Riviera Maya: How to Get There
can get to Riviera Maya, you will need to fly to Cancun International
Airport ICAO CODE: CUN, Mexico. Cancun International
Airport has numerous non-stop scheduled and charter flights from
around-the-world. Majority of those flights originate in North
America, Europe and South and Central America respectively.
Riviera Maya: How to Get Around
shuttle or private transfer service: Shuttles can be booked in
advance, through a travel booking website like Orbitz.com or your hotel, or
you can wait until you arrive at the airport and book your
transportation at the airport
terminal after you pass customs and immigrations. There are several
booths set up. This is the fastest and most direct way to arrive to
any destination in Riviera Maya from the Cancun International airport.
companies, such as Orbitz, Expedia, American Airlines Vacations, MLT/Northwest
WorryFree Vacations include transportation to and from your hotel with
your vacation package.
Check with your travel provider to ensure airport/hotel transfers are
included in your vacation package. If airport/hotel transfers are not
included in your package, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $50 USD
each way per person to any hotel or destination within Riviera Maya.
However, a return taxi ride from most Riviera Maya hotels to Cancun
Airport will cost approximately $75-150 USD per car, not per person.
You do not need to reserve or prepay your return transportation. While
you're checking out, have your hotel call a cab or a van if more than
four passengers are traveling. Mexican law does not permit more than
four passengers riding in a car. Vans or SUV's are the alternatives.
By rental car: To drive to
any destination in Riviera Maya from the Cancún airport, take the
highway 307 south until you see your hotel or destination.
Approximate drive time is anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on traffic
and where your final destination might be.
Highway 307 connecting Cancun and Riviera Maya resorts was recently
given a complete facelift and an upgrade. This two-lane concrete
highway has a smooth surface and clear signage, however, driving at
night can be difficult as the highway does not have night lighting.
Don't speed as there are many police squad cars roaming the highway.
Also, you will need to keep your eyes open for speed-bumps each time
you pass a village along the highway. Larger villages have traffic
lights which will delay your travel time.
By bus: If you prefer a more economical method of traveling south from
the airport to any destination in Riviera Maya, you can take a bus to Playa del Carmen directly
from the Cancún International Airport. The Riviera bus line leaves the
airport for Playa about every hour, daily from morning to evening
(about $6.50 usd. per person, 45 minute drive). From Playa del Carmen, you
can take one of three options: a second-class bus heading to Tulum and
stop at Akumal, a colectivo that will also stop on the main highway at
Akumal, or a taxi (this is the best option to get you straight to your
hotel or condo).
Colectivos: The easiest (and least expensive) way to get around
between Akumal and other areas is by colectivo. These are white vans
that go up and down the highway between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum
every 10 minutes or so. The fares range depending on how far you want
to go, but the most you should pay is 15-40 pesos, most
of the time you pay $15 pesos.
To flag down a colectivo, stand on the edge of the highway in the
direction you would like to go, and if there is room in the van the
driver will flash the lights. Wave, and they will pull over. Tell the
driver where you would like to go, and he will drop you off at that
point on the highway. You pay as you exit. You don’t have to worry
about having exact change, as they usually do, but big bills are not a
Colectivos are primarily used by locals. Also be aware, they drop you
off only along the highway, so for some places that are a long ways
off the road like the Tulum Ruins and Aktun Chen, you may want to
consider a taxi. They are more expensive than a colectivo, but are a
good option for certain destinations as they take you directly where
you want to go. Be sure to clarify how much the taxi driver will
charge before you get in. They are usually set fares, so negotiating
the price is not an option. [Contact
LukeTravels.com if you feel this section needs an update]
Riviera Maya: Weddings
Destination weddings have become a huge trend. A destination wedding
can actually end up costing much less than a hometown ceremony: the
obvious fact that not everyone is willing to travel abroad will slim down the
Guests are generally expected to pay for their travel and lodging
When planning a beachside wedding in the Mayan Riviera, think about
whether you want an informal wedding ceremony, or whether you want
your marriage to be legally recognized.
