Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Riviera Maya is 75 miles of pristine coastline along the Yucatán Peninsula and the Caribbean Sea. It is the most popular destination for vacationers to Mexico.

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1 Sunrise Over Caribbean Sea at Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Riviera Maya is Mexico’s most eastern point so it welcomes the first break of dawn over the Caribbean Sea. At sunrise is the perfect time to stroll along the empty beach, feel the sand between your toes, smell the air, listen to the birds, watch the surf and admire the spectacular seascape as it glistens with shades of red and orange. What a great way to start another day on vacation.

Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Solidaridad, 77760 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
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2 Thatched Umbrellas and Chaises Along Beachfront at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Over four million people a year vacation at the Rivera Maya. I could write a lengthy explanation of all its virtues. However, as the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” These shaded chaises along the Caribbean Sea await your arrival.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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3 Coconut Palm Tree at Riviera Maya, Mexico

After traveling since the crack of dawn, you finally arrived at your hotel, threw your bags into the room, got into your bathing suit, made it to the beach and put the back down on an available chaise. This is what you see: a coconut palm. I could tell you all about its scientific name, its ideal growing environment, its uses by the Mexican people and its susceptibility to certain diseases. But I noticed you are already napping.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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4 Bare Sandy Feet at Riviera Maya, Mexico

All winter you counted down the days until your Mexican vacation. When you zipped up your heavy coat over a bulky sweater you imagined the joy of wearing a bathing suit. Each time it snowed you thought about the warm Caribbean Sea. As you laced up your boots you dreamt about going barefoot on the beach. That time has finally arrived. You have finally arrived. The reality is better than your fantasy.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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5 Couple Holding Hands Along Pool at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Everywhere you look you see couples holding hands. That is to be expected among the recently engaged or married. But fortunately this simple expression of romance knows no age boundary. There is nothing like escaping reality to rekindle the love of your partner.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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6 Accommodations at Riviera Maya, Mexico

These couples are walking towards the entrance to their all-inclusive resort. For virtually one price, these properties provide you with everything you need for a delightful vacation including meals and bar service. Sometimes they are so expansive that golf carts shuttle guests between buildings. If that sounds too big, then you can select from the 170 boutique hotels along the Maya Riviera corridor. They typically have less than 30 rooms at a corresponding smaller cost.

Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Solidaridad, 77760 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
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7 Couple Strolling Beach at Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Mexican tourist corridor called Riviera Maya stretches along Highway 307 from Playa del Secreto (18 miles south of Cancun) to a fishing village named Punta Allen. Almost this entire 75 mile coastline of the Caribbean Sea is graced with pristine white sand. So finding a perfect playa (Spanish for beach) to stroll is the easiest part of your vacation.

Federal Highway Chetumal - Benito Juarez, Km 250, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
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Mayan Carving, Ruins Site Options at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Many Riviera Maya resorts display carvings, statues and symbolism of the Mayan culture because of the numerous Mayan cities that thrived along the Yucatán Peninsula for more than 1,600 years. Chichén Itzá is the most famous and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tulum is the second most popular archeological ruins. However, the largest former Mayan city is in Cobá. Surprisingly, few tourists visit it despite having the largest pyramid and the only one you can still climb. Smaller Mesoamerican ruins are Xcaret, Playacar, Xel-Há and Muyil.

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8 Golf Courses Options at Riviera Maya, Mexico

There are about ten golf courses in the Riviera Maya area with another half dozen near Cancun. Most are associated with resorts but there are also other private and public options. Some have been designed by golf pros like Jack Nicholas and Greg Norman. You can also use online concierge services for recommendations, packages and booking tee times.

Riviera Maya Golf Club Carretera Chetumal Benito Juarez Km.250, 77760 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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9 Band of Running Coatis at Riviera Maya, Mexico

First time visitors to Riviera Maya assume these scampering critters are raccoons. Although they are related, these are called coatis. These omnivores have pointed snouts, a reddish coat and ringed tails which typically stand strait up. The females and their young travel in bands up to thirty animals. They make a great photo op but you are cautioned against feeding them despite their persistent begging.

