The mere mention of Riviera Maya conjures up long white sandy beaches that give way to the cerulean blue waters of the Caribbean, underwater expeditions to ancient reefs teeming with colorful fish, and tall cool tequila cocktails casting long shadows as the sun melts into the Mayan jungle.

This 100-mile stretch along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula hosts a virtual cornucopia of natural and man-made wonders. To say there’s something for everyone to enjoy is most certainly true, but it doesn’t even begin to cover the breadth and depth of the attractions in this little corner of the world.

Some of our favorites include…

Swim in a cenote

Cenote means “sacred well” and to the ancient Mayans, they were considered sacred places. These crystal-clear pools of fresh water offer a cool, refreshing plunge for swimmers and snorkelers alike. There are dozens of cenotes up and down the coast, so contact your trip planner or a local outfitter to book a tour.

Tour ancient Mayan ruins

Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba are three of the more famous sites in the region. Tulum is on the southern end of the Riviera Maya, perched on a 40-foot cliff that overlooks the ocean. The others are set deeper in the jungle. Wherever you decide to go, the experience is infinitely richer when you have a guide to explain the history behind the Mayan culture and the focus of each structure.

Ferry to Cozumel

A quick 30-45-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen to the island of Cozumel can be a journey back in time. Once you get past the cruise ship docks you can stroll through San Miguel’s picturesque town square and get a taste of old-world Mexico. Keep going in almost any direction and you’ll experience fewer tourist traps and more local tiendas (shops). Cozumel is a diving and snorkeling mecca as well. We recommend exploring Chankanaab or Dzul-Ha. Snorkels and Fins are the guides who can make it happen.

Now that you have the Riviera Maya on your mind, all you need is a place to stay. Members of our sister company, the Quintess Collection, enjoy special access to Vidanta Resorts. If you’re a DIYer, here’s an article from Travel+Leisure that will get you on your way.

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