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Only a few places exist on earth with so much to offer, and the Riviera Maya is one of them. Located in a safe, peaceful area south of Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula region of Mexico, it contains many inspiring nature activities and cultural attractions, such as nature preserves, eco parks, white beaches, the Caribbean Sea, tropical jungles, underground rivers, cenotes, caves, and archaeological sites of ancient Mayan ruins.

These are the top five places to see in this tropical paradise:

Cozumel ReefCozumel

The acclaimed marine explorer and diver, Jacques Cousteau, exposed the world to Cozumel island, a diving paradise with unusually beautiful coral reefs and marine life along the great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. This part of the Caribbean Sea contains tropical fish, exotic sea life, and colorful reef formations that make it extraordinary for snorkeling, diving, deep-sea fishing, sailing, kayaking, glass bottom boat rides, submarine tours, and swimming with dolphins. Only 60 kilometers (36 miles) south of Cancun, Cozumel is a 45-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen’s port.

Riviera MayaPlaya del Carmen

A delightful resort town, Playa del Carmen offers a wide variety of tourist attractions but is primarily known for its promenade, La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), with its trendy cafes, outdoor restaurants, arts and crafts shops, boutiques, popular bars, and hot nightclubs. Playa del Carmen’s European influence features an eclectic blend of cafes, restaurants and shops, in addition to kiteboarding, sky diving, scuba diving, and fishing activities. Only 68 kilometers (42 miles) from Cancun, Playa del Carmen contains the ferry port for transportation to Cozumel island and is home to Hacienda Tres Rios and Sunset Fishermen resorts.

Tulum Riviera Maya

Tulum

The only ancient Mayan city situated on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Tulum was built with fortress-like walls designed to protect the seaside trading port from invaders and to separate the noble from the peasant class. Recognized for its distinctive temples and pyramids, the Tulum Mayan ruins are best known for El Castillo (the castle or lighthouse), the tallest and most famous structure in this Mayan archaeological site. Tulum is located 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Playa del Carmen and 130 kilometers (81 miles) south of Cancun.

 

Puerto MorelosPuerto Morelos

This charming fishing village has been dubbed the ‘Jewel of the Caribbean’. With its uncommercialized white sand beaches and turquoise blue Caribbean Sea containing a section of the great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the flourishing fish and sea life make Puerto Morelos an ideal place for snorkeling and fishing. The local fishermen sell their fresh fish to the town’s best seafood restaurants and to locals. Centrally located with nearby attractions such as The Cenotes Route, Croco Cun Zoo, and Yaax Che botanical garden, Puerto Morelos is only 22 miles (36 kilometers) from Cancun and 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Playa del Carmen.

Cozumel TraditionsXcaret

A one-of-a-kind archaeological eco park, Xcaret offers nature activities and cultural attractions such as white sand beaches, a botanical garden, an aquarium, an aviary, a butterfly farm, an inlet, rivers and cenotes, exotic wildlife, sea turtle conservation, and Mayan ruins all in one place. Among the many vacation activities at Xcaret, a favorite is the night show with authentic cultural, historical, and traditional Mexican performances. An ideal day trip, the park is 24 miles (38.5 kilometers) from Playa del Carmen and 37 miles (59.5 kilometers) from Cancun International Airport.

 Muchas gracias to plasti_LIS_na’s_face and Soul Aperture for the lovely photos.