Find the perfect activities to do on your trip to the Riviera Maya Mexico area. This is the Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Akumal area.
Nate and I recently traveled to the Cancun, Mexico area with his co-workers. It was our first time in Mexico and it was a fabulous trip! It was a great getaway for couples, but also would be a great getaway for families. Here are some tips for traveling to the area.
What Time of Year to Visit Cancun
We traveled in early November, which was a great time of year to go. The months of May-September can be pretty hot and humid. November-March are typically in the low 80s (F).
Peak time for travel is December-April, so if you don’t like crowds, avoid those months. It is easy to see why those months are popular since the weather is amazing.
Hurricane season is June-November, so between hurricanes and heat, I would avoid June-October if you can.
We actually stayed in Akumal, Mexico. This is about an hour drive south of Cancun. It is a coastal resort town and is on the Riviera Maya.
This area has great snorkeling and a lot of sea turtles. The beaches are white sand with warm water.
It was also relatively quiet and slow, which was nice for relaxing.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya resort. It was an amazing location and resort. It does not allow children, so if you are going with your kids, you will want to look for other locations to stay. The entire Riviera has tons of hotels and resorts, so you can easily find a spot.
Secrets Akumal is located in a perfect location where you can snorkel in calm waters because of a reef blocking the waves. There are lots of sea turtles who hang out in the bay right there.
The food was delicious and they had a lot of activities. You could really just stay there if you wanted to and have a lovely time.
But we didn’t. We ventured out quite a bit.
Activities to do in Mexico
There are a lot of fun activities to do in the Riviera area of Mexico.
You will want to find a place to snorkel in the area. There is a lot of great snorkeling with beautiful, tropical fish and many other sea life. We even had a barracuda catch a fish within a few feet from us.
Be sure to have a beach day in your plans. The beaches there are so beautiful with white sand and warm, turquoise water. You can play or relax all day. Or some of both.
There are so many different ruins you can visit in Mexico.
While we were there, we visited Tulum Ruins.
Tulum is about an hour south of Cancun. These ruins are right on the coast, so you can get some nice sea breezes while you are there. It was a beautiful site. I always love historical sites when I travel.
They have guides (optional, but worth it) who take you through and tell you about the ancient city. Once you are done with the tour, you are free to roam as you wish. You can even walk down to the beach (or hike. That is a better word) and hang out there. It can get hot, so a nice dip in the ocean might be nice after touring Tulum.
Tulum had a lot of mosquitoes while we were there, so plan accordingly for that.
The hours are typically 8-5 all week. You will only need a couple of hours in the ancient city. There is a really great gift shop there, so be sure to save time for stocking up on souvenirs.
Other popular ruins in the area are:
- Chichen Izta (this will typically be an all day event)
- Ek Balam
After we did Tulum, we traveled to cenotes. We went to Casa Tortuga Cenotes. This location is very close to Tulum. After walking around and getting hot, the cenotes will definitely cool you down.
A cenote is a sinkhole in the limestone that is exposed when the roof of an underground cavern collapses.
There are thousands of cenotes across the Yucatan Penninsula. You can have semi-open cenotes, underground cenotes, open cenotes, and cavernous cenotes.
Cenotes Casa Tortuga has caverns and open cenotes. In the caverns you see stalactites and stalagmites–it is beautiful! The water is fresh and very cold.
They are open from 9-5 each day and offer a life jacket, mask, and a guide. You will go into four different cenotes. They also had a photographer follow us and take photos (we paid extra for the photos).
There are a lot of mosquitoes here, too.
We went parasailing one day. It was a lot of fun! I would recommend it. I expected it to be quite windy, but it was so calm and peaceful when we got up there. The views were beautiful–you could see the many different colors of the water. It was so quiet and calm.
Along many of the beaches, you can find people offering parasailing rides (for a fee). That wasn’t around where we were staying in Akumal due to the reef. There are locations you can travel to where they do parasailing, though.
We went parasailing at Maroma Adventures in Playa del Carmen. It was a great place. They offer a lot more activities than simply parasailing, so check them out for some fun ideas.
We spent our final full day in Mexico at XPlor. XPlor is an adventure park. It was similar to a theme park feel. Things were man-made, though still in the jungle. You get all you can eat lunch and they have nice bathrooms. The water was clean. They have lockers for you to put your stuff in.
They have zip-lines, which were super fun. Hit those very first to avoid long lines. They have some ATVs where you ride through the jungle. That was also fun.
They had underground rafts. That was just okay. I mean, do it all. But enjoy the rafts for the beauty of the underground caves.
There is an underground river, which takes you go through the freshwater river with breathtaking stalactites. There is a fast version and long version–take the long version. It is worth it.
They also have a hammock splash zip-line. We thought it would be kind of lame after the big zip-lines, but it was a lot of fun!
They are about to add a giant waterslide that looks fun, too.
While we were there, there were virtually no lines and we were able to do it all by about 1 PM. That would vary greatly depending on crowds.
You can buy a photo pass and get photos of you all over the park, which we chose to add on to our day.
Tipping and Negotiating
Be prepared to tip your guides, hotel staff, and drivers. This is very common practice in this area.
It is also common to negotiate prices in many instances. If you are being asked to pay for photos of your adventure, you can usually get the price much lower. We didn’t try negotiating at XPlor since there were more of a tourist attraction, but we did for photos and souvenirs at most other locations.
For all of our transportation, we used USA Transfers. They took us from the airport to our resort. They took us from our resort to Tulum and then to the cenotes and then to our resort again. They took us to parasailing and back. They took us to XPlor and back. Then they took us back to the airport when it was time to go.
They have great staff, are on time, and quoted us the best prices.
We felt very safe the entire time we were there. I think they really work to keep tourists safe–so much of their economy depends on tourism.
The Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Akumal Riviera area of Mexico is a fun and relaxing place for a vacation. The beaches are beautiful, there are amazing historical sites, and there is plenty of adventure to find. It is a great trip for couples and families alike.
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