In Mexico, religious figures do not have the power to legally marry
couples, so keep that in mind if you want a legal ceremony. The only
person who can perform a legal wedding ceremony is the local justice
of the peace, who can come out to the beach to perform a simple legal
ceremony that can be combined with a religious or spiritual ceremony
before or afterward.
Riviera Maya: Safety
Riviera Maya is a pretty safe destination, but travelers need to exercise
the same common sense that they would at home. If you don't feel safe
in an area (walking alone after dark, for example), then
head to an area where you'll find more people.
in Riviera Maya are secluded and are located away from towns and villages.
Therefore, beaches seem like they are private and only accessible to
guests and staff of a particular resort. Also, most resorts have
security guards patrolling the property day and night. Some of
the resorts are quite large and might seem intimidating after dark.
Study the hotel's map so you don't get lost of wander off the
Taxis and Car Rentals
Taxis: If you need a taxi to get somewhere from your hotel or condo,
you can either ask your hotel's receptionist, who can call a taxi, or
you can walk out to the main entrance to the taxi stop at the arches.
You can always flag one down as you are walking down the any road.
Rental cars: If you are planning on having an active vacation,
consider renting a car at the Cancun airport so you can have the
rental for your entire stay. This saves you, of course, the shuttle
transportation to and from the airport, which can run about $145 USD
roundtrip, depending on number of travelers.
If you plan on taking it easy while on your holiday, you might consider
renting a car in for just a day or two to take advantage of
neighboring sights such as ancient Mayan ruins at Coba, or Tulum.
Riviera Maya: Tipping
Most travelers recommend bringing about $100 USD in singles for
tipping for their one-week stay. Others have suggested bringing two
dollar bill for tipping as a novelty. It is my observation that European
travelers generally do not tip, while North American/Canadian
travelers do. And in all honesty, hotel staff do appreciate the tip,
but tend to give the same level of service to tippers and non-tippers.
General guidelines for an AI (All Inclusive)
Housekeepers: $2-3 USD per day - tip extra if you want your room's minibar fully replenished
Waiters: $2-3 USD breakfast-lunch, $5-10 USD for dinner or for
excellent service during other meals - this applies to buffet-style
restaurants, as well as a-la-carte restaurants.
Bartenders: $1-2 USD for drinks
General guidelines for an EP (European plan) hotel (not AI)
Housekeepers: $2-3 USD per day
Waiters: 10-15% of the bill, depending on service
Bartenders: 10% of the bill, depending on service
There has been a lot of discussion online regarding bringing gifts for
staff in addition to tipping. The general consensus has been that if
the gifts don't take away from the cash tip amount, then they are
fine, but that most staff prefer cash tips to gifts. The Riviera Maya
differs from Cuba and the Dominican Republic in the general standard
of living and the products available to local workers. With Sams Club
conveniently located in Playa del Carmen, local hotel staff have
access to American products at a low price.
Riviera Maya is a great destination any time of the year, but you need to
know what to expect before you go.
The weather is pretty much summery all year long (it cools off in the
evenings in winter), so the seasons are divided into rainy and dry.
The rainy or wet season usually begins in June or July and lasts until
November, with the heaviest rains usually being in July-August. This
can mean rain all night, every night, with sunny days, or it can mean
rain during the day as well.
Rain is usually seen during this time
of the year, as the summer months are pretty hot and the rain cools
things off. The rainy season does not scare away visitors, though.
The dry season is, of course, for the remaining half of the year.
There can be very short downpours or light rains during the dry season
Generally, the coolest months of the year are December-January, and
the warmest are June-July.
believe the weather reports you see either before you leave for your
vacation or during it. They may be accurate as far as temperature is
concerned, but totally inaccurate when it comes to rain predictions. A
five-day forecast may show rain for each and every day, but as days go
by, you won't see a drop of rain. In most cases, a drizzle or rain
downpour may last for a very short time, and when its all over, you
won't even see a cloud in the sky. This, of course, will vary during
the wet season or during a hurricane. font size="2">[Contact
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Maya: What to do, where to go
The town of Puerto Morelos is located twenty miles north of Playa del
Carmen, located just off Highway 307. Puerto Morales is made up of
upscale and modern resorts and condos, however, the town retains much
of the charm and peacefulness of the original fishing village. Puerto
Morales is considered a quiet and laid-back town. The National Marine
Park at Puerto Morales offers white-sand beaches, great snorkeling,
and many land attractions such as the crocodile park and a botanical
Further south, the town of Puerto Aventuras, may look like an
exclusive time-share and condominium community. Puerto Aventuras is
also home to the Dolphin Discovery Park. One of Riviera Maya's best
interactive attractions, here you can watch, play, and swim with the
dolphins. Dolphin Discover park is also home to other marine animals.
