Cancun: 7 Things to Do in the Riviera Maya

What do vacationers, spring breakers, and bachelor(ette) parties have in common? An unconditional love for Cancun, of course. Its picture-perfect beaches and vibrant nightlife have nothing to envy to the world’s most famous.

But the Yucatan area is also known for its cultural activities and the opportunities it provides for some of the world’s best wildlife spotting.

A traveler in this area will have a lot of amazing things to see and do. For starters, here are 7 places around the Riviera Maya you must visit at least once in your lifetime.

1. Playa Tortuga

It would be a shame to visit Cancun without spending time at the beach. Playa Tortuga (Turtle Beach) is by far the most popular beach destination in Cancun, visited by locals and travelers alike, lauded for its calm waters and clean sands.

The nearby restaurants and drinking holes only add to the appeal of Playa Tortuga. Once the sun goes down, it becomes the best evening dining spot around town.

2. Coco Bongo Cancun

Coco Bongo is THE nightlife spot in Cancun. Night after night, it is crammed with all sorts of vacationers in a festive atmosphere of dancers and cocktails. Lines can be quite long, especially during weekends in the vacation high season.

But Coco Bongo is not your traditional nightclub. There aren’t any dance floors, no DJs; instead, it is a concatenation of non-stop performances and entertainment that go on all night long.

3. Playa Delfines

The dream destination away from la Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone). Playa Delfines is perfect to escape the crowd and the tourists. The setting is ideal for long serene walks on a beach and for romantic escapades.

Playa Delfines is remote, though easy of access, but visitors must be aware of the rough waters — strong currents and rip tides — in case they want to get their feet wet.

4. Isla Mujeres

Travel by ferry just a few miles off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula to arrive at the “Island of Women”. This remote island has a peaceful setting for those looking for a retreat.

Should you visit, make time to visit la Hacienda Mundaca, said to be haunted since the mysterious death of its owner. Also be sure to pay a visit to the turtle farm; a quintessential local attraction you cannot and shouldn’t pass on.

5. Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA)

For $45, offer yourself a two-hour snorkeling tour of this unique museum. The underwater museum is beside the marvelous Manchones reefs, between the coast and la Isla Mujeres. It is slowly being colonized by coral, algae, and the local sea life.

The tour will allow you to explore the fantastic sea life in these artificial coral reefs while you also discover over 500 eerie sunken statues. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have.

6. Chichen Itza

A visit to the Yucatan Peninsula would be incomplete without a visit to Chichen Itza. This Mayan Pyramid is a major local attraction, an important archeological site, and a UNESCO world Heritage site.

The visit requires a two-hour drive from Cancun. Once there, be prepared to navigate an overcrowded site. But since you are here, make it to the pyramid itself to educate yourself on the culture and the history of this beautiful region.

7. El Rey

Easier to access than Chichen Itza are the ruins of El Rey, located in the hotel zone. This ancient Mayan town may not have the magnificence of the pyramid but its current tenants are rock stars. For a small fee, you will have the opportunity to get up close to the iguanas and take some souvenir photos with these charming creatures.

When in Cancun, one thing is to spend time at the beach, another is to explore its beautiful marine world and ancient Mayan remnants. When you visit, here are 5 of our favorite all-inclusive resorts where to stay. Have a favorite stay or attraction in the Riviera Maya? Tell us all about it in the comments.

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