10 Tours Not to be Missed Around the Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Riviera Maya has got to be the most fun holiday destination ever! Everything, from the weather and the terrain to the culture is perfect. For most of us it conjures up visions of white powdery sand, turquoise blue sea, terrific boutique hotels and the urge to chill out. However, this delightful beach land also invites us to explore the Mayan ruins, overgrown jungles and to dive into beautiful Cenotes; to snorkel in the reef protected waters and mingle with exotic marine life, to experience the unique Mexican food and culture and also learn about the mystic Mayans.  So much to do, but not knowing where to begin… Here are some unique activities to get an authentic flavor of your holiday destination.

1.- A dive into art most unusual

Combine scuba diving with art appreciation. Unusual enough for you? And unusual it is! The effects of human existence having had a corrosive effect on marine life, brought together three concerned men who brainstormed and came up with an unusual plan. This trio included British artist, Jason DeCaires Taylor, who created over 400 life size sculptures of people. These sculptures are installed underwater creating an artificial reef that protects the natural marine life and encourages the growth of coral. A trip into these waters is an unforgettable experience. Aquaworld offers scuba diving tours into the depths of this unusual and beautiful museum.

Click here to see my photo essay of the Underwater Museum Cancun

Cancun Underwater Museum

2.- A ceremonial detox! 

A holiday serves to rejuvenate your body, a de-stress from distress, if you will. But, how about a cleansing – a traditional cleansing ceremony? Rejuvenate your spirit and your soul! Temazcal is what I’m talking about. A tradition that has its origins in the Mayan culture, performed by a shaman, it makes use of all four elements – earth, water, air and fire; and, get this, the ceremony is conducted in a stone igloo, where water poured on volcanic rocks emanate a cleansing steam infused with medicinal herbs. This old Mayan tradition is known to effect a deep detox, increase immunity and restore balance to your internal organs. How wonderfully tempting is that?

Round off this mystic experience with a cool swim in a cenote and a traditional Mayan dinner. Much spiritual appeal here! Go for it!

3.- Eco-thrills at Xcaret

There are theme parks and there are theme parks…but what is unique about Xcaret is its dedicated focus on preserving the ecological balance of the land by cultivating the flora and fauna indigenous to this part of the world, creating activities that are in sync with the archaeological restorations in the park. A tour of this park opens your eyes to the history and the culture of the Mayans. The park is near the seashore and located near Cancun and has something for everyone. Spend the day snorkeling in the underground river systems, through caves and in cenotes. When evening comes around, head to the amphitheatre for a thrilling show that brings to life the culture of Mexico! You will come away from this trip with all your senses stimulated and memories firmly entrenched in your mind.

4Chichen Itza – an aerial tour

Chichen Itza, an archaeological treasure, is plumb spang in the middle of some of the most natural forested area in the Yucatan Peninsula. While some of the ruins are thrown open to tourism, a lot of them are out of bounds because of safety or protection issues. This spectacular site is one of the seven wonders of the world and embodies the Mayan empire. The best way to get the most comprehensive view of the many tombs, the pyramid of Kukulcan and the seemingly unending 91 steps, is from the air. Meicer Aviacion Ejecutiva takes you on a four hour aerial tour over Chichen Itza by helicopter, where you experience the splendor of the beautiful Mayan architecture. While a tour of the ruins by land is limiting, a bird’s eye view takes you swooping over every wonderful bit of Chichen Itza.

5.- Extreme Tulum Adventure

A tour for the very adventurous, especially if you are an adventurous water baby! The Extreme Tulum Expedition offered by Riviera Adventours takes you on a wonderful tour of discovery. A tour that takes you into a whole new world – swimming with turtles, snorkeling through bat caves, underground rivers, cenotes and the natural lagoon aquarium, Yal-Ku. To add to that is the thrill of zip lining, canoeing and diving off cliffs into spectacular cenotes! Rounding it all off on dry land with a four course Mexican meal at the wonderful Oscar & Lalo Restaurant.

Click here to see my photo essay of the Extreme Tulum Expedition.

Swimming with turtles in Akumal

6.- Cavernous cenotes

As you’ve gathered by now, the Yucatan Peninsula is unique in that it has all these underground rivers that break out into view as beautiful cenotes or sink holes. There are all types of cenotes – ones you can swim in or scuba dive into. But diving deep into a cavernous cenote is an experience that is very different and holds great appeal for the experienced diver. An experience that takes you into a captivating water world. Deep caves like the Temple of Doom, Angelita, Gran Cenote and Casa Cenote, to name a few, or even The Pit! Diving through layers of clear water, surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites, gives you the feeling of being in a forest at night. Have I piqued your interest? Check out the link! And, happy diving!

Diving Cenotes Tulum.jpg

7.- How about a Quickie? Yeah, really, I mean it!

Ha ha! Gotcha! Well, this is actually a tour where you get to do some really chilled out stuff. Founded by Captain Quickie, this tour is special, your Local ‘Quickie’ takes you to delightful places known only to locals. He takes you snorkeling among turtles, swimming in a refreshing open air cenote, then off to visit a pueblo. And here’s the icing on the cake – drinks, dinner and dance aboard the largest catamaran in the Caribbean! Energetic music, great cocktails and the best Mexican food you’ll ever eat. The Signature Tour – that is the one you need to sign up for! Cheers!

Click here to see my photo essay of the Local Quickie’s Signature Tour

Local Quickies.jpg

8.- Dinner with Cap’n Cook and his cronies

Get on board with Captain Hook who runs a sharp ship, replete with pirates, music, high action and sumptuous food! Launch off to the sound of cannons, listen to riveting tales of adventure on the high seas by the Cap’n  himself. Having successfully groomed his pirate crew to be hospitable, they invite you to take part in contests, provide some super music to dance to and in case of attacking ships, very competently take on invaders and provide highly entertaining sword fights. It’s full on entertainment for the evening! Why not round off a day of your Mexican vacation with an adventurous night aboard a pirate ship? Pssst…I hear they serve the best lobster in town!

9.- Meet the dolphins!

Who doesn’t just love dolphins?! They are the most sociable sea creatures and spending time with them in the water has to be a dream come true. The dolphin discovery tour brings you up close and personal with these lovable creatures that greet you with a kiss and a handshake. Swim with them, get taken for rides by them, hang on to them and be taken for leaps through the air, get them to push you at top speed while on your boogie board.  An encounter with the dolphins is bound to bring out the child in you. I can’t think of a better therapy than this! Can you?

 10.- A Mexican culture cruise

How about a really unique experience of Mexican culture? Xoximilco, which means ‘field of flowers’, is an area that is traditionally famous for growing flowers and vegetables in floating gardens. In the past, flowers and vegetables were transported in flat bottomed boats, called Trajineras along the canals. But now, you can take a traditional trip aboard a trajinera, and as you cruise down the canal, you make pit stops at passing boats to be entertained by the music, the culture and get to know the history of the country. This wonderful night time cruise under the stars includes an authentic Mexican dinner. Not just unique, but fun as well!

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I’d like to think I have covered every variety of fun activity to explore the Riviera Maya, but if I have missed out on something YOU felt should have been included, do enlighten me! I’d love to hear from you!

Carmen Anderson
Hi! I'm Carmen and I'm obsessed with boutique hotels, scuba diving and yoga. When I'm not writing about my travel experiences, I hang out on social media....a little, oh, alright, a LOT! Connect with me if you like traveling, yoga or scuba diving.

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