You can visit Dolphin Discovery park at the Puerto Aventuras Marina at
no charge, however there is a fee to participate and interact with the
animals. There are several restaurants and shops in the marina area.
Puerto Aventuras has several beach-front all-inclusive resorts. These
resorts are ideal for those who enjoy mid-size properties where all
amenities are within walking distance. Beaches at Puerto Aventuras
aren't as grand and vast as in other Riviera Maya areas, however
you'll find soft white sand and amazing coral reef formations just few
AAkumal is located south of Puerto Aventuras, and about 25 miles south
of Playa del Carmen. Akumal was the original resort area in the
Riviera Maya region. First beach front hotels and guest houses date
back to the late 1970's. Much has changed since then and new luxury
resorts had been built near the Town of Akumal. The Grand Sirenis
Hotel and Dreams Tulum Resort are some of the new luxury resorts added
just few miles away from the Town of Akumal. The Town of Akumal is
home to small privately-owned boutique hotels, family-run restaurants,
grocery stores, shops, and private residences. This area offers a much
different experience for the traveler who wishes to avoid commercial
mega-hotels, chain-restaurants, and the all-inclusive trend. In
addition, you'll find many eco-friendly attractions in this area. The
Centro Ecological Akumal is an environmental group which provides
awareness and classes about turtles and their nesting areas which are
abundant in this part of Riviera Maya. Xel-Ha, an unbelievable water
park, is located approximately 10 miles south of Akumal. Xel-Ha is a
natural aquarium for you to explore. At Xel-Ha you can enjoy adventure
activities, ecological attractions, and water activities such as
diving or snorkeling in creeks, lagoons, natural wells and ancient
caves fed by subterranean rivers flowing to the beautiful Mexican
Caribbean Sea of the Riviera Maya. While you're snorkeling underwater,
you'll see Caribbean salt waters mix with underground fresh water
rivers - a truly unforgettable experience.
Riviera Maya: Archaeological Sites and Protected Habitats
Tulum, located some 40 miles south of Playa del Carmen, is the last
town on the Riviera Maya. Tulum is home to a great Mayan Archeological
Park. Tulum has Mayan ruins which are characteristic of the Post
Classic period of ancient Maya civilization. Tulum has many altars,
temples and shrines. Tulum was a center for worship and religion.
Mayan people worshipped the Descending god, a deity of the Yucatan
peninsula, and the Great Palace. Tulum is spectacular site due to its
location on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. Tulum offers several
accommodations for the traveler ranging from small hotels to luxurious
hotels like Dreams Tulum or The Grand Sirenis Hotel.
Coba and Mayan History
The ruins of Coba are approximately an hour away from Tulum. This is
another Mayan archeological site located within a jungle. Coba is
located around two lagoons. A series of elevated stone and plaster
roads radiate from the central site to various smaller sites near and
far. These are known by the Maya term "sacbe" (plural "sacbeob"). Some
of these causeways go east to the Caribbean coast, and the longest
runs over 100 km to the west to the site of Yaxuna. The site contains
several large temple pyramids, the tallest, known as Nohoch Mul, being
42 meters in height. A number of longer sacbeob, radiate out from Coba
to other Maya sites in the area, the longest being over 100 km long,
running west to the site of Yaxuna. Coba is estimated to have had some
50,000 inhabitants (and possibly significantly more) at its peak of
civilization, and the built up area extends over some 80 km². The site
was occupied by a sizable agricultural population by the 1st century.
