10 Bucket List Things to do Riviera Maya in Mexico

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Last Updated on November 12, 2022 by Suzy

Is a vacation to Mexico on your bucket list? If not this post may well inspire you to not only add it to your list but boost it up to ‘must do soon’. Mexico is a large country some two million square kilometres in size. It’s famous for its food, purpose-built resorts, history including Mayan ruins, tropical jungles and stunning beaches. Not to mention the gorgeous hot weather.

Most of Mexico’s coastal areas are hot and dry from November until April, with temperatures around 28°C. In the wet season, from May to October, it’s still hot but they can have big rainstorms which makes everything lush and green. The north of the country is the driest region but it does get cold in the winter months.

A luxury Mexican vacation will give you a choice of villas and vacation rentals that you thought may only be in your dreams. With stunning pools looking out to gorgeous sandy beaches, bringing the fresh Caribbean air to your lungs. The Riviera Maya is one of the best destinations for tourists as there is such a varied choice of things to do. There is something for all ages making this a perfect family travel destination.

In no particular order here are the 10 best things to do.

#1 – Beautiful beaches – Maroma Beach, Akumal, Playa Paraiso, Mayan Beach and many more

The beaches in this part of Mexico are simply stunning. With palm trees lining the beach, golden sand and sparkling turquoise sea it truly is a tropical paradise. The sea is full of fish and turtles making it a perfect destination for snorkelling as well as a much-needed slower pace of life.

Akumul literally translates into “Land of Turtles“. The town got the name because hundreds of turtles lay thousands of eggs every year on the beach.

#2 – Crococun Zoo

This is a really interactive zoo. Visitors are allowed to feed and touch snakes, monkeys, macaws, crocs and other animals. The 60-75 minute guided tours allow for big and small kids alike to either pet, hold or feed most of the animals living at Crococun. There are plenty of photo opportunities with macaws, crocodiles, deer and more. The guide is English-speaking. There is also a playground for the kids.

#3 – Jungle Place

The Jungle place is a sanctuary for the endangered spider monkey. These monkeys are very small and incredibly cute. If you want to visit you must book in advance. You book on a guided tour and you are expected to make a donation of a minimum $80.00 per person with the tour lasting for about 1 hour. Dates fill up quickly.

You are allowed to experience the monkeys up close and personal. Perfect for any animal lover as your visit not only brings you closer to the monkeys but your donation will go to the preservation of the species.

#4 – Rio Secreto Cavern – other caverns

You can experience hiking and swimming adventures along a turquoise underground river with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. The Rio Secreto is also known as the Mayan Underground. Children are allowed on the tours from age 4.

You could also enjoy a spectacular light and sound show which is projected onto the natural formations. There are a variety of packages available and you can book online in advance.

#5 – Ruins of Tulum

The ruined Mayan City of Tulum is one of the most well-known archaeological sites in the world. Tulum was built in the late 13th Century. Although it is a ruin it is really well preserved and is a fabulous place to explore. There’s even a beach right by the castle on the cliff. Little is known as to why the city was abandoned.

There’s even a mural inside one of the buildings. It is worth walking down to the beach as there are many nooks and crannies waiting to be explored. Tulum can be a very hot place to visit, with very little shade, so be sure to read some tips for visiting as a family before you go.

#6 – Snorkelling

The Rivier Maya has a coral reef. Making it one of the best places to snorkel and dive in the world. The water is crystal clear meaning visibility underwater is excellent. One of the most popular creatures that you can swim beside are the sea turtles and stingrays.

Snorkelling can be done on the surface and is something younger children should feel more confident in doing. I know I certainly did when I was younger. If you want to dive a bit deeper there’s plenty of companies that hire out all the equipment.

 #7 – Xcaret Eco Theme Park

This place has more than 50 attractions so is certainly worth spending more than one day exploring. It is vast and is nothing like a normal theme park. There’s plenty of entertainment including Mayan historical displays and a Mayan village.

You can go on snorkelling tours through underground rivers and swim with dolphins. There are two other main sections to Xcaret (X Plor and Xel-Ha) which I will talk more about below. They also have macaws, monkeys, deer and other wildlife. Plus so much more.

 #8 – Xel-Ha

This is a natural Aquarium Park filled with lazy rivers and floating tyres which is a big hit with families. You can discover caves, cenotes, a hanging bridge and a hidden beach. There’s the opportunity to snorkel and swim in a turquoise-coloured lagoon and spot colourful angelfish.

They also have an aquatic zip wire. A lot of the extras are at an extra cost to your admission. It is all-inclusive, so you can enjoy Mayan cuisine, seafood and burgers with your admission price.

 #9 – XPlor Park

This park is full of action and adventure. There is the opportunity to fly over the jungle canopy on multiple zip lines and take a thrilling drop into caverns or a natural sinkhole. Why not marvel at ancient rock formations while rafting or swimming through underground rivers?

Or you could steer an amphibious vehicle through the jungle, on bridges and into caves. The food provided is an all-inclusive buffet. 

#10 – 3D museum of wonders

This is a museum full of pieces of art that all have 3D illusions, making you question everything that you see. The artwork jumps right out at you and with some carefully arranged posing you can look like you are also part of the artwork. What a great idea to not only bring art to life but to make it fun and accessible for young and old. You too can become part of the exhibit. Just think of the Instagram posts!

Your visit can last up to two hours and is a welcome break from the heat outside as it is fully air-conditioned. Don’t forget some socks as you are asked to remove your shoes when you enter the museum. The reason for this is that a lot of the 3D artwork is also on the floor.

For more on Mexico from other travel bloggers, we love this post by Ze Wandering Frogs – Top 10 Things to Do in La Paz Mexico. And 4 worn Passports post about 5 reasons to visit Holbox Island, Mexico.

Find the Best Hotels in Riviera Maya, Mexico

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1 thought on “10 Bucket List Things to do Riviera Maya in Mexico”

  1. Great post! My husband and I discovered Akumal about 15 years ago. It was a sleepy little beach town back then. Now it’s been discovered by many more people. It’s very busy during the day because a lot of day trippers come down from Cancun and Playa del Carmen to swim with the sea turtle and hang out on the perfect beach. The best part is in the evenings when all the day trippers leave. 🙂

    Also, I loved reading about the 3D Museum. My husband and I have been to Mexico 12 times (most recently to Holbox Island), and I’d never heard of it.

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