So you decided to visit paradise in the Riviera Maya? GREAT!!! It's time for you to get the inside scoop with Riviera Maya 101. Beware, the information below is extremely cool:Requirements
As you already know, any international traveler must have a passport valid for at least 6 months from the “return home” date and have two or more blank pages, which means they don’t want you to fall in love with paradise (mission impossible) and stay there more than you should. You don’t need to apply for a visa before entering Mexico, the air crew on your flight will provide a visitor’s permit (FMM) that you will be required to present to the immigration agent, who will grant a maximum duration of authorized stay of 180 days. Hey! You are all welcome here!Currency
Mexico’s official currency is the Mexican Peso but most of the hotels, shops, attractions, accept US dollars or Euros. There is a currency restriction for entry or exit of US$ 10,000.Best Time to Visit
The Riviera Maya is a paradise all year round, but in case you are not very fond of the rain or spring breakers, here are the details:
Peak season: Get ready to bump to a LOT of people walking up and down Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue, if you visit during Spring Break. Most of them are college students that will spend the day at the beach and the night at 12th Street. Oh, the good old days...
Also, on July (Summer time & school holidays) you will find a lot of families (add a lot of kids, grandparents, aunts, the dog and maybe the parrot as well) December (Christmas & New Year) and January.
Rainy season: From May to November, that includes a hurricane season from June to November. Although it has been years since the last time a tornado hit the Riviera Maya. This also means, not so many people, a lot of rain, but hey, it’s the Caribbean! You’ll still see a lot of sunny days and the heat on June and July will remind you of an oven. Have you ever been too close to the oven? It’s something like that.Must See Places
Mexican Caribbean has so much to offer, so much to see! There are lots of theme parks that you will hear about since the minute you step on Cancun’s airport. Xcaret group has a variety of parks for every interest. And there is even a Cirque du Soleil theatre! But if you really want to get to know the Riviera Maya, these are the places you should visit:
Cenotes: These were underground rivers but their roofs collapsed. They were sacred entrances to the underworld to the Mayans who used to call it Xibalba, “place of fear”. Nowadays, they are not very frightening but they are stunning pits of different shades of blue and green water. There are many of them all along the Riviera Maya, some of the most famous ones are Dos Ojos, Chac Mool, El Edén and Gran Cenote. But it doesn’t matter which one you visit, they are all worth it.
*Careful, water is as cold as you-know-who’s heart. Well, actually it’s 24 ºC (75.2 ºF) but it can feel really cold compared to the 30 ºC (86 ºF) of the air temperature.
Mayan Ruins in Tulum: You can find Mayan ruins all over the Yucatan Peninsula, parts of Guatemala and Belize. But the ones in Tulum are situated on a 12-meter tall cliff by the coast. Kind of a Summer palace. You can glare at the Caribbean Sea while you tour through the ruins and then go down the stairs to spend the afternoon on the amazing beach. Just perfect.
Akumal Beach: Yes, it’s hard to choose ONE beach, but this one is home to many sea turtles. You will spot them in the bottom eating their favorite weed. Get your snorkel on and swim with them!
Cozumel Island: This is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island and THE place to snorkel, you’ll be able to see part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest one in the world. On land, it holds the sanctuary of the goddess Ixchel among other interesting Mayan ruins. In San Miguel, the town on the island, you will find a lot of bars and beach clubs if your are more the “Just leave me here, lying on the beach with my beer” type.Sian Ka’an Biosphere: Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for being home to thousands of flora and fauna species. The biosphere gives the perfect opportunity to enjoy and explore nature. Bring a lot of ecological mosquito repellent. You’re welcome
Of course you will find Mexican food like tacos and quesadillas, but the Riviera Maya doesn’t really have a traditional dish, however due to the fact that most of the locals come from all over the Yucatan Peninsula, this is the food that we could call regional, Yucatecan food. Just don’t be a hero, habanero chile is one of the hottest in the country, unless you are really used to really spicy food, ask ALWAYS if that sauce in front of you is made with habanero. Remember, never touch your face nor eyes after eating something with chile. Sounds dumb but believe us, we have all done it. Some of the typical dishes you should try are:
Sopa de lima
But if you are not in an adventurous food mood, the Riviera Maya is famous for its international cuisine options. You can try Italian, French, Arabic, Argentinian, Japanese, Chinese…And, yes fast food...Events You Shouldn't Miss
Although known for the incredible beaches, ruins and nightlife, the region has become over the years, a promoter of cultural and sports tourism. From films to golf, there seems to be events for everyone’s interests. Some of them are:
Riviera Maya Jazz Festival: Jazz masters show their talents, usually on December.
Riviera Maya Film Festival: Enjoy the best films from all around the globe, they even show movies at the beach! On July.
Hanal Pixan: This is the Day of the Dead, but has nothing to do with darkness, it is a celebration, a way to honor the souls of deceased family members and friends that “visit” their loved ones on those days. They put up decorated altars and prepare traditional food, this is one of the times of the year when everything is kind of magical, mystique, sided with a huge amount of food. From October 31st to November 2nd.
OHL Classic: Mayakoba Resort hosts this great golf tournament, México’s only PGA TOUR event, with over 100 professional golfers competing at the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleón Golf Club. On November.Recommendations
These are basic, general recommendations to make your trip to the Riviera Maya kind of ideal:
Carry a copy of your prescriptions. Avoid having a bad experience, medicines are not the same in every country and some components may suppose an issue if you are not able to present a prescription or doctor’s letter.
Arrange the price with the cab driver before boarding. This is one of the best advices you will get. Some cab drivers are not as honest as they should. Make sure you make an agreement with them before you are already in the car.
Tip between 15-20%. No need for an explanation here, this is the minimum they will expect. And you shouldn’t mess with the people handling your food.
DON’T drink tap water. This is something you should never do. Unless you really know the place and you are sure the water is safe. Buy bottled water, spend your days touring or lying on the beach, not sick in bed.
Use your hands. We mean it, it’s really weird to see someone eating tacos using a fork and a knife. Don’t give locals a reason to laugh at you!Language
Basic Spanish words, but don’t worry, almost everyone speaks English:
GRACIAS Thank you
POR FAVOR Please
SIN CHILE Not spicy
MÁS MoreWe hope this little guide helps you plan your travel to the Riviera Maya! For information on where to stay, click here.
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*Photos credits to their talented owners.