The bulk of Coba's major construction seems to have been made in the
middle and late Classic period, about 500 to 900, with most of the
dated hieroglyphic inscriptions from the 7th century. However Coba
remained an important site in the Post-Classic era and new temples
were built and old ones kept in repair until at least the 14th
century, possibly as late as the arrival of the Spanish.³
The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted
for the only known fully developed written language of the
pre-Columbian Americas, as well as its spectacular art, monumental
architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems.
Initially established during the Preclassic period, many of these
reached their apogee of development during the Classic period (c. 250
to 900), and continued throughout the Postclassical period until the
arrival of the Spanish. At its peak, it was one of the most densely
populated and culturally dynamic societies in the world. The Maya
civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican
civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural
diffusion that characterized the region. Advances such as writing,
epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however,
their civilization fully developed them. Maya influence can be
detected as far as central Mexico, more than 1000 km (625 miles) from
the Maya area. Many outside influences are found in Maya art and
architecture, which are thought to result from trade and cultural
exchange rather than direct external conquest. The Maya peoples never
disappeared, neither at the time of the Classic period decline nor
with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores and the subsequent
Spanish colonization of the Americas. Today, the Maya and their
descendants form sizable populations throughout the Maya area and
maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs that are the
result of the merger of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest ideologies
(and structured by the almost total adoption of Roman Catholicism).
Many different Mayan languages continue to be spoken as primary
languages today; the Rabinal Achí, a play written in the Q'eqchi'
language, was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible
Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.³ [Contact
LukeTravels.com if you feel this section needs an update]]
Muyil Archaeological Site
The Mayan ruins of Muyil (also known as Chunyaxche) are located about
10 miles south of Tulum pueblo on the main highway. The best way to
get there is by rental car or taxi. It's best to arrange a rate with
the taxi driver so s/he can wait for you while you walk through the
site. Muyil is located in the northern region of the Sian Ka'an
Biosphere Reserve and is the largest Mayan site within the reserve.
The site is open seven days a week. There are no services at the site,
so be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. This is actually a
large site, but only a small area is open to the public. This is a
great site to visit, very few people actually make it to these ruins.
Nearby, you'll find the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, which is a
protected jungle habitat that spans approximately one million acres. "Sian
Ka’an" is translated from Mayan as "where the sky is born" or "gift
from the sky". The reserve is thought to have been inhabited in the
pre-Classic and Classic periods as part of the chieftainships of Cohuah
and Uaymil. There are twenty-three known archeological sites inside
the reserve. Discoveries of human remains, ceramic pieces, and other
artifacts have been dated up to 2,300 years old. The northernmost
section of Sian Ka’an contains what is thought to be an ancient trade
route through lagoons and mangrove channels between the cities of
Tulum and Muyil. Parts of what is now the Reserve were once areas of
chicle production and trade through the middle of the twentieth
century, and the fishing industry is still one of the most important
economic activities of the Reserve’s population. Common species
include spiny lobster (Palinurus espinosa) tarpon, grouper, permit,
nurse shark, hammerhead, black tipped shark, and snapper. Tourism is a
another source of income for fishermen in Sian Ka’an, hired to run
boat trips to see the reefs and lagoon systems. There is a nominal
charge to enter the reserve. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was
established on the 20th of January 1986 by presidential decree (under
President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado) and became part of UNESCO’s Man
and the Biosphere (MAB) program that same year. In 1987 the reserve
was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As part of the MAB program,
Sian Ka’an faces the greatest challenge of conservation: to find a way
to integrate human activities without compromising other forms of life
contained within its boundaries.² [Contact
LukeTravels.com if you feel this section needs an update]
CHECK OUT MORE RIVIERA MAYA & CANCUN DESTINATIONS:
NEW! Barcelo Maya Palace Guide & Photos |
Puerto Aventuras Guide &
Photos | Akumal Guide & Photos
Playa del Carmen Photos |
Cancun Guide & Photos |
Special thanks to contributors and authors of TripAdvisor. 2. Special
thanks to Sian Ka'an. 3. Special thanks to Wikipedia and its authors.
Last updated on
Wednesday February 17, 2016.