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What to see and do in the Riviera Maya – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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The Riviera Maya is filled with local attractions and things to do. Whether you want to laze around the pools of luxurious hotels, scuba dive in tropical reefs or explore lush rainforests – you can do it all in the Riviera Maya. Speckled with prehistoric ruins, running all along the coastline, there is also plenty of history and culture to soak up here too. 

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Riviera Maya

Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

 

Stretching over 1,000 kilometers, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is the second largest coral reef in the world. One of the best reefs to go snorkelling or scuba diving in the world, here you will discover an abundance of tropical marine life lying just beneath the water’s edge. Also home to hundreds of mangrove forests and coastal lagoons, it is definitely worth taking the time to explore this World Heritage Site.

 

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

 

A day trip to the 1.3 million acre biosphere reserve is an absolute must. The same size as the US state of Delaware - covering a third of the whole of the Quintana Roo coastline – this area is rife with tropical wildlife. Home to 23 known archaeological sites, Mayan history is found at every twist and turn. Filled with virginal beaches, lush jungles, coral reefs and tropical forests, you can easily lose track of time wandering around this World Heritage Site.

 

Xcaret Park

 

An eco-archaeological park located south of Cancun, Xcaret is filled with rare flora and fauna from around the Riviera Mayan coastline. In Xcaret Park you can learn about ancient Mayan culture, snorkel in hidden cenotes (subterranean sinkholes) and swim with wild dolphins. Make sure to visit the orchid greenhouse and butterfly pavilion and, at night, watch the ancient Mayan dancers perform the spectacular show known as the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.

 

El Camaleon Golf Club

 

Perched beneath a tropical forest in the Playa del Carmen is El Camaleon golf course. Attracting golfers from around the world and boasting over 6,400 meters of greenery, 18 holes and a superior course designed by Greg Norman, this striking spot is one of the best places around for gold. Take in sweeping views of the Caribbean coastline as you play and amble by undulating sand dunes and swirling lagoons.

 

Rio Secreto

 

An atmospheric underground river, the Rio Secreto is one of the Riviera Maya’s best kept secrets. Located just outside of Playa del Carmen, the Rio Secreto is home to an underground labyrinth of rivers, caves and tunnels formed by a natural geological process. There are hundreds of passageways to be explored, where stalagmites hang atmospherically from the ceilings. Don your swim gear and swim through the passageways in an organised group. Alternatively, simply learn about the history of this unique underground attraction.