Riviera Maya Golf Club, Carretera Chetumal Benito Juarez Km.250, 77760 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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10 Beach-theme Shopping Bags at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Some people believe the word “vacation” is spelled S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G. If that describes you, then you will be thrilled with your options. Most hotels and resorts have shops offering a range from high-end designer clothes to toothpaste. Serious shoppers head to either Playa del Carmen or Cancun. At the former the retail action is along Fifth Avenue. At the later check out La Isla Shopping Village, Kukulcan Plaza, Luxury Avenue, Plaza Caracol and Plaza Las Americas. Still not maxed out your credit card? Then hop a ferry to Cozumel.

Hacienda Doña Isabel, Avenida Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
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11 Airborne Dolphin During Encounter at Riviera Maya, Mexico

If swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list, then there are several places to consider. A few options include Dolphin Discovery at Puerto Aventuras, Delphinus at Xcaret, Dolphinaris Park at Playa del Carmen and the Dolphins Primax program at Xel-Há Park. They all conduct incredible shows with lots of aerobatics. Then most offer up-close encounters so you can feed, pet and ride these gregarious marine animals.

Federal Highway Chetumal – Benito Juarez, Km 250 77760 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
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Scarlet Macaw at Riviera Maya, Mexico

This scarlet macaw was part of an ensemble of performing parrots that mesmerize children and their parents during a beachside show. This native of the northern South America and parts of Central America including Mexico is large, colorful and chatty. With proper care in captivity they can live up to 70 years.

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12 Bottles of Booze at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Most all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya include drink privileges so your alcohol is included in your room rate or available as part of a package. Just don’t expect to be served premium name brands as part of this deal. In fact, you may have never have heard of some labels. But after they become part of a fruity or carbonated concoction with a tropical name, what difference does it make? So live it up … order a round of drinks for everyone.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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13 Nightlife Options at Riviera Maya, Mexico

For some people, nighttime is the best time of the day. Most resorts offer a variety of bars and at least one of them plays loud music until the wee hours of the morning. You can also seek out nightclubs along Highway 307. Occasionally they are associated with a hotel but also open to the public. An example is the Hacienda Doña Isabel complex at the Gran Bahia Principe Akumal. Or head towards Cancun or Playa del Carmen where nightclubs for night owls abound.

Hacienda Doña Isabel, Avenida Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
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14 Empty Chaises Under Beach Umbrellas at Riviera Maya, Mexico

This scene of empty chaises along a pristine beach is a very rare sight except within the first hour after daybreak. Once the vacationers finally wake up, have their coffee and don their bathing suits, these prime seats along the sea will be covered with fannies of every imaginable shape and size. So if you plan to plop your butt down for a day at the beach, you’d better skip breakfast and claim your position early.

Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Solidaridad, 77760 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
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Parasailing Couple Aloft at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Strapped to a harness and flying high over a beach while parasailing is just one water sport to entertain you while vacationing along the Riviera Maya. Other options include fishing, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet-skiing and of course swimming. One of the most popular activities is standing waist deep in water while slurping cocktails at the pool bar.

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Perched Brown Pelican at Riviera Maya, Mexico

While enjoying the coastal waters of the Yucatán Peninsula you will likely share the beach with brown pelicans. This consummate fisherman has a wingspan of over six feet which lets it soar up to 80 feet above the Caribbean Sea. When it spots dinner, this seabird plunges straight down and scoops up in its foot-long bill as much as 2.5 gallons of water along with its catch. It eats up to four pounds a day or about half its body weight … sort of like vacationers at the hotel buffet.

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15 Pouring Shots to Party Hardy at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Over 20 million people visit Mexico annually, mostly along the coasts like the Rivera Maya on the Yucatán Peninsula. Many snowbirds come for the warm weather and sandy beaches by day and the party atmosphere at night. At all-inclusive resorts the bartenders are always busy pouring colorful concoctions with equally colorful names. So, party hardy like there is no tomorrow … until the sun and your hangover arrives.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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16 Resort Pool at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Most resorts have several pools on their property. As you will quickly learn, each one has its own personality. Some are constantly loud while hosting water aerobics, pool games, drinking contests and pounding music. One is often dedicated to families. They are great for kids who love to float, splash, run around and cry when they fall down. You might also find a pool where all of the adults are reading or sleeping. When you tire of these options, head to the beach.

