún within the luxury resort development of Mayakobá, this eighteen-hole course includes a driving range and full-service clubhouse and pro shop with all amenities (
• Mayan Palace Riviera Maya Golf Club: This challenging eighteen-hole course features a putting green, driving range, and clubhouse with pro shop and equipment rental (984-206-4043 or 800-506-8171 (U.S.),
• Playacar Golf Club: A magnificent eighteen-hole championship course, includes a putting green and driving range, plus a full service clubhouse and pro shop (984-873-0624,
• Puerto Aventuras Resort Golf Club: This nine-hole resort course is perfect if you're a golfing novice. Facilities include a putting green (984-473-5109,