September 30, 2015 | By Bryn Symonds |
Cancun and the Riviera Maya is one of our most popular destinations. On the Caribbean side of Mexico, this area has great beaches, a unique Mayan heritage, lots of resorts to choose from and tons of activities. Here’s what we love most.
1) Xcaret Park
This eco-adventure park is a great day for everyone. Explore underground rivers. Share an encounter with a stingray. Take in a spectacular live show that celebrates Mayan heritage. And enjoy some traditional dishes at one of the great restaurants. This may just be the best day of your trip.
2) Tulum ruins
One of the 3 most important Mayan sites in the Mayan Riviera, Tulum was once a thriving port. A guided tour here gives you a unique glimpse into the daily lives of the Maya from commerce to faith and family. Be sure to bring your swim gear because you can go for a swim after your tour. It’s a really nice stretch of beach and the view of the ruins is impressive.
3) The sea turtles of Akumal Beach
If you’ve ever wanted to swim with sea turtles, this is your chance. This secluded bay is a popular feeding ground for a population of sea turtles and they don’t mind sharing. You can make your own way here or you can book a boat trip which includes snorkelling gear, snacks and drinks. The turtles are as beautiful as you’ve always hoped.
Did you know Cirque du Soleil has built a permanent show tent right in the Riviera Maya? The show is called JOYÁ and it’s inspired by Mexico's history and heritage. It’s an experience that will engage your five senses as you follow the story of a naturalist and his granddaughter and their transformative journey to uncover the secrets of life.
5) Playa Del Carmen’s 5th Avenue
Playa Del Carmen is the heart and soul of the Riviera Maya and one of its biggest draws is the famous 5th Avenue. You’ll find lots of great shops with works from local artisans, and some great places to eat. At night, this pedestrian road really comes alive as patios fill and the air hums with the buzz of happy people and live music.
6) Cochinita pibil & sopa de lima
There is lots of really great food in Mexico. But two of the most famous Mayan dishes that any visitor to the Riviera Maya must try are cochinita pibil¾pork marinated in achiote, bitter orange and spices, wrapped in banana leaves and barbecued in a pit; and sopa de lima (lime soup) made of shredded, lime-marinated turkey or chicken and topped with sizzling tortilla strips. Delicious.
It may not be top-of-mind when you think about Cancun and the Riviera Maya, but these days you’ll discover dozens of excellent golf courses, laid out by world-renowned designers. So whether you're a novice or pro, you’re bound to find something to challenge yourself, plus many of these courses incorporate natural features so it’s a beautiful experience all around.
8) Cenote diving
The soft bedrock of the Yucatan peninsula erodes in the most spectacular way. Rain water seeps deep down and forms underground rivers, and in some places the surface layer has opened up giving access to this amazing network. The cenotes (these openings) were sacred places to the Maya, seen as doorways to the underworld. Dive in and go for a swim you won’t soon forget.
This is the Mayan version of the sweat lodge. It’s deeply spiritual and deeply relaxing. Your shaman will guide you through a ritual ceremony before taking you into the temazcal, which is hot and dark and filled with the scent of indigenous herbs. The experience is believed to relax and cleanse the nervous system, help to eliminate fat and toxins and stimulate the digestive and respiratory systems. If you’re curious, many resorts feature a temazcal as part of their spa programs.
Interested in these activities? Read more about Cancun and Riviera Maya, or see your Air Canada Vacations representation at your resort to book.