Grand Bahía Príncipe Coba Carretera Federal 307, 77760 Benito Juárez, QROO, Mexico
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17 Spider-Man Statue Close Up at Riviera Maya, Mexico

In August, 1962, artists Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced the world to teenager Peter Parker and his crime-fighting abilities as Spider-Man. Since his debut in that “Amazing Fantasy” issue, this red-masked superhero has gone on to be super popular in films, a TV series, comic books and newspaper funny pages. He is the commercial delight of Marvel Comics, children and adults who want to cling on to their youth. This statue was at a resort along the Riviera Maya, Mexico. It was part of a program for kids.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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Spiny-tail Iguana at Riviera Maya, Mexico

At some time during your stay at Riviera Maya you will encounter a ctenosaura similis. This less-than-attractive reptile with a row of teeth along its spine can grow up to four feet. Your first reaction is to recoil and maybe scream. But if you want to snap a photo after you recover from your initial shock, you’d better grab your smart phone quickly. The Guinness Book of World Records has clocked this adorable black spiny-tailed iguana at nearly 22 miles per hour.

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18 Buying Cigars at Riviera Maya, Mexico

If you envision wearing a Mexican sombrero like a vaquero (Spanish cowboy) and clutching a bottle while smoking a big stogie, then go ahead … it is your vacation. But here is a tip about buying Cuban cigars. You’ll see all the major brands – Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta – offered in souvenir shops and by beach vendors. They tend to be overpriced so bargain before buying. They are also probably fakes. However, unless you are a real aficionado, you probably can’t tell the difference . So enjoy! If you plan to bring them home, simply take off the bands and throw away the box.

Hacienda Doña Isabel, Avenida Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
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Tequila T-shirt at Riviera Maya, Mexico

There are countless souvenir shops in Mexico. All of them are eager to help you spend your pesos. Their shelves are jammed with valuable collectables like shot glasses, ashtrays, plastic Mayan pyramids, etc. Draped along their walls are t-shirts in every imaginable shape and color with catchy phrases and suggestive graphics. Each one is destined to become a family heirloom … at least until you wash it.

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Tequila and Whiskey in Decanters at Riviera Maya, Mexico

The spirits in these two decanters have very different histories. Tequila originated in the small Mexican town of Santiago de Tequila. The indigenous people began fermenting the blue agave plant in the 16th century. Soon afterwards the Spaniards arrived and taught them how to distill it. The history of whiskey is considerably longer. Historians believe it was first produced around 2,000 BC by the Babylonians in Mesopotamia. This ancient region was part of today’s Iraq, Syria and Kuwait. ¡Salud! That is Spanish for “cheers.”

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19 Friends Walking Alongside Thatched Palapa at Riviera Maya, Mexico

These friends walking along the beach are passing a palapa. This is an open-ended hut with a thatched roof. The Spanish word means “pulpous leaf.” You will also see dried palm leaves covering gazebos, beach umbrellas, bars, restaurants and major buildings. This style dates back to the Mayans. Most people equate Mesoamerican architecture with stone pyramids because they have survived for hundreds and in some cases a thousand plus years. But the Mayan houses and the top of their temples were made from wood with thatched roofs.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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20 Son’s Wedding Reflected in Wife’s Sunglasses at Riviera Maya, Mexico

In October, 2013, my son and his fiancé were married during a wonderful seaside, barefoot wedding at Grand Bahia Principe Akumal Resort in Mexico, which is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. During the ceremony, my family yanked my camera away so I could focus on crying tears of happiness. One of the professional photographers at Tropic One Studio took this photo of my wife with the exchange of vows reflecting in her sunglasses. This is the only image on my website that is not mine but I just had to include it. The staff at the hotel and studio did a spectacular job. Thanks!

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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21 Destination Wedding Champagne Glasses at Riviera Maya, Mexico

Many of the resorts along the Riviera Maya specialize in destination weddings. They have an expert staff of planners who can arrange everything in advance and then an equally dedicated team to exceed your expectations. Few venues are more romantic than exchanging your vows on the beach. But unlike most wedding days where the reception is over in a few hours, in Mexico you and your guests can celebrate the occasion for days.

Bahia Principe Paradise in Luxury Villa Carretera Federal Chetumal – Benito Juárez km. 250 E6, 77750 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
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Sailing in Paradise at Riviera Maya, Mexico

After looking at this photo, close your eyes and imagine. You are sailing along the Caribbean Sea. The temperature is in the low 80s, the breeze is heavenly and there are puffy white clouds in the blue sky. Your cell phone is off and your bathing suit is on. You may have to face reality for 364 days a year but right now you are in paradise. Don’t let this dream fade away. Book your trip to Riviera Maya soon.

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