1. Get straight out on the beaches.
First and foremost, Cancun is about sun and sand. There are 30 miles of tropical, white sandy beaches with beautiful blue water that’s going to make you want to dive right in. Many people come here just for the beaches and they are incredible but there is much more to see apart from them
2. Go And Check Out The Nightlife.
Now if there’s one thing Cancun is famous for apart from the beaches, it’s the parties. It’s definitely a lot of fun – BUT they are designed to get as much money out of foreigners as possible, and everything is generally charged at prices much higher that they should be. I would recommend going to at least one but it is worth setting a budget and sticking to it.
3. Take A Trip To Playa del Carmen.
Another option is Playa del Carmen, it’s like the little sister of Cancun. It used to be a sleepy port but lately it’s grown into a mellower alternative to the high rises of Cancun. This is especially helpful if you are travelling on a budget.
4. Enjoy The Culture At Tulum.
Next, it’s time to get into Mayan culture, starting with the beachfront ruins of Tulum. Now, from an archaeological perspective, this is late-period Mayan city that lacks the sublime architecture that the Maya are famous for. However, it’s gorgeous, and you can even go swimming on the beach.
5. Explore The Ruins Of Coba.
By contrast, Coba is a larger city than Tulum and it’s covered in jungle, kind of like a Mexican version of Angkor Wat. Best of all, you can climb up to the top of the highest Mayan pyramid in Mexico and when you get to the top the views are going to blow you away.
6. See The Ruins Of Chichen Itza.
Ok, it’s not technically in the Riviera Maya, it’s 3 hours inland and in the Yucatan province. I had to include it though because it’s one of the 7 new wonders of the world and it’s one of the best preserved ruins in Mexico.
7. Go Diving In Cenotes
The Maya believed that the limestone sinkholes were portals to the underworld. There are 1000 of them across the Yucatan peninsula and their cool, clear waters are the best way to beat the heat – especially if you are SCUBA certified. Cenotes offers some of the best cave diving in all the world.
8. Go Swimming With A Whale Shark.
If the idea of diving in a cenote sounds too claustrophobic, why not go swimming in middle of the open ocean with a whale shark. This might sound crazy but the experts that run these events have a lot of experience and know exactly where to go to get the best experiences.
9. Spend The Night Watching Xcaret.
We almost NEVER recommend touristic shows like Xcaret, but this one is really, really well done. It tells the whole story of Mexico, from the Maya to the Spanish, to the Mexican Revolution. Plus, it showcases all the different dances from each region of Mexico.
10. Have A Treatment At A Temazcal.
Sweat out all the week’s tequila in a temazcal, a pre-Columbian cleansing ritual held in a stone sweat hodge, guided by a shaman. The ones at hotels are pretty touristy, but if you head to a Mayan community like Las Palmas, you can have an authentic spiritual experience.