Riviera Maya

Travel Guide North America Mexico Yucatan Peninsula Quintana Roo Riviera Maya

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Introduction

The Mayan Riviera is comprised of the area just south of the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It stretches along 120 km of the Mexican Caribbean coastline in the southeastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. Weather is ideal, beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters make for a perfect vacation destination. The term Riviera Maya is fairly new and has varied definitions, it starts approx. 16 km south of Cancun the seaside village of Puerto Morelos and includes places like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum. It ends at the town of Carrillo Puerto.

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Sights and Activities

The Mayan ruins at Tulum - right next to a beach where you can swim. While many people just go to the beach and do nothing else, the inland portions of this region are stunningly beautiful as well. Be it nature, Mayan remains or the Cenotes (Karst caves and small lakes), going inland is certainly worth it.

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Events and Festivals

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.

  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.

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Getting There

By Plane

The nearest international airport to the Mayan Riviera is Cancún International Airport (CUN IATA), the second busiest airport in Mexico. Receives international flyers from most large Western Hemisphere airports and several major European gateways, though there are no non-stop flights to Asia or Australia.

To get to your hotel you can rent a car or catch the ADO bus which is the cheapest option, but may result complicated if you're traveling with luggage or kids. Taxis from airport may be expensive, so you may want to prebook a private transportation service.

By Bus

While Mexico boasts among the most comfortable buses in the world, a long distance bus ride from Mexico City to Yucatan while possible won't be much cheaper than a flight. If you are already in the area, taking a bus becomes the vastly preferable option.

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Getting Around

By Car

The major cities, such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen offer many car rental agencies. North American drivers will feel at home on the road here, despite some drivers' quirks. For example, on the main two-lane highway along the Riviera, it is common courtesy for slower drivers to pull over onto the shoulder to let faster drivers pass.

Rent a car at the Cancun airport. Playa del Carmen is roughly 45 minutes from the airport. Tulum is another 45 minutes. After passing through Playa del Carmen, the main highway (Rte 307) turns from a modern 4-lane highway into a "two and a half" lane highway. There are two regular lanes and an extra-wide shoulder to allow slower vehicles to pull over to let faster vehicles pass.

From the city of Tulum, the Boca Paiala road provides access to the beach-side hotels and areas further south, such as Punta Allen. This dirt road, if not freshly resurfaced, has massive potholes (commonly wider than a car). It is passable with a VW bug or a scooter, but the trip will be much more arduous than if travelled with a Jeep or other SUV/truck.

By Bus

Many collectivo vans run between the major cities and offer cheap transportation for local workers and budget-minded tourists. The Collectives that run between the major cities like Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. The thing to remember is that none go directly from one extreme to the other. If you are in Puerto Morelos (the beginning of the Riviera Maya) and you want to go to Tulum you will go out to the Southbound Side of the highway and wait for the collective that will take you to Playa Del Carmen and then change collective to get to Tulum. The direct collectives go from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen or Playa Del Carmen to Tulum and of course the reverse. The collectives pick up and drop off anywhere along the way so you will be making frequent stops.

From the bus stations you can find first class bus service from bus station to bus station as well as limited bus service to the Cancun International Airport. ADO one of the largest national providers of first class and luxury bus transportation has routes from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum to most major cities like Merida, Chetumal, Mahajual, amongst the most popular from the Riviera Maya.

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Eat

The Mayan Riviera is filled with all-inclusive hotels where the types of food varies from day to day, but you can count on a variety of international dishes from Italian, Argentine, and Continental as well as local Mexican dishes. There is nothing like getting out and tasting the local flavors, which you won't get in the all-inclusive hotel restaurants. Yucatan has a cuisine all its own and of course cities like Playa Del Carmen or Cancun enjoy a melting pot of both Mexican and International cultures who each bring their own flavors to their restaurants. You can find intimate restaurants with French or Italian cuisine dotting the city as well as Argentine steakhouses, and almost everywhere you will find typical American foods as well as Mexican food.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 10:02 on Apr 24, 19 by Utrecht. No articles link to this page.

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